Nacra 17 proves challenging in big chop at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami
31 Jan 2013
The stage is set for mixed multihull racing at Rio 2016. As one of two new Olympic events, the Nacra 17 is making its first appearance in the ISAF Sailing World Cup series this week in Miami.
These doublehanded teams are sorting out new strategies and techniques as they become more comfortable with this fast, light catamaran and its featured curved dagger boards. Many of the sailors competing in the Nacra 17 are making the adjustment from another boat or class. In some cases, sailors are getting acquainted with new teammates as well.
Perhaps no team has made a smoother transition than Sarah Newberry and John Casey (USA). The duo has been dominant through three days of racing on Biscayne Bay. They have won five of the six races, including the last five. Sarah Streater and Matthew Whitehead (USA) have four second-place finishes and trail by four points.
“We've done a lot of training in the F16 and F18, and we're finding the Nacra 17 to fit in terms of power, but not in terms of how the boat actually sails,” explained Newberry. “It's a whole new game with the curved foils.”
“We worked really hard to find good settings for the breeze. The real challenge for the whole fleet has been dealing with the boats in bigger chop, which is more than what we see when training in the inner bay. When going downwind, the lift in the boat with the chop has made it challenging,” she added.
Newberry and Casey have their sights set on the 2013 Nacra 17 World Championship this July in The Netherlands, which will serve as the selection event for US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider.
Puerto Rico’s three-time Olympian, Enrique Figueroa, is ecstatic about the fact that multihull racing is back as an Olympic event. “I think it is one of the most exciting events in the Olympics, so having the catamaran come back was good for everybody especially as the sailing world nowadays has a big focus on catamarans,” he said.
Figueroa is planning an Olympic campaign with wife Carla Malatrasi. He is making the switch from the Tornado to the Nacra 17. “Getting back into a spinnaker boat was a challenge, especially with a new crew and she’s not used to the spinnaker and all it entails. It’s been a learning experience for both of us. The Nacra is very physical. The curved boards and the way the boat is going to be sailed eventually is going to require a lot of balance and strength, so of course you’ve got to hit the gym hard,” explained Figueroa.