Wednesday, September 22

The importance of mastering the GP50 ‘g’ forces in buoy tacking


Vigo (Pontevedra)

Updated:

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2021 gives wings to the third season of the SailGP multihull circuit after the frustrated and brief 2020, in which only one regatta could be held in the Australian bay of Sydney, a competition in which the Spanish team achieved fourth place.

This year the venues planned for SailGP will be in Bermuda, Taranto (Italy), Plymouth (UK), Aarhus (Denmark), Saint-Tropez (France), Cádiz -on October 9 and 10-, Christchurch (NZ) and San Francisco (USA); program that is subject to the effects and sanitary measures of the COVID19 pandemic.

The bay of the island of Bermuda, the Great Sound, is where the first regatta is being held during the third week of April, with 8 teams from Australia, England, Denmark, Spain, the United States of America, France, Japan. and New Zealand. A regatta course that is already well-trodden since the celebration of the 35th edition of the America’s Cup; Its peculiarity is that its waters are highly protected, with a fairly small size, the winds are relatively stable and predictable as they are not thermal.

Certainly for the Spanish team the 50 foot SailGP catamarans are not new to them because they have already sailed them last year. The novelty for them, and the other teams, is that for this season the wing mast sail is the same for everyone, as well as the shorter rudders.

We have spoken with Florián Trittel, responsible for the adjustment and control of the wing mast, about sailing aboard the F50 catamaran:

“To change the size, the sail area of ​​the major, of the wing, you have to add or reduce elements. The standard size is 24 m. high, it is configured by four elements; when we add a fifth element it is the configuration for low wind when adding more surface. And when there are many winds, of the four we reduce to three, remaining in 18 meters. So we play with 18, 24 and 29 meters.

The balance point of these boats with respect to those that competed in the 2017 America’s Cup in this same regatta field, to go at maximum speed, the technique used is similar, take the boat against heeling and with the bow down -corresponds to physical concepts-. When sailing against heeling, it is possible to have more righting moment, and, therefore, more speed. What we cannot do now is take the stern higher because the current rudders are shorter.

Sailing on a catamaran like the Nacra and these 50-foot-length multihulls, the concept is 100% applicable, very similar. The difference is that in a Nacra communication is between two people and in an F50 you have to do it with a team of five crew members, with boats being much more technically advanced; for example, today we had problems with the hydraulic pumps … there is so much technology that you really not only depend on yourself to navigate, but also that the systems work.

My main function on board is to trim the mainsail, the wing mast, which is adjusted using a sheet on a winch to control the car, and in the other hand I have a one-way joystick that allows me to open and close the leech, and with a few buttons to play with the depth, shape, and profile.

Our maximum speed that we have reached these days has been 87 km / h, which is the same as sailing at about 47 knots, we even reached 48 knots (88.89 km / h). One might think: what a cake we are going to hit each other (he says it smiling) “.

The F50s have managed to navigate at 53 knots of speed with a wind intensity of 20 knots, which translated into life on land is 98,156 km / h; and comparatively with a racing car it would be to see the odometer needle above 250 km / h. Situation in which the “g” forces come into play, always more pronounced in tight turns that tend to displace race car pilots, motorcycles, aircraft pilots, astronauts and sailors laterally.

Any person is affected by the acceleration of gravity, the minimum is 1g; But if you sneeze, you can experience 2.9g in a few seconds, expelling germs and other particles at a speed of more than 160km / h. As a general rule, we do not get subjected to 8g forces for more than a second, unless you received a punch from a boxer that reaches 500 kg of heavy weight (about five times the weight of the boxer).

The crews on board the F50s experience the “g” forces in all sailing directions during the races, in the tacks and being more pronounced in the buoy turns at the end of each section of the stern or upwind. These catamarans arrive with a lot of speed and the moment of the tack they decelerate quickly to fly again, in that tight turn is where the sailors “g” forces can reach many kilos of pressure; An F50 generates forces between 1.3 and 2 g, which affects each crew member on board based on their own weight.

“The“ g ”forces are what you notice the most when you start sailing in these multihulls, I had never experienced it before in luffing or landing, in tacking and buoy seizures. For all this, the security levels are now higher, we are all hooked to a lifeline, even if the boat punctures or the “g” forces are very high and you are thrown out, no one falls from the boat, you are left hanging from the side. And, in addition, if you fall into the water, we carry an oxygen cylinder that gives for 28 breaths ” (Florián Trittel).

The season has just started and for now there is no dominant leader in sight, which could be the Australian team. Some experts have said that the level is very high, that in the passage of buoys it would not be strange to see four F50 doing the same maneuver.

Another equation to be solved is that a few months before the Tokyo Olympics, Spanish Olympic sailors competed in this type of regattas.

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