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North Sails NEWS

A 46 year old trimaran wins the 2016 Bayview-Mackinac Race with a new custom sail package.

On July 17, 2016, Adagio won her class in the Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race—thanks to her latest upgrades and a new set of North Sails.

“Old Adagio has taken on a new life,” said designer and builder Meade Gougeon. The 35 foot trimaran, built in 1970, was the first to be constructed entirely with WEST SYSTEM epoxy, which Meade and his brother Jan developed. Adagio won her first Bayview-Mac in 1999. In 2000, she celebrated her thirtieth birthday by winning the race again—and then also took both line honors and first overall in that year’s race from Chicago to Mackinac Island. The crew was Meade and Jan Gougeon, Butch Babcock and JR Watson. “In 2000 the crew was at the peak of their sailing wisdom and in excellent physical condition,” reported project manager and 2016 Bayview-Mac crew member Matt Scharl. “Adagio was also at the peak of technology for that era.”

Adagio was again the first multihull to finish both races to Mackinac Island in 2006. But despite several upgrades to appendages and rigging, she couldn’t produce another race win. “In recent years she had gone downhill,” Meade Gougeon explained, “with both the boat and crew aging out. This year we decided to tackle the problem.” Toward the end of the 2015 sailing season, Meade asked Matt Scharl to oversee the upgrades needed to bring the boat back up to race-winning speed before the 2016 race. Matt grew up sailing locally on his grandfather’s Tartan 41 Naiad, and to him the project felt like “coming back home.”

“We only got one opportunity to sail Adagio before it came out of the water [for the winter],” Matt explained, “but that sail was telling.”

The boat’s sails, which were only a year old, made it so difficult to stay in the groove that only Meade, with his forty-five years of experience driving the boat, could keep things rolling. “The sails weren’t right for the boat at all,” Matt said, adding that the genoa’s entry was too fine. The spinnaker was “simply what I describe as a beach ball—too deep to promote any flow across the sail.” In contrast, the mainsail was so flat it was hard to trim properly. The result was very little overlap between sails, and very little forgiveness on any point of sail. “The old suit had very definitive wind and angle ranges,” Matt continued. “It was hard to obtain and maintain optimal trim. Getting the boat up and running was achievable, but keeping it there was very finicky.”

So in addition to helping his race teammates, brothers-in-law Ben Gougeon and Alan Gurski, with their ongoing modernization of Adagio, Matt brought in North Sails designer Magnus Doole to work up a new sail inventory. “Matt agreed to help us do a makeover of Adagio,” Meade explained, “but only if we included Magnus to consult on the rig, and design a new set of sails.”

“The Gougeon organization could not be happier with the North Sails effort, which has helped our beloved Adagio to carry on a competitive effort for more years to come.”
And those designs, Matt says, were “spot on.” Magnus came up to Bay City from New Zealand to help Matt accurately measure the boat. Then the sailmaker created a 3D model from the measurements using Desman, which is part of the North Design Suite. Back home again, Magnus designed a sail package that would maximize crossover and make the boat easier to sail fast. The sails included a North Sails 3Di ENDURANCE mainsail, solent genoa and trinquette staysail, a North Panel Laminate (NPL) code zero and North Paneled Cloth (NPC) yellow gennaker. They were built at two separate North facilities according to strict manufacturing standards, and then shipped directly to Michigan.

Meade Gougeon was impressed with both the seamless process and North’s attention to detail. “The sails were delivered on time and fit like a glove, due to the careful job of measuring. The collaboration between Matt and Magnus was like magic, and Magnus went beyond the call of just being a sail designer, engaging with both Matt and us on any number of related sail handling issues.”

As for performance, Matt noticed one key difference as soon as they raised the new sails: a wider groove. “The boat was lively, responsive and accelerated fast.”

Adagio’s crew for the 2016 Bayview-Mac (Matt, Ben, and Alan) wasn’t able to practice as much as they would’ve liked before the start, so it wasn’t until they had already started the 259-mile course that they realized just how much range each of the new sails had.

“The race started out as a one-sided beat on starboard,” Matt said, “so we started with the genoa, with great boat speed on the other boats. When we got lifted [up to rhumbline for the Cove Island mark] we switched to the Code 0, an hour late.” They were still learning the crossovers for the new sails. When the wind lifted them even more, they switched to the spinnaker—”again an hour too late,” Matt said. “Clearly the new sails had larger ranges than we had expected.”

The thirty-five footer was able to keep pace with the Santa Cruz 70s, though until Adagio rounded the Cove Island mark, they lost some distance to the multihulls behind them that were sailing in better breeze.

“After rounding,” Matt explained, “we sailed with the genoa and jib on a beam reach.” It was here that the boat (with Ben Gougeon on the helm) reached her top speed of the race, which Matt described as “17-ish” knots. He believes it was on this leg of the course where the team gained enough distance on the boats behind to secure the class win. “I’ve never sailed a small trimaran that is able to hold apparent wind so well.”

“We were passing lots of the Santa Cruz 70s along the way,” Alan Gurski added, “so we had a good feeling that we were near the front of the fleet.” Adagio won the multihull division with an elapsed time of 28:46:04. “It was a hoot!” said Alan afterward.

Having sails that were easy to trim and fast to sail also made it easier for the three man team to gel so quickly. Alan and Ben had sailed Adagio with Meade for the past five years, but this was Matt’s first season on board. “We all can do every job on the boat,” Matt said, “so roles are interchangeable.” As for sleep, “we all got about two hours.”

This winter, Adagio has one more major upgrade scheduled. And then, Matt says, “she is good to go for the next fifty years, we think.”

Meade Gougeon agrees. “The Gougeon organization could not be happier with the North Sails effort, which has helped our beloved Adagio to carry on a competitive effort for more years to come.”