With the MkII sail having been released a little over a year ago, the jury is still out over everything from useful life of the sail, to setting the sail up, and how to rig your boat whilst using the sail. I caught up with Australian Sailing Squad members Mitch Kennedy and Luke Elliott to get their thoughts on the sail after only recently converting.
In November 2015, the International Laser Class Association announced the release of a new Standard sail – the ‘MkII’. Whilst it wasn’t used in the 2016 Olympics, it has been legal and used at a wide range of events since then, with Masters sailors being the first group to adopt it en masse. The purpose of releasing the sail was to try and provide a solution to the poor life of the original; often losing its shape after only a few regattas. This was remedied by producing the MkII with 50% heavier cloth – 4.5 oz Dacron vs 3 oz. To ensure no speed differences between the MkI and MkII, the MkII was designed with a bi-radial construction (panels radiating from the clew and head), with a 5-times bigger window.
Given the aim of creating a longer-lasting sail, the general consensus is that the MKII sail has a much better longevity than the MkI. Mitch Kennedy thought that ‘whilst elite sailors will be using new sails nearly every regatta, the MkII offers the club sailor a much longer lasting sail’. The extra life the new sail offers also affects the ‘break-in’ period required to get the sail to its optimum performance, with some sailors saying up to two weeks of sailing is ideal (in comparison to two-three days with the MkI).
Due to the heavier cloth and reinforced Cunningham eye, boat parks around the world have seen sailors shifting from the traditional 6:1 system to 8:1 systems as mentioned in this article. Whilst a 8:1 system offers more purchase and precision, it is not without its downsides. Both Mitch and Luke have chosen to stick with the 6:1 system as they feel that the 8:1 leaves too much rope in the cockpit.
A change in sail construction also means a change in sail shape, and as a result, a change in how the boat is set up. Luke spoke about this great video from SportVid about the depth of the new sail, and the use of the Cunningham. As shown in the video, the MkII sail has a much more depth throughout the sail, with the deepest part being just above the window. This changes the setup of the sail, with outhaul having less effect on changing the depth. Both sailors agreed that the Cunningham and vang would the first port of call when trying to depower the new sail.
As soon as the MkII sail was released, many sailors felt that the new sail had slightly more power than the MkI as a result of the consistent depth throughout the sail. Both Mitch and Luke felt that this could shift the optimum weight a bit higher, and would help keep heavier sailors competitive.
With the Standard MkII having been available for just over a year, most sailors are starting to feel a lot more comfortable with the sail. There’s no question about the longer life of the sail. Despite the slightly higher price, there’s no doubt that investing in one of these sails will keep you competitive for longer.