Graham and Chris’ Thoughtful Boat…..!!

Isn’t it great that after decades of sailing, teams are still finding ways to push the boundaries of the boat.  As this is being written, it’s the weekend of the Datchet Open and at the end of day one, Ian Cadwallader’s boat is in the lead.  This was the P&B finished boat from the 2013 Dinghy Show.

At the 2014 show, we had a Phil Evans boat built for Justin Waples.  This well engineered layout from Phil has been with us for many years – I love it and have had three !!  Interesting for me then to see the Ovington factory finished boat  that won the Hong Kong Worlds in knockout style in the hands of Graham Vials and Chris Turner.  The thing that probably impressed me most was the rethink of who does what in their boat, and the resulting control layout.  That then coupled to a very detailed attention to detail and the fact that the cockpit looked a very clean place to race.

We’ve previously written about the jib ratchets, the mast gate and the toestrap adjusters. Then there is the innovation with the alto section rig – much has been written on that, and I suspect there will be even more this year as other top teams give it a try.    Hopefully, we’re going to put a video on the BIFFA Members area to show you more detail.  In the mean time, let me show you a few more things that caught my eye….IMG_2703

Very noticeable on this boat (and its predecessor) is the adjustable mainsheet bridle. The bridle goes down through a hole in the stern tank, along a a tube and emerges at the side tank like this.

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If you have sailed other boats with a traveller, you’ll know the trick in light winds of pulling the traveller to windward to centre the boom without hardening the leach too much.  It used to make a heck of a difference on my Dragon, for example.  Well, with this setup, you can achieve the same thing.

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I’m sorry for the rubbish focus in the above photo – it’ll be better in the BIFFA video, I expect.  You will be able to make out the key point though – Ovington have figured out which length of the shroud adjuster will never be used – and ground it off to reduce weight.

IMG_2705Interestingly by contrast, it looks like half of the jib track is never used – but it survived intact!!  (Inside the minimum weight of course!)

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This idea of cutting a hole in the jib platform improves access to the bolts.  Note too that the hole at the bottom is used to tidy away one end of a control line, thus keeping the cockpit tidier.

IMG_2715Much talked about on their previous boat was the under deck furling system.  If I recall correctly the Mk 1 version had a wire strop above deck (though am not sure about that) and you can see here that this has become a solid bar.  More amazingly is the under deck part which I was entirely unable to photograph – it fits flush and smooth under the deck and makes no intrusion into the spinnaker chute at all !

IMG_2719IMG_2717Here’s a much better focussed photo of the shroud plate, but what I wanted to show you was the extremely neat end to the twinning line.  Very, very neat – I’m never a real fan of putting a bullet block there.    Also note that they have even tapered the twinning line itself (see photo to the left).

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They used the same approach to securing the rear block at the centre of the main boom too.

IMG_2736The boat has a spinnaker chute and not bags.  Up at the bow, their chute cover has two exposed blocks, and Chris has made this terribly simple approach using sticky backed sailcloth to cover up both pulleys – to keep everything smooth and snag free.  So good!!

IMG_2710The bailers are interesting for a number of reasons. One is that they are smaller sized (like everything on this boat, there must be a reason!!), but can you see they are glassed in??  Normally the sole-plate of the bailer sits above the hull, thus making it impossible for the last bit of water to leave.  Not the case here!!

The last thing to note, is that the bailer has controls (pink line) to enable the bailers to be opened or closed while hanging out the other side of the boat.  See the video of how this works by clicking here. 

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You can see the pink lines protruding from the console here that control the bailers.  The console itself looks pretty straight forward, but note the location of the 5kgs of lead on each side. I am very intrigued as I had previously accepted the logic of “lower the better” applying to corrector weight location.  Interesting!!!

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To keep the side tanks clear of control lines, Chris and Graham have gone for one of those fancy double cleated swivels. So a bit less string, I would guess….

