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Crossovers & Cables – More or Less?

by Bow Caddy Media 24 Dec 2019 13:47 PST
The supermaxi skippers get stuck into the 75th Sydney Hobart celebration cake, before talking sails. © Crosbie Lorimer

While each of the five supermaxis that are now set to start in the 75th Sydney Hobart yacht race has undergone varying hull or foil modifications in the last year, the one consistent area of refinement for all five has been in their sail inventories.

Of course, much depends on whether your supermaxi is ‘fat’ or ‘skinny’ as to what works best for you, but there’s evidently still plenty of room for debate and differing approaches between the sailmakers.

Cable-less sails are a very current topic of discussion and while most supermaxis are moving to shallower flying sails as apparent wind angles downwind get ever narrower, others are returning to deeper running spinnakers.

What most of the experts do agree upon, however is the value of extending sail crossovers, especially downwind; the longer you can hold onto one sail and it still be effective, the less time you spend changing sails and – in theory at least – the fewer sails you have to carry to Hobart. But it’s a tricky balance.

In this series of interviews (after they’d had a bite of the 75th Hobart cake at the Christmas Eve race briefing) Mark Richards (skipper Wild Oats XI), Chris Nicholson (tactician aboard InfoTrack), Jim Cooney (owner of Comanche) and Mark Bradford (skipper of Black Jack) provide insights into how they are managing sails on their respective boats and their perspectives on how sail design is evolving.

Oh, and we would have interviewed David Witt (skipper of Scallywag) too, but he proved so popular with the press after a trademark comment in the media conference, that we missed a slot!

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