Modern A-Class vs Solo F16

can-UK

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136
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Dubai
I'm toying with the idea of getting a singlehanded boat but I'm struggling to choose between a up-to-date A-Class (curved foils and rudder winglets) and a F16 (light weight with a carbon mast - e.g. Falcon/Bimare).

I current sail an F18. Our racing fleet is split across F18s, F16s (Solo and 2up), Spitfires and another (older) A Class.

I enjoy sailing with a kite and i appreciate the flexibility of the F16... but i'm attracted to the simplicity of the A Class and i think it may make me a better sailor.

Does anyone have any experience (or opinions) on how a well sailed modern A Class will perform in a mixed fleet? I'm assuming it will be 1st to the top mark.. but how much can i expect to lose downwind to an F18 or F16?

 
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Mmmm I'm probably going to get shot down in flames here but from our experiance at Datchet where we have had F16 solos since 2002 ( with T foils rudders ) there are plusses and minus's in racing A's against Spinny equipped boats.

Certainly in middle ranking sailors hands ( and I will clarify that more in a minute ) the A is not competitive against the F16's, F18's and the likes. The modern rigged F18 and even the Hurricane 5.9's are compariable now upwind with there jib and big top mains. The Spinny on the down wind legs simply lets the similar speed boats get below the A when you try and heat the A up to fly a hull and they will make you go the long way round which is always slowest. So then in short form round the cans racing in most peoples hands, the A will get beaten by the F18s and F16's and F16 solo.

However as soon as you get a top sailor up against the Spinny boats then its game on. Certainly whenever Chris Field and the other top flight arrive they are very comparible and often faster but would they beat a similar standard F18 team, not sure on that.

I personally have tried both the A and F16 solo at our club and I have been far more successful in getting higher placings more often with the F16. So then it will come down to your standard, what you race against mostly and to a lessor extent your weight ( the A's are still quite weight sensitive ) . I found also being the only A Cat on our water often meant taking racing lines very different to the others and you therefore were racing yourself until you reached the next turning point where everyone seemed to meet up. It doesn't make exciting racing. I think also the new Nacra and Viper have moved things along a bit but to be competitive you will have to have a main and possibly mast set up specifically for solo racing as I found by fitting an A class rig ( only 13.5 sqm v 15 sqm ) I was faster.

 

F18 Sailor

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TCat, not sure who you are but I'll elaborate on the WRSC race results since I was present for nearly every race and finished 4th. Not on an A-Cat, we were on a F18, using the A-Cat SCHRS number. Our worst race result (11th) was on a F16, but the course was poor (lots of reaching) and we've never sailed 2-up on a F-16, and this particular boat is setup for single handed sailing, and is typically quite fast. Just not on that night for us.

I can say locally in typically light air conditions getting the F16 to perform to it's rating upwind is tough. 2 up anything over 280lbs is slow. Single handed, even with custom mains, they still loose some in boat speed. The A-Cat's are the fastest boats on the course upwind. And the better sailors don't give much up, if any, downwind. No one sailing Tuesday nights has curved boards.

Still not a lot beats the thrill of reaching with a spinnaker single handed from the wire.

 

Lost in Translation

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Atlanta, GA
Hi Can-UK. Our local mixed fleets have somewhat changed over time to favor the A-cat with fewer large two person cats. The portsmouth numbers generally seem pretty fair no matter what the boat, particularly if wind strengths are applied. In light air the A's can win boat for boat, then the spin boats start to move fast first downwind as the breeze builds, with the A's improving on downwind speed once the breeze strengthens again (maybe 10-12 knots and up) . In both types of classes (A's and spinnaker formula boats), I've seen the back of a fleet get passed by the front of the other fleet.

You should try both boats if you can. I would recommend you get the boat you like to sail. If you sail well, you will have a fair chance of winning. I have found the A's to be pretty addictive as have a lot of my friends. I think the benefit of the formula boats is the social factor of sailing two up as much as anything about a spinnaker. In fact, we are trapezing downwind in about 10 knots and above on the A and it's a blast. No kite, just bear off, step back, and go and you get the fun of curved blades and the sensation of partial foiling you can achieve with very little of the boat remaining in the water. Even without the kite, very good roundings are still difficult to pull off and can result in a lot of boat lengths won or lost.

If you plan to singlehand, I don't think you will regret having an A-Class with it being so light, responsive, and easy to maintain with little gear. In fact, keep the F18 for sailing with friends or migrate that one to an F16 if friends are smaller and use the A for singlehanding. Best of both worlds then.

 

F18 Sailor

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Annapolis, MD
Hi Can-UK. Our local mixed fleets have somewhat changed over time to favor the A-cat with fewer large two person cats. The portsmouth numbers generally seem pretty fair no matter what the boat, particularly if wind strengths are applied. In light air the A's can win boat for boat, then the spin boats start to move fast first downwind as the breeze builds, with the A's improving on downwind speed once the breeze strengthens again (maybe 10-12 knots and up) . In both types of classes (A's and spinnaker formula boats), I've seen the back of a fleet get passed by the front of the other fleet.

