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Back to the Future – Winning the Contender Worlds

by Chris Kitchen on 2 Aug 2017
Jason Beebe at the 2017 Contender worlds in Sønderborg. VR Sport Media. C-Tech
Jason Beebe recently won the Contender World Championships in completely dominant form. Here is the story of unconventional rig development including a journey back to the future of how he got there.

Jason Beebe first made contact with C-Tech after the 2015 world championship with an unusual request. He wanted to go back to the future and recreate his beloved aluminium ‘Lucky Goldspar’ mast in futuristic carbon. It was a perfect match for C-Tech’s Tim Willetts who’s self-confessed mission is to ensure he never sees an aluminium mast on a boat ever again!

He believes so strongly in the benefits of carbon rigs that his vision of the future is a world without aluminium masts.

Jason had great success many years earlier in the Contender Class using his ‘Lucky Goldspar’ mast with a standard dacron Wavelength sail (affectionately known as 5 to 25) but unfortunately no carbon masts had the bend characteristics to perfectly match his sail. Jason recalled ‘Most sailors were persevering with the Wavelength sail, but you needed the right weight to get maximum performance.’

Jason knew the standard Wavelength sail had a really good range and was the benchmark in the Contender fleet. While some of the other rig concepts were showing promising pace, it was only in a narrow band of conditions.

It is a strange situation where the class rules restrict the sail profile, so the use of stiffer membranes paired with a stiffer mast would not work throughout the wind range. This was because the head was not big enough to open the leech to depower the sail in higher winds. Amazingly the stretchy dacron had a significant advantage working throughout the wind range.

Jason thought the way to recapture the wide range was to stay with his old faithful ‘5 to 25’ sail and find a composite mast manufacturer who could deliver the required bends.

So C-Tech set about designing a new mast using all the very latest high modulus carbon technology to recreate the bends of Jason’s old Goldspar from the 80’s era. He wanted a mast with similar bend characteristics in both sideways and fore/aft directions. Rigs at the time were much stiffer fore/aft than they were sideways, that in strong wind the mast would over-bend sideways and required extra luff curve in the top quarter. The downside to this was that in light winds the sail went very full and draft forward. Jason also required stiff lower section that still had enough spring in the top to perfectly match his sail.

Jason first tested the new C-Tech ‘back to the future’ rig at the 2016 Worlds in Santa Cruz where it showed great potential and he finished second overall. There was however room for improvement on the boat handling side as Jason had been away from Contenders for a quite a few seasons, amongst other things winning the Australian I14 championship.
After the 2016 Worlds C-Tech received a huge number of enquiries from Contender sailors all over the world who were very impressed by Jason’s speed.

Jason also recognised the potential for a much neater and streamlined set of carbon fibre adjustable spreaders. C-Tech composite technician Michael Rhodes had the perfect solution and along with C-Tech designer Shayne Young, they set about developing the all new C-Tech female moulded adjustable spreaders. These feature a clean aerodynamic section of minimal size, fore/aft rake adjustment of up to 17 degrees and an outboard end adjustment in spreader length of up to 50mm. The spreaders are also carefully aligned on the rig to minimise windage.

Upon receiving his new mast fitted with the new spreaders Jason was extremely pleased and felt C-Tech had helped him make a big performance gain. ‘The spreaders look great and are very minimalist.’

Jason has spent three years working hard and has been providing constant feedback on progress. Willetts comments ‘We are delighted with this success and it has been an absolute pleasure to work with such a talented and passionate client who knew exactly what he wanted’.

The entire Team at C-Tech would like to congratulate Jason Beebe on becoming the 2017 World Contender Champion.

C-TechC-Tech Emirates TNZ

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