Sunday, May 24, 2015

Declaration of Independence

North American A Class sailors recently voted to Remove Rule 8 as a constraint during their events.

With my apologies for editing one of the most important texts in history, here is a tongue-in-cheek look at why the move was necessary and successful:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Foiling.
That to secure these rights, Technical Committees are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
That whenever any Form of Measures Guidelines becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. 
When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their Boatspeed and Stability.
Such has been the patient sufferance of these A Class Sailors; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

I have previously stated that the current Rule, if interpreted consistently, though not perfect, allowed sufficient freedom to keep developing in the historical spirit of the A Class, and remain relevant as the foremost big fleet development beach cat.
However, for reasons that may be genuine or self interested, a small vocal group has insisted on applying what they view as 'the spirit of the rule' as they claim was intended.
The result has been inconsistency, uncertainty, and growing anachronism, as other classes, one-designs, and now even cruising boats pursue the sensible path. While the A struggles with elaborate, inefficient and dangerous rule cheats.

A Few Examples

'AND' does not equal 'OR'.
This hardly needs explaining. Consider the following sentences taken from established jurisprudence:
- Men over 30 and single shall receive admission.
- Men over 30 or single shall receive admission.
Plainly the latter entitles men under 30 to receive admission whilst the former does not.
Read Rule 8.2 and draw your own conclusion.

'All positions' cannot include what happens before or after racing (as defined by ISAF).
When we come back to the beach, we remove our straight, curved, or bent foils, and rest them on the trampoline. Often we place them so they overhang the side of the boat.
Similarly, we lower our sail right past the lower limit band.
For that matter, we often lower the mast by pivoting it forward so it grossly exceeds maximum overall length.
All such actions would not be permitted during racing, the only time when our equipment must be rule compliant.
In order to indicate limits to permitted positions, contrasting bands are painted on.
Though equipment can travel past such bands (a subset of 'all' positions), our honour (and the possibility of others seeing us) keeps us compliant.
This is accepted even for 'newfangled' L and T dagger rudders, where full retraction breaches Rule 3.
Standard practice applied throughout: If you don't do it during a race, it is fine.
But foils are somehow held to a different standard because, in the minds of some, arbitrarily perceived intent trumps consistency and an expectation of objectivity.

Interlinked appendages (such as two rudders connected by a crossbar), both reacting to forces exerted by wind and water, are accepted and common. Join the dots...

Going Forward

Enough said on the way Rule 8 was stretched and tortured.
Removing it makes sense for two principal reasons.

1) It is the only 'non-dimensional' rule in a Class that is otherwise governed by 'boxes'.
Limiting length, beam, mass, sail area, and other key parametres keeps absolute performance close among different designs, but allows experimentation with novel configurations. All within clear dimensional limits.

2) Freeing up how foils may be mounted makes it much cheaper and easier to upgrade an older boat to close the gap with newer ones.

Reiterating Our Conclusion

I believe manufacturers should cater to market demand rather than agitate for rule changes.
There should be an expectation of consistency in the application of a published and valid rule so that all who invest time and money in our great sport can do so on a level playing field.
When things become plainly untenable, then we should support change.

The message is a positive one: Get out there and develop. Things are looking up.
To abuse another great historical statement:
This is the end of the beginning!

Examples of equipment that can potentially exceed measurement limits in some positions,
but is accepted provided the limits are respected during racing.
The most common being mast 'black' bands.
Singling out certain types of foils is inconsistent.
Diagram taken from current Measurers Guidelines.
Clearly the measurement 5.79m has no basis anywhere in the Class Rules.
This guideline effectively alters the Rules, adding to them without due process. A pattern?
Also from the official Guidelines. 
I superimposed the green foil which is identical to the blue ones in the Guidelines, but shown at an intermediate position not included in measurement.
Foils that exceed rule limits between measurement points are specifically permitted, as long as the breach does not happen during racing.
In this case the appendage would presumably not be retractable during a race.
So to exclude other types of movable but not retractable appendages is untenable.
An L foil inserted from below is obviously not retractable. Therefore it should not be bound by Rule 8.
Removing Rule 8 eliminates these niceties. Life will be simpler as a result.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Intense times as we are gearing up to take on more challenges.

We have completed another recruiting phase. Our extraordinary team has grown even stronger.
If you have missed out on the latest openings, get in touch anyway and we will keep your details on file for future opportunities.

The next step is integrating our various operations under one brand.

A new website is under construction to reflect recent growth and changes.
As always, your support and passion are vital in keeping us going.

Below is an image of our new home, rebranded.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


We now have an opening for a composite boatbuilder/fabricator.

Our workload is growing so we would like to take on another team member.
Projects include UAV airframes, customer parts, RC yachts and our A Class catamaran.
A good mix of one-off prototypes for R&D and production items.

