Please select your home edition
Edition
Feb-Nov23 Leaderboard TEMO2
Product Feature
Zhik Hybrid Skiff Suit
Zhik Hybrid Skiff Suit

The story of the 'Wing Mast' on Lumix

by Frank Quealey 8 Feb 2013 07:51 GMT 8 February 2013

For more than 120 years (since Mark Foy's original day in 1892) the 18 Footers have been a class which has evolved from heavy timber boats with crews of 20 men to the modern day, high tech three-man boats built from a sandwich construction of carbon fibre skins over a Nomex honeycomb paper core.

Along the way, some of the world's best known sailing innovators (such as Ben Lexcen, Iain Murray, Julian Bethwaite and Bruce Farr) have introduced many ground breaking concepts to make the 18ft Skiff the exciting flying machine it is today.

The latest innovator within the 18ft Skiff Racing ranks is a young skipper with the same free spirit style of vision and determination as a youthful Julian Bethwaite displayed from the 1970s to the 1990s.

His name – Jonathan (Jono) Whitty.

Jono first moved into the 18s (as crew) in 2007, before skippering his own boat in 2008, then in 2011 introduced the "turbulator " mast top to his Panasonic-sponsored LUMIX skiff.

He is the son of an Airbus pilot, holds a sea plane pilot's licence and is a hang glider enthusiast. Obviously with this knowledge of aerodynamics and his passion for wind and water, it's no surprise that he is continually striving for greater performance in his 18ft Skiff Racing campaign.

His latest concept is a 'wing mast', which he is presently using on LUMIX during the 2012-2013 Australian Season.

Asked about his reason for this development, Jono says:

"I was looking for more control with rig power to drag ratio".

"The main challenge then was making it stable with such a narrow base. Especially when carrying a mast head chute".

"Because the mast rotates above the gooseneck independent of the vang load, I had to fit a gas strut from the boom to the mast, pushing 35 kilos to induce rotation".

Getting the idea from the drawing board to reality wasn't easy.

"If it wasn't for Chris Dixon, Chris Flannigan and the guys at CST Composites, we wouldn't have been able to achieve our goal on time".

Chris Dixon, General Manager of CST Composites and a former 18ft Skiff skipper, says: "Jono came to me around February 2012 with the idea of a rotating section or wing mast. I see a lot of potential in Jono, and after discussing the idea openly, I encouraged him to give it a go".

"He has a real passion for sailing and developments, so I put it to him that we would support his development and give him the backing to achieve his goal".

"Following a meeting with Jono and his team, we agreed we could supply the engineering and production to not only make the mast, but make sure it would stay pointing towards the sky as well as being fast".

"It was a big investment in $$$ and time, but I felt if there was anyone in the fleet who could pull it off, it was Jono".

""I kept pushing Jono to keep an open mind as this was not going to be like any other rig he had ever used, and stressed we all needed to continuously think outside the box".

"Some rule limitations meant there was going to be some compromise, which sucked up a lot of engineering time".

"We made all new tooling to make the 200mm wing section".


Rigging the 18ft Skiff Lumix with her wing mast - photo © Frank Quealey

Dixon also stressed a critical point in the project was the need for Jono's Lumix skiff to have new sails. "If we were going to go to all the effort of making this new rig, he had to get new sails and not compromise on this part of the project".

"Setting up sails on a wing mast is completely different to a normal mast, it was the only way it was going to work".


18ft Skiff Lumix wing mast drawingst - photo © CST Composites
Even with this support from CST, Jono was still left with another problem related to the 18ft Skiff Rules, which state that only sails signed and registered by 28 October (Australia) may be used during the 2012-2013 season.

In what can only be described as a "gutsy call", Jono elected to push ahead with the wing mast and just make his #2 rig bigger than the other 18ft Skiff teams.

"If the new mast was unsuccessful we would have only had one rig for the season so I had to make sure our #2 rig was really big – just in case".

"We may pay for that decision on really windy days but it was one that had to be made".

Naturally, it is far too early to assess the overall performance of the 'wing mast' but a first up win was encouraging.

Jono wasn't getting too excited though: "I realized that such a change wouldn't be easy and there's still a lot to work on, but I'm satisfied with our performances so far".

"For gust response the boat is a lot more manual and I'm putting that down to hound height".

"The mast is now a lot more static and it takes a little more work to get the boat to accelerate".


