PURSUING SPEED THROUGH INNOVATION
3rd May, 2013
SPEEDDREAM SAIL TRIALS - NEWPORT, RI
Place: Newport, Rhode Island
Date: May 2–6, 2013
Mission: Rigorous testing of the SpeedDream27 prototype
A day after wrapping up sail trials aboard the SpeedDream27 prototype we are happy at what’s been accomplished and judging by the smiles all around it seems that a great time was had by all. Here is a report on what transpired and what was learned.
First of all Newport dished up some perfect weather. Locals say that early May is the best time for sailing there and now we know why. The ocean is still cold but there is strength in the sun and the land quickly heats up sucking in that sea breeze and providing steady 8 to 15 knots of wind. Inside the harbor the water is relatively flat, but we also took the boat out toward the open ocean to see how things would go in a bit of chop – and it all went well.
SpeedDream skipper Cam Lewis was in charge of preparing the boat and putting it through its paces. Cam is legendary for loving speed and was not intimidated by the boat which was important as there was plenty of speed to be had. The first day saw a steady 12 knots blowing across the harbor and it was the perfect amount of wind to test out the slightly updated keel canting mechanism and to get more of a feel for the boat. The sailing last Fall was limited and in light winds.
"This is a very interesting boat to sail," Cam said. "It's unlike most of the other boats I have sailed over the years. It's very responsive and very quick to accelerate when a puff comes. You have to be ready as within a split second the boat takes off, but like a high performance catamaran the faster it goes the more stable it feels. Once we refine things this boat is going to go even faster."
It didn’t take long to figure out two things; the new keel mechanism worked flawlessly but the rudder brackets were inadequate. It wasn’t long before the first bracket sheered off the transom and things came to a screeching halt. Fortunately there are two rudders and without much talk Cam tacked over, sheeted the mainsail on and literally flew down the harbor. There are no instruments on the boat yet, but the GPS app recorded a steady 16–17 knots of speed in about 12 to 14 knots of true wind. Unfortunately, before long, the second rudder bracket sheered off and it was time for a tow home.
Sail trials were conducted out of Newport Shipyard, one of the best service yards in the country, if not the world, and their machine shop had two new brackets made up by the next morning. With the weak spot beefed up it was time to really heat things up and that’s precisely what happened. Cam took the boat upwind, downwind and on various angles to the wind and on all points of sail SpeedDream performed spectacularly. It does not take much to get the keel flying and for most of the following three days the boat sailed around with the bright red bulb flying steadily in close formation alongside.
To save time and money, we equipped the SpeedDream prototype with a pair of the C-Class catamaran rudders generously presented by the Little America’s Cup gurus Magnus Clarke and Fred Eaton. These rudders proved to be a bit small for the boat and Cam spent some time playing with the mast rake to adjust the boat’s balance, but there’s still a good amount of weather helm left. It will be cured after SpeedDream gets her own set of rudders.
A number of top sailors were able to get a ride among them Nick Dana, a veteran of the last two Volvo Ocean Races. Here are his observations. "SpeedDream is definitely a concept to excited about. Joining the likes of the Moth class and an X40, the SpeedDream's innovative design represents 'what's next' in performance sailing. The spooled canting system is remarkable, and adds a new dimension to the skiff style boat handling needed for maneuvers. With a few slight tweaks, the SpeedDream concept could really take off."
Short video of Day 2 of sea trials in Newport.