Update on current plans for the testing and development of a new rig
Following the class skippers meeting at Carnac the class secretary has had a number of people ask him to update them on what is happening, so we felt it would be worth posting here so everyone can read. The discussion needs to be looked at under three separate titles.
At this point it is worth re-stating what Chris Turner, MD of Ovinton Boats, said at the meeting. This process will be controlled by the class association and its members. The builder is happy to explore options for the class and develop these at the builders cost but the final decision on which options are selected, including staying with the existing rig will be in the hands of the members.
For the understanding of definitions a rig is made up of a mast and sail. This is worth stating as English is not the first language of many sailors in the class and we have had cases in the past when people have interchanged the words rig, mast and sail to mean the same or different things.
The current mast track
The current mast track can break when it is hit by the inboard batten protector. Many people have regularly suffered from broken mast track problems and it is probably the biggest single frustration and breakage with the boat for most people. Following meetings with Ovington Boats and Selden the class has been given a mast by Selden that has a different narrower width track than the current track and we hope this will stop the track breakages in the vicinity of the batten ends. The new mast track has been and will continue to be tested over the winter. The testing of the mast started at the GBR Nationals in August and will continue through the winter with different sailors using the mast. So far it has not failed.
Ovington Boats are looking at producing a prototype mast from a different manufacturer in case the new track from Selden does not solve the problem. If the class choose to change mast manufacturers, the process would then be to carry out a phase of design and testing before final approval. Please note that any new mast will require a re-design of the mainsail to fit the bend characteristics. The redesign of the mainsail would present options to change the profile of the sail if that was considered desirable at the time.
Over the last few years we have been asked about producing a smaller mainsail, a bigger mainsail and more recently a new design with a square top. The class can vote for a change through a majority decision in an annual survey. We hope to see a new sail presented on conjunction with the new mast during 2017 and at the end of 2017 the members can vote on that development. If that was voted in then a new mast and sail would become available in 2018 ... note this is the earliest; if the prototypes required further development and testing then that could take another season.
Please note that there is an active discussion on the forum on this subject, which can be found here http://www.mustoskiff.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2808
Test the Selden supplied mast with the new narrower track. To be tested with different sailors to establish if this is a success. (The demo boat with the new track started testing in August). The mast will be continued to be used and in the Spring the class committee will review the situation in partnership with the builder and either ...
1. agree to change track
2. keep with the old track
In parallel with this Ovinton Boats plan to present a new rig for review in Palma which will then undergo further evaluation during 2017.
If the new track test is unsuccessful then the class still faces the challenge of the best solution to address the failures of the mast track. A solution to this could be the new rig that will be presented by Ovington Boats.
So, depending on how the track test goes and how the new rig looks the members have a range of options ahead; all of which will be controlled through the member voting; although the adoption of the new track will be a committee/Ovington decision due to timing and that it is not a major change to the specification of the class. Any significant change; i.e. a new sail or mast will go to a full member on-line vote.
At present the best way to contribute to this discussion is through this topic on the class forum
http://www.mustoskiff.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2808 or to share your views with your National Class Representative >>>
Below is a flow diagram that shows the various time lines and options; click on the image for a larger version.
(Note: this is of course subject to change depending on development and testing cycles).