hi blunted and Wing sail ,
can't help but think of the vid of the boys trying to slow 'Enza' down off the bottom of NZ , you guys seen it ?
Comments, hmmm, well if you take something into the deep dark ocean you're likely to get your ass kicked occassionally. I don't know for sure you could survive in the thing, thats a function of the stability of the platform, to the windage of what's up in the air, reagradless of what type of thing it is, carbon tube with wires holding it up, wing on a stick, or a windmill made of popsicle sticks and used condoms, who really cares?
What I do know is you can make a wing really low resistance in the breeze. What I also know is that if you allow it to weather vane, e.g. completely free wheeling 360 turning capability, you might stand a chance in a lot of crazy conditions. In the c-cat, we don;t have that benefit because we have shrouds and they keep the wing from truely weather vaning. So if the breeze starts to honk above our designed wind speed limit (20 knots true) we have limited options, one is to anchor, or equivilant tethered off the tender, two is to sail uphill slowly. We can keep it under control with a full flattened wing in a lot of breeze if we simply head upwind slowly. Let the top twist where it wants within 5 degrees also helps. That is our escape plan if we ever get creamed by a squall or similar conditions, even if it means sailing across the lake till we get to a weather shore, its better that contemplating any kind of gybe in 25 knot plus conditions.
If we bear away in those conditions, frankly its fucking scary, we go stupidly fast and then all of a sudden your bows feels about 80% too short because she really wants to pitch pole. Having a 45 foot tall rig on a 25 foot long boat will do that, especially when you carve all reserve bouancy out of it. Its 50% less scary with decent rudder foils, but christ, you are still going really fast with the wing thing flattened against the shrouds.
So pitching moment relative to the platform stability is really critical. I was not being facetious when I said just drop a sea anchor and bob along with the thing weather vaning, at that point it would not matter if your hulls were pointed downhill or uphill, as long as your wing was to leeward of the sea anchor, it could presumably hang in there if the platform was reasonably stable. Sounds like a good experiment actually. I just so happen to have a 5 foot tall wing in the basement I was going to put on a one tack wonder for speed trials, but I should try the sea anchor thing one day to see what happens to it in big seas a stupid breeze. At least I know it would not flog itself to death like a fabric rig.
The one thing missing in this equation is spinnakers etc. If you are a racer, the bottom line is you throw up as much sail as the rules and conditions allow to go as fast as you can handle. C-class wings evolved because 300 sq ft is frankly not enough to go downhill fast on a 25 foot cat, so they simply optimize what you've got. so if a cruisy boat has a wing to make it go nice, in a lot of conditions, it may well be that no it does not go as fast downhill as some soft sailed wonder that can throw up an acre of canvas when they feel like it. Last I checked however that was not waht the guys are designing for. It strikes me they are shooting for #1, Ease of handling, halyards and heavy sheets loads are the worst part of cruising, so score one for thw wing there. 2. Ease of handling and reasonably quick, again, one for the wing, most of the time, 3. Fly by wire, again, the wing looks pretty good by that measure, its a lot easier for a computer to suss out what angle to stick a wing at to make it generate power properly than it is for a computer to figure out a proper sheeting angle for all conditions.
I have no doubt it (wing) would be more expensive, could be made faster by any number of means, and could be a pain to deal with in a few circumstances. But as far as I can tell it is successful against the design criteria laid out by the design build team. Sure other things could be cheaper, faster, perhaps more relaibel, but they would also have all the same drawbacks that every other string, sticks and fabric set ups out there today.
So I applaud there efforts at A. Trying something new, B. Trying it out for different uses, C. Not listening to whining little conservative faggots and luddites who piss on any idea they did not think of or that does not fit there limited view of the sailing universe.
I have no doubt there is plenty of totally legit criticisms of this boat / concept, particularly in extreme conditions. I know I have my own, but for what it is, it looks pretty cool and might really work the way they say it does.
Bravo to harbor wing,