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49er Class welcomes North Sails as new sail supplier

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49er Class welcomes North Sails as new sail supplier
49er Class welcomes North Sails as new sail supplier

After 30 expressions of interest, 11 proposals received followed by three sail makers selected to submit sail packages, the decision has been made to use the new 49er and 49erFX North Sails 3Di main and jib sails.


“This is a very exciting development,” says 49er Champion, Blair Tuke, who was one of the selectors. “It’s a first for an Olympic Class to be able to select equipment that optimizes performance, consistency, longevity and have a positive environmental impact, all in one package.”

The selection panel, which was made up of multiple Olympic medalist sailors and coaches, along with the 49er and 49er FX Class measurer, a builder’s representative and the copyright holders, used three key criteria to drive the decision. These were: improve consistency of the finished sail, improve longevity and decrease overall cost for sailors. Feedback was also considered from rigorous trialing in Australia and New Zealand with Olympic squad 49er sailors and coaches.

North Sails 3Di sails ticked all the boxes and a unanimous decision was made by the selection panel.

The new 49er and 49erFX sails will be built using the 3Di technology which is a 3D full sized molding construction process that uses composite materials. The technology enables sails to be built to the desired shape and retain shape over time. The 3Di durability has been proven with examples of VOR teams using one main sail for 35,000 miles where formally two or three laminate sails would have been used.

These benefits also translate into other major advantages – a reduction in the overall running costs of the boat as less replacement sails are needed and a more environmentally-friendly solution as the sails last longer meaning less waste, less energy used to produce and distribute and less raw materials consumed. The sails will also offer a very stable sailing experience as sailors will learn more about the sail over time and be able to exploit the sails for longer.  Modern graphics can also be applied to a large black canvas sail area on the new 49er and 49erFX sails.

The move to evaluate sails was made after a request by sailors at the 2019 and 2020 49er and 49erFX World Championships to improve sail consistency. It was also recognized that new technology in material science had evolved over since the sails were last reviewed.

Timing for the review was perfect on many levels. A sail review was due as one takes place every eight years, the review also sought to honor the EU FRAND terms and, given the spars were also under review meant the whole rig package could be considered for optimal performance.

Testing of the gennakers will continue in the UK and Holland with a decision on the supplier of gennakers likely in mid-April 2021.

Final day upcoming in Lanzarote

One day remains in Lanzarote with a single gold fleet race scheduled followed by a medal race for each of the 49er, 49erFX, and Nacra 17 fleets. The single European Olympic berths in each of each fleet are close to being secured, but still in play for the chasing teams. 

In the 49er,  Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove (IRL) are up into 3rd place overall in the regatta and carry a 29 point lead over ninth place Belgium. Aside from two UFD scores, the young Irish team has been a revelation into the top tier of senior 49er fleets and are clearly on top of their game.

Overall, Diego Botin and Iago Marra are 35 points in front and have been the clear class of the regatta. With a 10th as their worst race, there are not enough points left to be beaten and these two have secured the regatta win.

In the 49erFX, Isaura Baenhaut and Anouk Geurts (BEL) hold a 19 point advantage over Enia Nincevic and Mihaela Zjena (CRO). Like the Irish, their lead could have been even greater but they suffered a UFD in the final race of day 5.

At the top of the table are 5 World or European Champion teams who could each still win the championship. Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) hold a 9 point lead over the Dutch, with New Zealand, Denmark and Spain each close behind.

In the Nacra 17 it is a similar story as Sinem Kurtbay and Janne Jarvinen (FIN) are in fifth place overall and hold a 20 point lead over Iordanis Paschalidis and Myrto Papadopoulou (GRE) who sit in eighth. And to further the UFD burden on these Olympic hopefuls, the Fins too were UFD in the final race of day 5, a race they were first across the line in.

At the front of the fleet are Tara Pacheco and Florian Trittel (ESP) who hold a 14 point lead over the chasing Germans.

So three feets, each with very similar stories. We have three teams poised to earn Olympic berths but held back by UFD penalties on the start line. They are chased by capable teams who have just enough races left to cling to a hope of overtaking for Olympic berths. And we have overall leaders who also have strong leads, and are likely to win this incredible championship.

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