Monday, October 27, 2008

The Home Builder's Dilemma

When this time last year I undertook the project to make Try-Foil, I had to make some decisions as to what I could get away with and still end up with a credible result. For example, one choice was to whether or not to use old broken windsurfer masts for the rack system. Cost was negligible (I had made a run down to the Outer Banks and collected various bits and pieces from the windsurf shops down there,) but Bill told me there would be a weight penalty and a decrease in stiffness. He suggested, and I agreed, that specifically engineered tubes would be a better, albeit a more expensive choice. So I spent about $1000 to get Ted VanDusen to make the bare tubes. I did make the cuts and the corner joints and I think the result is as good as a production boat (okay, maybe not the spiffy aero-sections of the BR but just as light and stiff.)

I had decided early on that I wanted the rig to be a non-issue, i.e., typical of the top of the fleet, so I bought a Burvill mast and a KA sail. It so happened that many of the top guys subsequently went with the skinny masts, the newest KA shape, and even the aramid rigging, but I believe at this point my rig choice isn't holding me back (just my technique.)

Likewise, I'm sure that my hull weight and stiffness are right in the ball park with the production boats. I suppose that there are advantages to slightly less surface area and tweaked chine sections, and even removed flares, but the order of magnitude of those improvements is way below that of pulling off consistently good starts and smooth turns (which is what my emphasis needs to be.)

That leaves the foils.

I built the struts and lifting foils last fall with the help of Gui and Bill. They work. Just not as well as I had hoped. So when my daggerboard gave up the ghost last weekend, I made the decision to buy a production board and foil. Actually, it was a hard decision. I had vascillated back and forth with John, Bill, and Gui providing lots of input and counsel. I'm sure that I could build another set that would work, but I'm also sure that whatever I built wouldn't be as efficient as the best of the production builders. How could it? Would anyone seriously consider building their own sail (okay, you sailmakers would, but that's your business, literally.) For us normal guys the idea of buying a production foil set makes as much sense as buying a production sail.

My order went out to AMAC this morning. I hope to have the new daggerboard and lifting foil in the next few weeks. I'll still have to mate it to my trunk, and re-design the control system, so it probably won't be until the spring before I hit the water again, but I'm excited. I do hope to make another, slightly thinner, rudder this winter from a mold that John has (Gui calls his vertical section "outdated" and suitable for a museum,) so I'll still be in the builder's mode for the next few months. But, yes, I've bit the bullet. Somehow it tastes good.


Doug Culnane said...

When I built my boat I decided that the rig and the foils are the hard bits and bought them off the shelf. This lead to a competitive boat.

However buying foils off the shelf is not very easy, so it is great that you are able to get them. I hope you get them more than a couple of weeks before the worlds as that seems to be standard. This gives you a weekend to fit them and you can rig up and test during the practice race....

All the best,


Joe Bousquet said...

We'll see. The lifting foil will be from the new Mach2, the vertical strut will mate up with it, but will not be exactly the same as the Mach2 strut (maybe a prototype?) We'll also see aboutthe shipping time.....