You should try both boats if you can. I would recommend you get the boat you like to sail. If you sail well, you will have a fair chance of winning. I have found the A's to be pretty addictive as have a lot of my friends. I think the benefit of the formula boats is the social factor of sailing two up as much as anything about a spinnaker. In fact, we are trapezing downwind in about 10 knots and above on the A and it's a blast. No kite, just bear off, step back, and go and you get the fun of curved blades and the sensation of partial foiling you can achieve with very little of the boat remaining in the water. Even without the kite, very good roundings are still difficult to pull off and can result in a lot of boat lengths won or lost.

If you plan to singlehand, I don't think you will regret having an A-Class with it being so light, responsive, and easy to maintain with little gear. In fact, keep the F18 for sailing with friends or migrate that one to an F16 if friends are smaller and use the A for singlehanding. Best of both worlds then.
+1. Nothing at all against the F16, I like the boat and the concept but the F18 is a better 2 person boat for average sized people (<175lbs). You really need to be small to sail the F16 2 up even occasionally. Elbows to the face are no fun. If I had the luxury I'd own an A and the F18, the downwind trapping on the latest A's sounds like a total hoot!

 

Phat Buoy

Member
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4
I raced my Taipan in 1-up F16 mode in a mixed fleet during an Easter regatta this year. All that crap hanging off the front of the boat absolutely kills the performance upwind and I couldn't catch up enough downwind to make it worthwhile. I was just keeping up with the older As around the course, but the only DNA was way off in the distance. One up F16 is the same rating as a DNA in Australia and beating them around the course would be a real challenge.

Other F16s may go better, but I have found the Taipan with a kite to be a BIG disappointment - heaps of fun, but impossible to sail to its rating. My relatively unused but 10-year old kite might be an issue, as might my sailing ability, but IMHO if you sail 1-up F16 against even half decent As you will get thumped.

 

SCARECROW

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Melbourne, Aus
I raced my Taipan in 1-up F16 mode in a mixed fleet during an Easter regatta this year. All that crap hanging off the front of the boat absolutely kills the performance upwind and I couldn't catch up enough downwind to make it worthwhile. I was just keeping up with the older As around the course, but the only DNA was way off in the distance. One up F16 is the same rating as a DNA in Australia and beating them around the course would be a real challenge.

Other F16s may go better, but I have found the Taipan with a kite to be a BIG disappointment - heaps of fun, but impossible to sail to its rating. My relatively unused but 10-year old kite might be an issue, as might my sailing ability, but IMHO if you sail 1-up F16 against even half decent As you will get thumped.
Richard, you were robbed. DNA (A class "International") Yardstick is 68, Taipan (cat rigged with kite) is 69. Storm back and demand the race committee provide you with a sheep station.

 
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T sailor

Member
458
106
Chesapeake
I've owned a Nacra 20 and Viper F16 and also sailed a few different A-Cats. IMHO If you are really planning on sailing solo, I think the A-cat is the way to go. F16's are cool, but the new designs are really not optimized to be a single handed boat. The viper needs a crew trapped off the back of the boat to keep the lee bow up when going downwind in anything over 18-20. With crew back there, the boat is super fast. Without, it is not terribly fast and definitely on the hairy edge of a nasty pitch pole. Upwind the A-cat is way better. You would think that the F16 should be similar, but it is not. It sails more like a F18 than an A Cat. I was a little disappointed as I thought it would be more like an A-cat single handed. If you are doing W/L racing on a relatively short course, the solo F16 rating is very hard to sail to (atleast if you are an average sailor) it's rating. The boat handling becomes an issue as well as being able to sail the boat to it's fullest potential. Most of the handicap ratings don't give you a credit for the added difficulty of sailing the boat. I will say however that in the 5-10 knot range a solo F16 is at it's best. Below that, the A's are much more efficient and above that, it becomes harder to sail the boat well. I think the only thing that would push me towards an F16 for solo sailing would be if you sail in predominately light wind and are over 175 lbs. The A will take you alot of figuring out how to make it go downwind, but that will most likely make you a better sailor.

Plus, i really have to say that the sensation of sailing a good A cat upwind is unmatched.

Good luck!

T

I'm toying with the idea of getting a singlehanded boat but I'm struggling to choose between a up-to-date A-Class (curved foils and rudder winglets) and a F16 (light weight with a carbon mast - e.g. Falcon/Bimare).

I current sail an F18. Our racing fleet is split across F18s, F16s (Solo and 2up), Spitfires and another (older) A Class.

I enjoy sailing with a kite and i appreciate the flexibility of the F16... but i'm attracted to the simplicity of the A Class and i think it may make me a better sailor.

Does anyone have any experience (or opinions) on how a well sailed modern A Class will perform in a mixed fleet? I'm assuming it will be 1st to the top mark.. but how much can i expect to lose downwind to an F18 or F16?
 

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