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Musto Skiff Class to explore 'New Mainsail Design Project'

by Musto Skiff Class Association 6 Mar 08:20 GMT
Musto Skiff racing in Portland Harbour © Tim Olin / www.olinphoto.co.uk

Since the class was established some 20 years ago, the Musto Skiff has remained virtually unchanged, which is largely attributed to the quality of the overall product and the continued success of the class.

Despite this success, the class association, in conjunction with its members, continues to observe and consider new developments in sailing technologies and design in order to avoid the risk of complacency.

As part of this ongoing process, the class took a vote in 2017 to explore updating their mainsail. After some prototypes were made and trials of a new design were completed, the class voted to 'pause' the project and defer it for a two-year period. With the review date set for February 2021, Musto Skiff class members were invited via the latest 2020 MSCA Annual Survey to provide feedback and vote on how, and if, they wanted to move forward with the project.

Within the survey, the International Committee emphasised that this planned vote was not a vote to adopt a new mainsail, but to assess if class members wanted to explore further options to develop a different mainsail design or defer this process once again.

Out of the three options available, a 60% majority of class members voted to continue the project to develop and test designs for a new, more modern sail. The remaining options were evenly split between option 1 ('Continue with existing mainsail; and do no further design work for another 2 years') and option 2 ('Keep the existing mainsail profile but change the sail cloth'); each taking 20% of the total votes.

Responding to the survey results, the International Musto Skiff Class Chairman, Andy Tarboton, said: "We are guided by our members, and this latest survey result is a clear indication that our members are keen to revisit this project. Based on the class member vote and additional feedback in the survey, the International Committee will now work with Ovington's and the key partners to explore new design ideas for the mainsail. Once the options have been narrowed down, we will reveal them to the class for further guidance on the next step forward."

The International Committee has stated that making any proposed changes to a mainsail will be a lengthy process with various stages to design, develop and test the suitability of any new design ideas.

Andy continued: "We are looking at years, rather than months to explore this mainsail design project properly, so nothing will change for at least a couple of seasons - and we may even conclude that nothing needs to change at all. We intend to keep the class fully updated on the progress of this project and what is required at each stage as we move it forward."

The latest survey also asked for feedback from both Musto Skiff sailors and the wider sailing community on the idea of developing an additional smaller sail for the class. Some lighter and less confident sailors can sometimes find the current rig too powerful but are extremely interested to sail the Musto Skiff. It is anticipated that the option of a smaller rig will enable a broader range of sailors to join the class.

The recently published survey results revealed that 79% of participants agreed that a smaller set of sails would help to increase membership and interest in the class, and 79% supported further development of this project.

In response to this survey feedback, the international committee will also now develop this second project - called 'Project XS'.

Commenting on the future of the Musto Skiff class, Andy said: "We have some great projects to work on for the future development of the Musto Skiff class, and it's important that we continue to stay current and listen to what our members want. Whether it's developing a smaller rig or exploring a new mainsail design for the boat, we want to ensure that we are using all the latest sail design technology available to us. Above all, we want to ensure that as many sailors as possible can get involved in the Musto Skiff class and share the enjoyment of sailing this fantastic skiff."

To view the full results of the recently published MSCA 2020 Annual Survey, visit mustoskiff.com/other/msca-class-survey/#class-survey-2020

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