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Speed = Smile on the Dial

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 10 Jan 2021 13:00 PST
Early rendering of the foiling mini-maxi, Flying Nikka © Mills Design

So Flying Nikka, the MW40OF Offshore 40 footer, then I feel the need..., and David Henshall's The Greed for Speed are unequivocally all about this very subject. Of course, there are also two events in play at the present, the Vendée Globe and America's Cup, which continue to captivate us all, right around the globe.

Now apart from their incredibly high readership, all of these articles and events share another common element. Foiling. No longer a mere buzzword, it forms the central space inside nearly all of the karate sessions (the sweeping majority of which are virtual at present BTW) that are going on around the globe right now.

On ya trike!

In this Brave New World, there is no complete rulebook for those out at the pioneer fronts, building ranches, and laying the tracks for the railways of the future. The acceleration into said future over the last 10 years has been as quick as it has been distinct. Design, sailing skills, engineering and construction, masts, sails and outcomes now are what hitherto may have landed you in heresy court. Gather your bags of stones, huh....

Indeed, one incredibly well recognised sailor, gifted designer, and sought after official said of the flurry of thoughts and analysis flying around of late, that one needed to realise that improvements were tied into the correct understanding of the compound curves around all of the elements above, and how they then vary up and down the speed range. Quite so. Quite so.

Feedback from I feel the need..., was absolutely terrific, and we sincerely thank you for that. Often, when one is considering the overall word count, some things can get left behind. When I was writing the sentence about land yachts, I also wanted to add the incredible achievements of Paul Larsen and Sailrocket. I should have done it then, for now I am using a whole paragraph. Suffice to say that just like Mark Jardine and Andy Rice in Part II of 2020's Top 10, I cannot wait to see if Paul will be back, especially in light of the SP80 programme.

At any rate, it all serves to remind us all that this material is about course or passage work. To that end, this week's far ranging chat with the great Mark Mills was delightful, inspiring and insightful. If we look at speed as the blank sheet of paper, then Vlad Murnikov has certainly said it is not a flat sheet at all. More like a crystal ball, or a five-minute free for all in the Mensa shop.

So it was a comment from Mills that provided for the subheading above. "What if we treated it like a trike, and put the rudder and elevator up front? I haven't had too many takers as yet, but it makes sense to me, and I reckon it would go a long way to reducing the amount of 'wheelies' we see these boats do." Now Mills' trike may not be a fully rendered item just yet, but as he points out, "The Boeing 929 Jetfoil worked this way without issue!" Indeed they did, as too the Pegasus Class Fast Attack and Patrol Boats...

And the door gets flung wide open.

If ever there was a Dorothy Dix kind of moment, then that certainly was one of them. Self-deprecatingly, Mills says he's the baby on board the enviable team collected for Flying Nikka, and when you have members from three of the four AC teams, as well as the might of the North Sails juggernaut to provide the best 'engines', then he can kind of afford that stance, but still waters run deep.

"It is amazing how much this arena is captivating the sailors/readers, and it is also amazing just how much is being learned at the bleeding edge. We cannot go backwards now, so there's only forwards left", said Mills. One of the most obvious things about Flying Nikka is her long, non-canting fin and bulb to move the ballast from the foils to the keel. "The Rule book becomes crucial for a project like this, so as not to end up with just a show boat. ORC have said that they will find a way to rate her by the time she's ready."

"We came at this from the reciprocal of the AC teams if you like, whilst still using the base logic. To make it affordable and user friendly, we thought 'why not use the mule?' Obviously she has to achieve a certain righting moment, hence the keel, for it is all measured in her most compromising position, and weight aloft is a killer."

Up. Up and away!

Naturally, to take advantage, Flying Nikka will have to fly early. Very early! Yet she will also have to deal with a huge range of conditions and sea state. The Channel hovercrafts were not able to run once the waves got too high, and the wave piercing cats that replaced them have to come off the gas significantly when the seas are over 3m.

"Flying Nikka has to work. Maximum wave height will be real. She may have to hove to, but the Ultims have already provided a lot of light into what is possible and when. Ride control is a very crucial element, and this falls fairly in the lap of Dimitri Nikolopoulos and his KND team in Spain."

Thinking about things now with a project such as this is vital. What will happen at 1m wave height? 2m? Will it require a double luff system such as that created by Advanced Wing Systems, so that a trysail can go up a centre track? Do the foils actuate independently like ailerons, or even stabilisers on superyachts and liners to reduce incidence of roll, or is it purely on elevators?

Mills said, "Yes it is true. Ideally you would never want to be at more than 10 degrees of heel, given you have a light overall displacement to begin with. Yet all design threads go back in time, even to Herreshoff. It is important to tap into the development cycle. We are able to pick out the cool stuff from the AC75 that is both productive and creative."

"In this space it is hard to say what is less idiosyncratic than something else. Appendage engineering is a crucial component and we have chosen the AC75 route over the IMOCA path for this reason. At any rate, not everyone will want to go this quickly. It is like the windsurfer was 40 years ago. One won't take over from the other. Etchells, 5.5m and so on will remain the purest form of the sport, and that's why you see so many of the greats sail them", said Mills in closing.

Does any of this mean we'll get our tricycle soon? Who knows... (but it sure would be cool!!!)

Charge your glasses

So we would also really like to thank you very much, once again. On top of November to December being a record month, December 1 to January 1 showed another 9.5% increase. The good news continues, with January 7 also being our largest ever single day for Sail-World, with 39,383 unique visitors recorded for the 24-hour period. Cheers to you!

Mark Jardine, our Managing Editor, said about it all, "Your patronage is certainly very much appreciated. Our team works away on their specific interests to bring you the best, most accurate, and of course, incredibly timely information about our shared passion. In turn, you absorb the global and collaborative nature of our material with more and more vigour. This is not missed on us, and whilst incredibly humbling, it also serves as motivation to drive us on. Nice one - thank you."

Right oh - there is plenty of information on the group's sites for you to review when you can. Please avail yourself of it.

Now if your class or association is generating material, we can help you spread your word just by. Got this newsletter from a friend? Would you like your own copy next week? Just follow the instructions on our newsletter page. Whilst there, you can also register for other editions, like Powerboat-World.

Finally, many thanks for making Sail-World your go-to choice. We're always here to keep pumping out the news. Stay safe, and have the happiest time possible depending on your level of restrictions.

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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