Summer 2020 Masts and Sails Update

49er and 49erFX Masts

Work by the new manufacturer continues to the 49er and FX masts and sails. The first batch of 49er masts, being built to the new class spec, are being made currently and will soon go out for final testing. Bends test results for both 49er and 49erFX have been encouraging and fittings have been specified. The first run of masts will be used extensively before the next run of masts is made to ensure everything is as desired.

The FX masts are on the same path as the 49er masts, just a few weeks behind. The prototypes are being put through one final on water test before an initial batch of them will also be produced for final testing.  Large quantities of the masts will not be built until more checks and more feedback is received. They should be available for class members in October.

49er and FX Sails

In February we sent out a notice asking for expressions of interest from sailmaking companies to submit proposals for supply of sails for the 49er & FX.

  • 30 sailmakers requested information about the project.
  • 22 sailmakers then advised that they would send proposals.
  • 11 Sailmakers sent proposals before the deadline at the end of April.

These proposals were reviewed by the Sails Evaluation committee which is chaired by Barry Johnson.
Blair Tuke and Javier Torres del Moral represented the sailors on the committee which also included the builders and copyright holders, plus Mark Paul as a sailmaking expert with 49er knowledge.

The key criteria we asked the sailmakers to address were consistency and longevity of the sails as requested at the open forums in Auckland and Geelong.

5 of the 11 proposals contained details that the committee felt would lead to better consistency and/or longevity.

The Sail Evaluation group went back to some of these final 5 with questions and earlier this month eliminated 2 more due to price. There are some very exciting new materials and technologies in this group of 3 finalists.

The final 3 sailmakers will now be asked to make sails for the class to test. We have given these sailmakers 3 months to test and refine their sails before presenting them. The sailmakers may be asking sailors to help them with this development. If you are asked, please help as much as possible so the sails we get for the next period are the very best possible.

The current plan is for the first round of testing to take place in AUS and/or NZL. It will be summer in the South Pacific and it will be quick and easy to get new masts for the testing. After the first round of testing, the plan is to send the sails to Europe for further evaluation.

A final decision will be made as soon as we have all seen enough to finish the evaluation, but no later than March 2021 so the successful sailmaker has enough time to put the new sails into production ready for start supplying them in mid-2021.