PxPixel
One-Point Foils vs. Directionals - Sail Magazine

One-Point Foils vs. Directionals

July 29, 2007By Kimball LivingstonAir. It's not just for breathing, anymore.With the America's Cup descending from superlative to squabble and my deck shoes only days removed from the streets of Valencia, I seriously needed an energy infusion, and I seriously got it by showing up for some kite racing on San Francisco Bay. Do you feel the need for big air?The
Author:
Publish date:

July 29, 2007
By Kimball Livingston

Air. It's not just for breathing, anymore.

With the America's Cup descending from superlative to squabble and my deck shoes only days removed from the streets of Valencia, I seriously needed an energy infusion, and I seriously got it by showing up for some kite racing on San Francisco Bay. Do you feel the need for big air?

The inaugural U.S. national championship for course racing on kites – ISAF recently came on board for kiting, and the nationals had entries from South America and Europe – was interesting for who won but even more so as a snapshot of a young sport growing in all directions at once. The hydrofoil-board is fast upwind, and the only reason it's slow downwind is that it's too fast. Is that cool or what? Read on for the how and why. Otherwise, the events that crowned Bay sailor Anthony Chavez as the first U.S. champion also demonstrated an advantage – in this kind of competition, at this stage of development – for what the riders call "directional" boards without foils.

This is the first time I've ever seen Sailing Instructions where the five-page SI's were stapled to 14 pages of the basic rules of racing under sail: when boards meet, room at a mark, penalties etcetera etcetera. When I say "young sport" I mean it.

Cabrinha Kites-sponsored Shawn Richman, a Maui guy who admits to being a bit of a freak at home because he kites instead of surfs, says, "Kiting just exploded; we need to establish certain parts of our sport; we need these benchmarks."

Richman, who plans to enter UC Santa Cruz in the fall, followed his kid brother, Jesse, into the game five years ago. Jesse also rides for Cabrinha and was leading the competition for a while – it wouldn't have been his first title; he started riding as a preteen – then finished third behind Chavez and Jeff Kafka. There was a huge spread in the talent pool, but once the fleet was split into gold and silver divisions, the look and feel made sense. Shawn said of the final day of racing, "There were 35 people out there, and everybody was doing something different, and I think now we have a baseline of what works and what doesn't. I've been riding a twin-tip [short symmetrical board] and a month ago I was doing great with that. Then I came here and got killed in the first three races."

Shawn switched to one of Jeff Kafka's asymmetric "directional" boards for the final day and came away convinced that, for course competition, that's the way to go. You won't get any argument on that from Chavez, who shapes his own boards and has been part of the development of kite-course racing from the get-go on the San Francisco cityfront.

The point men for that development were Chip Wasson and John Gomes. Gomes came out of yacht club junior programs and traditional sailboat racing, got hooked on kites, and decided that he wanted to have it both ways. St. Francis Yacht Club is his second home, and the clubhouse sits just a few hundred meters downwind from Crissy Field, one of the great sites for windsurfing and kiting, and Gomes had no trouble three years ago in getting StFYC to experiment with putting kites on a racecourse. Obviously, that worked out. Local racing is in its third season, and for 2007, Gomes made it his project to take the organization to the national level. That's how he became the regatta developer for the first-ever US Kiteboarding National Championship, and that's how San Francisco Bay became recognized by US Sailing as Fleet One. Gomes says, "Riders are looking for alternatives to freestyle competition; racing expands the scope."

Wasson acknowledges Gomes for trailblazing the way to recognition, and he was quick to acknowledge the support that the game has found at St. Francis. "Kite racing is suddenly an international development," he says, "and it's impressive to have something so new supported by a solid backbone."

Okay, let's talk foils, because Wasson was riding one, very successfully on the upwind legs. As Shawn Richman put it, "Chip would get to the weather mark 30 seconds ahead of us, but it would only take us 10 seconds to pass him downwind."

So how come? It's because the foil-born board catches up to the kite too quickly, and the rider loses the ability to resist the kite and guide it through those big S-sweeps that generate apparent wind and more speed. Wasson at times was reaching downwind at higher angles than the competition to generate resistance because "Falling is slow. We've shown that the foil can be better on some points of sail," Wasson says. "This gets it on-stage"

Inevitably there's a comparison to the foil-born Moth dinghy, but as Wasson points out, "The Moth has two foil points in the water. Riding a single shaft foil is a real trick, but we have a couple of developments coming down the road that I think will be, shall we say, interesting."

Related

01-061018ROAC-8149

Coming of Age at the Atlantic Cup

Midway through the final race of the inshore portion of the 2018 Atlantic Cup, the three boats in the lead—Mike Dreese’s Toothface 2, Mike Hennessy’s Dragon and Oakcliff Racing, representing the Long Island Sound-based sailing school of the same name—suddenly broke free from the ...read more

01_silken_2018-03-08-0052

North U’s Regatta Experience Program

“Want to check the keel?” North U Coach Geoff Becker calls to me from back by the transom. We’ve just suffered our worst finish in the regatta and are absolutely flying on our way back to shore, spinnaker up and heeling at an angle that feels like maybe we’re tempting fate. ...read more

Navy-Sand-Dune_1080

Tucket Footwear’s Giller Shoes

Just for KicksMove over Crocs, there’s a new plastic shoe in town. Unlike the aforementioned fashion crimes, Tucket Footwear’s Giller shoes are made for boating. Water will get in, yes, but it will also run straight out again via rows of “scuppers” in the uppers and a dozen drain ...read more

01-m3113_git170829-294

France’s Maxi-tri Ultime class

It’s hard to believe how far foiling has come since the Moth class figured out how to reliably take to the air in the early 2000s.Was it really only in 2013 that the America’s Cup was dragged kicking and screaming into the foiling world by Emirates Team New Zealand back in San ...read more

GGTobagoCays

Cruising: Guadeloupe to Grenada

Our Dream Yacht Charter delivery started as a “wouldn’t it be fun if” idea. Those are usually misguided, if not downright stupid. But a Bali 4.3 named Jumelles (French for “twins,” appropriately) needed to leave Guadeloupe to do heavier charter work in Grenada, and as soon as I ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comWhen I bought my boat it had 18 through-hull fittings. To reduce the number of holes in the hull (I ultimately cut them by half), I first re-plumbed the drain hoses from my sinks, scuppers, bilge pumps and ...read more

rokk

Scanstrut: ROKK Charge+

It RokksWith the increasing use of smartphones and tablets for in-cockpit navigation comes the issue of keeping these devices charged, since running nav software will drain those batteries in no time. Scanstrut has come to the rescue with the ROKK Charge+, the first-ever ...read more

GreenCove2-2048

Liveaboard Voting Rights Threatened in Florida

Bucking decades of precedent, a Florida elections officer is refusing to allow customers of a popular mail forwarding service to register to vote in his county. Since 1988, St. Brendan’s Isle of Green Cove Springs in Clay County has provided transient Americans with mail ...read more