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North Sails NEWS

May 31, 2019

HELIX SAILS AND THE BENETEAU FIGARO 3

A Specialized Sail Structure, Helix Is Part of the North Sails Recommended Inventory For This Foiling Offshore Class

Spend a day in a North Sails offices and lofts and you’ll quickly observe Helix sails are a hot topic. Who’s taking delivery this week, how are they performing, are the clients happy? Our sail design team is constantly looking at photos and video of sail shape, while our sales team is fielding inquiries from current and potential clients looking to step up their performance.

In the last few weeks, Supermaxi Scallywag won their class and broke a record at Les Voiles St Barth, Wally Centro Magic Carpet 3 took delivery of their new Helix sail before Palma Vela, Cao Ila R won the Mini Maxi division at Capri Sailing Week, and the feedback on Helix sails from the Beneteau Figaro 3 class is coming in fast and furious.

“The data is coming in after a few months, and the Helix sails have less sag, less load and are faster on every angle than the competition,” North Head of R&D Gautier Sargent explains. “The results from the Figaro 3 are proof that the performance gains we advertise are real.”

Helix sails are a specialized sail structure evolved from Load Sharing Technology, and are part of the North Sails recommended inventory for this foiling offshore one-design class. These sails are more versatile, forward projecting and self-supporting, featuring a luff cord to fine tune the luff shape.

“Helix gives us the ability to adjust the flying shape to the conditions and point of sailing. Also, the loads required to control your sag are reduced and the overall bagged weight is light.”

Armel Le Cléac’h, Skipper Banque Populaire Figaro 3

The North design team is 80 people strong and is a powerful collection of very talented design experts with an excellent track record of developing new concepts.

“Designers at North Sails are committed to understanding the why,” Gautier says. “Paired with our obsession to deliver the best product, this has brought people back to ask about Helix. At North Sails, we look at the long game and incorporate all factors (material, design, ease of use) into our product offering.”

Though it wasn’t a popular decision initially, Gautier stands by the North Sails approach of building a handful of identical Helix sail prototypes for the Figaro 3 fleet. This setting of a baseline is similar to how North Sails handles the IMOCA, Melges 20 and J/70 classes, and it gives teams the opportunity to test the sail at different regattas, with all factors being equal.:

“Helix is a good fit for the solo Figaro 3 because it is very versatile and covers a huge range of conditions and wind angles. You can easily switch from reaching to a downwind sail. 

Morgan Lagraviere, Skipper Safran IMOCA

“We lost a few guys at the beginning because they wanted custom sails, but building the best sail we could for this class, and offering it to everyone was what we did,” explains Gautier. “We want our clients to feel special, but we don’t like to play favorites. If everyone is the same when learning the boat, you understand whether you are faster because of different trimming, a different setting on the foil, or maybe different sail configurations.”

© Alexis Courcoux