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DNA vs. eXploder - buying new A Cat

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eXploder and DNA are selling pretty stable platforms - 2016/17 designs that have been refined .  which is better?

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Nice controversial subject! There are lots of variables that make it hard to answer. Mischa won the worlds on a DNA, but was that the platform or him? My view is that it was him. After the last day, one of the other main contenders (sailing an Exploder) said to me that they had been faster than Mischa all day but he was so much better round the race track with boat handling etc. Then you need to consider whether speed is due to the platform or rig. Many at the front use similar masts but there is a variety of sails.

When you compare the latest DNA and Exploder offering, there is a lot that is similar. Both now offer solid tramps with skin underneath to create the "double skin". Both are fitted out to a very high standard. In this regard, DNA used to be ahead of Exploder but the latest Exploders have caught up and maybe even gone ahead a little, although I am sure DNA fans would argue differently.

In the past, the DNA was delivered ready to sail and set up, while the Exploder wasn't and needed some setting up. The latest offering from Exploder has addressed this and they now offer a well thought out finished platform ready to race.

Some argue that the DNA is more streamlined and aerodynamic, or just plain sexier! If you prefer the look, then maybe that is a deciding factor. 

When it comes to quality, I can't really comment, because while you hear stories, I haven't seen the evidence and only know Exploders and how they stack up over time. They are well built with few problems

In short, both are great products and unless you are capable of winning a worlds, this is a little bit of a non discussion because both are good enough to allow you to sail it as easily and well as you can. Even when considering winning the worlds, there is no clear cut choice. For many, it comes down to price and there is a significant difference there.

 

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3 hours ago, Lars Schrøder d 13 said:

Exploders are like Skoda's, where DNA's are more like an Alfa;- ) 

 

 

That’s a bit harsh to describe DNA as unreliable rubbish!!!!!!!

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Support what Simon has said. I’ve owned both brands and they each have their strengths and weaknesses but either will be a rewarding boat to sail. 
my view would be to buy what is readily available in your area if buying second hand and on good condition. Another consideration is what boats people in your area are sailing. Collaboration and support from your mates is invaluable. 
if buying new and money is not a major consideration then get what others have and you can build your settings and skills together. 

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Nice problem to have.

If you have too much money, DNA?

If you have too much time, Exploder?

2016/17 seems about the right vintage, I think it's probably more important to know the first owner was a safe pair of hands, and took care of the boat, than the label, there are well sorted 2016 boats that will be an easier own than a 2018 boat that's been hashed and pranged?

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Which one has the best dealer/fleet support in your area? If you are splashing out that sort of cash, you will want to get the best out of it and keep it in action if a bit falls off or breaks

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5 hours ago, maxstaylock said:

Nice problem to have.

If you have too much money, DNA?

If you have too much time, Exploder?

2016/17 seems about the right vintage, I think it's probably more important to know the first owner was a safe pair of hands, and took care of the boat, than the label, there are well sorted 2016 boats that will be an easier own than a 2018 boat that's been hashed and pranged?

Good stuff - thanks - for clarity, I'm buying a new boat - my 2016/17 reference was to the design vintage of current boats on offer.

 

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6 hours ago, WetnWild said:

Support what Simon has said. I’ve owned both brands and they each have their strengths and weaknesses but either will be a rewarding boat to sail. 
my view would be to buy what is readily available in your area if buying second hand and on good condition. Another consideration is what boats people in your area are sailing. Collaboration and support from your mates is invaluable. 
if buying new and money is not a major consideration then get what others have and you can build your settings and skills together. 

thanks - good advice - I've been sailing a 2015 DNA for the last 3 years mostly solo sailing to learn catamarans-101 and then how to foil with some stability - getting ready to do a regatta or 2 and maybe if not too dangerous to those around me, do the Worlds next year.  Unfortunately, not much A Cat activity on Narraganset Bay - they love keels around here......

