The Skiff Evaluation panel has recommended 2 boats, the Mackay FX and RS900.
Rebel placed third in the MNA sailor feedback rankings yet the Evaluation panel’s comments were as follows:
“The Rebel is a modern light skiff. The performance of the boat showed to be one of the fastest. The boat’s performance was good. The sailors felt that the boat was challenging and sometimes difficult, particularly in some manoeuvres. It would need careful attention to boat handling and technique. The suitability of the boat to the criteria weight range is good.
The boat rewards a high skill level.”
This exactly reflected Rebel’s design brief and matched the criteria set out by ISAF…..
2. Evaluation Criteria
(a) The proposed equipment should highlight the following:
Athletically challenging to the elite sailors of the world
Have visual appeal for spectators, media and sailors
Be equipment that avoids unnecessary or excessive costs
It is desired that the sailors combined weight will be within the 110-130
We designed Rebel to be the fastest (non-foiled) monohull for its size and designated crew weight range, that we have succeeded became clear as the trials progressed, this is how it went in the training and informal racing:
On the Wednesday, flat water and around 9kts of wind speed the Rebels were faster than any of the other contenders, even outpacing upwind the full rig Spanish 49ers training alongside.
On the Friday, in waves and 15kts wind speed Rebels were again fast, trading places with the FX,
On the Saturday, slight chop 9kts, Rebels won the majority of the races, (JPN, GBR and NZL) by as much as 200m over a 1600m course.
Rebel uses an open rack configuration with a netted trampoline infill, whereas the FX and RS900 have solid wings, we chose to go down this lighter and more cost effective route and similar to those used by the INT14, RS800, other twin trapeze skiffs, and the Sydney harbour 18’s. The Rebel is in effect a 15ft, 2 person version of the 18.
However this configuration proved to have a negative impact on some of the sailors, especially those new to high performance skiffs, who liked the more secure feeling of the solid wings.
Many at the trials struggled with estimating the sail areas of the boats often assuming Rebel had the largest area. In fact the RS900 and Rebel are virtually identical, see below the data from the trials. The RS800, the most popular Club sailors’ twin trapeze boat in the UK, has a similar mainsail area too.
|Sail area main||11.8||13.8||11.8||11.7|
|Sail area jib||5.8||5.8||6||4.9|
|Sail area gennaker||26.75||25.1||26.6||21|
Rebel is the lightest and shortest of these, yet proved to be “one of the fastest”.
The light and stiff latest generation skiff hull and foils (designed in 2010) combined with a fully developed rig package from North Sails and Selden Masts are the reasons.
Full advantage was taken of the considerable design advances that have been made since the 49er came on the scene in 1995. The RS900 is based upon a shortened RS800 hull designed in 1998.
One area we worked on extensively was the gennaker hoist and drop efficiency with 5 versions of the chute mouth and several patch location experiments. The Int14 uses a twin patch long sock system which we found to be the lowest load configuration, the down side is that the helm has to walk over the sock, (the crew has that issue in any case). This extended sock and reverse pull halyard dropping technique was an issue for some. The FX use a twin patch layout also, with a longer distance between patches and shorter sock which we plan to test.
During the trials we adopted the system used in a number of classes including the FX of an additional block in the gennaker sheet system to make the ratchet block more effective in reducing the sheet loading.
Rebel is much lighter than the RS900 (-24kg) and the FX (-36kg), this lightness contributes to her speed but also means she is low in momentum, quick to accelerate and decelerate, so she can slow down quickly too.
This was clearly evident in watching the less experienced sailors struggle to keep the speed up in the turns, low speed means low stability, and as a consequence many reported that Rebel was not as easy as the heavier boats in these areas.
It was not possible to teach and learn the tacking and gibing techniques required to deal with this, few had enough time or experience in each boat to learn and refine new skills let alone take on the advanced ones.
From our development testing we know that with practise and the application of the correct techniques Rebel more than matches the 49er.
Since the trials the recommended boats have been busy
RS900 Reducing the weight by 10kg, sail and rig development, dagger board increase in depth in consideration,
49erFX Acquisition of rig set up data and weight range validation
It will be interesting to see how the decreased weight affects the performance of the RS900, quicker in a straight line and tougher in the turns.
Saving 10kg is not an easy task and can impact on the structural integrity and durability of the boat and will need to be proven.
Given that the RS900 is undergoing considerable change compared with the boat tested in the trials and that there is a need to check the weight carrying range of the FX (an area which Mackay have been actively validating), we would suggest that a second trial be carried out with the contenders using elite sailors to accurately evaluate the designs at the level required by the criteria set by ISAF.
As Dick Batt, Chairman of the evaluation team, said at the start of Santander event to the sailors and manufacturers, “We are choosing a boat for the next 20 years”, let’s make sure we have the right one.
The Olympic Skiff event will aim to be the pinnacle of Women’s sailing, the boat
selected should match that ambition.
“The Olympic Games should be attractive to the youth of today, both from the point of view of participation and audience interest. Youth is excited by sailing fast, modern equipment. This is also the equipment that has the most spectator appeal. Our choices around Olympic equipment should reflect this.” Phil Jones, ISAF Olympic Commision