Jud Smith brought a new team together for the Rolex Big Boat Series, hosted by Saint Francis Yacht Club, serving as the only opportunity for Africa to get up to speed on bay conditions in San Francisco prior to the Worlds, a far cry from East Coast conditions. This team consisted of Victor Diaz (tactician), Alec Anderson (trimmer), and Ed Wright (strategist.) Racing at 730 pounds (not particularly heavy relative to other teams), they finished fourth in the big boat series and went on to get a podium finish of third in the Worlds, scoring more first place finishes than any other boat.
For this windy event, Jud used the same jib design, Doyle J6R, which won him the light air San Diego North Americans. This design has always had a much higher clew, which allows for more effective inhauling and a longer foot (since all the girth measurement points move closer to the head.) Inhauling assists with pointing and improves the effective performance range of the one and only jib. We use Dimension ProRadial HTP, as it has the lowest stretch and can handle the abuse of constantly furling and flogging during starts and wind shots.
Our Doyle M2 CrossCut mainsail sets up on a straighter mast than the competition. We target no more than 3 cm of pre-bend at the base setting for 10 to 11 knots of wind. Although Doyle sails are considered fast in lighter conditions, Africa won the heaviest air race during the Worlds by a big margin. Our upwind sails are built from heavier, lower stretch, more durable fabric. We added luff curve to our main prior to Rolex to improve the heavy air performance without compromising our light air speed.
This summer, we developed the AIRX 650 Spinnaker we used at Worlds. We found this design had more power all the time, from soaking to full planing conditions. Our speed advantage has generally been upwind, but we now have an edge downwind, which did not go unnoticed. The kite allowed the team to improve their downwind planing technique each day, knowing the difference between a good run and a bad one can change the outcome of a regatta in just one leg.