PRODUCTION CLASS, or in French, serie classe.
There are currently a few designs in the production class active, the Tiptop (06) the Zero and Dingo and Ginto (2005) Pogo2 (2003), Naus (2003), the SuperCalin (2001) and the Pogo (1995).
More boats want to become a Production Class, but as far as I know they are not yet qualified.
The list of wannabees:
- Mistral, 9 build, yard waiting for one buyer more...
- TamTam, (Canada), 2 build, 9 ordered, one racing.
- M65, Us, non build, moulds ready.
This all gives sailors a luxery that not did excist a few yrs ago. Word on the docks, all boats racing in 05 were fast, it was up to the sailor, see for
instance the succes of the Supercalin in this yrs MT, a 3d place for a design not seen as powerful in surfing. And more SC in the top ten.
It was great not to see 30 pogo1's on the start but a mix of SuperCalins, Zeros, Pogo1, Pogo2, a Dingo, a Ginto.
Here a Pogo1 (318) SuperCalin (219) Zero (540) and Mistral (495) in one shot.
Why race a production design ?
-You never can blame the boat for lack of speed. It comes more up to the sailor and tactics.
-You do not have to worry so much about design, foils, rudders improvement, great for sailors who does not like to tinker a lot. And that saves time.
-Some designs are suitable for cruising too. Means that if you have to live onboard this is a better choice. Or if you have to convince your partner...
-Less attention in the media, and you can not win the Transat 650 (only a slightest of the slightest possibility).
-There are rules for the Class, so you can not change much, if you do not like an aspect of the boat, you have to live with it.
Buying a production class;
In first a general remark.
There are two generations now sailing, designed before and after 1999.
1- The Pogo1, SuperCalin and Naus (1999)
2- The Zero, Pogo2, Ginto, Dingo, Tiptop (newest)
Remember, year of introduction is not yr designed, i know one design that took yrs to get in production, one design that was a yr in waiting till they had time to build etc.
Because of mini rules the driving force of a mini is the same in all.
We are restricted in hoist main (not length mast, a mistake a lot make), end of boom, bowsprit etc. So for rigging it is looking in margins. Bit longer main foot, or less etc.
Nothing dramatic, except hte Naus, who lacks force in the fore triangle.
So hull shape then, yes, Ginto should be faster light wind reaching, SuperCalin in any light wind, Zero upwind, lighter and in rougher, P2 in high reaching with spi. But no design is faster then another in all directions, and if they are faster, it is not that a big difference.
Trick is to know the other strong and weak points, and sail just higher or lower, and use tacktics to defend you.
So hull shape does not do the trick as they are all close.
Hull weight, yep that infuences. In possitive and negative ways. SuperCalin is light, hence fast in light surfing condtions. But slower in upwind and sloppy seas.
But look at the weights: around 1000 to 1100 kilo for the polyester ones.
Do not believe the lowest figures, and be aware that the heavier ones tell or the truth and know that they have to work more carefully or are really to heavy to compete in
the top, if you keeo your weight secret, it is not a good thing, could be heavy or light..
Plywood boats with restricted beam like the SuperCalin weigh lighter, less material...
Then the confusion between displacement and weight.
Displacement is displaced water if you put the boat in the water, weight is the result of hanging boat on a scale.
So, my weight is 1024 kg, what would be my displacement in salt water ? 1000 kg.
(yes salt water is 24 kg heavier then fresh averaged for every m3)
In short, its hard to compare the weight of boats. There is no easy solution for that, unless you include in the contract a maximum weight....
But why is one popular design, the Pogo2 almost always winning ?
They answer is in the question, its populair...
Look at the Acores race, 22 P2, and a few other designs. In theory a pogo2 should win.
The minis are a mostly North France thing at the moment, and where is P2 based ? Right there... if i was French and living in area around the yard (its the birthplace of the minis), i would buy P2 even if some points i do not like on the boat.
Why do top sailors (top sailor: minimum Eu champion in a populair dinghy class) choose P2, step into their feet and see:
Hey this design is often a winner, so it is not the boat i have to worry about. (in the
first year they raced, they were heavely yard supported, just smart marketing... they won a lot)
It is the most safest bet. Most of the time, thoose guys have a good budget too, so then you have a good combination, good boat, good sailor, good budget (hint, Peter Lauressen in 05) and then you win :)
Does this mean other boats are slower ?
NO, only in my personal opinion the Naus really lacks speed to win races. Even the
Pogo1 has it sweet spots (fast headings) too. And even buying a p2 does not mean your fast, often there is a Pogo2 last too (again, because of numbers of them sailing)
Oh, and watch out for yard supported racers, when a new design get launched, and the yard pays/gives a boat free to a sailor to race. This boat will build extremely light so they win.... and get the PR buss... your ordered boat will not be that light... (they
will spend double time to build it, so it is not possible for the money you pay to get the same boat)
But what is best investment to make my boat the fastest ?
First, have an attacking attitude, and not a cruising one..
And then in no particulair order:
2- sail devolpment (start with a proven mini sailmaker like Incidences, Delta voiles, and start two boat training, and borrow sails from other brands and see whats different.)
