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Technical Articles

This Article Last Updated: Oct 14th, 2010 - 15:13:49 

Update on the Star Class from Seahorse Magazine
By Steve Mitchell, 2002 Star World Champion
Apr 22, 2003, 10:30

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The Star, as one of the oldest one-design classes and as one that thrives and prospers under its Olympic status, has always been at the forefront of new ideas. The class rules have evolved over the years to embrace GRP technology, and the tolerances are very small on most measurements, leading to very equal boats from different builders.

Prohibited materials include all the exotics, such as carbon, Kevlar, Nomex and so on. Hulls are foam sandwich construction, which enables boats to be competitive for many years. The boat Iain and I sailed at the 2002 worlds was built at the start of 2000, but many fast boats are up to 10 years old.

The main builders now are Folli and Lillia, both from Italy and rivals along the shore of Lake Como, and Mader from Germany. All the builders are constantly striving to improve their designs in search of the perfect Star. The tally of manufacturers at the last worlds had Folli in 1,4,5,6 and Lillia in 2nd and 3rd. The most significant aspect here was that the Lillias were of a new design and proved particularly fast downwind in the hands of Torben Grael and Xavier Rohart. Lillia have been hard at work on this new hull design and these were the 2nd and 3rd boats from their new hull mould.

The hull shapes of the Lillia, Folli and Mader are similar, but the keel shapes are different, the Lillia keel being squarer in elevation, with more surface area than the Folli. Hull finish is a constant worry for Star sailors, with the epoxy hulls post curing in hot weather, leading to print-through of the cloth weave which needs constant attention to ensure a perfect finish. Some Americans opt for the $US5,000 refairing, but even this prints through eventually.

Lillia have just created a new mould in association with Devoti Sailing, the Finn builder. It is made in ceramic, which allows it to be baked to high temperatures for long periods without the mould being affected. A normal GRP mould would distort under these temperatures. The finish of these boats is therefore as close to perfect out of the mould as any Star has ever been.

Most crews polish the hulls with Starbrite Teflon polish for the final shine. The merits of polished versus sanded finish have long been discussed; but with Stars being kept in the water at championships it is the best way to prevent growth and scum adhering to the hull.

The obvious differences between the Folli and Mader and Lillia lie in layout, with the Lillia opting for a Laser-style cockpit, with full-height buoyancy tanks and a high floor. This compares to the Follis and Maders which have conventional decks with space below them and then half-height side tanks. The Lillias have the runner adjustment on deck in between the helm and crew, a lighter option than the conventional system where the adjustment is led forward and comes out at the back of the foredeck, necessitating more fittings below decks. Crews tend to have a preference: we prefer Lilliašs above-deck systems as they run more freely and can be let off or pulled on by helm or crew.

Normally sail and rig controls are led to the helm, but on the Lillia more are led forward, again to lessen weight, and some adjustments are done away with altogether, such as fore and aft jib car adjustment. This means there is a fixed jib track as opposed to the bulky adjusters on other boats. Jib sheet angle is changed via a barber hauler attached to the jib car.

Spars are dominated by Emmeti of Italy and Spar Craft of the USA; these are spread evenly across the fleet. The latest trend has been towards using unanodised masts, which are believed to be stiffer but need constant polishing to prevent corrosion. No firm conclusion has really been reached on these yet.

Sails are dominated by North Sails (USA and UK) and Quantum (USA), with North getting 1st and 2nd at the 2002 worlds and Quantum 1st and 2nd at the 2001 worlds. We have been using North from the UK loft, but these are built from the same computer cut-files as the San Diego sails. This continues Iainšs association with North UK, who helped to develop his world-beating Finn sails.

The revised crew weight rule has seen lighter and fitter Star crews, and after some initial reluctance from the USA most are happier being fitter and healthier, which can be the only way for an Olympic sport to be seen. The change has also led to a welcome influx of Finn, Laser and even 470 sailors to the class.

Iain and I have finally secured our full Olympic funding and are pleased to be sponsored by Skandia as part of their global Set Sail initiative. Iain has worked alongside the title sponsors of Skandia Cowes Week for a number of years and our relationship is excellent.

All in all things are rosy in the Star class.



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