Lumix sports her radical new wing mast during race 2 of the NSW 18ft Skiff Championship - photo © Frank Quealey

Class Measurer Stephen Quigley is a highly respected Naval Architect within the Australian yachting community and was winner of the 1996 Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship as skipper of AEI-Pace Express.

Steve is a 'positive' measurer with a sense of the history of the 18s and the innovators and innovations which have led to the evolution of the class.

"The 18s have historically led the way on innovations or at very least been early adopters", Quigley said.

"There are numerous examples of attempts at wing masts in the 18s, including Dave McKay's Sharp Electronics in the 1970s and Kevin Nixon's Lysaght Colorbond in the 80s. To date they have not become mainstream, probably due to the extreme loads, technical difficulties and reliability outweighing the potential aerodynamic benefits".

"Jono has invested a lot of his own energy, time and money to make this work. Not everyone is an innovator, and Jono has taken a significant risk with his season by choosing this path".

"His personal investment and risk strategy deserve to reap him some rewards, and while there was some active discussion on the concept at a board level the decision was made to support the development of the wing mast", Quigley concluded.

Australian 18 Footers League President John Winning, Giltinan champion in 2000 and winner of every major 18 Footer championship throughout the world, is also still a top competitor who has seen many innovations over his 38-year career in the 18s.

"Jono has an innovative brain and is always striving to improve his performance".

"Throughout the history of the 18s we've seen great development because of people who have strived to improve the boats to the high-tech standard they have today".

"It's still far too early to assess it's overall performance but it has recorded a couple of good results in the races it has contested so far".


The jib head arrangement on Lumix - photo © Frank Quealey

Related Articles

Never again! (Except for next time…)
What's it like to take a Cruiser/Racer racing? And not just any old race What's it like to take a Cruiser/Racer racing? Not just any racing, mind you, but two of the world's most famous courses. The Transpac and the Hobart. This was the premise presented to Charles Ettienne-Devanneaux ahead of our most recent chat. Posted on 17 Jul
Whisper it quietly..
Don't say it too loudly, but the Youth Sailing Worlds are taking place next week Don't say it too loudly, but the Youth Sailing World Championships are taking place at Lake Garda in under a week's time. Posted on 9 Jul
It's upon us
Paris 2024 happens this month. Little wonder it seems like it has come back around quickly Paris 2024 happens this month. Little wonder it seems like it has come back around quickly, when this current quadrennial actually started in 2021. Still. Is what it is… 12 sailors comprise the Australian Olympic Sailing Team. Posted on 2 Jul
Make mine a Magnum
50 year old International Moth design gets a 21st century make-over In almost every respect, 'Magnum' was a 1970s classic, but 50 years on the Magnum Moth is about to get a 21st century make-over. Sailors wanting to join the growing Lowrider Moth fleet just have to ask themselves, "Do you feel lucky?" Posted on 27 Jun
Performance vs. Participation
Or Correlation vs. Causation? I've heard many a time that one of the reasons for a fall in participation in sailing is the increased performance of boats. Effectively, the skill level and athleticism required in high performance boats excludes a range of people from participating. Posted on 25 Jun
The latest kit for summer boating, rain or shine
Our pick of the latest kit Summer's finally here and the season is in full swing. Here's our pick of the latest kit for racing, cruising and enjoying the water, rain or shine. Posted on 19 Jun
It's just a stick
It was just like watching an enthusiastic kid It was just like watching an enthusiastic kid. Alinghi's Silvio Arrivabene was totally in the 'nothing to see here' mode, and moreover, was keener to get into the ‘maybe exceeding them' remarks about their targets. Did someone say, ‘Spinal Tap'? Posted on 17 Jun
Corinthian Spirit
The inaugural Corinthian J70 Worlds had a superb entry of 109 boats Sailing has gone through phases of being professional and Corinthian. Originally a pastime for the rich, then becoming a sport for everyone during the boom in the 1960s and 1970s. Posted on 11 Jun
Para, Inclusive and Open RS Venture Connect
We find out more ahead of the upcoming World Championship at Rutland, UK We speak to Dan Jaspers, who is responsible for International Sales and Business Development at the RS Marine Group, about the RS Venture Connect. Posted on 6 Jun
Going to publish the 'F' word
There was a distinct, if decidedly unfair, hint of the Darwin Awards when I first saw this There was a distinct, if decidedly unfair, hint of the Darwin Awards when I first saw this item come in. Most specifically, it related to the one where the guy had strapped a JATO rocket to his car. Posted on 3 Jun