North Sails designer Mike Marshall has teamed up with leaders in the F18 class to develop the North Sails inventory. Since March 2014, Mike has worked closely with Tripp Burd and Olympic hopeful Mike Easton to create a trio of sails that will push their Falcon F18 to peak performance. Using North’s proprietary modeling software to optimize the designs, results were tested with on-the-water trials.
While Mike and Tripp won the 2014 F18 US Nationals with the initial designs, the team found areas for even further optimization. “We’ve since made two generations of the main. The first design adjustment was to allow for better light air performance, and the second was a small shift back in the direction we started with, to preserve the all around performance of the sails,” said Marshall, who has designed for North Sails since 2012 and sailed the F18 for the past year. “The sails give a little more power in light and choppy conditions and are able to flatten out in big breeze despite the extra depth. One final test to go but but so far we are quite happy with the current set as a solid all-purpose option.”
The final test he mentions is the Cata-Cup in St. Barths, where 55 of the class’s top sailors face off in what is traditionally a series of epic big-breeze, big-swell races in the Caribbean Sea. While Mike had a conflict, Tripp took the boat south and enlisted the help of a friend, Bracco Jacopo to drive the boat. The pair finished 19th in the end. During the week Tripp sent in several progress reports:
November 15, 2015 – Tripp
Hey guys, first day of Catacup done. Happy to report that the sails are pretty well sorted. Whatever changes were made to the main bolt rope, luff curve, or batten end spacing has mostly fixed the hoisting problems and our setup seems fast!
One race today, counter-clockwise around the island. Shifty and 5-10 knots for the most part. Rain squall moved through towards the last quarter of the race and launched the lead pack while everyone else got becalmed for a bit. A bunch of teams finished in the dark. The sails have almost the same low end punch as the previous set, which is sweet. During the squall, the breeze cranked for a bit and we didn’t have any major luffing or main inversion problems which was great! We’re sailing heavy this week and light air and chop should’ve killed us. Two races tomorrow, mid-teens supposedly. Should be sweet.
November 22, 2015 – Tripp
It’s been an uncharacteristically light event this year, not the full tradewind conditions we’ve had in the past. Still, we’ve managed to break a few things which has hampered our results a bit. The racing lifestyle is pretty civilized…we’re in for a lunch break right now! The parties and group of sailors here make it a ton of fun. This afternoon will be the last race and we have some Nikki Beach champagne stakes going. Gotta win! I’ll send a good summary tomorrow if that’s cool.
November 25, 2015 – Tripp
A downside to racing in such a unique venue is the long travel home…and it’s a trade I’d make a thousand times. The passionate team of organizers at the St. Barths Cata-cup have consistently delivered the best event in sailing, and this year was no exception. The weather wasn’t as expected. We broke some stuff. Spent hours loading hot 40’ containers, and it’s all worth it. No other event I’ve sailed combines such an exceptional level of competition, with fun racing formats, and an (overly? nahh) full social schedule. Even rounding deep after a botched start, you’re then chasing down a fleet at twenty knots through cliffs, reefs, and ocean swell. Vendee champs, medalists, couples, friends, and families, can all compete on equal terms. My friend, Jacopo, whom I sailed Cata-Cup with, sails once a year…this event. Bringing sailing friends from around the world together, Cata-Cup is a perfect example of why high performance beachcat sailing has such a draw.
For those who aren’t as familiar with the F18 class, it’s a development box rule with restrictions on materials to keep costs down. Turnkey new boats cost under 25k, while 15k gets you an equally competitive ride on the used market. New hull shapes, foil packages, and sail designs keep the tinkerers engaged, while effective weights and rules keep all the designs very close in performance. Performance that can smoke 50’ keel boats and then take a few friends out for a beach cruise. The fleet’s a blast and at the end of the day, we’re all out there sailing to have fun. Events like Cata-Cup keep that spirit blazing.