Tuesday 27 December 2011

Hot Sails GPS Tales - while waiting

As I announced in the post 'Looking Forward to 2012', Hot Sails Maui have invited me onto their team. The last couple of weeks have been busy as I have tried to sell off my reasonably new sails, 2 sold, and 2 nearly sold so I am now waiting for my Hot Sails Maui GPS slalom and speed sails to arrive. I have now ordered the 8m - 7.3m - 6.6m - 6m - 5.5m with just a 460 and 430 mast to get on with until I can afford a couple more.

Being the impatient type I have read just about every article I can find on the sails. The 2011 and 2012 versions are almost identical, the 2012 just has a couple of tweaks to the foot. I have been reliably informed that the sails are on their way so in the meantime here are some of the things I have found about the kit.

This is one of my favourite extras that are offered on the Hot Sails GPS (and the rest of the range). Real Sailmakers Leather is used for the mast tip and the batten ends to aid in tne longevity of the sail. Artificial fibres always seem to wear at these points, due to sails being left rigged awaiting use. Rigging several sails for Slalom events is a necessity due to changing conditions of the day. I have had the tips wear in just one session sat rubbing on concrete at the Weymouth and Portland sailing academy when there is no protection provided.

Another feature I like is the OX Webbing used in the luff tube. There is nothing worse than getting a small 'nick' in the luff tube that just seems to get bigger each time you see it. This new material is said to stop this completely. So much so that a broken mast will not even affect the luff tube, allowing for a quick re-rig and back on the water straight away. I really hope I never have to check that property as I currently have only ordered a couple of masts for the 5 sails.

Inside the luff tube there are 3 Cambers, each housing 4 rollers. These will allow a 2 dimensional grip on the mast, horizontally and vertically. Older 2 roller cambers only have a 1 dimensional connection to the mast. I see this as a benefit in several ways, firstly allowing good connection and rotation on a non-ideal mast with a bend curve differing from the Hot Sails Hot Rod mast. With a better connection this will also reduce point loading on the mast from the cams. The Cambers themselves are not solid as can be seen in the diagram, this allows a bit of give when rigging and of course when rotating. Of course the Hot Rod mast doesn't need this give as the GPS is designed with that mast. 

In future articles I will rig my Hot Sails GPS on Tushingham (flex top), North (constant curve) and Severne (stiff top) SDM masts and of course the ideal Hot Rod from Hot Sails Maui. I want to show you how versatile the sails are. I will provide photos and feedback from use. with the different masts, the reason I name the three brands are because they are at the three extremes of bend curve. The sails are supplied with both RDM and SDM cambers which will allow for this, they do not need to be purchased separately like with most other brands out there. Some brands are very mast specific, requiring a very defined bend curve, either side of which leads to non rotation of the sails. Tom Hammerton designed the GPS with this in mind and it promises to cater for a wider range of mast curves.

The flex top showing off
The bend curve of the Hot Rod is slightly flex top with a deep profile at boom level on the correct mast. Using a constant curve mast will lead to a slightly flatter sail and a hard top even flatter. This is my experience with other flex top slalom and speed sails. With constant curve or hard top sails you can not use flex top masts as they are too stiff at the base, this makes cam rotation near impossible. Again this was my experience after dropping a gybe with a constant curve race sail rigged on a flex top mast, it took a lot of time to release the sail from the water and rotate it. I will demonstrate the versatility of this design by using a variety of masts as I know how hard it is to change a quiver all in one go, often you need to do it in stages and buy the sails and masts over time. It hope it will be useful for anyone purchasing some Hot Sails Maui GPS's to read my experience with different masts.

I have always thought the flex top design of speed sails makes more sense than stiff top. With more of a flex where you need it the wind is released with ease in the gusts while the lower part of the sail holds true with little disruption. I personally cannot get my head around the use of stiff top in overpowered speed conditions but obviously they work however the top of the GPS speedsurfing ranks are full of flex top and constant curve sails.

Another difference in the design of the Hot Sails GPS is that it has 3 eyelets at the clew which allows for ultimate tuning. Using the higher eyelets will tighten the leech slightly, the lower eyelet allows a looser leech. More importantly the different heights also caters for the comfort of the rider, especially one of our team mates Martyn Ogier who is 2m tall.

The noticeably extravagant design is done with purpose, the spilt triangular panels allow for a great shape to the sail, especially in overpowered race and speed conditions when a loose leech is required. The picture above of Martyn Ogier closing on 50knots really shows how well the sail twists and exhausts the wind. I have seen a couple of the sails rigged on the beach and you can really see the difference the triangular sections makes to the loose leech. Once the sails arrive I am determined to get this in a good photograph to demonstrate it on here.

Soon I will publish an interview with Tom Hammerton, who designed both the Hot Sails GPS and the Black Project range of Fins. Finally I want to say how great the guys at Hot Sails have been at answering all my questions and helping me make the correct choices. It is starting to look like there will be quite a team gathering at the first of the BSA Slalom series events at Hayling in April 2012, it will be great to meet everyone from the UK Team person after all the electronic communication. A chat over a pint is so much more enjoyable.

Best wishes for the new year to all, and here's to a very windy and speedy 2012. Look back here for more details about these great sails, I will document my journey as I develop with them on the water. From honest first impressions through to lasting use, and if this year is anything to go by I will get a lot of use out of them.

'The Bus'


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