Foiling Feeds the Mid-Life Crisis

Published on June 2nd, 2015

When the America’s Cup moved to multihulls, the sight of 72-foot boats foiling on bits of carbon opened the imagination of designers to create more marketable options with foiling technology. Morrelli & Melvin, who helped Team New Zealand get airborne, designed the Nacra 20C FCS as one of the new options.

When John Sangmeister isn’t tending to Gladstone’s Long Beach, a favorite Southern California restaurant of Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck, or preparing his chartered Santa Cruz 70 for the 2015 Transpac Race, he is seen flying about in his Nacra 20C FCS. Here he chatted with Craig about his recent acquisition…

Don’t take offense, but there aren’t too many restaurateurs that are “nimble” enough to go foiling. How is this working out?

Many of the new foilers are built for 150 pound twenty-somethings at staggering prices for 60 pounds of carbon. I’ve sailed on F18s but found them too small as well. I looked at several options, and for the type of sailing we’ve planned, the NACRA 20 FCS was perfect. It costs about the same as two Moths and I can take my kids foiling. It’s big enough for guests and the point-to-point racing on our calendar.

Your background is bigger boats for bigger people. This doesn’t seem too practical.

The only practical boats are warships and Iron Ore carriers. This is a toy for entertainment purposes and it’s proven that at every opportunity. We were foiling on day one with my kids riding along for a blast across the bay. The build quality was really high and I’m thrilled with the boat. We competed in this year’s Newport-to-Ensenada Race, we’ll sail Long Beach Race Week this month and then some other point-to-point races.

So you think this type of boat has a market?

I’ve sailed a Moth and got foiling, albeit briefly. They’re not designed for big guys or men living in their mid-life crisis (but I’m ready for someone to design Mothra – a super-sized moth that doesn’t cost a million rubles please). On the Nacra, I was foiling on the first reach fairly easily. The boat is balanced and well mannered. We fell off foil once when a rudder popped up and the boat simply splashed down. We’ve never felt the boat go down the mine shaft (knock wood).

I think the foilers will get better and better. We’re going as fast as or faster than when I had a Formula 40. It will be fun to see more and more show up around the country. What I’ve re-learned from my multihull experience is a renewed love of sailing. I’ve sailed in quite a few buoy races but now prefer sailing offshore or simply taking the Nacra out for a foil.

Editor’s note: John Sangmeister, who was a headsail trimmer on Dennis Conner’s team during the 1987 America’s Cup campaign, also owns TRITIUM, a modified ORMA trimaran stretched to 72 feet, which he raced in the 2013 Transpac. It is for sale, and if you want to do his wife a favor, you can find details here.

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