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I’ve always been bit messy with my own markings for the mast ram, but it looks so clean and easy here. The mast collar maybe wraps around the mast less than on my epsilon.  Plus, I admit to being very intrigued at the neutral line (assuming the mast was in neutral at the show) being the bold line… and that the extra calibrations are pushing the mast towards inversion….. Hmmm …, Fine calibration intervals too.  What you can’t see so well, is that to looks like they have ground back the sides of the gate and there is about 2-3mm of sideways play.  Perhaps to improve the sideways bend characteristic above deck level – reading too much into it possibly?  By the way, tests at the Goacher Sails loft on the alto suggest that it might even be slightly stiffer fore and aft than the epsilon, and maybe 5% more flexible sideways – that showing mostly above the hounds at the tapered top.  Charles Apthorp told us that he is concluding of his new alto that it is not especially a mast for lightweights after all.

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Typical of the detail thinking would be the forward toestraps.  Note the way that they have sewn in two eyes to take the retainer shock cord that lifts them up for easy access.

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Now lets talk about the distribution of work in the boat.  On the forward coaming they have a stopwatch in the top left of the photo, the compass, and three control lines – furler, pole (there is also a pole control aft on the console) and chute cover.

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The boat is rigged with a spinnaker chute, and the flow back into the boat is extremely clean.  This photo was taken by putting the camera down the hole at the bow and photographing backwards into the cockpit.  Note the vertical curtain running down the centre line.  Here’s another photo, this time from the cockpit end……

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Now very controversially, the boat has no spinnaker sock in the cockpit.  Very interesting, and I’m hoping we can hear from Chris via the blog as top how they deal with all that sailcloth when the sail is down.  I thought perhaps they might have a shock cord retriever that pulls the excess cloth back up the chute, but there was no sign of one.

You know when you have a spinnaker sock in the cockpit the way you lead the line along the cockpit wall back to the helms position?  Well, they didn’t have that either. This implies to me that the bowman in this boat also drops the spinnaker down the chute. Unless I missed something!!

The pole by the way, is normal double ended and didn’t, from memory anyway, look like a fly away pole.

So – get the feeling that things are happening differently in this boat??  Well take a look at this….

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IMG_2732The spinnaker halyard does not go down the tunnel, but across the top of the tunnel. It is automatically cleated at the forward end, so it is Chris at the bow who un-cleates the spinnaker for the drop….  Interesting!!

Now the addition of a turning block a couple of feet aft of the cleat suggests to me that on a reach for example, either the crew or the helm can hoist the sail – and if the pole is pre-mounted they can do that while hanging out!!…. Very interesting.  All this means too that the hatch over the tunnel in the floor has to be bolted down – not elasticated as normal.  You can clearly see the bolts in the photo.

So that’s a quick tour of the major things that struck me on our World Champions boat.

4 thoughts on “Graham and Chris’ Thoughtful Boat…..!!

  1. Lot of thought gone into Graham Vials and Chris Turner 15 . . . on the underdeck genoa furler, I remember them on Flying Dutchman over 40 years ago, taken a long time to catch-on. I still have a copy of the brochure I produced for Ed Leask who was importing them, from FTS, Aussie I think?

  2. I think Chris told me that he drops the kite so that tis why the cleat and block are in the front, but as he sailed skiffs in the past can also have the hoist allocated to crew if needed.

  3. I have the kite cleat forward (same on Sake) so I can control the drop. Free’s Graham to have his head out of the boat. I pull the kite down, no need for a sock through the cockpit as you simply stuff the kite forward. After the first couple of pulls you are pulling on the sail itself anyway. Merlins, Scorpions and a lot of traditional UK Classes have this set up, it is nothing new.
    Lead is where it is as there was no where else to put it! Handly you can put your toe under it on a windy reach too!
    Got a few new ideas that will come for the Nationals…

  4. Love the furler, took it out of my ’81 Shand classic ff2671 as it would jam up with the old foam. Great to see a few of the tricks revealed, whether new, old or just re- invented. Love the offside bailer controls, might just get the grinder out…. The Flying Fifteens just keep getting better… Good work guys ff3941

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