The Rolex Sydney Hobart is a race that sets the standard for performance in offshore sailing - and Doyle Sails are helping competitors meet - and surpass - that standard, with the latest designs for improved performance and optimization.
Such was the case for the Melbourne-based J133 Patriot and her crew, whose upgraded Doyle Sails inventory helped her place 1st on handicap in Division 5 and 9th overall in the 2019 edition of the race – the only yacht to finish inside the top 15 outside Divisions 1 and 2.
Jason Close has completed a large number of offshore races since purchasing the yacht in 2017 – his first Sydney Hobart with Patriot was in 2018, unfortunately rudder failure meant retiring from the race. More determined than ever, Jason and his crew began preparing some 10 months for the challenge of the 2019 race south to Tasmania. Preparation included the addition of some new sails to their Doyle Stratis inventory, including a Stratis Cableless Code Zero, J3 and a new A4.
‘Blake and Col Anderson (from Doyle Sails Victoria) were great to work with - we spent a bit of time with Blake going over what we would need’, says Jason. ‘We did a lot of work together to optimize the boat as much as we could rating wise but not lose performance. The Auckland loft also helped with that, with the latest technology to help us go faster.’
Optimizing a race yacht to generate its ultimate performance potential within a rating takes in-depth discussion around the design of sails, and how the latest technology can integrate with existing yacht systems. During the extensive research phase into the class rule, Doyle Sails found that by reducing sail area for a number of key sails - including the mainsail, headsails and downwind sails - it meant that clear crossovers between sail codes were established and each sail had a refined slot within the inventory, ensuring the maximum rated sail area can be used at all times.
‘Most of the changes we’ve done are with the shape of the sails,’ Jason continues. ‘There was a slight reduction in sail area which didn’t hurt us too much, because the boat was already pretty powered up. The new shapes are definitely more efficient. The A4 especially - we had a pretty consistent 20-25 knots of breeze for most of the race, but gusts of up to 30 as well, and the A4 set really well, it was much easier to manage than our previous one’.
With expert knowledge and a global design network, Doyle Sails has the unique ability to draw on the knowledge from class experts within their extensive loft group. By working collaboratively with the other J133 experts, Doyle designers have the ability to design sails that are to be used over a greater wind range than you would expect from a typical sail, effectively ensuring that for Patriot, there were less sails in the inventory with a wider range.
‘It was a real reaching-and-running race, so when the breeze dropped below 20 knots, we switched to our Cableless Code Zero. It helped us keep going, especially on the third night, when we saw a real drop in the breeze. Unfortunately, that probably cost us an even higher placing, but that happens in sailing. We’re really pleased with the performance of the boat and the sails.’
Through extensive modelling of Patriot, the loads specified for a conventional code zero sail exceeded the load of the bow sprit making Doyle Cableless sails the only option not requiring significant change to the yacht – not only was there less load on the boat, the performance gains from wider wind angles and speeds were impressive. When faced with a period of light air in this year’s Hobart, Patriot’s Cableless Code Zero enabled the yacht to sail closer to the wind with better boat speed, providing a better VMG than what was achievable with their J1.5.
As for the future? The Patriot crew plan to get out for another Sydney-Hobart at some stage, with the potential of swapping it for the Sydney-Auckland race in early 2021, along with some more local offshore races. Plenty more chances for their Doyle inventory to help them keep setting standards for the years to come.