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Shadow gets the X Factor

by Olly Harris 3 Nov 2010 07:44 GMT

A new, enlarged spinnaker has been developed to give the Shadow catamaran even faster downwind performance.

Over the summer, the Shadow Class Association has been trialling a larger 13.7 square metre spinnaker, developed by the boat’s designer Yves Loday and known as the “Shadow X”. The new spinnaker is 37% larger than the original version and with the addition of a bowsprit it helps to lift the bows. The result is that downwind sailing is faster and safer, particularly in waves and stronger winds. Downwind angles are now similar to high performance 2 man cats like the Spitfire and F18.

This has been achieved without compromising the cleanliness of the Shadow’s design or its fantastic upwind speed as the spinnaker still goes into the neat chute at the front beam for smooth hoists and drops. There is no need for a new chute and pole-mounted sock which would add weight and windage, both critical to the performance of a light single-hander. The Shadow has always been very easy to handle and the bigger spinnaker actually makes the boat easier to sail at full speed downwind.

One interesting aspect of the ”X” is that the forestay needs to be further aft, to make room for easy gybes. Yves has devised a clever solution for existing boats, with a central dyneema line pulling the forestay back towards the front beam. This means that fitting the X kit to any existing Shadow is very quick and easy, with 3 holes to be drilled and one eye to be riveted. Conversion kits are available to Class Association members from Loday White at a special price. New Shadows will now have the forestay attachment further aft and if desired, that modification can also be carried out on existing boats at the Loday White factory for a small additional cost. But there are expected to be no speed or handling differences between boats built as Shadow X and Shadows with the X kit added.

Despite being perceived as a boat for lighter sailors, helms of up to 95 Kg have proved to be very competitive when the wind blows. The X spinnaker should make them competitive across the wind range, whilst keeping the boat manageable for sailors as light as 65 Kg. Of course, the original spinnaker option remains available for those who want high performance with ultimate ease and simplicity.

In France, the Shadow X has been selling well and in the UK, several owners have already got the kit. Used boats get snapped up quickly and boats really hold their value thanks to the strict one design and fantastic Kevlar build quality. The class enjoys close one design class racing as well as being competitive on handicap. With a revised SCHRS rating of 1.061 (compared to 1.069 for the smaller spinnaker), this is set to continue. For 2011, Shadow events will be for both versions of the boat so there’s never been a better time to sail a Shadow.

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