Words By Grant Pellew current NSW and VIC state champion skipper.
I wanted to write something which I hope is not too late regarding the deck sweeper sails and the rule changes.
First let me give you some background about myself. I’m 51 years young and have just joined the class in the past year. I was a professional sailor in the past racing all around the world, I’ve been involved with maxi syndicates, AC & Volvo programs as well as racing F18’s in Europe briefly. I have now moved across to the F16 class from the foiling A Class fleet.
I have a wife that was also a professional sailor and now have two kids, 8 y/o Girl & 4 y/o boy. Our kids had some small interest in sailing but not really, ‘Till now’. When we first got the boat, I rigged it up in the driveway, the kids came out and asked if they could jump on it, I said yes. Having sailed the A Class they knew about the trap wires. Inside they run and grabbed harnesses, they came back and started to swing on the wires. They loved it. When asked if they would come sailing on this boat the answer was 100% yes. Not something that would have been said in the past with the same amount of excitement. This was a big win in my books.
Editor here: again check this out https://www.facebook.com/grant.pellew/videos/1639239916415495
There is a whole funny story about how I got into the F16 class in the first place but that’s for another time.
When I first got the Viper, it had the standard sail which was in good condition still so no need to worry about new sails which was good, but I did know the advantages of a deck sweeper sail, so I did still order one. The interesting bit came while I was waiting for the sail.
The first lot of racing we did with the standard sail was a basic club race with a fleet of F16’s. The boats had a mix of standard and DS sails. The breeze was about 10kts and we weighed around 140kgs. Prefect conditions to easy into sailing the boat. The speed difference between the sails in this fleet was pretty much zero. Standard sails first and second, DS third, fourth.
Next lot of racing was in a mixed F16 & F18 fleet. (mixed fleet means we start together, 16 & 18’s) Same 140kgs crew weight but in 20-25kts and the F18 fleet. Again, we had the standard sail and we got smashed by the F18’s with their DS sails. We had zero pointing ability. A few capsizes that were a result of the boat tripping over the larger head. We were mid to back fleet within the F18’s but lead the F16’s still.
I came way from the regatta asking myself where it was all going wrong as I felt we should have been further up the F18 fleet and why did we have zero-pointing ability. The answer all pointed towards the sail.
Next regatta was a mixed F16 & F18 regatta again but with the new DS sail. Crew weight 140kgs and a mixed bag of breeze which included the same 20kts from the last mixed regatta, plus 5-7kts. This made it a perfect test for the new DS sail. In the 20kt race we were racing with the lead F18’s, we had the same point ability as the boats around us. The boat behaved and performed like a rocketship, it was a totally different boat. I loved it!
The lighter air races still had us in the hunt with the larger boats but also had the standard sail F16’s in the hunt with us.
Without going into this to much more I guess what I’m trying to say is a lot has changed since that first report of Beau’s that has been put out there.
The improvements in the boat with a DS sail especially in a mixed fleet are 100% noticeable and a must have for that kind of racing.
- Can a well sailed standard sail beat a DS? Yes.
- Does the DS make the boat more controllable in breeze? Yes.
- Does the DS stop the bow digging in on a bearaway? Yes.
- Does a DS stop you from seeing to leeward? With the lastest sails, not really.
- Is it harder to tack/gybe with a DS? Slightly but My 4 y/o has no problem and crews are used to it now.
Personally I’m for the decksweeper as I have seen the pluses and minuses for them and think they bring the boat into the 21st century and make a huge improvement for very little outlay. If you are racing even half serious at club level, you are going to be replacing your sail within the next year most probably, so you just need a boom and away you go. Trust me it’s 100% better than needing a whole new boat every second year like the A Class.
My 13 year old Viper is a rocketship now and beating brand new boats (including brand new F18’s) so it shows just how well a small rule change can keep the class at the front and modern looking without huge outlay.
Lastly, I’m happy with the Viper, it’s a great boat and great class to be involved in. It fits the crew weight I like to run perfectly. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get into the class.
Not sure if this helps anyone, I just wanted to get my thoughts out there as the ones that have been put out there are kind of out of date as we have come a long way since that first test run.
Cheers and hope to see you all out on the water.
Viper AUS 327
From the Editor
Grant bought a boat, threw on a new main and smacked about the established fleet of sailors in the next two major regattas. He is a gun and knows stuff.
2022 NSW State Champion (crew Katie Spithill)
2022 VIC State Champion (crew Lilly Smith)