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End your dilemma this way: BUY BOTH!  -  sail and evaluate both  -  select your favorite  -  sell the other one. Yes, there will be a loss on the boat you don't select but you will be happy with your choice. As a wise man said  " there are lots of ways to lose money, boats just happen to be fun "    Happy Sailing!

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Very exiting, just for interest, why upgrade from the platform you have? Lots of Z22 foils going almost free now, that could work well with your current ride.

Might be worth traveling to a couple of events before you drop serious money, firstly to get your eye in with the fleet, without also having to protect a $25000 platform, secondly, once you meet some sailors in each boat, you might find more affinity for either the Oakley wearers, or the Ray Ban crowd.

Exploders and Scheurers are lovely bits of kit, but I can't help tripping over my tongue when I see an F1, hoping they are still generally intact when they become cheap enough for me.  Just not sure I'll ever go back to Oakley though.

I was in a similar position to you a year ago, much sailing in isolation, but the nearest fleet was 8 hours away.  Since I committed to traveling (with the older boat), and getting schooled, am learning way faster, getting more competitive, (and having more fun), than if I had just bought kit and read tuning guides.

The more I race these things, the more I recon the platform is the least important part of the boat.  Your 2015 DNA might already be just the right boat for you - but you won't know until you have lined up a couple of times, to see where your strengths lie?

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I believe one container of DNAs and one container of eXploders will be coming from Europe shortly to the USA.  If you want to get either one, I would talk to Mischa or Emmanuel respectively and see if there is room to include another boat.

More differences:

The DNA has more rounded surfaces at the water line and the eXploder has more flat surfaces.  I'm not sure the speed is that different but the sounds and feelings in waves will be.  The DNA F1 is probably a stiffer boat with its central beam in the middle of the trampoline and pre-preg build.  I have heard good things about their flywheel main sheeting system now as being lower friction.

The eXploders, once they got to the AD3 design, are the most easily upgradable / customizable boats with daggerboards that are interchangeable in the trunks since the Z10 and retrofit kits for on-the-wire adjustable rudder systems.  I've been told an early DNA F1 will not fit the latest DNA boards but know that an early AD3 eXploder that is several years old will fit the latest Z27s.

A custom colored F1 looks the sexier of the two in the boat park, but will be a bit harder to repair I imagine if something goes wrong with its curved shapes.

Both can use either popular mast, the fiberfoam tapered designed by DNA originally or the fiberfoam straight mast.  The tapered design has gotten increasingly popular.

Either way, you will enjoy a much improved foiler compared to your 2015 and either boat can win the Worlds.  Both makes offer a classic version now too.  We have a few of each in classic mode now here in the USA.

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There is certainly a lot of BS talked on forums and this thread is no different. I don't know why people pussy foot around the real issues and don't tell the truth. Forget speed for now, because both platforms are quick enough for anybody and are capable of winning at the highest level. The real factors for most are cost and longevity, and there is a clear winner here. Some facts. Somebody in Europe (no names, no foul) tested a recent DNA and Exploder and the Exploder twisted less under load than the DNA. Is this significant? I doubt it because the difference wasn't great, but it was there. The reasons suspected for this is the greater area of all the mouldings on the DNA means that the amount of materials need to be less in some areas, although the counter to that is that DNA's tend to be noticeably heavier than Exploders. 

The next issue is build quality, although that term might be a little unfair. Maybe it should be robustness of the construction. Fact 2 - 100% of F1's imported to Australia have suffered from delam issues although the sample size is small. This can be an issue with lightweight prepreg. This statement doesn't comment on manufacturing quality because the delam could have occurred for a number of reasons, but I believe that there is little doubt that the Exploder is more robust. I think you need to be a lot more careful with the DNA compared with the Exploder, although this is relative because neither should be dragged up the beach on their arse!

