Just over a month ago I joined Team Maverick on their Infiniti 46 with DSS Foils for the Middle Sea Race. This 600 mile race typically provides all weather conditions and as always an absolutely stunning backdrop to the race.
This year was no exception the forecast was for a strong NNW winds, in the region of 35+KT from a little over 24hours into the race, it was enough or some to consider not starting and overall resulted in a war of attrition during the race with roughly only half the fleet finishing.
We had a couple of days of light to moderate wind training before the start. Allowing me to get up to speed with the boat and understand how and where the performance of the boat changes with the deployment of the foils.
We started amongst all the big boats in the small and beautiful Valletta harbour looking like a fly buzzing around the bigger animals. A short sprint downwind and we are all heading off to Sicily just cracked off the wind. As the breeze pushes above 8-10 KT and the boat reaches maximum power the foils can be deployed on both sides, to act as righting moment to windward and to provide lift and stability this is particularly beneficial as the sea state worsens.
The boat is responsive and light on the helm and with the foils deployed we powered upwind in the building breeze once past Stromoboli. The effect of the foils on the stability and reducing the pitching of the boat in a big sea state makes going upwind almost a pleasure. As you gradually bear off as always you eventually hit the power zone and from a True Wind Angle of 070 or wider you feel the boat accelerate and you need to level her off to keep her quick, it can be fairly easy to over trim in this situation.
The real fun with the boat started when we turned the corner and headed downwind and the boat lit up. With the bright orange aeroplane wing foils deployed the boat sits at an optimal heel angle of about 10 degrees and sounds like a rocket trying to take off. The aeroplane like foils self adjust the lift, as the boat lifts and the foil comes to the surface then the lift reduces which means despite it being howling winds the foils can still be used. The water piles over the deck like fireman’s hose blasting at you which does at times make it pretty hard to stay on the side of the boat, but with boat speeds in excess of 20 KT an peaking a 27+KT is pretty impressive for a 46 footer.
Under three days to complete and we drying out back ashore as the 4th boat to cross the line behind largely 100 FT boats. All in all a boat that is a lot of fun, a team that is a lot fun and I am looking forward to sailing this boat again in 2018.