It is understood that the FX won the majority of the fleet races sailed with a variety of crews, and it is expected to be named as one of the two preferred options by the Evaluation Panel. The final decision will be made by the ISAF Council at its meeting in Stresa, Italy in early May.
The other classes in the trial were either new boats, or in the case of the 29erXX had an established fleet, but none, save for the FX used current Olympic standard equipment. (The FX uses an existing mens Olympic 49er hull with a new rig designed especially for lighter weight women sailors.)
That could be a significant factor when ISAF Council come to make a decision, mindful of the process required to acquire new boats if the class chosen is not already established and with ongoing production facilities and building arrangements in place.
Layer on top of that the need to not only have strict quality controls, but also very strict one-design controls - which are essential to ensure equality of equipment in competition.
Similar but different set of issues are expected to arise from the mixed multihull trials where all the classes entered were established and in production, and one, the Tornado, was also established to Olympic measurement standard.
The choices facing the ISAF Council are expected to be a lot less clear cut in the case of the Mixed Multihull, which is a new event, and without an existing world championship, except that open world championships have been won by mixed crews.
The focus of the ongoing development for the FX lies mainly in fine tune and rig adjustments and set up. This week two FX's have been on the water, sailing in a variety of conditions from light winds through to 25kts plus.
The three of the four sailors, currently in Auckland, sailed in Santander as part of the Evaluation process, Haylee Outteridge (Australia), Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (New Zealand). The fourth sailor, Alison Dale owns and sails a 29erXX in Melbourne.
On the water off Takapuna this afternoon, Sail-World spoke with the two Australians. 'We're here to do some training and work on our skills, and get to know the boat a little more,' explains Haylee Outteridge.
Reflecting on the Womens Olympic Skiff Trials at Santander, Spain Outteridge commented that 'it was nice to see so many girls at the Trials and they all had different input, as to what they are looking for in a skiff. It was really fun to try all the different boats', she added.
'All the boats were really different. I thought they were fun. Some stood out to me, but I hope they chose a class that gets moving along, and has good fleets established quickly, so we can get some good quality racing.
Outteridge says she has found the transition to the twin wire skiff relatively easy. 'There's always the fundamental skills you need to know, and they are still there, especially in the FX. It's just another level up, and it's going to be challenging. You have to be more accurate and consistent in your skills.
'Transitioning is really good, but at the same time it is going to be a lot of hard work.'
The FX being sailed by one of the girls crews in 25kts on the Waitemata Harbour - FX - Development and Training April 2012, Takapuna - Richard Gladwell
Compared to a single wire skiff, Outteridge says the first thing the skipper has to get used to is sailing from a trapeze. 'The boat also has a different balance. There are some critical points where you have to be accurate every time, where on the single wire boats you have a little room for error. But they are both fast boats and you need good speed and tactics.
'The boathandling side is important but so is the technical side in terms of setting up the rig.
Comparing the 49er to the FX, Outteridge says the mens boat is obviously designed for a heavier crew, and the FX is more manageable for womens crews. 'The challenge is still there. The FX is definitely not an easy boat to sail. It caters for lighter womens crews, but you still have to be strong and fit.
Crew, Alison Dale, who owns a 29erXX in Melbourne, says she has loved her first week sailing the FX. She comes from a background of having sailed 29ers and the 29erXX. 'The FX just takes off . It's really nice with the wings to be able to run through the boat. I've really enjoyed it.'
Compared to the 29er, Dale thinks the handling of the FX is a lot smoother. 'With the FX you can really run through the boat, and it is nice and smooth on the way through, and I enjoy that. Also when you sail the boat over flat with the wings level, it really takes off upwind, which is nice.'
Dale says that capsizing the bigger FX is not a problem for womens crews. 'We got blown over sideways one day. The boat didn't go full turtle but it was really easy to right. We didn't even get wet!' she says laughing.
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