As I looked around the fleet, I think I could see 3 new things.
Sailboat RC VISS Prototype
The first was the Sailboat RC VISS Prototype sailed by Zvonko and his team mate Ante. Both are top sailors so it is not surprising they did well. I understand It is a completely new boat. The boat does not look very elegant but their goal was to create more power in the boat for very light weather that they experienced at the worlds last year. The rumour has it the Croatians were looking for more power so it is thought they deepened the middle section of the mainsail and possible the jib as well. Whilst the boat looks different, I preferred the new look to their standard boat. Judging by the shape they have done some wind tunnel testing or at least computer simulations. The new deck layout has the main boom almost flat on the deck so they had to be very precise with the sail cut and mast rake to balance the boat as there is little room to rake the mast back. The jib is also on the deck when on the wind. `The overall effect looked good once you got used to being a high stern deck. When I first saw it I was reminded of old Galleons and wanted to draw windows on it but having seen it sailing I think it will get others designers thinking. Whilst designed for lighter winds I am told it goes pretty well in windy conditions.
The hull design
I shot this video to show the boat on the water. Apologies if it takes a while to load.
The ability to gybe and instantly Goosewing
The second innovation which again was demonstrated beautifully by Zhonko right under the watching audience with his ability to gybe with the jib going from goosewing to goosewing. Approaching a leeward mark, he gybed 3 times without loosing any speed at all and with the jib flicking straight out onto the new tack. Others were gybing and had to wait for the jib to make up its mind to goosewing. This is a very small thing but I believe it is worth a few boat lenghts over the course of a run and very useful approaching leeward marks. How do they do it? By using a spiral drum and lots of practice getting the angles right. I notice some Spanish were using the same drum and it maybe standard on the Sedici and Venti.
Pulling it all together
The last innovation is not really an innovation at all but more a question of better pulling everything together. As I heard on a podcast recently, all focus must be on making the boat go faster. The top teams did just that. They train together as a teams before the event, they are very precise in setting their boats up and two boat tune, they are on the water tuning together before the first race and share ideas and discuss races and tactics. This is why the Croatians, Spanish and French are dominating the International events at the moment. We Brits have an opportunity to get back to dominate this sport but there is work to do.