Harken Derm

Debrief from 2016 A-Class Catamaran Worlds

Published on June 29th, 2016

The Flying Dutchman, Mischa Heemskerk, won the 2016 A-Class Catamaran World Champion held June 20-24 at Medemblik, The Netherlands. Here class editor Gordon Upton provides a debrief of the event and the latest designs on display…

This was Mischa’s second title following the 2012 win at Islamorada and being runner up last year to Glenn Ashby. With 7 straight bullets and a race to spare, he beat a strong field including Olympian and Former Oracle AC team member Darren Bundock and former double World champion Stevie Brewin, who were 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Held at Medemblik on the Dutch Ijsselmeer, the event experienced all weather conditions other than snow. The first scheduled day was blown off with 31 knot gusts. Day three had a massive torrential downpour right on the first race start gun, followed by a flat calm and then a 180 deg windshift. All this made for challenging conditions and a true test of sailing.

With 118 boats from 17 countries competing, the fleet was initially split in two randomly for the first two days, but with a seeding of the top sailors to avoid them racing each other too early on in the tournament. As there was only one course, both fleets raced on the same course, one fleet doing two morning races, then the other two afternoon ones.

The group was then redistributed overnight onto fleets again, and repeated the following day. It was deemed to be the fairest system. However this had the side effect that some sailors could be lucky and be drawn in a fleet with, or without the stronger wind, as the weather was usually changeable throughout the day.

One such lottery winner was Mischa, who was drawn to race all his races in the higher winds where, being a big chap, he excels – his previous title was won in the beginnings of a hurricane!

In the end, Mischa’s fast powerful sailing style forced the speed from his new DNA F1 ‘A’ cat, a boat that he had a major input into the design of. At one point, as he accidentally overstood the top mark after a windshift, he came blasting in, foiling upwind at 21kts, before executing a perfect handbrake turn around it and foiling off in the opposite direction. Man and machine in perfect unison.

The battle for second between Bundy and Brewin was over after Stevie Brewin, on his new Exploder Ad3, dropped the odd point in the light stuff, and broke a rudder on the last downwind of the penultimate race, dropping him to 8th in that one. But he sailed off to shore, fixed it and got back in time to get his second bullet of his series.

Bundy, also on the Ad3, sailing in his first ‘A’ Cat Worlds was always up at the front, other than in the first race on the final day when a plastic bag on a rudder dropped him to 11th. Polish sailor Jacek Noetzel was a close 4th.

The fastest woman sailor was Carolijn Brouwer. She finished her first ‘A’ cat event happily in a superb 15th overall place on her Exploder Ad3 with its slightly reduced mast height. Commenting afterwards, that this certainly wouldn’t be her last race in the class, which hopefully may become more popular with women, as they realize that the boats can be customized to their own weight and sailing styles.

On the technical side, most of the foiling boats are now using the decksweeper sail. The lower centre of effort really works well on a foiling boat that needs to be kept flatter. This also gives them another gear when going uphill for the same reason.

The concentration of the smooth airflow under and over the trampoline has been noticeable too. Twin skinned tramps with all the ropes sandwiched between, mean the underside is now sealed to the hulls to create a tunnel hull effect which aids lift when foiling.

One boat, Sandro Caviezel’s Scheurer C7 even had an extended ‘empennage’ type wind extending back from the rear beam to the stern. This was designed to further smooth the airflow. However, it may make the boat a handful in a high wind going uphill.

The older design ‘Classic’ C or straight board boats proved to still score high places in the non-foiling winds below about 8 kts. Georg Rutter was a close 2nd like this.

The new Holland Composites DNA F1 with its exquisite stealth fighter looks and semi solid tramp was fast in the hands of the right sailors. However, the considerably cheaper Polish Exploder Ad3 is more customizable as regards adding control systems. And it’s not much slower either – ask Bundy.

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