Yesterday PJ, Mischa and I went out with this configuration, which we wanted to test just for the fun of it.
We found that we could make the boat fly in over 12 knots of breeze. Unfortunately no pics as we had no RIB available.
It was really fun to sail it downwind. It was pretty easy to keep the boat on the boards and once again we learned a heap about the curved boards.
We all three felt that upwind this set-up is way too draggy. With one board up things approved but still not competitive.
We think that such a configuration on an A-class can work in the stronger breeze but also that it is not an option if you need an all-round boat. We do learn from these experiments how we can improve the set up with the standard boards though.
With the first generation boards, the boat could become very nervous downwind, you either got blown in up the air or you could get into an aggressive nose dive. Margin for errors are minimal and only the experts can handle it in the stronger breeze.
The second generation boards made the boat more controllable and the winglets improved life dramatically.
Trapezing downwind with the winglets is even easier than non trapezing. It makes the boat more controllable and faster for us all.
The J-boards are an improvement over the curved boards in light winds and in very strong winds. Without the winglets the boat would become too nervous as with the first gen boards.
The advantage of the J-boards is that you can play a little bit more with it. e.g. you can pull the boards 20 cms up without loosing any lift.
The downside is that you have to play a little more with the sliders to get the most out of it. The biggest gains are in under 6 knots and over 20 knots of breeze. In medium breeze performance will be quite similar compared with the second gen boards.
To place things in perspective: The winglets have more impact than the J-boards. What we see is that with the winglets we can handle more lift. It improves handling as the zone in which you have control increases a lot. Without winglets the error of margin is very small you are always close to an wipe out or an aggressive nose dive. With the winglets you have more control and it is much easier to handle the boat in big gusts.