A-class European Championship 2012

Chris Field European Champion A-class Europeans 2012

On windy Lake Garda the European A-class Championships were sailed from june 22-29th 2012.

Australian Andrew Landenberger was first overall, Chris Field came second, but...

...last time I checked my map of Europe, I could not find Australia on it - too bad maybe, but hey, you can't escape the truth flying in your face can ye? - so the European Champion of the year 2012 is:

CHRIS FIELD EUROPEAN A-Class Champion 2012

Congratulations Chris!

In this quick article I want to look at what the top 10 of this incredible field of world class sailors tells us regular sailors about what to do when we are thinking about new boats, masts and sails.

In 2010 the new Dutch A-class DNA was introduced - Well Done Pieter Jan Dwarshuis and Arno Terra! - and most of the top sailors almost immediately went for the DNA's. Then last year another Dutch A-class was introduced: the Vision by Hans Klok and Piet Saarberg and next to these 2 we see Nikita and Scheurer showing up in this top 10.

I have put together a list of the top 10 sailors with their materials, let's have a look:

RankNameNationalityBoatMast***Sail***
1Andrew Landenberger AUS Scheurer Saarberg Landenberger
2Chris Field GBR Vision Saarberg Pink Hammer
3Brad Collett AUS Scheurer Fiberfoam Landenberger
4Scott Anderson AUS Nikita Fiberfoam Ashby
5Manuel Calavia ESP DNA Fiberfoam Ashby
6Steven Brewin AUS DNA ARC DNA Brewin
7Bob Baier GER Nikita Fiberfoam Ashby
8Ben Moon USA Nikita Saarberg Glaser
9Arno Terra NED DNA ARC DNA Landenberger
10Mike Drummond NZL DNA ARC DNA Brewin

***We are not 100% sure of all mast/sails but this seems to be the correct data, if you have better data, please drop us a line.

OK, let's look again...

On the A-class Wolds 2011, Chris Field ended on the 11th spot, Steve Brewin then became World Champion. Landenberger was 4th, now 1st, Brad Collett was 5th, now third, and Scott Anderson came in second on the worlds 2011, now 4th...

So Steve Brewin took a large drop down, we wondered why and asked Hans Klok, builder of the Vision: 'Steve changed masts this year, at the worlds he sailed with a Saarberg mast, now he chose the ARC mast from the builders of DNA, other than that there are no changes, he still sails a DNA with his own sails, but this time he just was not fast enough'.

Then we asked for an explanation of Chris Field moving up so high in this field of sailors, and Hans said: 'Chris and Piet Saarberg really worked on the mast/sail combination last winter, Piet Saarberg already was experimenting with the next generation masts that have more forward/backward flexibility while at the same time having more sideways stiffness, and Chris moved along with this, deciding to design his personal sail to the nextgeneration Saarberg mast. Chris' sails are custom made by Mickey Todd from Pink Hammer sails. And the results speak for themselves: the Vision is definitely faster than the DNA.'

OK, thanks Hans.

Now A-cat Sailors here's what these rankings prove to us:

Based on the top 3 - the fastest boats are the Scheurer and the Vision.

Based on the same top 3 - the best masts to buy are the Saarberg and Fiberfoam masts.

And then the sails: go for Landenberger or Pink Hammer.

Now you ask what is our personal recommendation for an A-cat?

Glad you asked!

Here is my personal favorite combination:

A-class Vision with Saarberg Mast and Landenberger sail, now you ask why?

OK, first of all, I personally do NOT like the honeycomb way of building, and both Scheurer and DNA use this. I have seen damages on the honeycomb DNA and I am not impressed. I prefer stronger, much stronger than this. And the older way of building to me still seems  to deliver the toughest boats.

Personally I am very glad with these results because ever since the DNA came out, I was hesitant about this boat for weekend warriors like myself, for a number of reasons, here they are...

On our club a couple of DNA's showed up and guys who used to beat the living daylights out of most other guys when still sailing their older A-class Tools, just did NOT seem to be able to get the DNA to live up to its promise. In the end some did manage, but definitely not all of them and for those who did, for me it just seemed to take too long, why did it have to be so hard?

Then we also had one other sailor at our club - Theo van Hilten - who bought both a DNA and a Vision and he said he would use the faster of the 2 at our club and the other at home, 250 kilometers from the club. And guess what?... He sails the Vision at our club and to top it off, immediately went fast with it. Even came in 4th on the France A-class Championships in 2011! So these two things told me that the DNA clearly had a higher learning curve, but that in itself was not the biggest problem for me...

...far more important for me was that people started going downwind in the trapeze with the DNA, and I really wondered why?...

To me it seemed to add unneccesary risk to sailing, I mean downwind gives you the fastest sailing on the A-class catamarans. And why on earth would anybody in his or her right mind ever want to go out on the wire under those circumstances, especially when the winds really pick up. And believe me, I am not talking theory here, because last year (or was it this year?) at the Australian Championship even Glenn Ashby managed to fall off his DNA while trapezing downwind, and that guy is the very best A-class sailor ever! So I asked around a bit and the only real answer I got was that it was plain necessary on the DNA to keep the nose out of the water...

We then discussed this phenomenon with a number of local A-cat sailors and concluded this was a fatal design error in the DNA for weekend warriors, because if you NEED to get out on the wire downwind to prevent the DNA from tipping over its own nose, then something is definitely wrong, no matter how many professionals sail it.

The last thing for me was that summer 2011 Sjoerd Hoekstra said the Vision downwind needed NO trapezing, and when the winds really picked up, he just slightly pulled out the daggerboards and the thing just kept on accelerating in gusts, NO diving at all, it just sheer planed OVER the water. And that nailed it for me. Reason why we never voiced our concerns yet on this site is that the DNA's still were the fastest, but that notion now has been proven wrong by the European Championships A-class 2012.

The fastest boats today are the Scheurer and the Vision, but we have to add that to make these boats really fast you need the proper engine, which is the sail-mast combination. And on top of that you need the right sailor on the helm.

So here's to Anrew Landenberger, Chris Field, Brad Collett, Scott Anderson and all you other world class A-cat sailors. Thanks for testing these magnificent boats that we all love so much, now we know what to buy next!

And here's to all you A-class weekend warriors out there: never forget that no matter your budget, no matter your materials, as long as you are out on the water sailing ANY A-class with friends, Life Is Good!

Wishing you happy sailing.

Robert Feddes, auscat Flyer, Saarberg Mast, Pink Hammer Sail and loving it all!