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"Best-rigged vessels have a 2 finger sag in their forestay"

by Cyclops Marine 10 Aug 2022 04:00 PDT
Uffa Fox, courtesy of Mike Dixon, great nephew of Uffa Fox © Mike Dixon

From 18th - 21st of August the Royal London Yacht Club celebrates the life of Uffa Fox with the Uffa Fox 2022 Regatta.

With this celebration on the horizon, it got us thinking about how far sailing has come in those 50 years, how much we owe to the visionary Uffa Fox, and, in light of the recent move towards digitisation, exactly what Uffa would have thought of sailors monitoring rig tension to a minute degree of accuracy, on-screen while sailing - using wireless load sensors from Cyclops Marine.

Every sailor should have Uffa on their bookshelf, and while flicking through our copy of According To Uffa we found that the great man understood the importance of real-time load monitoring, 60 years before the popularisation of wireless load sensors:

"...what I do is to put my arm out at full length and put up one, two, or three fingers to measure the sag in the headstays of the vessel. Generally speaking the best-rigged vessels have a two-finger sag in their forestay."

Uffa Fox in Handling Sailing Boats: According To Uffa, Newnes of London, 1960.

62 years ago Uffa Fox knew he needed a live rig monitoring system to get the best performance out of his boat. Cyclops' mission is to deliver this using 21st century technology with highly accurate, live and logged load data to supercharge your performance.

We think there's a good chance that if Uffa was around today, the system he would employ would be a digital one engineered by Cyclops. Swapping in for the standard turnbuckle on dinghies all the way up to 55ft yachts, smarttune wireless load sensors monitor forestay load second-by-second, accurate to within 1% of their maximum working load. A smarttune would reveal Uffa's headstay sag to an exact figure displayed live onboard, with logged load data to take away for analysis and improvement.

The top sailors, sailmakers and designers of the modern age see smarttune as a huge performance asset:

From teams in the America's Cup, to the IMOCA Globe Series and Vendee Globe, to some of the best known olympians active today, wireless load sensing is changing the game across the board:

While we now think of Uffa Fox as the father of the planing dinghy, one of the greatest sailors of all time, and a figure of huge historical importance, his true legacy hinges on an eccentric edge which disregards the accepted norms of the past:

"It was natural that my apprenticeship, served through all this change, taught me to take nothing for granted, nor to accept past designing and construction as unalterable. So when I started off as a young designer and builder, it was with a mind as free as air; with a restless zest to strive for "newness" in design."

Uffa Fox in Sailing Boats by Uffa Fox, Page 29, St. Martin's Press 1959.

Uffa Fox was a trail-blazer, an innovator of his time with a particular taste for displays of non-conformism. He irreversibly changed the way people view dinghy sailing - not just as 'messing about in boats' but as a high-performance pursuit, on equal footing with larger yacht classes.

Sailing is, at its core, innovation. Harnessing technology to master the elements. The 'zest for "newness"' which encapsulates Uffa's approach is displayed by great sailors past and present in the continual development of racing and training practices, data analysis, and technology, to get the next competitive edge. Uffa Fox wasn't willing to rest on his laurels and accept the old ways of doing things, and that's a huge inspiration that speaks to our values at Cyclops.

The challenge hasn't changed - the wind and the water remain the same - but the tools we use to master them will continue to develop long into the future. Digitisation and data analysis, provided by innovations like wireless load sensors from Cyclops, are just the latest wave in this continually advancing tide.

Cyclops sensors are also available for soft rigging, tack fittings, and smarttoggle furler fittings. View the full Cyclops range here, or get in touch with an expert to find the sensor for your boat.

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