On pure looks, the DNA wins with all its smooth curves and fairings. Some like the sloping tramp with its ridge down the middle while others say it makes them feel as if they are going to fall off. I suspect you get used to it. The latest Exploders with their solid tramp and hidden mainsheet traveler look pretty good in the photos. The boats have very different ideas on how they are fitted out but which you prefer is just personal choice. The other thing that is personal choice is how much you are prepared to pay. Last time I checked, the DNA was AU$16,000 more expensive for a platform. Then consider second hand values and how much depreciation there will be. That varies depending on where you are, so I cannot comment. I personally cannot understand anybody spending so much more on the DNA, but admit they are cool boats.

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I think it can be added that both designs have had the reliabilty problems at different scale (that can be expected with the fast development). Jakub at exploder are usually very keen on solving problems and replaces bits and pieces very fast. DNA and Mischa should maybe invest some more resources into this part of their business (i haven't had a DNA, that's only what I've heard on the slipway).

But on the racecourse I wont be able to tell the difference, both designs are good, fast and stable while flying. Scheurer is in there somewhere as well, are doing pretty good job, and Sandro C does push the developmentl. 

 

 

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On 11/7/2019 at 9:42 PM, SimonN said:

Mischa won the worlds on a DNA, but was that the platform or him?

Mischa has proven at least one thing. Mischa can win with a DNA... 

I do not have experience with A Cats but some experience with F18. I think it's important to think about who has designed the boat or which sailor has had a big influence on the boat design. Wich sailing location, which size, which sailing style... 

Also the tolerances are quite big and I would pick the best material possible if I work in the factory. 

Back to the F18: As far as I know Mischa has designed the Wildcat and the Cirrus R2. Both designs work well if you are a very good sailor. But the average F18 sailor will have problems in some conditions. 
Brett Godall is a very good sailor as well but his approach to sailing is simpler and more focused on fun. The result is the C2 a boat fast overall but not the fastest. But the average sailor is faster with this design. 

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The Hobie WildCat was designed by Martin Fischer.

I am not surprised regarding your comments about the C2. Goodall has been making the best A-Cat for 2 decades, all Goodall boats show plenty of clever ideas from the design to the fittings, not to mention the sails.

On 11/9/2019 at 4:59 PM, born2sail.at said:

The result is the C2 a boat fast overall but not the fastest

Not the fastest ? what can lead you to this conclusion ?  

May be, only when you are on the boat:P.

Cheers

EK

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9 minutes ago, Erwankerauzen said:

Goodall has been making the best A-Cat for 2 decades

would love to see all these A-cats Goodalls have been building for the last 2 decades. 

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27 minutes ago, SCARECROW said:

would love to see all these A-cats Goodalls have been building for the last 2 decades. 

Yes I’d suggest an amendment to that statement. Boyer/Goodall made the best A cats for two and a half decades last century. Owned plenty and still own one. Not a patch on the modern boats of course = development. 

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9 hours ago, Erwankerauzen said:

The Hobie WildCat was designed by Martin Fischer.

You are right. But Mischa has had at least some influence at the design or maybe was the sailor the boat was designed for. 

 

9 hours ago, Erwankerauzen said:

Not the fastest ? what can lead you to this conclusion ?  

Don't get me wrong. The C2 is certainly a boat that can win. But is it the fastest design available/possible? I think if you want to have the fastest boat you always get some drawbacks at least in some at least in some conditions. The boat will be much more weight sensitive, you need to work more on the mainsheet and the variety of possible crew weights get smaller. 

I've sailed plenty of times with a Nacra 17 Mk1 against F18s. In the first year I couldn't hold up with them. Even sailors I could easily beat on my old Wildcat where faster. When I figured out how to sail the boat I was faster again. But it's way more work than on an F18. Same thing with the Foiler. 

An average sailor will always be faster on a boat designed for a variety of conditions, forgiving and easy to sail. And usually that's the thing that's matters. 

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I was joking, I know a boat can be the fastest in some conditions and being at disavantge in other off-designed conditions, The holy Graal is to achieve a design which has no weakness and get a good all-around boat.

