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Reverso Air 2021 LEADERBOARD

The Missing Foils?

by Richard Burton 1 Apr 07:15 BST
Foils for a 1967 Chippendale Merlin Rocket © Richard Burton

I've been thinking about fitting foils to my 1967 Chippendale Merlin Rocket for some time since the class changed the rules in a bold initiative last year called "Levelling Up - Let the Development Continue!".

This allows all boats over 30 years old a bit more freedom to upgrade and as a 'bounce back' incentive after months of not sailing. So this effectively means the hull minimum weight is removed and skippers can use whatever means they like to make the boats quicker, for most this means twin trapezes, racks, electronics and for some a giant masthead asymmetrical spinnaker and foils.

Imagine my delight, when I saw a set of foils on eBay three weeks ago that looked just right, £53.80 Buy it Now, Last One! "An item which is new, unopened and unused". "Would suit Scorpion, 505, Cadet, Enterprise or similar." I read the description lower down which explained that it was a lost package and the shipping company had closed down, and he was doing the creditors a favour by selling the items left in the warehouse. So I guess he didn't know the real value of them and was just trying to make a bit of extra cash on the side. He also emailed me to say there was another box that goes with it but is en-route from New Zealand.

The foils arrived in a large packing case last week (and although the shipping labels were torn off or illegible, I could just about make out the description on the customs declaration, "Ben's top secret Lucky 74.9K .. EOS Foils - do not open until the Cup" - Not sure what EOS stands for? Ben's lucky End of Season foils? Mmm can't think of any Oppy sailors called Ben past or present either. I also noticed a small shipping forwarders stamp with an address in Palermo, Italy, so perhaps it was Brexit delays that stopped it getting to its destination on time.

We did a fairly rudimentary installation of the new foils with a sort of joystick which pivots on the centreboard bolt and tried them out on Tuesday in pleasant SW breeze at Draycote. (According to the latest email, the full hydraulic technical package is delayed on a container ship somewhere in Egypt after an emphatic luff by the captain went a bit wrong!) Once we're under way I glance over at the crew and notice something has changed about him since we were last out, but I'm not quite sure what it is. We bear away on to a reach and he talks in to the boom mike he now has on his helmet, "5.5 knots. Rotate", in an understated clipped monotone voice, before pulling down his visor, and as he glances over at me I notice, he now has "Flight Director" printed across the top; we could be in for a bumpy ride... Also, he now wears a skin tight light grey suit and orange grand prix style trainers rather than the gardening wellies before lockdown. He says he's been doing that Joe Wickes thing every day - whilst I've upped my game by walking the dog to the paper shop and back every Sunday morning!

Of course when the full technical package arrives I won't really need him any more, I'll just have an app on my phone, and run round the back of the main from time to time!

April Foiled?

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