Quantum Physics and the Black Hole
Published on September 24th, 2015
When the Quantum Sail Design Group distributed a press release on March 31 to announce the “stunning and eye-catching livery” on their newly launched TP52 Quantum Racing, we thought they got the date wrong for an April Fools prank. The graphics were, well, different.
With the completion now of the 5-event 52 Super Series in Europe, which saw the team close strong by winning the two final events, Quantum President Ed Reynolds provides this report on the flash design…
Explain the idea behind the graphics.
When we decided to build a new TP 52 for the 2015 season, we felt it was time to upgrade our graphics. When we did the original Quantum Racing in 2008, our graphics were a bit of a sensation, but over the years we kept seeing more and more boats copying the concept, especially the “bow wave”.
So we went back to the designer who did the 2008 concept (Bas van der Heide, from Studiobas) and asked him to give us some ideas for our new boat. What we used was the only design he sent us, which included a note that said. “Quantum has earned the right to go crazy”.
After working with him on the earlier boat design, I had complete confidence he would not lead us astray. That said, it took a bit of time to get the courage to do it.
There were some very amusing theories on why we did the graphic. They varied from trying to hide our sail shapes from our competitors, to trying to hypnotize them with the swirl. I wish we were that clever. We just thought it looked cool, and people would remember us.
Did the sailing team have any apprehension about how the graphics might impact their ability to read the sails?
The trimmers were a bit worried when we showed them the plan for the first time. But, our boats speed guys are so good, we had no worries that they would struggle. Our experience with using V-spars to validate our sail shapes gave us additional confidence that the trimmers were not going to be visually tricked by the graphics. We use multiple resources to confirm that the boat and sails are being trimmed correctly.
The graphic looks much different on the boat than it does from off of the boat. When you’re looking up at the sails, you hardly notice it. The most difficult perspective to document sail shape has been from dead astern of the boat. The jib leach kind of disappears into the main graphic, which makes it a challenge to confirm vertical leach profiles.
What was the impact of the graphics from off the boat?
The impact was immediate, and mostly positive. One thing for sure, everyone had an opinion about it. It also attracted a lot of attention from media sources outside of sailing which was very positive. The unexpected benefit was the impact it has had on junior sailors and especially the Opti kids. Whenever our Quantum team does Opti clinics, most of the questions from the young kids are about Quantum Racing and if they can get a sail that looks like ours.
We are promoting Quantum Sails with the boat, so obviously, all the attention has been very good.
Did the design create any challenges?
I loved how the graphic looked in Bas’ proposal, but I was very worried how it would look if we did not execute it perfectly. What most people don’t know is that every jib on the boat is used with a different mast rake in order to optimize the performance of the boat. Every jib has a different graphic in order to make it look perfect with our different rig configurations. Scott Brunner, who is head of our IT department at Quantum, did all of the custom templates so the graphic works from 2 kts of wind to 40 kts.
Did the design have a name?
We call it the Vortex. Bas was representing the concept of Quantum physics and the “Black Hole.”
What kind of technique is used to apply the graphics?
We plot the “template” location on the membrane during production, and we ink the graphic by hand.