2013 World Championship: Technical Report

Alan Hillman of Sportsboat World provides a Technical Report from the 2013 Audi SB20 World Championships.

The Hyeres Mistral was always going to be a good test of man/woman/boat Versus the elements and it did not disappoint!

Sportsboat World were out in force with SB20 builder Rob White joining myself on the technical support side, Jerry on the water and our French dealer Xavier somehow managing to provide World Championship ‘event support’ and sail…no wonder he needed a skateboard.

Our confidence in the build of the new boat was proven to be well founded with no new boats recording a DNF through gear failure although there were a few DNS on at least one new boat due to crew failure.

2013 Audi SB20 World Championships, Day 3. Credit: Katie Jackson

2013 Audi SB20 World Championships, Day 3. Credit: Katie Jackson

We are always trying to improve the reliability of the boats but it must be said that when the conditions were taken into consideration the fact that the fleet was still racing and the remarkably few gear failures the boat is pretty reliable and a great testament to the design.

There were several areas of breakage where the supply/demand of spares was encouraging a flourishing black market and I will list these below, the reasons and hopefully some solutions going forwards:

Masts. 4 rigs were broken during the regatta…to be honest I would have expected more considering 35knots and 90 boats. Failures (from the ones that I saw) were caused by a D1 shroud failure (gooseneck stays) which put a bend in the lower section, a spreader failure and the last 2 which I could not verify appeared to be a rig clash.

Gennaker Poles. 7 poles were broken during the regatta. Some were caused by underestimation of the boats overall length but some were failures during sailing.

Clearly the sailing failures are an issue but we believe the majority of these could be caused by instances (or previous instances) of sailing with the pole not fully extended to the bearing surfaces where the pole is fully strengthened with extra material and sleeving…outside of this the pole can fail. It is also worth pointing out that the front bearing in the stem plate has a fore and aft face…the fore face should have a chamfer the rear face is sharp which if fitted the wrong way round may also cause a failure.

Rudders & Gudgeons. Unsurprisingly, with the loads developed on the downwind legs we saw quite a few rudder failures, 7 in total I believe. None of which were the newly built rudders, which apart from being comforting is a testament to the work that Rob White has put in on the build of the new foils. With the rudder failures that had started to appear Rob was tasked with making a rudder that would not break. The new white formula rudders have a tube inserted in the leading edge and there has been a lot more glass laminate and carbon inserted in the head leading below the gudgeons to provide more strength in this area. The foils are now made in a cnc’ed aluminum tool which apart from achieving a good foil section straight out of the mould also achieves a uniform thickness in the head where the gudgeons attach. In many of the old blades the head thickness variance required packing under the gudgeons to ensure a point load was not applied to the gudgeon. Unfortunately there are quite a few rudders out there with no packing and the gudgeon bolts are over tightened, bending the gudgeon arm. This will cause a future gudgeon failure if not rectified. We have now profiled some 1mm stainless plates to the same size as the gudgeons so if you do have a thin blade and require a packing piece we can now supply these from stock.

Overall there were very few failures for what was an incredibly windy well attended worlds…if you could try a little harder to break more kit next time it would be much appreciated!