FF Mast Section Evolution….. Alto…..

You’ve probably been following the Worlds and seen how authoritatively the event was stamped by Graham Vials and Chris Turner in very difficult conditions. They didn’t even have to race the last race, they were that far ahead….

Maybe I don’t recall correctly, but I don’t think Graham and Chris raced the British Championship immediately preceding the worlds. For much of that event it blew old boots and very familiar names came up as race winners – Steve Goacher and Charles both won a pair of races each. So we wont know for while how Graham and Chris stack in a blow – but my guess would be pretty damned well. So a new World order emerges… Does it mean a jot to the average Club Racer?? Well, it might do….

A couple of years ago, Charles, Brett and Gavin Tappenden set out on a journey to design the next big step in Flying Fifteens. The new boat is just packed with brilliant, inspired, carbon fibre led, thinking. I believe it also has new computer designed and positioned keel and rudder. They have brought high-tech computer design to an area which (amazingly) is still largely a trial-and-error, done by eye and feel, process of building and assembling a Flying Fifteen. It has been computer modelled to death, and Charles says the measurements suggest it will be a few per cent faster than an Ovi in a 100 minute race.  The result – hmm might be a bit closer than modelling suggests and at least a couple of Charles’ crews have assured us that it is indeed quick.

Then along comes Graham Vials in an Ovi Mk X and pretty much wipes the floor with everyone. How does this impact a club sailor? Well – the average Club Member is slightly less likely to pop out an order for a Charles type boat tomorrow – but Graham Vials was using a new mast section…… A Selden Alto… set with a new P&B rig, based around a slightly flatter mainsail, I believe…

Much earlier this year, we wrote in this blog about how difficult it is to evolve mast sections in Flying Fifteens – see the blog entries for March 5th and March 15th,… or easier just type “Alto” into the search bar on the right hand side of this page and hit enter…..

The main thrust of these articles was to say how difficult it is to buy anything from Selden other than an Epsilon section. They just don’t want to sell you anything else. We noted in March that there is a shift in the Fireball and 505 to a stiffer Selden section (8% stiffer) called the “Alto”. It won the Fireball worlds this year, I think….

Guess what – super quick new star, Graham Vials, is using an Alto Section…. The P&B newsletter today says that he is using an Alto with a Medium cut P&B Main…. and going like the clappers obviously. I must say that we tried a P&B medium cut on the flat waters of Datchet and in the light anyway, preferred it to the ‘Power Full’ design. So – all very interesting…. And that’s the answer to how FFs would get a wider choice of mast section on offer – Graham Vials will arrive and sort one out with P&B! The relevance at  Club level Racing? It might have been an exceptional year for mast damage, but I think our fleet has had three new masts in the last year or so….. So the evolution comes relatively quickly … After all, it’s not that many years since our fleet, and probably yours, was a good mix of Superspar and Epsilon. Now we seem to be just about all Epsilon…. The migration could come reasonably quickly…

However, if we vote for the new rig design later this year, perhaps section development has to start all over again anyway…..

You can compare Selden Mast Sections here


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