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Tom Slingsby and Nathan Outteridge - the retrospective -Part III

by Sail-World.com on 9 Nov 2015
Nathan Outteridge - Moth World Champion - ZHIK 2011 MOTH WORLDS - Belmont Australia January 2011 Howard Wright /IMAGE Professional Photography http://www.imagephoto.com.au
Back in 2010, a long time ago... there was a lot of focus on two Australian Sailing team members Nathan Outteridge and Tom Slingsby, who had sailed for Australia in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, with many pundits believing they would convert their multiple World championship wins into Olympic Gold in 2012.




Sail-World interviewed the duo at the 2010 Heaven Can Wait Charity event, when they were special guests at the Welcome Dinner at the RMYC Toronto on Lake Macquarie.

In Part III, the Question and Answer session, we will discover why Nathan’s nick name is George and why Tom is so fast at post capsize recovery.

Questions from the floor.

Tom - Obviously four Laser World Championship crowns and congratulations, really really great mate – how do you feel about taking on Robert Scheidt, the Brazilian (who won eight Laser Worlds) – any thoughts there?

Tom: ‘Definitely. I remember Robert was always my hero in sailing – if anyone asks me who my sailing hero is it is Robert Scheidt - and Ben Ainslie. I like what Ben has done in Olympic Gold medals and leading the British team in the America’s Cup. That is my ultimate goal in sailing - to win Gold medals and then eventually lead an Australian team to the America’s Cup.

‘Basically I want to race the best people. When I started getting good in Lasers Ben was already going into Finns and Robert was just finishing.

‘The year that Robert retired was 2005, that was the year that I started winning events – I think we won two regattas each for the year. I was always a bit better in the stronger breeze.

‘Then we went to the World Championships in Brazil and I was hoping to beat him there but in the end I had to withdraw and pull out of the event,(with shin injury) so I didn’t get to race him. I want Ben and Robert to be in the same class and race each other – then I will jump into that class.

‘That is the ultimate but at the moment after these Olympics if I do well in the Lasers, I will probably change classes.

‘I don’t look at the boat (which I would change into), I look at the person who is at the top and who I want to beat. I have to decide whether I want to take on Ben Ainslie or Robert Scheidt for the next Olympic cycle. I haven’t made that decision yet.

(Tom won the Laser Gold medal in Weymouth, but did not pursue an Olympic pathway for Rio 2016 instead becoming the tactician on the AC34 winner Oracle Team USA. He recently told an Australian audience he was missing the Olympic challenge and believed he could be up for a 2020 campaign. Time will tell)




Question from the floor - Nathan how did you get the nickname George?

Nathan:’This is a complete set-up. The question is if you didn’t hear it is how did I get the nickname George? George comes from the fact that I ran into a tree and George of the Jungle keeps flying into tree –‘Watch out for that tree!’. Ah there you go, not such a serious question.

Question from the floor Nathan can you explain how the Moth foiling controls work?

What does that stick thing have to do with the whole thing?

Nathan:’That is called the wand. The way that the Foil system works is you have the wand on the bow which is a fibreglass-carbon tube, which is basically the height sensor.

‘So when the wand is pointing straight down it controls the flap in the centerboard. The wand comes up and connects to a push that goes through the hull, which then connects to another push that goes down through the centerboard, which then connects to the flap.

‘It sounds really technical, but it is actually relatively simple. When the wand swings back and it is beside the hull, the hull is in the water, the flap is down.

‘So you can think of a plane when the flap is down it creates lift and the boat will come out of the water.

‘As the boat gets higher and the wand moves forward it reduces the flap angle and then the boat sort of finds its neutral point. So basically it is just a height sensor and they have spent hours and hours and hours tuning it to perfection so that it works properly.

‘Basically that is how the whole thing works. The wand controls the height of the boat and when the wand comes forward the boat comes down and when the wand goes back it pushes it up. It is relatively simple and it is quite scary.

I’f you are interested you can go into YouTube, type in Moth Sailing and there is like a thousand videos about them and how they work. If you type in Moth crashes, it is really funny.

‘You see boats sailing around and they are in the water, then they are up and then they crash. They need to spend more time fixing the boat. I crash all the time – everyone crashes all the time. When you see that look in our eyes it means we are about to crash. You will see it a lot.

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Question from the floor - Nathan, tell us more about 49ers with Foils?

Nathan: ’That was last year when I was putting the Foils on the boat and it was mainly Frank Bethwaite who everyone knows is somewhat of a God to designing boats – he wanted to have a go at designing the Foils for the 49er.

The Moth which has a centrer-board with a T-Foil and a rudder in the back with a T-Foil on the bottom. On the experimental foiling 49er, they did the opposite and it had a forward rudder on the bow with the flap in the one end that controls it and at the back of the boat they had like a Foil that went down and across and back up and it had no centre-board and no rudder.

So the way it works was you had the tiller connected to the extensions for the steer wheel, and then a pulley system on that which then ran forward and steered the boat.

Initially they had some issues with the control system and after we wrecked three sets of Foils they finally made it strong enough to lift the boat and be in control. I didn’t get to sail the final version but from what I last heard they were able to sail it upwind completely in control about a foot out of the water.

The plan is to get it to a stage where it is easy to use, easy to launch. At the moment you have to lift the boat above your head to get it in and out of the water – because the 49er foils are permanently attached. Then they are going to start selling kits to people who have 49er’s to cruise in and have fun, with the potential that in 5-10 years they might develop the Foiling 49er for proper racing.

It is pretty exciting to hear that people are trying to that with such big boats. (by 2012 the America's Cup howed how foling gores with really big boats ed.)

Its tough enough to get the Moth into the water. Because the Foils are bolted in permanently and you can’t just lift it up – you keep it on its side, you put the boom on your shoulder and you walk out into deep water.

You will see us probably launching our Moths tomorrow at the Amateur’s Club and we have to walk out to about shoulder depth before we can pull it up. I hope they keep going with the 49er and I hope they keep trying to make foils that work a bit better

There was talk Frank was going to design a Moth as well. I think he has realised it is a lot more difficult than what he first thought and he is going to skip to the 49er.

Question from the Floor – How will the Moths go against the 18 footers in the One Lap Dash tomorrow?

Nathan: The Moth can do up to 30 knots – downwind the 18 footers are a bit slower. An 18 footer would be doing 20 knots and a Moth would be doing 24.

As soon as you turn the corner you want to do over 20 knots on the reach – to maneuver a Moth is a lot easier than an 18 footer.

Tom: I am a bit different than Nathan, I am new to the Moth. I can always pull back on the Laser call. I am still capsizing. When I went out for the last one-hour sail, I capsized five times.

The last time I sailed here on Lake Macquarie was at the Etchells Nationals and I saw one of the biggest sharks I think I had ever seen in my life.

So when I crash I am going to be very quickly up – let me put it that way.

Rob: Tom and Nathan, on behalf of the Heaven Can Wait Yacht Club thank you very much guys. Good Luck tomorrow in the Heaven Can Wait One Lap Dash.

The following day, Nathan set a new Lake Macquarie record when he took line honours against the 70 boat fleet, in two hours, seven minutes and 31 seconds. He capsized 11 times, twice at 20 knots plus. Tom broke his controls in a spectacular capsize and was forced to retire. But he was announced ISAF Sailor of the Year just a few weeks later. Both the guys were back at the event in 2011, then they went on to win Gold in their respective Olympic classes in 2012.

If you've not read parts I and II of this interview series, you should do so now. - Ed.


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