You are right Goodall Boyer

Fair Winds

EK

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18 minutes ago, Erwankerauzen said:

I know a boat can be the fastest in some conditions and being at disavantge in other off-designed conditions, The holy Graal is to achieve a design which has no weakness and get a good all-around boat.

You also can design a boat and especially sails which works only in a very narrow range but are very fast in this range. I am not only talking about conditions. 

Example: Two sets of sails. With one set you are always faster in training conditions. Even if you train with other boars you are always faster. With the second sail you are still fast but the other one is clearly faster. At racing you figure out that the fist set is not working, you can't get the speed. On the second day you decide to switch to your second set of sails and your speed is similar to your training speed. Then it's possible that the first set needs more attention, more trimming. When you focus on other things during the regatta you can't always focus on your sail and that's why the second set is faster. 

I hope you understand what I try to say. 

18 minutes ago, Erwankerauzen said:

You are right Goodall Boyer

Unfortunately I never sailed a C2. I just talked a few times with Brett and I think that this design is the opposite of, lets say, a Cirrus. 

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So while we are on an F18 hijack....

How much slower is a wildcat that other F18s?  I’ve had one for a few months now and it’s a fun boat to sail, but would I just be at the back of the parade in it?

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58 minutes ago, _DB said:

So while we are on an F18 hijack

I didn't want to hijack this tread, just wanted to point out that different designs are for different sailors... 

I think the Wildcat is still a competitive boat. Fast especially in flat water. But only a few teams managed to sail this boat fast in any conditions. Usually good sailors like Mitch Booth or the #wildcat team, some Italians... Especially light wind with chop is a nightmare. At Worlds in Kiel we had this conditions and the last 20 boats of the 200 boat fleet where wildcats. Even the Tigers where faster or lets say easier. 

Main drawbacks: 
Hard to hold positions on the line. (Starting in the F18 class is simple. Just find a Wildcat and place yourself windward. You will have a nice big gap) 
If you are under the layline you are under it. If you want to push it you go sideways. 
The wildcat is a boat that needs speed to work because of the slim daggerboards. But it is fast. 
Also the boat is famous for pitchpoling. If you have the balls and the skills to sail it fast even in waves, that's not a problem. 

It seams that the wildcat benefits from a deck sweeper and I don't think that the prices can get any lower. So why not? 

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On 11/11/2019 at 11:16 AM, SCARECROW said:

would love to see all these A-cats Goodalls have been building for the last 2 decades. 

Down boy

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4 hours ago, Phat Buoy said:

Down boy

I thought I was very self controlled.  I didn't just point and laugh

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On 11/13/2019 at 7:02 AM, _DB said:

So while we are on an F18 hijack....

How much slower is a wildcat that other F18s?  I’ve had one for a few months now and it’s a fun boat to sail, but would I just be at the back of the parade in it?

I have a Wildcat and race occasionally with other F18 designs. In up to 12 to 15 it is very competitive, but would benefit with a new generation deck sweeper and non hobie kite. lack of rocker and fine bows mean you can't push as hard downwind and is harder to keep in the groove. But you should still be in the pack. 

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On 11/12/2019 at 1:24 PM, born2sail.at said:

You also can design a boat and especially sails which works only in a very narrow range but are very fast in this range. I am not only talking about conditions. 

Example: Two sets of sails. With one set you are always faster in training conditions. Even if you train with other boars you are always faster. With the second sail you are still fast but the other one is clearly faster. At racing you figure out that the fist set is not working, you can't get the speed. On the second day you decide to switch to your second set of sails and your speed is similar to your training speed. Then it's possible that the first set needs more attention, more trimming. When you focus on other things during the regatta you can't always focus on your sail and that's why the second set is faster. 

I hope you understand what I try to say. 

Unfortunately I never sailed a C2. I just talked a few times with Brett and I think that this design is the opposite of, lets say, a Cirrus. 

