North Sails NEWS
3Di RAW UPGRADES J/109 CHIMAERA‘s SAILING TEAM
Top-Notch Service and Expertise Yield Success
Andrew Craig purchased a J/109 in late 2016 and made a plan with his friend and North Sails expert Maurice’ Prof’ O’Connell based in Ireland to optimize his inventory. Over the next two years, the two put together a plan for a fresh new inventory of 3Di RAW upwind sails and spinnakers to help propel Chimaera to success.
Why a J/109? Most importantly, It’s an excellent platform for racing in Ireland. Prof’s brother Aidan is a fan, so he was able to talk Andrew into it.
Chimaera’s first event was a windward/leeward series, so the first sail built was a new asymmetrical spinnaker. “It was an immediate success,” Andrew says. “We were able to run deeper than any other boats out there. My newfound competitors started asking questions because that’s how fast we were DDW.”
Next, Andrew upgraded to a 3Di RAW mainsail and an NPC club racing A2. “By the end of that first season, I had a good suit of racing sails, and that brought on the desire to be more competitive,” he explains. “We were sailing well, and we were ready to start traveling to events outside of Ireland.”
A Program Built for Speed
By the end of 2018, Andrew had acquired a complete “battle stock” of sails: a new 3Di RAW J1, J2, J3, mainsail, and an A4, and A5. “That stock we keep rolled in my sail loft, separate from our weeknight club racing. It’s important to have the best sails for the main events.”
In 2019, Chimaera won the six-race Scottish Series, one of the most significant keelboat events in the UK, by a full eight points. They also earned Boat of the Week honors.
“This year, we planned to defend our crown,” Andrew says, “and of course, everything got canceled! We had two days of club racing in September– which we won. We are happy to have that, at least!”
Andrew says 3Di changed the power, feel, and handling of the boat. “Our trimmers found it instantly easier to trim the 3Di sails. It became easier to respond to pressure changes. From what I’ve seen, I can sail higher, for longer.”
Maintaining the right heel angle is essential on the J/109, and Andrew says that’s easier now that he and the trimmers are working together better. “Settling into a groove, so your helm is neutral is what you want, and we’ve been able to achieve that.”
Lightweight + Shape Holding
He was also impressed with the shape-holding abilities of 3Di over four seasons of hard use. “My J2 was my predominant sail, and she’s got great shape–still. The firmness, coupled with the trim settings, allow us to reach a higher point of sail, and we could feel that it was more stable. It’s nice to know that I can hang in situations where I am fighting for a lane or need to create a new one, with less interference from the helm, allowing the crew to work the jib.”
He also noticed how light the sails were compared to his old suit. “My mainsail is just 15 kilos, and for having a mast that is 45 feet tall, that’s pretty great. I packed up the sail bag and was prepared to lift some considerable weight, but realized right away it was significantly lighter than I would expect. Carrying less weight and being able to have options is great. I believe that 3Di has the one-up on any sail made of laminated materials.”
Working with the North Sails Network
Andrew says the service he’s received from Prof and the North Sails network has been exceptional. Just a couple of weeks before the first event of the Scottish Series, Andrew requested a J3 to cope with Scotland’s windy conditions. “Prof turned that around very quickly. It was delivered to the event location just in time, with only two weeks’ notice. Prof has not only worked with me on sails, but he’s also helped me optimize everything from lines to halyards—everything we can do to make the boat handle fast and well. Having his support helped guide our way to success.”
Prof is a regular part of the crew as well, serving as an onboard coach and tactician. “When Prof joins us, he heightens our energy levels, which reminds us of all the things we need to focus on. Sailing with A-sails is a new thing for me, so it has taken some time to get used to. Now I am very confident, and we are fast on all points of sail. What Prof has done to help us achieve our goals.”
Prof has also helped grow the J/109 class in Ireland, Andrew adds. “North Sails have a close association with the class, running clinics, coaching sessions, and debriefs after racing. It’s a great way to help raise the bar in the local competition.”
Chimaera and her sails are stored away for the winter, but Andrew’s already looking forward to 2021. “The Dun Laoghaire Regatta has a three day one design series, followed by IRC racing. We plan to be there!”
The Value of Sail Care + Service
When Andrew isn’t racing, he keeps his sails dry and clean. After each season, he is diligent about getting them serviced. “It’s important to stay on top of that. It’s a fraction of the cost when you are considering the cost of new sails. It’s absolutely worth it to have your gear regularly inspected by your sailmaker, and keep an eye on things to make sure you are doing your part to maintain your investment.”