At the show

TheDailySail has a look around Southampton Boat Show

Wednesday September 21st 2005, Author: Andy Nicholson/Toby Heppell, Location: United Kingdom
The Southampton Boat Show is a pleasant day out in the late summer sunshine and fortunately that is exactly what TheDailySail had when we took a quick trip around the stands on Tuesday. The most obvious change was that the Guiness Bar has been replaced by the RYA! Surely we don’t need to get into training for 2012 yet!

Towards the end of our day we did however locate the ‘Irish Embassy’ which has relocated to the enlarged Solent Park area of the site, presumably pulled there by the gravitational forces surrounding the enormous Sunseeker presentation which has relocated there too.

This is just a brief glimpse of some things that caught our eye.

At the show entrance The Met Office demonstrated their METweb service which is currently going through a period of revision – a re-launch is due over the winter. Principle developments include more detailed animated wind forecasts and wave height prediction for the waters around the British Isles.

One key area they are looking at is the pricing system. The Met Office’s Sancha Tetlow explained that they are ditching the ‘token’ system in favour of a more simple pay-as-you-go model, based very much around a conventional web shop. Tetlow says that this should make it more appealing for first timers to try the service.

Something of particular interest at the show was the new V3000, although the word 'new' is not entirely correct. Following the announcement that Laser would be ceasing production of the Laser 3000, the class association and boat builder Jeff Vander Borght ( Vander Craft ) decided to rejuvenate this now slightly old design.

Although a lot of work has been put into updating the boat, what has changed is not particularly obvious at first glance. The biggest difference, says Vander Borght is the move away from a polyurethane moulded design and back to epoxy foam sandwich. This does makes the boat more susceptible to bangs and knocks but however has shaved a massive 30 kilograms off the weight of the boat, bringing the bare hull weight down from 80 to 50 kilograms. Vander Borght says that this is not necessarily a boat for the holiday sailing market anymore but more a boat that people can get an experience of asymmetric sailing in; he suggests maybe a parent child combination would get a lot out of the boat.

There have been lots of changes to the deck layout and the sum of a lot of little tweaks seem to make for a much improved boat. Starting at the front, the bow sprit has been moved so that it comes out of the centre of the bow as opposed to it coming out of one side. The jib has been moved back a little so that it is now attached behind the spinnaker chute making spinnaker hoists and drops much easier. Moving back further still, the Selden mast has been changed so that all the rigging is exterior meaning there are no holes in it and the whole thing is airtight making the boat less likely to invert in the event of a capsize. The interior arrangement has been changed so that the boat is much more clutter free. The kicking strap has been changed to a gnav arm so that the cockpit is now much more open and the mainsheet is now sheeted from the boom, meaning there is almost no clutter in the boat.

The sails have been changed, moving away from the traditional, old fashioned white sail cloth the boat now looks very pretty with its new Sobstad Fibrepath sails.

All of these changes to the boat of course mean that it will have a huge speed advantage over the older heavier Laser 3000. To enable some class racing the plan is to put water ballast in each of the new boats, with the intention of there being class racing for the V3000 in two to three years.

The V3000 is very competitively priced at £4,995 which actually brings it back into contention with many of the newer classes being put onto the market today. Vander Borght is also chewing over the idea of a V5000...

The jib and main on the V3000 are the new generation of Fibrepath sails from Sobstad (above). New software used by the designers has enabled them to design the fibre layout in a virtual 3D environment, before going into manufacture. Fibres are then accurately laid in the production of the sail to this 3D map - the benefits Sobstad say are that the sail will more accurately hold its designed shape.

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