If you possess the requisite skills in carbon fiber pre-peg construction and would like to join a growing team working on interesting products, contact us by email:

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Paradox 2015

First Public Introduction of our All New A Class Catamaran

-          Speed, stability, easy to tune for different conditions, value, elegant engineering.
-          Benefiting from three years of structured testing, data collection and validation.
-          Developed in close collaboration with Glenn Ashby.
-          Built in Australia to aerospace standards.

Hull Shape
-          High volume combined with narrow waterline beam through U shaped sections.
-          Flat bottoms for maximum planing lift and minimum dynamic wetted area.
-          Rocker shaped for responsive trimming: Easy transition from bow-down (lowriding) to bow-up (step back/takeoff).
-          Bows have generous volume underneath and peaked low-freeboard tops for wave piercing and water shedding.

-          Low windage and high stiffness.
-          High modulus beams, Nomex cored hulls.
-          Integrated construction, sealed low-stretch trampoline, streamlined rear beam.
-          Future-proof foil case design able to take any shape foil.

-          Optimised Z foils with variable section (camber changes along the span).
-          Full use of permitted lifting span.
-          Precise rake adjustment through worm-gear as used by proven foiling classes.
-          Good foil support (no slop, no jamming) with precise toe-in through rotating bearings.
-          All new: A leap forward from the existing dagger/cassette concept that we pioneered and has since been widely adopted.
-          The new system allows much better refinement of rudder planform as well as easy rake adjustment on the water and greater safety.
-          Superior grip at low speed, low drag and precise control when foiling.

-          Customer deliveries expected to start in July 2015.
-          Four build-slots available for delivery at the Worlds in Italy.
-          Ongoing deliveries after September including containers to the Americas and Europe.
-          Contact us now to lock in a hull number with a conditional holding deposit.

Phone: +61 412 127 388

Monday, February 9, 2015


An opening exists for a junior laminantor and fabricator at Carbonicboats.
The position includes loading prepreg into moulds, assembly tasks, bonding, finishing and general hands-on work under supervision.

Some experience is preferable but the right attitude is vital.
The successful applicant will be passionate about quality and technology, reliable, ethical, and committed.

A number of projects are in the pipeline and opportunities exist for progression in a growing company with a singular vision.

Email applications to
Applications will close on Friday 20/02/2015

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Farewell 2014

Some images looking back on a year of regrouping, transition and growth:

Production L rudders, proven at the A Class Catamaran Worlds 
Mould for experimental T rudder elevator with junction bulb. Part of extensive R&D work on appendages
Rudder gudgeon assembly with 'between races' rake adjustment
Experimental gudgeons with 'on the fly' rake adjustment
via tiller extension twist-grip
Billet rudder cassette. Our concept of 'dagger' rudders with offset axis has been widely adopted
First A Class 'V' foil concept. 'Inspiration' for current Z foils
Retrofit foil case kit with rotating bearings

Moth bow swivel fitting developed with Scott Babbage. Production version available here:
Moth bellcrank developed with Scott Babbage. 
Production version available here:
Bolts with streamlined heads. Used on UAVs and various sailboat classes
Experimental Finn mast chocks for NB Sailsports
18' Skiff rig spanners for Allmarine. Available here:
Tasar fittings for NB Sailsports.
Available here:
Trophies for A Class Catamaran Nationals

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


We have received many questions regarding the differences between ‘active’ and ‘passive’ foil systems for full foiling.
So here is a look at the principles with respect to performance.


An active system consists of a foil with variable camber or variable angle of incidence controlled by a sensor that measures heave position (ride height).
The input can be via a mechanical device such as a wand/float or an electronic sensor.

Usually the main lifting foil is fully submerged. In order to minimise the total lift necessary, the submerged foil should be angled to provide both vertical and horizontal force components.
The vertical component holds the boat up and the horizontal component resists leeway.
Moths achieve this vectoring by heeling to windward.
By vectoring the lift from the submerged/active span, the vertical struts are not significantly loaded so surface-piercing effects are minimised.

It is interesting to note that where active T foils have been tried on catamarans the results have been less than promising because vectoring was difficult to achieve. Sideforce was provided by the surface piercing vertical struts. These got smaller with increasing ride height. Also their pressure field interfered with the main lifting foil degrading efficiency.

With twin Ts it may be possible to set the hulls up for differential ride height (set the neutral point on the respective sensors differently for windward and leeward foil) thereby encouraging the platform to stabilise at a heeled ride height. However the downside is that the windward foil will have a long span of submerged strut (since the foils are far away from the centreline, the difference in immersion from upright to heeled is large).

One concept we tested, designed by Dave Lister, showed promise by combining active heave control and lift vectoring via angled fully submerged lifting spans for minimum wetted area.

On an active control setup, lifting foil area does not change with heave. The submerged portions of the vertical struts get shorter but this has little effect on total lift. Instead lift is controlled by changing the lift coefficient of the main foil, either through altering angle of attack or, most effectively, through adding camber by deflecting a flap.