Born,  the Wildcat was designed by Martin Fischer with input from Mitch Booth. Mischa was involved with the test team and provided feedback to Hobie but I don't believe any part of the hull or board design was his.

The Cirrus R was designed by Emmanuel Boulogne, again Mischa sailed on the factory team and provided input but I do not believe he drew the hull lines. The R2 is entirely Emmanuel's. Both boats are capable of winning major events across all conditions with good sailors and sails on the boat, as evidenced by the R2 win at Catacup last week.

Mischa first sailed the eXploder Scorpion in 2015 at the Kiel Worlds, had breakdowns due to rushed setup, couldn't make the 2016 worlds and finally won the 2017 Worlds on the boat, putting it on the map. He didn't do any design work but has had much input on the beam placement and the rig. It is consistently the fastest F18 I have sailed, others have said similar, and the hull shape is very similar to the AD3. To be clear, the Scorpion was designed first and many ideas were borrowed from it to evolve the A15 to the AD3. Part of my point here is that the AD3 is a proven fast hull shape with both hulls in the water, and odds are high that some lighter conditions will happen at the 2020 Worlds.

Back to the A-Cat comparison:

Yes, these boats have evolved from the 2016/2017 versions, but the AD3 has undergone a lot of development in that time frame as has the DNA. Notably the AD3 has 3 versions of board placement and beam placement. The latest boats are all Aussie setups and those were available beginning in 2017. There probably isn't much in it between those and the Polish versions, and it would come down to which boards/rudders/cassettes are on the boat if shopping used. Generally speaking the fit and finish of the DNA is slightly better than the eXploder. Independent thoughts are that the DNA feels stiffer upwind, but much of this could be the stiffer rudder setup, center spine and slightly tighter board fit. I am not a fan of the hard tramp on either boat, they stretch and can't be tightened, wear out quickly especially in the sun, are harder to replace and make rigging more difficult. I suspect the factory adjustable rudders on the DNA are slightly better, but prefer the 'retrofit' eXploder kit with gas spring as everything is exposed for easy maintenance. I've also been told the F1x boards won't fit in a DNA F1 and to date getting parts out of DNA has been more challenging than eXploder but I think that is changing.

One other note is there are a limited number of DNA's currently in the country, meaning tuning will be a bit harder, but of course the fastest A-Cat sailor in North America, Bruce Mahoney, is on one and will have good baseline settings. Lars Guck in your neck of the woods is set to launch his foiler this spring with eXploder boards and rudders so should make an excellent training partner.

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16 minutes ago, samc99us said:

Born,  the Wildcat was designed by Martin Fischer with input from Mitch Booth. Mischa was involved with the test team and provided feedback to Hobie but I don't believe any part of the hull or board design was his.

The Cirrus R was designed by Emmanuel Boulogne, again Mischa sailed on the factory team and provided input but I do not believe he drew the hull lines. The R2 is entirely Emmanuel's. Both boats are capable of winning major events across all conditions with good sailors and sails on the boat, as evidenced by the R2 win at Catacup last week.

Mischa first sailed the eXploder Scorpion in 2015 at the Kiel Worlds, had breakdowns due to rushed setup, couldn't make the 2016 worlds and finally won the 2017 Worlds on the boat, putting it on the map. He didn't do any design work but has had much input on the beam placement and the rig. It is consistently the fastest F18 I have sailed, others have said similar, and the hull shape is very similar to the AD3. To be clear, the Scorpion was designed first and many ideas were borrowed from it to evolve the A15 to the AD3. Part of my point here is that the AD3 is a proven fast hull shape with both hulls in the water, and odds are high that some lighter conditions will happen at the 2020 Worlds.

Thanks for clarifying my broscience! Very interesting to read. 

I sailed in Kiel when Misha sailed more miles on the way to the race course and back than actually racing. And I remember the talking about his boat. Didn't knew that this was a Scorpion. Some of the guys who where skeptical at that time bought an eXploder after 2017. Now I know why. 

