Please select your home edition
Edition
Naiad

F18 - the Hot new Capricorn (Part I)

by John Curnow on 5 Nov 2012
Sailing the Capricorn GEN 2 - 2012 Moth World Champion Josh McKnight and crew Nina Curtis 2012 Olympic silver medallist James ogilvie
Every now and then a racing boat comes along that has success written all over it. Such is the new F18 Capricorn catamaran, Designed by multihull expert Dr Martin Fischer and built by an Australian marine company with a long, long multihull pedigree, Performance Sailcraft Australia (PSA). the boat is already delivering the goods

Dr. Martin Fischer lives in warm and windy Noumea and that is exactly how he describes the conditions there, which is definitely perfect for cats. This fluid dynamics legend has been and still is, attached to some of the most exciting wind-powered, high-speed, water born craft around. Add to that equation that he’s French and their favourite nautical device is the multihull, and you’ll see that the whole thing is definitely a good match.

Like any dedicated marine enthusiast, Martin is always striving for perfection. Currently he has a new A-Class and the 10-metre CG32 on the go, with another small cat in the mix, as well. Busy. And that does not even touch on his work in climate change. However, our main area of attention here is to his very recent enhancements to his original design of the Formula 18 Catamaran known as the Capricorn.

What follows, are the thoughts that Martin and Chris Caldecoat, the GM of Performance Sailcraft Australia, the highest volume boat builder in Australia have and an explanation of the pathway that has got them to the point of releasing the new Capricorn GEN 2.

Firstly though, if you have not seen an F18 cat in full flight, then you’re certainly missing something.

Even more so, if you have not seen a cloud of these cats approach the top mark, head off to the hitch and then bear away for the set, then the noise from water, sail and humans can only be described as an intoxicatingly, raucous rush.

‘It was really good and a lot of fun to come back to the Capricorn after the Wild Cat. Chris had the initiative, as he’d raced the Capricorn and really liked the boat. At that time we all knew that the Capricorn was a really quick boat, but a bit nosey, so quite difficult to sail downwind. The rights for the Capricorn had come back to me as a result of the creation of the C2, so Chris asked me to have a look at improving the original and here we are.

Chris is a very good sailor and has had a lot of input based on all his observations and knew exactly what he wanted to improve, so this is the way we progressed together’, said Martin.

‘The F18s are bit like the V8 Supercars and NASCAR, where if you win on the Sunday, you sell on the Monday’, said Chris.

‘They are a people orientated brand and the only sailing class that I know, to which this phenomenon occurs. F18s are the biggest cat class around the globe and I believe this is because it covers a wide demographic and is relatively affordable. Perhaps that’s a bit similar to Etchells.’

‘If you look at the F18 races, you can have two 18 year old kids out there, a girl and a boy, just like the new mixed Olympic multihull, or a 65 year old steering with a young bloke up the front. The latter is still winning races at the World Championships, so they mightn’t win the regatta overall, but every now and then the dog has its day and that’s enough to keep them in the class, which keeps people buying and it goes back to being a true club sport.’

‘F18s have a crew weight limit of 150 kilos, so you can either put a 90 and 60 kilo crew together, or you can both be 75. If you go under, you do get a little lead penalty, which means it all stays very competitive and that all helps to ensure a widespread appeal, as well.' said Chris.

So the original Capricorn was designed by Martin and built in Bendigo. Its name was more of an homage to the particular degree of latitude that runs through Martin’s adopted home, than to any goat bounding around the hills of country Victoria. Not only was it a sales success, but out on the track it took its fair share of World Championships, too.

More info at www.capricornsailing.com.

After five or six years, it has been superseded by the not new model and we’ve already seen how Chris, from PSA and Martin, with more accolades than an honour wall, had the genesis of a great idea.

Martin explains, ‘What we did is to basically take the original shape and just put a sort of wedge in between the middle. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but the principle was adding a flat underwater shape, because we knew from the newer boats that it doesn’t do any harm. With the first Capricorn, the boat was slightly rounder and narrower, so the easiest thing to do was to just add a flat part in the middle, along the centre line, and that is what we did.’

‘Another key change was to increase the freeboard a bit, mainly in the rear beam. The main beam basically stayed where it was but with the rear beam, we increased the height by about 60mm. This is to account for the fact that in strong winds and choppy conditions, the original rear beam hit the waves when you are sailing downwind. That is quite uncomfortable, as it really slows the boat down and can even lead to capsize, because if the rear beam hits a wave and you are at full speed then you really get a sort of shock. The guy on the trapeze may lose balance and then you capsize.’

‘Now with these modifications, it means more volume overall and more freeboard at the back. You can push the boat out much harder than before. Chris tells me that with the new boat you can really go hard downwind and it seems upwind it’s full of speed. Overall, it seems the modifications were quite successful’, commented Martin.

‘I have a huge passion for this class. I’ve sailed every type of F18 and the Capricorn is by far the quickest. It just needed some work to sort out its performance downwind, as it was too hard to sail. Martin and I have taken the original boat, kept the same look, spent a long time on the drawing board (i.e. computer) developing the modifications and it’s now a bigger, faster boat’, said Chris.

‘The new Capricorn flies and it goes better upwind, too. There are a whole heap of technical changes we have made to it, especially in terms of the design, location and construction of all the foils. For instance, the rudders are underneath the hulls and we have two-metre long, solid carbon centreboards, which have been moved further for’ard, the beam’s come further aft and the whole geometry of the boat has changed.’

‘From about 10 metres away, the boat’s profile looks like that of the original Capricorn, but it is wider and there is a lot more volume up for’ard. So much so that you can nearly make it plane up wind’, said Chris.

