on, our Nacra
5.0 proves to
contemporary even in comparison to
much more modern designs.
It was a big surprise to see just how good it was against spinnaker platforms!
Still got life yet!
And, all it took was....
a bit of tuning and a change of sailing style
Nacra's 5.0's - we've sailed them for miles!
So for the 2022 Cat Championship Singapore we decided to get ours out of the bone yard and race it again!
Prior to the 2022 Cat Champ's, we hadn't sailed our 5.0 for a very long time - in the vicinity of 20 years! The intervening years were spent on hi-performance platforms that started with the Taipan 4.9, into the F-16 ranks then onto the Nacra 20 Carbon, all fantastic platforms!
It's a set up... Not a stitch up!
Here's the notes that we pasted to Team Pro Sail FB. Luckily we did as it's a good library.
Setting any platform revolves around, sails, mast and rudders.
Was a good idea to check the battens after a whole year of no use! And really great to have such enthusiastic young crew!
Getting back on the 5.0 is just like meeting a familiar friend all over again! But that happens when you've spent as many miles on one as we have.
First the numerous raids up the Malaysian East Coast, then into Indonesia's Riau Archipelago before culminating in the Singapore-Phuket-Kings Cup-Singapore epic! At the '93 Kings Cup, our 'biggest' competitor was a Nacra 6.0! Beating the N6.0 and a host of other Nacras and Hobies is testament to spending 8 days sailing the 550 miles up the coast! Winning the King's Cup signaled that we were one third the way through our campaign and we still had to sail her back to base at Changi SC, Singapore.
The 5.0 is a daggerboard-less, boom-less platform primarily aimed at the 90's off-the-beach type of sailor. Compared to the other board-less cats of the time, the 5.0 was more rigid, lighter and more efficient as it's symmetrical skeg hulls created less drag while her plumb bows were effective at wave piercing for less pitching than the 'conventional' hulls of then!
Form 2000 to the present we'd been heavily involved with the Formula cats 16's and 20's. These are wing-sectioned platforms with very deep, high-lift daggerboards and sprouted spinnakers from long bow poles. To get these platforms going you need a good platform set up and then some very specific mast tuning to get the performance out of the boat! It was a great 10 years of playing with diamond wires, spreader angles and rig tensions. The modern platforms are great to sail but they are more complex!
In the early days of cat sailing, it was all about jumping hanging from the trapeze and blasting around. Then it scaled up to the race platforms where technicalities are such that in the current crop 80% of the boats performance is derived from crew work! There's a lot of controls for the crew to manage and that's a far cry from where we all started. A simple boat like the 5.0 allows us to take anyone out for a blast, easy and no fuss.
Increasing technicality escalated prices.
In the 90's a brand new, race-ready Nacra 5.0 was delivered to the beach with cover, trolley, harnesses and life jackets for S$ 15,000. Today, getting an equivalent F-16 Viper delivered would now set us back about S$ 40,000. That's almost 3 times the amount! So taking a 30 year-old Nacra 5.0 to the Cat Championship was going to be a good measure of just how far things have moved!
I had the idea...
What happens if you tune a Nacra 5.0 in the same state-of-tune as a Formula 16?
I haven't heard of it being done but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try besides, worst come to worst you could just revert back to the 'old state'!
Apart from being board-less and boom-less, the 5.0's mast is a pear section and not a wing section as on the Formula cats. The fundamental measurement for a modern rig is generally 35-40mm of prebend in the mast section. To achieve this degree of bend it requires
1. spreader arm rake (adjustable spreaders)
2. a load of diamond wire tension to get the bend
I wasn't really sure if we could get that amount of prebend into the 5.0 section. Starting with pretty conventional spreader rake the amount of diamond wire tension to get 15mm of prebend was "excessive". So we just kept increasing the spreader rake until the pre-bend was achieved with a good amount of diamond wire tension. Took a while but it got there and the results were encouraging.
As soon as the mainsail was rigged, we could see the leech open/close as soon as the downhaul was pulled on/off in a way that we had never seen on the 5.0 before. (link to video that shows it working) In the 'lab' it was working but would it be the same on the race course?
The Felkin Buoy Race is a 10 mile race up the East Johore Straits that separate Simgapore from Malaysia. It's 6-leg race with 2 legs being into the wind, one spinnaker leg and 3 legs just a fetch. All in good 15-18 knots of breeze.
It would be the first time we'd sailed a N5.0 in eons and the very first time with the state-of-tune!
The result was encouraging indeed and surprising to the N20!