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Sail-World New Zealand- February 9, 2014 - Looking ahead to the A-cats

by . on 9 Feb 2014
Peter Burling on his way to winning Race 2 A-class catamaran Nationals Takapuna February 8, 2014 © Richard Gladwell
Welcome to's New Zealand newsletter for February 9, 2014

We had a taste of maybe what is to come in the A-class Catamaran World Championshi, with the domination of the NZ Nationals and Pre-Worlds by Peter Burling and Glenn Ashby.

Ashby is a seven times World Champion, and the top sailor in the world in the class, but he finished second to Burling who is sailing as a Youth in the Nationals and Worlds.

This event is one of the premier world championships in sailing outside the Olympic classes, and is a mix of applied technology and sailing skill.

By our count there were at least four Olympic medalists in the fleet, and several America’s Cup team members and designers.

The A-Cats will be allowed to foil for the first time in a Worlds at Takapuna, and on the water it is obvious that it a Black Art – and quite different from what we saw five months ago in San Francisco.

The A-Cats have to use non-adjusting foils - which means that the angle setting is adjusted before the race, and then it is over to the helmsman to keep the boat balanced using his body weight and position to trim.

Foiling is easiest to understand by thinking the lift comes from above the boat, rather then push from below it. One competitor got too much lift going from the foils and did take-off with the wind getting under the platform and blowing the boat into a capsize.

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For most the idea is to try and achieve a conservative flight, rather than the high flying Moth style, or that of the AC72’s. But is many ways the A-Cat foiling is more relevant to the rest of the sport than the hydraulic driven foiling systems of the America’s Cup.

After the day’s racing was over we caught up with Peter Burling and Glenn Ashby, and got their thoughts on the Nationals and also on foiling. It is only a six and a half minute video, but it is a lot easier to explain the concepts and thinking using video than mass of text and photos.

Burling’s win of course will set off another round of speculation as to whether he should be named now as the next skipper for an Emirates Team NZ America’s cup Challenge.

The point remains that he has to prove himself in the next level, maybe two levels up, and he should get that changes in the Extreme Sailing Series later this year.

The other point is that Emirates Team NZ is in a very fortunate position of having two great talents to consider for the role, or maybe run both on the same boat. Last time the team couldn’t afford a marque back-up helmsman, and had to make do with switching Glenn Ashby into the role, which of course opened up another issue around the wingsail trimmer’s role.

The is plenty of other sailing news in this issue, with the OKI 24 Hour Rac being won by two Laser sailors, who were just a couple of laps short of breaking the 120lap record of Lake Pupuke.

There was a change of fortune in the Finn Nationals, sailed at Maretai over the weekend, with Josh Junior reversing the Sail Auckland result to take the title. We have a short report in this issue along with the official results.

Perhaps surprisingly the fleet at Maretai was larger than for Sail Auckland and with Spanish Olympic medalist in the Finn class competing at Maretai.

In Wellington the joint Nationals for the Javelin class and the Flying Dutchman class have been completed. We have a great report from Demian Dixon on both classes.

Recently the Sunburst class held its Nationals at Wakatere Boating Club. The 50th anniversary event attracted a big fleet of 69 boats – which is an amazing turn out, and Radio New Zealand’s Spectrum program turned up to capture the event in an audio documentary. We have the story and images of the day and a link to the program which was first broadcast today.

Stay tuned for all the latest racing news, and particularly the A-class Worlds which look set to be a terrific event.

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

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