An important question when people are looking at moving into a new class is what is a good weight to be competitive. As the VX One is relatively new on the scene and there is not a lot of data on crew weights in a whole range of conditions I am putting down my thoughts to encourage discussion from observations made by others.
The optimum crew weight is obviously dependant on the strength of breeze that you expect to sail in. In an Australian summer in most places around the country the breeze expected would be in the 15 to 20knot range most of the time with the occasional lighter days. However, in North America where many of the VX Ones sail it might be that conditions are more like 10 to 15 knots most of the time.
Most of the sailing I have done in Sydney has been with a crew of three with our total weight being in the 210 to 240kg (460 to 530lbs) range. This has been pretty comfortable but there have not been too many boats to compare speed with to date.
When I planned my trip to the North Americans I checked out how much breeze we would expect at the regatta. From what I saw it looked likely to be up to 13knots. With this in mind I was happy to be on the light side. Phil Thompson & I were 165kg, about 365lbs. It was great to sail in a fleet of 22 boats and observe the performance of them.
After the first day when Brian won the three races everyone was keen to find out how he did it and this included finding out what his crew weight was. His crew weight was around 440lbs (200kg), he said that he liked to be around that weight most of the time.
In the 10 to 13knots that we had up the first beat most of the time Brian and the other heavier crews were able to sail just a little faster than the others. This meant that they could take the first shift and cross the fleet to weather and that set up the rest of the beat nicely for them.
Downwind there was no perceptible difference in speed between the boats with different crew weights when we were in displacement mode, in less than 10 knots of breeze or in planning mode in over 12knots or so. The only real difference was in the marginal planning range when the lighter crews would get up and plane first and leave the heavier crews behind.
This did not happen often and did not appear to be as significant as getting the jump on the fleet up the first beat and being in good shape at the top mark.
Back in Australia I sailed my VX One in a mixed sports boat fleet in Fremantle Western Australia in
With 17 to 20 knots expected at our nationals I had a bit of a rethink about what would be the right weight for the regatta. I had originally intended to sail at 210kg (460lbs) but I opted to sail at 230kg (505lbs).
With 20 to 25 knots on the first day we were quick. We were 5 seconds off the lead in the first race and well over 1 minute in front in the second. On the second day the breezes was around 15 knots in the first race and we won but in the other three races the breeze was patchy down the runs. There were two boats sailed very well by crews just under 200kg (440lbs) and their ability to stay on the plane longer and accelerate quicker in the puffs made them about 100 to 150 metres/ yards quicker downwind. I think if the breeze stayed above 11 or 12 knots we were fine but if it dropped down to 10 knots they were gaining big time! From a boatspeed point of view I felt that if we could stay above 10knots we were OK but if we dropped below it we were getting done.
On the final day in 15 to 16knots I think we were also the fastest upwind. In flat water we were doing 6.3 to 6.4 knots upwind and for a brief moment when we all hiked out horizontal we did 6.7knots without cracking off at all.
Brian’s design crew weight range for the VX One is 180 to 220kg (395 to 485lbs). We are yet to see if there is any difference between a crew at 220kg and one at 230kg and it may be hard to measure. I think if the venue is going to have 15 knots or more a crew of 220 to 230kg (485 to 505lbs) will be more competitive than lighter crews I and if 10 to 15knots is expected around 200kg (440lbs) will be most competitive.