The A Class ain’t really flying much… for now

Extract from catsailingnews.com

Back on Rules and to get a more clear position on US Class intentions, we’ve prepared a Q&A with USACA current President, Bailey White, which will address all doubts we might have on this local decision:

What is Rule 8 in the A-Class?
Rule 8 is much like the anti-flying rule that the most recent America’s Cup had. For many years, leading catamaran sailors and designers around the world believed that fully foiling catamarans would not be good racing and that limitations on foil dimensions or foil functionality would ensure catamarans would only partially lift. Partial lifting catamarans and trimarans (typically with curved boards) have proven to be very fast and easy to handle as long as there are lifting surfaces on the rudders too. I have even seen c-board A-cats foil upwind if only briefly.

What we saw with the AC72s and now with our own class is that foiling boats are wonderful to race and sail and that full flying foils can be built within class dimensions. In fact, the flying has added another dimension to the racing and people love it! We are getting more and more people into the class and don’t expect this to slow down no matter what happens with Rule 8.

Can you tell us what you mean that Rule 8 is suspended in the US and Canada?
This is really a misnomer and we should not have used this language. We have voted to let people experiment in our local events. This means that people will be able to race experimental A-Class boats that have boards in from the bottom or boards that are longer or closer together with A-Class boats. These experimental boats cannot win or place in events as an A-Class, but we can all see how they compare and how they develop. We can do something like an asterisk beside their entry in the scoring and do a scoring subdivision for them and prizes as well. We already run other scoring subdivisions by age, gender, and even skill level.

Our mission is to encourage as many boats on the water as possible, and we hope this will be one more way to do that.

So you are still part of the International A-Class?
Absolutely! Our sailors understand future North American Champions will need to have a boat compliant will all A-Class rules.

What is the purpose then of the change?
We had about half of our fleet with foiling capabilities in our recent North Americans and learned basically everyone wants to fly. It just looks so fun, and it is becoming clear that in medium conditions foiling A-cats are faster around the track. People believe that relaxing Rule 8 will let them foil more cheaply and easily as they convert their existing boats to foiling.

Why not just put a proposal together for the next Worlds to vote on?
We are doing this. We are putting together a proposal for other countries to review, and Ben Hall is helping get the right people involved. We felt that by allowing people to experiment now, we would learn more about what is involved in doing boat conversions and be able to speak with a better perspective when we next meet in Italy.

What should people who want to get involved in the A-Class do for now?
Buy a boat! If they can afford a new one, that is the best course of action as they get a boat fully compliant and built for foiling. Control systems, foiling rudders, strong transoms, etc all come with the latest boats and allow someone to get on the water and up and out of it immediately.

If they are shorter on funds or a builder, talk with an existing class member about how they can get involved. In spite of all the interest in flying, just learning the boat and how to sail it to its potential takes some time. Getting an older boat and getting good at trapezing downwind is a great step to take and one that will give tremendous satisfaction.

Either way, we haven’t seen more interest or excitement in the boat in the last 20 years. Please contact me if you would like to get involved at our facebook page: facebook.com/usaclass.

Bailey White
President
United States A-Class Association

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