3- your racing skills of a mini, get experienced crew, even if that means, paying a bit or entering a mini assocation as in Lorient to train in winter...nothing helps as much as two boat training in straight lines....
4- a fairing job of hull, keel, rudders. (watch out with keel, p2 ran in problems there, sailors to aggressive in sanding.... there are rules against changing profile thickness etc, see p2 assocation for rules)
5- invest time in stacking area and possibilities (hooks, bags, slings, whatever it takes)
If you have the budget, there is a 4000 Euro 10 kg liferaft, i hope the classe mini will forbid this at least for series, setting a minimum weight for liferaft, 20 kg....
Lion batteries, but that will set you back another 2000 Euro. Again, i hope this will not be allowed.
Fuell cells, this is expensive, 3000 E, but does not save that much weight...
BUT ALL THIS IS WORTHLESS TO DO IF YOU DO NOT HAVE THE ATTACK ATTITUDE.
SAIL FIRST SEASON, SEE IF YOU ARE IN TOP 20%; THEN SPEND MONEY :) if not, save the money, do it as adventure, and spend the money in Brasil ... a normal campaign is 2 yrs, to short normally to change from adventure sailor to aggressive racer. I have seen sailors change from cruiser type to racer in a minmum of 3 yrs, so its possible.
Back to the types of series: (year of serie approval makes the rank)
Which one should i buy ?
With the older Pogo1 you have a strong mini and an effective cruising boat. Older design. For budget sailors. New is that you can install a P2 bowsprit system, number 250 is racing with for example, it minimizes time on foredeck, thats good. But it is not cheap (1200 Euro). NOt infused. Sold 99 or so. Not being build anymore.
The SuperCalin, a plywood production boat. Most different is that it is less wide, and
small cockpit. Sexy coachroof (for me). Did very well in 05 (3rd). Good Med boat. Medium easy entrance. Plywood.
Not sure, i think there are 22 of them... anyone with an exact number ?
Or do you want Italian styling, the Naus 2002.
Not the most popular choice, with a difficult spi pole setup. A total different boat, easy to recognize. Less comfortable and split entrance. Not raced much. Build 13 is my info.
Pogo2, 2003, popular on the French Atlantic coast.
Defacto standard to compare the other boats with...due to their highest numbers build. Standing out: easy and big entrance, double tiller, almost no interior, lots of flare in the bow. Shallow and open cockpit. Infused. Now around 60 to 70 of them ordered.
A Ginto, from the hands of Magnen, looks neat, falls in the design range of the P2, but with one tiller, and a good mainsail track. One partial bulkhead. Less easy entrance.
Should do good in light wind. But they are on the heavy side of the series with the Tiptop. Its hard to build a boat in infusion and be light, Infused. Build 14.
A Dingo, of the hands of Rolland, a more updated version of the Pogo1.
Built lighter then the Pogo. Gone is the stainless tiller. Almost no interior.
Medium depth cockpit. Medium comfortable entrance. Not infused. Just 10 build is my info.
A Zero, Lombard, a slightly different design, with lifting keel for transport, full
bulkheads (strong and stiff, with no weight penalty, but more expensive), only design with full width spreaders, and a deeper and closed cockpit, easy entrance, one tiller. Most interior space. A bit more rocker in the lines. Windows large, can race and cruise with it. Not infused. Ordered 30.
A TipTop, Manuard, one thing stands out, the hull deck connection. And one tiller, wider side decks in the cockpit, different bow section. Otherwise looks like a lot like a
Pogo2. But less easy entrance. And it is a long wide boat, a bit more power, but a bit more weight too. Hence on the heavy side of the series. Not infused.
Ordered 16. (serie status is not 100% confirmed yet)
AND NEVER BELIEVE THE WEIGTH NUMBERS, THEY ARE LARGELY FICTIVE, REALITY SHOWS DIFFERENT ALL THE TIME, AND YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT FIGURE THE DESIGNERS GIVES YOU, WITH SAILS OR WITHOUT ? ETC ETC. No-one believes a P2 is heavier then a Pogo1. I enven doubt if hte P2 weight is, hull deck, rudders, deckhardware and mast etc. As state of the art protos weight then 850 kg or so.
Same for sailareas, as the mast height is restricted, boom length, bowsprit. This is an other area for marketing diseases to take hold. Same for keel, how many is in the foil and how many in the bulb ?
So in short:
What would be my personal choices: for racing only:
(READ MY PERSONAL OPINION; I AM ALLOWED TO THIS... I know i will get email from other yards or sailors...)
Tiptop, Ginto, P2, Zero, (in no particulair order) and when lacking full budget, SuperCalin or Pogo1.
You see, i am not that picky. I know i can make them fast...
Things that helps you picking, where is the yard housed, what designs are around me sailing, who sails on them (very important) and do i want to race only (some designs are a bit less functional for that), does the yard speak my language, delivery time (can be very important) etc etc.
(And what's up with the names guys..., sometimes the mini world is the best place for
weird names, Pogo= pogostick ?, Naus is just boat, Dingo a wild dog never seen in Europe, Zero is not really the best number, Ginto reminds me of Gintonic, they only forgot a few syllables, SuperCalin means Super Cudly, you can see that production yards do not spend much money about name development....)