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The changing face of sailing

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 22 May 15:00 PDT
Men's iQFOil - Day 4 - 53rd Semaine Olympique Francais, Hyeres © Sailing Energy / FFVOILE

I had been sitting there reflecting on Beken of Cowes type images of old J's with a cast of thousands on board. All that canvas is always easy to go with. After that I got to maxi ketches, and other IOR beasts trying to grade the ocean, and smiled on remembering things such as wire braces. I mean, what was that? Talk about dangerous! Like some sort of giant cheese slicer desperate to take heads clean off.

But there were two other things that definitely drove the point of the headline home. The first was a wonderful chat at the recent Sanctuary Cove Boat Show with our friend, Lee Condell of Performance Boating, whilst we were aboard the marvellous new Jeanneau Yachts 60. Expansive, customisable to some degree, stylish, and practical with those walk around decks that are so, so cool. Briand and Winch Design combine well, you can go for a super chillaxed out ambience, or a bit more raucous and take on things like the Park Avenue boom.

The other was this awesome Thierry Martinez hero picture of the VO65 Donfeng that a friend pinged me on good old FB. The reason it sums it up is that at first the boats were much maligned, and then one grabbed the 24 hour monohull speed record. Well, that silenced a few, and anyone else had to realign their thinking, quick smart. It is not that long ago, either.

Yet to look at them now, you go, well they are no IMOCA foiler. They are still part of the grab a sheet of A4 paper, take up two corners of a short side, and hey presto, there's your rough hull form. Sure there are chines, but serious chamfers, scow bows, and concave pressure zones. No. Let alone the foils to skim along with reduced wetted surface area.

Any Ultim tri makes me flick through pics like I have a new car mag at the newsagent. Yes. Remember those. They were places that sold magazines, newspapers, and other such printed and paper based things. Now they are just Tatts agents (gambling) and gift shops.

Nothing has quite grabbed the monohull world like two-handed in recent times, and for good reason. There are great boats coming out for people to use, and the virtual elimination of crew problems as an added bonus. Nice.

Take the use of free flying furled sails hanging on their own luff, and you can take them uphill. Stuff of madness not so long ago! Rig styles, hull shapes and sail configurations and types, with names hitherto unknown to all. Even the symmetrical kite is back in vogue for certain applications. And because sheeting angles are so crucial, especially now with triple-head configurations, jockey poles and whisker poles are back on the menu. Who would have ever thought that the storm jib would become a regular part of the flying wardrobe?

And in terms of 'hull' shapes, well Mark Jardine nailed it in Twenty Twenty-Four.

As a keen observer, I find it all so wonderfully amazing. New technologies, new sailors pursuing new goals, and new events to make it all happen. For a niche sport like ours, that's all very cool.

What else you got?

Intrepid adventurer Lisa Blair has completed her circumnavigation around Antarctica (crossed her entry line), and is currently under way to the finish near Albany, WA. She becomes the first female, solo and unassisted to do so. Likely to get the record for fastest as well, despite the weather.

So the boat is Climate Action Now, which ties into the heading, as well. Steven Mullie from Eco Boats Australia, together with Solbian Italy supplied 900Watts of semi-flexible solar panels. "These panels assist in her yacht becoming energy self-sufficient along with wind turbines and other means of power generation. The panels are from the Solbian SP-series, which have the highest efficiency - meaning they generate the highest power output given their physical size", said Mullie.

"There are more panels on the boat than before, when Lisa did Antarctica 1.0. Plus, the panels have become more efficient in the intervening time. What was 100W 10 years ago is now 115 Watts, and it is all due to improvement in the photo voltaic cells. As a result the panels create 30% more power than before due to more panels being onboard and changes to running rigging to create more space."

"She has Lithium house batteries to support the Autopilot, nav and comms, with in built redundancy and multiple sources."

Staying green, and Ocean Crusaders continue the work on J-Bird III, the fully, fully, fully restored TP. Mullie commented, "We selected a Bell Marine 15kW electric inboard motor with Lithium cells for storage and Solbian panels for solar as well with that vessel."

Of course, if you go to the ultimate extension right now, then SailGP has done a wonderful job of taking sailing and made it both watchable and appealing to sponsors. Like anyone but RC and Larry saw that one coming. Powered by Nature all right, but the real key has been the transference over to mainstream. Niche is niche, and entertainment is everyone. Again, Mark Jardine is all over it with, The real game changer.

Vale the utterly great, David Forbes OAM.

The inaugural David Forbes Shield Regatta was a huge success both on, and off the water. It was named after the 1972 Gold Medallist in the Star; David Forbes OAM sailed to victory with John Anderson OAM. Sadly, David has passed on yesterday, but we understand he got see his final wish come to pass.

John Bertrand AO is why we now have a trophy to commemorate such a guy, and one who clearly meant so very much to him. 'JB' had this to say about the man. "David Forbes OAM 1934-2022. Member Sport Australia Hall of Fame."

"David Forbes passed away here in Australia May 22nd 2022. He was an inspiration and mentor to many people not only in Australia, but around the world. A wonderful man."

"For me, I first met David way back in 1969 as part of the Sir Frank Packer, Gretel II America's Cup challenge. He was the most naturally gifted sailor I had ever met. He went onto win the Olympic Gold Medal in the Star class in '72 against some of the all time greats including Brazil's, Jörg Bruder, then World Champion in both the Finn and Star classes. It was great to be able to do some two-boat testing with him before their Olympic win."

"David never used a compass, instead constantly checking the angles of boats around him to gauge wind shifts..."

"I once asked David why he was so open with his competitors about all his so called 'secrets'. His philosophy was simple...the more you give, the more you get. He was constantly learning from others while pushing the envelope in all things boat speed."

"Lowell North and David Forbes were soul mates, in the purest form, constantly swapping notes on their life journeys."

"David built a soft drink company called Ecks Lemonade, eventually on selling it to Coca Cola."

"A wonderful man, mentor, life friend, we loved the man."

The brave new world has begun. And how, it would seem. To anyone doing anything from a midweek OTB jaunt to a transoceanic passage we simply say, YeeHaa. Do your prep, keep a weather eye at all times and push off...

So let's go for a yacht. Indeed!!! Meanwhile, stay safe, and thanks for tuning into

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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