All you wanted to know about the TP52 sails
[Source: Breitling Medcup] North Sails Spain’s Juan Meseguer, a key member of the sail design team on BMW Oracle, with Prada on the last Cup also was main sail designer with the Movistar on the last Volvo Ocean Race has been the principal designer and trimmer on Caixa Galicia since it was launched and now also designs for Eamon Conneely’s Patches and Balearia. Home for Juan is the North Sails loft in Valencia by the Real Club Nautica Valencia.
"I think that now we are in racing mode. We have been testing offshore sails today. I think what we did well is that we have got up to racing mode. In Alicante I don’t think anyone was really in racing mode, not even Mean Machine."
"The biggest change this year is the sail limit, which is 25, and that is a good number. That makes all the teams have to think how they are going to use them around the five regattas. It is a good number where you can do some testing but have to actually plan where you have your whole sail inventory for the season. I think last year the rich teams could buy another sail any time, and now you have to plan how to use your cards."
"Since last year is only really refinements, refinements, refinements. On the upwind sails it is just about balancing the boat as best you can. We have all the sails. Downwind we are refining and trimming. On the mainsails there is a limit on the head width, and I think that everyone has gone to the shorter ‘E’ measurement (mainsail foot length) where Mean Machine was last year. Everybody has gone shorter. The area is the same but more up high. Gennakers is just a refinement of last year’s function."
"I think that last year we worked really hard on the sail programme, every day looking to see what we could do to make it faster. Then we looked maybe more on the upwind, not this year we look very closely at the overlaps with the A-Sails because when you have the wrong sails it is slow, but there are no secrets, you have to keep trying and working."
"You can apply some concepts from the America’s Cup from many thousands of hours of work, but you cannot transfer straight over. Like how to tweak the gennaker shapes after many hours you can see how to transfer a bit, for example, upwind you learn how to tweak the mainsails but they are very, very different sails. For sure. These other mainsails are very high top roaches, and we have very narrow, thin heads. So there are some concepts you can carry over and others you cannot."
" I do the designs for Caixa, for Patches, and Balearia. Balearia are going really well. We made some changes to the mainsail, and the gennakers are changed. It is a more righting moment boat and so it needs slightly deeper sails. With Patches it is new boat so that is new work that applies to the boat."
"With staysails we are going bigger than last year. We are pushing the area more. With Code Zeros it is still achieving the balance between getting a good upwind sail and a sail which reaches. It is a difficult balance. It is better to do a good upwind sail. There are a few tweaks, that I am not going to tell you about."
"There are the differences now but they are very subtle. The whole fleet is quite close. But it depends where is the range of your sail. That is it. People have narrower, lower ranges and people have bigger ranges."
"There is no discussion during the season between the North lofts but at the end of the season we share. What we think was the best sails or the best solutions. There is a healthy rivalry, but at the end of the year we produce a better product."
"Cloths are much the same as last year. Cuben Fibre on A Zeros and spinnaker staysails is more popular now because it is strong and light and therefore the weight of the spinnaker staysail, the A Zero or the A3 is saved."
"Most critical sail is downrange, between the A1 and the A1.5, where a small change in the True Wind Speed makes a radical difference, where the A2 has a huge range.
I think the differences between the boats are very small. I think last year’s boats can win. Balearia is going very well and they have done modifications to go better, but still there is a little difference in speed overall to the new boats."