That’s all wonderful, but if you race a class with a box rule, then you either have to compromise or get creative to meet certain key elements, such as minimum dry weight, which for the F18 is 180 kilograms. Compromising can get dangerous, but creative can allow you to build the proverbial better mousetrap. It would appear that with the Capricorn, the latter has served as the guiding principle.

We’ll be back with just what Martin and Chris have done with the new Capricorn and why their combined creative talents have created a perfect F18 cat. One that can be sailed far easier and still be very dangerous to the scoreboard, as their very impressive results showed on the weekend at the NSW F18 titles on Botany Bay have showed.
Ancasta Ker 40+ 660x82Wildwind 2016 660x82Zhik Yachting 660x82

Related Articles

A Q&A with US Sailing’s Malcolm Page about the Sailing World Cup Miami
I spoke with Malcolm Page, US Sailing’s Olympic chief, about the team’s performance at the 2017 Sailing World Cup Miami I talked with Malcolm Page (AUS), a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the Men’s 470 class and the chief of Olympic sailing at US Sailing, to get his pulse on the team’s performance at the 2017 Sailing World Cup Miami and discuss some recent coaching changes within the Olympic-sailing program.
Posted on 20 Feb
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ give first look at the pedaling AC50
Emirates Team New Zealand formally christened their new AC50 America's Cup Challenger on a rainy Auckland afternoon. Emirates Team New Zealand formally christened their new AC50 America's Cup Challenger on a rainy Auckland afternoon. The team has been sailing for the previous two days making news headlines after it was revealed in Sail-World.com that the AC50 would become only the second yacht in America's Cup history to use pedal power.
Posted on 16 Feb
America's Cup - Kiwis sign Olympic Cyclist for the Tour de Bermuda
Ttop cyclist Simon van Velthooven, a 2012 Olympic Bronze cycling medallist had been signed by the America's Cup team Emirates Team New Zealand put in a second foiling display on Auckland's Waitemata harbour ahead of the official launching of their AC50 tomorrow. With brighter skies the cycling team took their places on the pedalstals and used leg power to provide the hydraulic pressure necessary to run the AC50's control systems for the foils and wingsail.
Posted on 15 Feb
A Q&A with Shawn Macking about the StPYC’s Sailing Center and OD fleet
I talked with Shawn Macking, the StPYC’s waterfront director, to learn how the club is getting more people out sailing. I caught up with Shawn Macking, waterfront director of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, via email to learn more about the club’s Sailing Center, its hefty investment in a new fleet of ten J/70s, and how the StPYC is using this infrastructure to expose more people to the sport we all love.
Posted on 13 Feb
A Q&A with Karen Angle about the 2017 Conch Republic Cup race to Cuba
I caught up with Karen Angle, executive director of the Conch Republic Cup, to learn more about this exciting event. If you’re like me and have arrived at saturation with winter’s cold rain and snow, imagine racing to Cuba as part of a 13-day cross-cultural event that’s designed to lower barriers of entry at a time when some Americans see a need for taller walls. I caught up with Karen Angle, executive director of the Conch Republic Cup, to learn more about this exciting event and the adventures it affords.
Posted on 23 Jan
A Q&A with Anna Tunnicliffe about her return to competitive sailing
I talked with Anna Tunnicliffe before the Sailing World Cup Miami to learn about her return to Olympic-class sailing. Anna Tunnicliffe won gold at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in the Laser Radial before shifting her sights to the Women’s Match Racing event for the London 2012 Olympics. Here, she came up shy of expectation and left sailing for the CrossFit Games, but now she is returning to her roots. I talked with Tunnicliffe before the Sailing World Cup Miami to learn about her return to Olympic-class sailing.
Posted on 23 Jan
A Q&A with Dick Neville, Quantum Key West Race Week’s RC chairman
I caught up with Dick Neville, Race Committee chair for the Quantum Key West Race Week, to learn more about the event. For the past 30 years, international sailors have gathered in Key West, Florida, each January for Key West Race Week, a regatta that has achieved legendary status due to its calendar dates, its location, and the impressive level of competition and racecourse management that this storied event offers. I caught up with Dick Neville, Race Committee chair for this year’s Quantum KWRW, to learn more.
Posted on 16 Jan
A Q&A with Daniel Smith, the Clipper Race’s new deputy race director
I talked with Daniel Smith, the Clipper Round The World Race’s new deputy race director, to learn more about his role. I was fortunate to sail with Daniel Smith [36, SCO], skipper of “Derry~Londonderry~Doire” for the 2015/2016 edition of the Clipper Round The World Race, when the fleet reached Seattle last spring. Now, Smith has been hired as the event’s deputy race director-a job that will test many of the skills that he polished as a skipper. I caught up with Smith via email to learn more about his new job.
Posted on 9 Jan
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Suck it up, sunshine!
The 72nd start of the iconic blue water classic had 300,000 spectators lining the foreshores of Sydney Harbour The 72nd start of the iconic blue water classic had 300,000 spectators lining the foreshores of Sydney Harbour, another two million watching on TV, and the constant buzz and whir of media helicopters overhead. 88 boats, from Australia, USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Japan, Korea, China, oh and New Zealand, had lined up on three start lines.
Posted on 31 Dec 2016
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race - More merriment on the airwaves
Here are more examples of merriment on the airwaves between the boats and Hobart Race Control So on December 29, 2016, after the River Derwent had let just three boats home (Perpetual Loyal, Giacomo and Scallywag, all inside the old race record, she went to sleep for a lot of the day. This made it frustrating for the sailors, some of whom saw the lighter side. So after seeing some of those in Dark & Stormy, here are more examples of merriment on the airwaves between the boats and HRC
Posted on 29 Dec 2016