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4 hours ago, samc99us said:

I suspect the factory adjustable rudders on the DNA are slightly better, but prefer the 'retrofit' eXploder kit with gas spring as everything is exposed for easy maintenance.

The new system from Exploder (there were photos published during the worlds) has done away with the gas strut and lever and I would now argue is at least equal to if not  better than the DNA system. With the new rudder system, I would say it is very stiff and i cannot see how either manufacturer could claim that theirs is stiffer.

4 hours ago, samc99us said:

I am not a fan of the hard tramp on either boat, they stretch and can't be tightened, wear out quickly especially in the sun, are harder to replace and make rigging more difficult.

Funny thing is, I didn't like the idea of the hard tramp until I tried it and I love it. Looking at older boats, i don't think their hard tramps get any "softer" than a traditional tramp. Yes, they will last less time if left in the sun, so get a decent cover! I think they will last as long as the current style of soft tramps and while they are more complex to refit and probably needs more skill, doing a soft tramp probably takes the same amount of time because you need to retie all the controls systems. 

 

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Does anyone here have the time to talk through hard tramps?

Can the material be transported rolled?  Is it bonded with epoxy or sikaflex?  How much overlap required on bonding surface? How to handle mid tramp mainsheet padeye etc? Final weight?

I like my mesh tramp, with spinnaker fabric stitched over in DS zone, but at 10 years old, it's done.  Don't like sailcloth tramps as too slippery, and hard to keep clean and tight.

Like the look of hard tramps, must stiffen up the platform a little?, and remove the point loading of lashing points?, have heard they are not so knee friendly, also have had carbon rash too many times already, what's the score?

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On 11/27/2019 at 7:54 PM, SimonN said:

The new system from Exploder (there were photos published during the worlds) has done away with the gas strut and lever and I would now argue is at least equal to if not  better than the DNA system. With the new rudder system, I would say it is very stiff and i cannot see how either manufacturer could claim that theirs is stiffer.

Funny thing is, I didn't like the idea of the hard tramp until I tried it and I love it. Looking at older boats, i don't think their hard tramps get any "softer" than a traditional tramp. Yes, they will last less time if left in the sun, so get a decent cover! I think they will last as long as the current style of soft tramps and while they are more complex to refit and probably needs more skill, doing a soft tramp probably takes the same amount of time because you need to retie all the controls systems. 

 

The downside to the new eXploder system, and the DNA system, are if it gets damaged due to a collision with a UFO and a gear breaks, it is a lot of work to re-string the control lines.

I agree that initial fitout is faster with a soft tramp, but once you have enough padeyes bonded to the hulls I could see a tramp replacement job being about the same time with a hard tramp vs. soft tramp.

Some hard tramp material can be rolled, but I think it is generally avoided. It cannot be rolled as tightly as sail cloth, as the epoxy binder won't allow it and the carbon strands in most are brittle. ~1" of overlap is needed for the front I used more (2.5"), I believe epoxy is the preferred product (something like spabond, though G/Flex should work too). I've had good luck using e6000 to glue my dacron tramp to a front beam. Most factory tramps have a mid tramp mainsheet padeye, these can be built with a carbon disk on the backside or nylon.

I would argue that carbon tramps are harder to keep tight than dacron tramps, all material stretches to some extent and with a bonded tramp you can't tighten it up. I don't think platform stiffness goes up much with a hard tramp, but I haven't done a comparison on an identical boat with and without a hard tramp. I suspect most stiffness gained would be if a center carbon spine was installed ala DNA to sheet from, but there is a weight penalty for this of course!

The hard tramps are more challenging on knees than soft tramps from those I've spoken to who made the switch.

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On 11/29/2019 at 2:20 PM, samc99us said:

if it gets damaged due to a collision with a UFO

Hear me when I say starboard :)

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