To Z or not to Z?
That is Z question.'The Zed' I am referring to is the 2nd Formula board F2 registered in the beginning of 2008 when the class rules where frozen- to limit the board manufacturers cycle to every 2 years instead of every year. F2 made and registered 2 boards for the 2 year cyle. The catch was F2 released their first board early in the year while the Z just appeared before the Europeans in August. Until the last day at the Euros, Denis Little- the lone sailor on Z was untouchable. Its light air performance was phenomenal!
But...yes there's always a but. The thing that makes this board so good in the light air might give up that advantage when the breeze is up. Think Chubacabra- the code zero light air jib the US Tornado team registered in the Olympics that failed to perform in anything over 12k. The increased tail width of the board requires an insanely powerful fin. At the Euros., Denis was using a cut down 83 cm fin to basically walk away from the fleet- that was until the breeze came up and the board had more control issues.
Call it part marketing hype, part obsession of an development class sailor!
I have never been the fastest sailor in the light breeze. Hell its my weakest link in the chain at the moment but the beauty of an open development class like the formula class, lets sailors pick and choose form a variety of equipment. Some more available than others. If you can get a hold if it, use it!
With the Worlds just over a week away, I have to register 1 board for the regatta. I will take 2 and continue to test the board with all my fins to see if the advantage is worthwhile. Otherwise I will register my 2008 F2 board that Ive been sailing all season- its light air performance, not terribly impressive but a good overall board that performs well in the light, medium and big breeze. My most impressive result so far has been in the breeze at the last day of the Euros.
The board was made available to a handful of sailors in the Netherlands going to the Worlds. I was able to get a hold of one earlier this week and sail in in the first day of the Belgium Formula Championships on Saturday.
The outcome so far was impressive. Better angle than Ive had all season once I found the right fin. The light wind IFJU was going well in the 3rd race of the day where I finished 3rd behind Denis and Dirk. The first 2 races, I used the CRAD fin with decent results but it felt like I was not getting than most angle out of the board. In my past experience, the IFJU fin became easily overpowered once the chop built significantly.
Now the tough decision must be made: to register the Z at the Worlds or not.
Ive got another day of testing in Holland before the equipment gets loaded up and makes the drive down to Portugal and then another 3 days of testing to decide.
I certainly have learned an impressive lesson watching the America Tornado team going from Olympic hopefuls to DFL but then again how often do you get chances like this.
Would you have done anything different in their case?
At the moment, the risk outweighs not having a good board in the light wind.
Outside of San Francisco and Maui, Ive never sailed a regatta where over half the races were in 18+. It doesnt just happen that much. Believe me, Ive been waiting for it all my life!
Time will tell on this one...up until the very last minute!