505 Hull tactics for the 2014 season.

Things are changing rapidly for the first time in many years in the hull and boat configurations now available in the 505 fleet. After 20 years of Rondar domination, with a few other waterat’s and fremantle hulls, 2013 see’s a major change in available hull designs.

The polish have entered the fleet, with what looks like a copy of the Rondar moulds. With few internal structural elements, between the hull center-line and the critical front bulkhead to centerboard casing, it will be interesting to see how stiff this boat will be particularly upwind in tough conditions. She does have an offset port-side spinnaker chute (originated by the USA teams back in the 1980’s), which is trying to lighten the ends to increase performance on the critical first windward leg.

Ovington are entering the market, supplying Holgar Jess and others, they have returned the Rondar moulds back to the manufacturer (Ouch! – lets see if Rondar’s can be bothered to re-engineer their moulds) after years of producing less than perfect boats. Let’s hope that Ovington can build boats that actually measure this time round?

Parker’s return with a revolutionary  and innovative International 505, engineered for maximum performance and acceleration, this boat has been optimized for the higher range performance, not ignoring the variable European and East Coast USA weather conditions, but primed for the very high winds and wave patterns of San Francisco bay.

Getting the most out of performance racing dinghy design is a combination of understanding how International 505 hulls perform. In the past most believe that extremely narrow and flat boats are best. However, these are slow in the turn and become sticky in tough acceleration and de-acceleration environments. Fuller boats, stand higher, though they have more surface area, they are more tolerant to variable speeds and as such accelerate much faster to the optimum speed.

So Parker’s have build an “acceleration” model, through extensive study of events like the San Francisco (2009) worlds and Hamilton Island (2011) top performers and 30 years working with the likes of Steve Benjamin, Peter Colclough and Krister Bergstrom, to produce a hull that is super-stiff. With (17) interconnecting mono-cock hull structures (a structure, such as an aircraft or boat, in which the skin absorbs all or most of the stresses to which the body is subjected) with rigid fore and aft structures connecting the forward bulkhead, through the mast gate to the front of the centerboard case, thus reducing flexing and energy dispersion (that slows the hull down). This maximizes the power generated through the hull, and when you power up, you want this power in straight-line speed not bending the hull out of alignment.

Parker’s have also maximized the boat width, being some 8 mm wider than the past Rondars and to the maximum hull length, ensuring maximum upwind performance.

The addition of the first A-frame mast-gate also stiffens the boat in critical areas and locks the boat in (essentially the boat hull cannot flex in any direction), but this also opens up the crowded mast-gate bulkhead/deck intersection, making the boat easier to rig, operate and set-up.

So the worlds in Kiel 2014 will be interesting, lots of older Rondar 505’s will be on the water with world class sailors and a few new Ovington’s (perhaps) and a similar handful of Polish and Parker’s, game-on!~

Being biased, I know which boat I will be in.

David Parker with Bruce Parker are the co-designers and builders of the Parker International 505.

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