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#78882 - 06/29/06 10:53 PM GT2006 Commentary  
Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 1
r3team Offline
r3team  Offline

Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 1
The following comment posted at prompts me to make some comments on this event, the boats and the nahca.

[i]" Rich McVeigh, Thursday, 22 June 2006

Hobie Tigers sweep the Great Texas Catamaran Race

The five Tigers that entered the race took the top five spots in this 300 mile distance race that covers nearly the entire gulf coast of Texas. The Tigers were pitted against larger boats, mostly Nacra 20s, that were no match for the Tigers in some of the roughest conditions ever seen in this race. The last day of the race being the roughest, several Nacra 20's suffered complete rudder failure. Except for the first day of the race, a Tiger was the first boat to the beach, beating all the "faster" boats scratch. Congratulations to John and Tiffany Tomko on their impressive win."

[/i] First let me say that none of my comments are meant to take anything from those sailors that won (the Tomko's) or did well in this event. Several of these teams have years of experience on these boats and in this type of racing, on top of being very good sailors.

The GT is a wonderfull event and I want to see it go on and believe it will. It presents an entirely different set of dynamics from what you normally see in buoy racing, or other types of offshore racing. There is something about a drag race along some 300 miles of coastline, some danger, uncertainty, a challenge, that is very appealing.

This years race was for the most part a beam reach up the beach. The conditions for lots of downwind spinnaker work were essentially non existant. Except for the first half of the first day the winds were medium to heavy, putting the Hobie Tigers in ideal conditions. And as we know everyone reaches fast.

These conditions gave us a chance to really see how different the Nacra 20's and Tigers really are. To have these boats, perhaps any boats, race against each other over such a course using the US sailing generated portsmouth numbers is really a joke. It just doesn't work. Learn about the boats and study how the Portsmouth numbers are generated and maintained and you'll surely agree.

Here are my current observations about both boats (developed over several years of sailing the N20) and carefully observing the Tiger's developement and growth.

Both boats are great boats. They are both well built and don't fall apart or have strange failures if they are properly maintained and not abused. They have significantly different performance characteristics, even though that is not necessarily obvious. The N20 is a better in lighter wind conditions and at upwind and true downwind work. The Tiger comes alive and is faster as the breeze goes from moderate to heavy. When the N20 is overpowered the Tiger is in its element. The Tiger's spinnaker is smaller and cut much flatter so it can be carried more upwind than the N20s. The N20 is a higher tech boat with lighter weight construction, carbon mast, etc. However it suffers from a sail plan that is not developing like it should due to being restricted to only class approved sailmakers. The Tiger's sail plan, while restricted is benefitting from the competition and development in the overall F18 class. The N20 total weight is about the same, but it feels like (and is) a much bigger boat with a cleaner deck suited to bigger and more crew. The Tiger is a very good example of well built, conventional materials done right. It should not surprise us that this is a product of Hobie France.

Which brings me to Rich McVeigh's comments and the nahca.

Rich's comments typify the kind of "we're better than they are" attitude that has permeated the Hobie Class organization for years. His statments about 'complete rudder' failure are just wrong (all boats that started finished - most of what damage occured was surf related). The nahca would do themselves and and the entire beach cat sailing world a big favor if they'd worry more about promoting the sport and letting the great products that Hobie Alter designed and inspired speak for themselves... as opposed to being a manufacture's mouthpiece while preserving their "exclusive" club and the mythical "Hobie way of life".

For me:

I'll likely be getting a Tiger because It's a growing class that has attracted some top talent. I'm a big believer in class racing with everyone on the same ride; even if it is a bathtub. I'd like to sail with my teenage kids, and the N20 is a little to much boat for our weight. Besides the R3 team already has an N20 in its stable, so why not add a tiger? It should get along just great with the H16, the lasers, sunfish and opti's right?

The GT is going to remain on my Regatta list. I hope you'll add it to yours.

R3 Performance Sailing Team

-- Have You Seen This? --
#78883 - 06/30/06 04:39 PM Re: GT2006 Commentary [Re: r3team]  
Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 130
Glenn_Brown Offline
Glenn_Brown  Offline

Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 130

I was crew on TeamSanDiego in this year's GT300, and agree with most of what you said. I'll add a few things:

I usually sail a Tornado off shore from Hurricane Gulch (San Pedro, CA) to Catalina (20+ nm offshore), so I'm no stranger to wind and waves. To me, the I-20, with it's large sailplan and broad bows was clearly overpowered in this races reaching conditions on the last day. In fact, a brief experiment on the last day moving weight inboard and forward a bit resulted in a pitchpole that shredded our spinnaker bag. Woops!

So, not being as overpowered definitely helped the Tigers.

Yes, a great factor in the Tiger's success has been Hobie Europe's willingness to evolve the design to stay competitive in the F18 world, and that's been a great asset. It's sad that the N20 has not evolved the design as actively. Top racers in SoCal seem to be transitioning from N20 to F18, and part of this is that the F18s are staying on the cutting edge, not locked into a single platform.

IMHO, if you want to win races, you gotta buy sails pretty regularly. If you're going to do that, you might as well buy the evolved technology. You can do this on the Tiger, but not the N20, and it really doesn't cost the active racer extra to evolve his sails, since he's got to replace them periodically anyway.

At the GT300 awards, one of the Tiger finishers told us it's time for us to all sail the same boat: Tigers. I find this amusing, since evolving technology led to the Tigers domination, but will also lead to its downfaul when better hulls come along. This may have happened already, with the Nacra Infusion F18... as long as Nacra has learned from the Tiger and keeps working with top sailors and sailmakers to update the boat.

Another factor in the Tiger's success in the GT300 is that it has drawn many top sailors, as "the" class du jour. I dunno about the rest of the Tigers, but Tomko was 8th in the Tiger Worlds. His finish surely had as much to do with skill as the boat he was on.

Even if the Infusion is a bit faster, the Tiger is still appealing as it can be raced in both insular NAHCA events and open F18 events. NAHCA has the most events around SoCal, and their recent move to exclude other brands is simple monopolistic behaviour... and this is hilarious because it's a Hobie Europe boat, and that's an entirely different company than Hobie in the US (which is actually more than one company, one of which makes catamarans). Why does NAHCA allow boats from two companies (Hobie USA and Hobie Europe), but not Performance Catamarans USA!? It's either a cult of "Hobie" or just politics around the fact that they don't govern the Nacra classes. I'll bet that many NAHCA members also find it disgusting that the national body forbids local clubs from running Portsmouth in the same event.

Portsmouth (and handicapping in general) has a lot of shortcomings. However, I would gladly take open Portsmouth over any organization that claims to promote sailing but excludes boats by brand.

A big Tiger-rated shortcoming of Portsmouth, IMHO, is that it uses historical (relatively slow) data to rate evolving classes. This tends to award evolving classes, which is frustrating for those in non-evolving classes, but I guess it encourages boat development and supports the boatbuilding economy!

So, it's a sad fact of life that to win on Portsmouth it is not enough to simply sail well. You must also pick the right boat for the race, or the right race for the boat; and the N20 was clearly not a match for the GT300 this year.

Now if only we can pursuade Charlie Ogletree to enter a Tornado in next years race... then the Tigers can taste what they dished out this year. :-P (Of course, we'd have to talk the fleet into not discriminating against 10' beam!)


P.S.: Congrats on your first day's finish!
Thanks to Chase for being our pusher!
And thanks to the Great Texas Fleet for putting on an awesome event this year!

P.P.S: Please send your GPS tracks so we can add them to . I want to see how your kicked our butts!

Moderated by  Damon Linkous 


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