A flap alters camber and changes the angle between chord line (light blue)
and oncoming flow (dark blue)

This solution comes in different forms. Variations on V configurations rely on a decrease in immersed foil area with heave.
Other solutions such as the acute L/V rely on a coupling between heave and leeway such that increasing leeway reduces the effective angle of attack of the main lifting surface.
Where leeway values are very small, an L/V foil can also use a reduction in lifting area (inboard tip breaching the surface) as a last-resort means of limiting ride height.


Mechanically it can be argued that the overall complexity is similar: Active systems have swivels, pushrods and bellcranks that require significant refinement and must be looked after correctly. Passive foils require hull and deck bearings and means of adjusting depth and rake.
So ultimately the cost differences are minimal.
Active foils need some form of articulation built in (a shaft or flap) so they are more complex to produce. But they tend to be made from straight segments whereas passive foils tend to have curved spans so their tooling is more expensive.
Again, on balance cost is not a deciding factor.

Active foils with mechanical sensors tend to be at a disadvantage in light winds and marginal foiling conditions because there is a drag penalty associated with the control system.
In non-foiling conditions the sensors can be disconnected and retracted. But then no lift is available so any puffs would see the passive boat move ahead in foil-assisted mode.
Arguably the active setup is also heavier depending on where the sensors are located and how they connect to the foils.

So on a small cat the passive foil would have the competitive edge in very light winds.
The exact crossover remains a subject of investigation and will be found to depend on variables such as displacement/length ratio, sail area/wetted area ratio and the exact design of the foils...

Once foiling the active system requires less deliberate correction by the skipper.
This favours the less advanced sailor but probably makes little difference to the nuanced expert who is constantly making adjustments by muscle memory.

The crucial difference is this: An active foil can be smaller for a given takeoff speed because lift coefficient can be maximized when needed and dialed out when not required.
You can have an aggressively cambered foil on takeoff and a flat low-drag one at high speeds.

This is not impossible with passive foils. For example, the section used in the upper portion can have more camber than the one used near the tips.
But the compromise is more critical.
It is more difficult to have early takeoff and low drag at high speeds.

If the rules are tested and the A Class decides that active controls are not desirable, then passive systems will evolve rapidly and the problems will be solved.
Hopefully the decision will be an informed one based on a good understanding of the options rather than on prejudice and fear of the unknown.
In either eventuality the development process will continue to be fascinating.

Graph from UNSW Team 1: Sam Paterson, David Kirkby, Byrce Edmonds, 
Ashley Thornton, Felicity Kelleher, Nick Tenison, Syafiq Nazarudin 
And Team 2: Jarred Grimmond, Nay Myo Lwin, Stephen Narunsky,
Julia Shields, Tyler Steer, Hu Su

Friday, November 28, 2014


New Moth bow mechanism developed with Scott Babbage now available from SailingBits.
CarbonicBoats worked with Scott to develop a system with less friction, almost zero play, and built-in adjustment of gearing and wand length.

Four prototypes incorporating different shapes and bearing materials were created and tested before the production version could be signed off.
A great project for learning about the complex tradeoffs between mechanical efficiency, weight, reliability, repeatability of tolerances and cost effectiveness.

Milled from a single block of aluminium the new design takes out the wobble and play from other systems. With a larger diameter axle, and bronze bearings, the bow mech takes away the opportunity for unwanted movement that develops in other designs.

Incorporating adjustable gearing, adjustable wand and a large fast-point variation, you have a large range of adjustment to get you through the full range of conditions.

And for all those aero junkies, it incorporates and aerofoil maystick to reduce drag.

Available in Black, Silver, Red, Blue, Purple & Yellow.

Order yours now by going to:

Saturday, November 22, 2014


The nature of our UAV work is such that we don’t regularly get to share it with the public.
Confidentiality is often an important consideration in the aerospace game so it is exciting that on this occasion we can reveal images of a recent project.

These are the first airframes of the Cometa UAV, designed by d3 Applied Technologies for surveillance and 3D mapping missions.
We worked closely with Gonzalo Redondo and the d3 team to develop tooling, details and fittings best suited for their design.

The beautifully integrated and streamlined airframe is demountable in the field so it can be transported in a compact package.
It can operate with landing gear or from a catapult with parachute landing.
The aerodynamic treatment, informed by in-house d3 CFD capabilities, is exquisite.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Checking In

Click here to read a Q&A Session with Martin Vanzulli who is doing a great job of keeping the A Class website up to date as well as running the Catsailingnews blog.

The interview covers our V3 Paradox A Class design (nearing production) as well as our ongoing foil R&D work.

The final questions are about how some of our recent experiments with control system foils fit with the A Class rule. We reiterate that our design decisions for production are informed by proactive consultation with the Technical Committee to make sure we are always within current rule interpretations when introducing innovations to the market.
Experimental work goes on in parallel. It is aimed at demonstrating what is possible and, increasingly, at satisfying market demand for 'pure' full foiling solutions.
Personally my hope is that fair, objective, literal and consistent rule interpretations will allow further development within a knowable and predictable design space.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


You can now listen on demand to the show we guest-hosted on Sunday night: