Seriously….how much does a batten or a cam weight? Few hundred grams? This difference of weight in percentage, over a whole rig, meaning mast, extension, sail, boom, harness lines, outhauls… would be very small.
It would be easy marketing to say, ‘lighter is better’. This is simple marketing often used to surprise us windsurfers. You pick it up in your hands or you put it on a scale, and we are surprised to see some hundred grams less. Do we windsurf holding up the rig? Or is the rig pulling us?
Weight is important, but to re-develop a whole sail, which it proved to be a PWA world champion sail, to save few hundred grams would have not been the real reason to invest time and money to go developing the first real race sail on the market with 3-cams and 7-battens.
Therefore, the development of a 7-batten AC-One had to go further in performance to make a big difference against the 8-batten world champion.
We started off with testing 7.8 sizes with 19 prototypes, and 9.2sizes in other over 10 protos corresponding to the ideas of the 7.8. Different batten displacements, different materials, different leach opening and each one of them had a reason, and a name. There was not one bad sail. Each gave a positive in put to the development and proved important characteristics, even if they had been discarded as a sail in general against other protos.
In the first round of tests we tuned up the 7-batten to decide to leave behind the 8-batten set up. The AC-One was improving at that stage its upwind performance and increasing its speed especially in light winds. The batten less was allowing the foil body to breath more and pump its way better in the same condition against the previous edition.
One of our thoughts was on our no cam and 3 cam slalom sails. How could those sails be so close to a performance of racing sails, with less racing ingredients implemented? It was obvious that we could easily take out not just the batten, but also work in taking out cams which made no more sense to have. The sail body was moving with more love into the wind, but the mast sleeve still had 4 cams not following that love. Blocking and disturbing that good natural feeling the sail was starting to have.
Once the best 7 battens set up were pulled out, we decided to implement all the needed changes and craft 2 versions. A 3cam and 4 cam to compare. It was no hard decision to leave packed the 4 cams sails, and work only on the 3 cams. The comfort on the 3 cams was without doubts more than the 4. It was just like we had thought: the sail was breathing more, it had more love in the chop, and its average speed burned out the 4 cams. It was like taking out a splinter from a finger!
We ended up going to complete different ways and focusing on 2 different sets of sails at the end. 12 sails. 2sets of 6 sails in all sizes with different qualities. We raced the max out of them. It was a hard decision. Both with ruthless performance. One aggressive, the other easier. One was love and hate. So much brutal power and acceleration, but over the time it was demanding too much effort to use all it’s potential and over time, it was not giving the advantage someone would think. The other set was inviting us to use without any fear all it had. An easy max performance with lots of control. A surprise to be so performing with so little effort. It was no hard choice to think that this was ready to deserve the name for the new AC-One Zero19. If we would need to compare the revolution of having done the first real race sail with 3 cams and 7 battens, it’s no revolution against what the radical upgrade of performance this new racing foil is ready to give.
The last step was to re-compare for the last time the World Champion AC-One 8 batten and 4 cams against its new evolution. It was a disaster for the champ. In light wind it had no chance. The zero19 was already at the same speed as if it would be powered in strong wind. The 8-batten was still trying to find its power. Do to the extra power in light wind, given by the love of the breathing of the sail, also upwind the sail was just going off to a different angle without losing speed. The 8-batten downwind and in the gust, was giving sensation of higher acceleration in the gusts, but the reason was that the new AC-One, was already at higher top speed in the light wind, so the transition between speed in the 2 different wind intensity was not a big gap. Hence, higher average speed. The stability of the zero19 being more, gave the sensation of having less acceleration, but unfortunately for the 8 batten set up…it was only a feeling, as once you would get used to that new feeling, and you were ready to use it’s full potential, the 8-batten was ready to raise the hands, and leave space to the new comer.
Once the final proto set was selected, production was ready to go.
We are now ready to recut and torture this new AC-One for the next evolution to come. There is still lots of tests that can be done, and lots of adventures to explore inside its development.