Third dimension in 2016

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With a new weapon of choice announced for the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series™ the battle goes

from sailing to flying as the 40-foot Extreme 40 catamaran is replacedby the ultra-fast foiling

GC32 introduced in February in Dubai . This will see the fleet flying across the water with top speeds of up to 40 knots.

 

Foiling means that the daggerboards, that typically prevent a boat from drifting sideways on a

traditional catamaran, have been redesigned to generate lift vertically using the same

aerodynamic principals as an airplane wing. This elevates the boat out of the water resulting in

less drag and more speed.

 

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The concept has been around for some time in the world of power boats and smaller dinghies

such as the International Moth. But the technology has only recently been used in larger boats

and started when Team New Zealand introduced foils on a 72-foot America’s Cup catamaran

powered by wing sails. Since then, the whole sailing community has embraced foiling in both

mono and multihull high performance boats.

 

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For SAP Extreme Sailing Team this is an opportunity to take advantage of a shake-up in

the fleet, that is likely to level the playing field. But the team know they have a complex new

set of skills to master with the GC32s as Jes Gram-Hansen, the co-skipper and helmsman explains:

 

“Foiling is a challenge for all the teams and, from my point of view, a great one,” he said. “As a

pro sailor I will expand my skill set even further, focusing even more on the overall balance of

the boat and the timing. This is because the dynamic stability of the boat is now created by the

positions of the foils and the high speeds generate more distance per second than before,

extending losses or gains in even less time.

 

“Manoeuvering and trimming will also be affected. When foiling in even conditions the boat is

quite stable, but if the state of trim or wind changes rapidly the margin for correction is very

small. Once you get slightly out of balance ‘boom’, you’re out in milliseconds. No forgiveness

or hulls keeping you up,” adds Gram-Hansen.

 

“We are basically flying a low speed airplane in constant crash landing mode”.

 

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Rasmus Køstner, the SAP Extreme Sailing Team co-skipper and tactician, knows that the

margins for error will be much smaller in the new fleet:

 

“Upwind in the GC32s it will be more or less the same game as with the 40’s, but downwind

will be quite different with the increase in speed,” he says. “The ‘alert zone’ around the boat

will be larger and windshifts and changes in wind strength can make a huge difference in

distance. So the crew will have to focus like never before and the margin of tactical error is

going to be smaller. That should be fun”.

 

In the vacuum between the 2015 series and the 2016 Act 1, both Rasmus, Jes and the crew have been

getting ‘flying hours’ under their belts in other foiling classes while they have waited to get their hands

on their new boat. And finally its here…

 

“We’d like to get ahead of the game and it will take time for us to settle in at the beginning of

the new series – like the rest of the fleet,” said Gram-Hansen. “But we feel comfortable as

sailors and, backed by SAP’s analytical tools, we can interpret our performances, comparing

what we feel to the hard data, and thus improve systematically and fast. Just what the doctor

ordered”.