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Pub day at A-Class World Championships

Published on November 21st, 2018

Hervey Bay, Australia (November 21, 2018) – The beautiful golden sands of the Fraser Coast and Hervey Bay SC is the venue for the 2018 A-Class World Championships on November 18 to 23. A total of 118 sailors, 46 of them overseas visitors, and with the two divisions split as 48 Classic and 70 Open (Foiling), this is becoming one of the great championships.

The field is the strongest seen in many years, with such sailing superstars as Glenn Ashby, Peter Burling, Blair Tuke, Darren Bundock, Carolijn Brouwer and Andrew Landenberger together with a host of former Olympic and National champions.

The ‘A’ Cat, particularly in its latest foiling incarnation, seems to attract top sailors due to its technicality and skills required to get the very best from this thoroughbred single handed catamaran, very much the ‘Formula One’ of the cat world.

As we speak, we are mid-way through, but the weather is proving rather ‘fruity’ on occasions, with the first scheduled, and now the fourth race day being canned as the 30kt plus North winds roll onto the Hervey Bay beach

However, 6 races have been run in both the fleets and the expected leaders have emerged. Ashby, going for this 10th World title in the Open Division and Landy on the Classics. But, it’s not cut and dried yet, especially in the Open division.

With a potential three more races possible, it is still very much all up for grabs. Glenn Ashby, the odds on favourite, had, by his standards, a poor day yesterday, with a 5th and a 3rd alongside his usual bullet. The double World ‘A’ Cat Champion, Mischa Heemskerk (NED) has regained form and is now chasing hard, narrowing the gap with Ashby down to 7 points, with Blair Tuke another 6 points behind him in 3rd.

Ashby dropped his points in a light wind (6-7kt) race 4 that took two General Recalls and a Black Flag before it went off. Rounding the top mark in second, he went far off towards the shore, in the direction of Bunderberg, in search of more pressure to foil in, rather than plumping for the slower but deeper low drag option.

He managed to return though, and without any Bunderberg rum either, but still rejoined the pack in 5th place, when most of us would probably be timed out of the race for doing that. Darren Bundock proved to be the light wind Miester to get his only bullet so far.

Heemskerk, who is known not to be a fan of the light stuff, something that his stature doesn’t help with either, finished 9th. Ashby won the next race but the wind had started to arrive and was able to secure another win, however, Heemskerk finished not too far behind.

The ETNZ team had received the latest prototype Exploder Z23 foils over the weekend, and after a day spent evaluating them, they elected to use them during the regatta as they proved to have slightly better performance at the lighter end of the spectrum as they were designed to be, but keeping the same higher wind performance as the Z22. It is thought that these foils could go into series production after all the regatta data is analyzed from the event.

Another thing pursued by the team, along with some other sailors, is the trick developed in the America’s Cup of differential rudder foil rake. Both Exploder and DNA have independent rake adjustments on the rudders which allows then to offset them by up to typically 2.5 – 3 degrees differential, with the windward rudder canted less than the leeward one to create a ‘downforce’ effect, particularly in the upwind foiling mode, to allow more power to be used.

Upon the tack, a line is pulled to reset both the rudders for the other tack. Getting the settings wrong would be worse than not doing it at all, but Ashby must have it totally spot on, as his boat is devoid of that characteristic ‘A’ Cat hum, heard on the others in the fleet. But woe betide anyone who tries this with an older, less stiff platforms, as you could well be going home with two canoes rather than one catamaran as it would dramatically increase the twisting loads on the platforms.

By race 6, the winds had built to a Champaign sailing 12-15 kts. The boats in both fleets swished through the blue waters of the Coral Sea. And no one mentioned that Tiger shark coming to check out the racing at the top mark seen by the mark layers!

The race was exciting to watch with boats foiling up and downhill all over the place. The last downhill drag race to the line was particularly spectacular as spectators and officials tried to see who was leading. At about a quarter of a mile, it was plain to see that it was Heemskerk’s Mischa Sail was more to leeward and just in front of Ashby’s North Sail.

But no, they were mistaken, he was leading Peter Burling by some 30m as they both blasted across the line to whoops from spectators on the big Ameroo whale watching boat, commissioned as the official spectator boat for the WAGS or anyone else who fancied the trip (46 AUD with lunch too!). Ashby was behind in 3rd, ahead of Blair Tuke.

The remainder of the fleet followed, many fighting hard for the last few hundred meters and positions change places meters from the line. Over on the Classic course, similar scenes played out with just as much gusto.

So, now the scene is set for the final day, probably the final day now. Tomorrow promises 25-35 kt winds, so unless you have a Hobie 16, Dart or kiteboard, stay in the pub. We all wait with keen anticipation. Bring it on Mate-ay, as they say down here.

Racing is planned from November 18 to 23.

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Source: Gordon Upton, Editor,

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