Monday, 24 January 2011

Is the DNA really faster than the other boats?

In the USA there is still discussion about the new breed of boats. The same kind of discussion we saw in Australia after the 2010 Nationals and in Europe after the Europeans in La Baule in 2008.
The Aussies had missed the evolution of the Nikita with the second generation of curved boards (Glenn did not take part as he was preparing for the Olympics) and in Europe many discussed about if it was Bob or the Nikita.
Although I was already convinced in La Baule that it was the curved boards it did take some serious beatings by Nilkita sailors to draw me over the line. I lost the Dutch title to Matthias Dietz on a Nikita and was passed many times by Nikita's on raw boatspeed on Lake Garda, where Manoio still managed to win with straight boards though.
The first time I sailed on the Nikita I sailed away from PJ on his F2. I had put a similar rig on the Nikita and we were flabbergasted about the speed difference downwind and we saw that the Nikita was faster upwind as well but by a much smaller margin.
The first time Roeland sailed on DNA number 1 in the Vele di Pasqua last year he just flew over me (I was on my old F2) downwind and did win over 200 meters in one leg. When the same thing happened to Chris his jaw fell open and it only closed after he had ordered a DNA just before the end of the event.
The DNA incorporated the good things of the Nikita and took that philosophy further. It is a new generation of A-class and other builders willl follow. We already see initiatives in the States but we have not heard any stories about new boats smashing the old ones yet.
The best sailors get the best boats that is true. The results of Stevie and Glenn were not amazing. Amazing were the other 9 DNA's in the top 20 besides the top 5. Amazing was the result of Scott on his ASG/Flyer 2, but that result was the result of very clever downwnd sailing and not just raw boatspeed, though his new rig helped him too.
It was not Bob who convinced us to look for a Nikita no it were the less famous sailors who passed us who made so much impression.
If it s not about the sailors it could be about the rig. Stevie has used the same rig on the Tool and on the DNA. People who were as fast as he could no longer match his downwind speed.
I have scored my best results with a Glaser Lars 1 which is still the benchmark in the States. The new boats like much more power downwind, where the old boats dig in the new boats just shift up a gear. That is the reason Stevie, Chris and Roeland started to beat top F18's. Where in the past they lost in the lulls they could maintain speed and depth now.
The DNA and other designs suitable for the curved boards start to excell once they pop a hull. Not all curved boats do well, as it is not about the curved boards only but the whole package.
With two hulls in the water overall volume, crew weight and sailfullness are the critical succesfactors. The DNA is high volume but you have to sit in front of the forebeam downwind as Stevie showed in Cesenatico and Glenn did as well on his ASG3.
What is so nice about racing sailboats that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The eating will happen at the Worlds in Danmark August 2011. CU there or anywhere were the A-cat fun might be.

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