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Flying Dutchmen Heemskerk and Zanen build Round Texel race-monster

by Willeke Aapkes 22 Jun 2014 21:55 BST 28 June 2014
Flying Dutchmen Heemskerk and Zanen build race-monster for Round Texel © Willeke Aapkes

Former Olympic sailor and multiple Round Texel winner Mischa Heemskerk, together with the fanatical cat sailor Eduard Zanen from Texel, are looking to 'fly' around Texel with their remodelled flying M20 catamaran.

An M20 with winglets and daggerboards

Winning the Round and setting a new record with a self-built boat is what Heemskerk is looking to achieve. Already back in January, the mechanical-engineer come sail maker/boat builder was playing with the idea to remodel an M20: "In late January we started with rebuilding the hulls and broadening the beams and the installation of the new daggerboard casings. I have designed various daggerboards, and now on Texel we are just putting on the finishing touches. We have placed winglets and daggerboards for stable flight."

A week before the start of the Round Texel, Heemskerk is already on the island. With a team of five people he works from dusk till dawn to get his flying M20 ready in time. Heemskerk: "A challenging project, both technically and in terms of time and finance. Fortunately we have Bugaboo and Dutch willing to support us and, as far as time goes, we are on schedule. And then we still need to do some training of course!"

Clocking-up flying hours

Mischa would have preferred to be finished earlier so he could clock-up some hours in their new flying machine. He already has a lot of flying hours on it, Eduard Zanen less. Heemskerk: "The expectation with this boat, in terms of speed, is that we will end up over 30 knots, and then it is really an art to stay on board." Heemskerk and Mischa have several long-distance races and regattas to their name: three times the Tybee 500 (600 miles along the Florida coast in 6 stages), several Aruba regattas, the Curaçao regatta and the Saint Barth Cata Cup.

Sailing in three dimensions

Heemskerk: "If the conditions are good we think we should be able to sail the Round within two hours. By flying on the foils the whole hull stays dry and you have a lot less resistance. The difficulty is that you are sailing in three dimensions: upwards, windward and leeward, and forward. You have to really, really pay close attention."

Mischa is going for the win and a Round-record

Mischa Heemskerk was eight years old when he and his father sailed his first Round Texel in a Nacra 5.8: "I'm not entirely sure but I think I have taken part in the Round about 31 times. I have often built a boat with my father but never won in a self-built or remodelled boat. I have in a Tornado and twice with a Formula 18. This year we are definitely going for the win and a Round-record! "


You can still register online for the Round Texel here.

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