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Inverview with Nathan Batchelor 2013

It's just days to go until the start of the 2013 Solution Nationals at Bala SC on 24/25 August. The class had a successful trip to Bala for the inaugural Solution Nationals back in 2007 and since then Solutions have spread far and wide across the country, racing in Penzance in the south west to a growing fleet in Tynemouth & South Shields in the north east.

With different winners in each event so far this year it's looking to be a very close and competitive Nationals and we’ve asked Ovington’s Nathan Batchelor the 2012 National Champion to pass on some tips:

Nathan Batchelor

SCA (Solution class association): Congratulations on your win in 2012 – what was the key to your success?

NB: The courses were small with the start line half way up the beat. This put a premium on the start and the approach to the windward mark- this helped me as I generally had good starts and worked a route into the mark avoiding the starboard layline.
I wasn’t the quickest sailor on the water upwind but the short first beat meant it wasn’t crucial. There was strong current across the course which was important to keep on top of, and sailing a lot on the Bristol Channel gave me the experience to feel comfortable with the cross course current.
The winds were generally lighter which helped as I’m at the lighter end at 68kg (and use a flat cut sail). When the sea breeze built Kev Clark was sailing faster and managed to romp away in one race to win by over 3 minutes- luckily the wind didn’t blow hard in many races!

SCA: What classes had you sailed previously?

NB: Quite a few different dinghy and keelboat classes over the years with a Topper, 420, RS 800, 470, Tasar, J/24, SB20, Fireball and the Solution. After keelboat sailing for a few years it’s been a joy sailing a single hander again!

SCA: How does the rig setup of the Solution compare to the other boats you’ve sailed?

NB: The static rig set up of pre bend, rake and rig tension in the Solution are not crucial like there are in a 420/ 470/ Fireball. The boat sails with reasonably slack rigging- the adjustable forestay is a very powerful control allowing you to efficiently de-power.

SCA: We see you’ve just traded up to a new boat- what advantages do you think this has?

NB: The boats are very well built out of epoxy and despite being light remain very stiff. Trading up to a new boat was as much for a new sail as I have no doubt my last hull was just as stiff as the new one. All Solutions have been built by Ovington with no changes in the manufacturing process- so old boats remain competitive – one of the original boats came 3rd at the 2012 Nationals. There have been some cosmetic changes but nothing performance altering.

SCA: What are the more common mistakes sailors new to the class make?

NB: In light winds don’t sheet the sail too hard- like in most single handers you are aiming to keep the boom out on the leeward quarter and not bring it onto the centreline. To do this in the Solution you need to use kicker early on.
In stronger conditions you need to keep letting the forestay off- in survival conditions my shrouds will move side to side 6 inches when ashore. In between races and offwind I would pull the tension back but upwind the rig ‘hangs off’ the windward shroud, forestay and lowers.

SCA: What hints could you give club level Solution sailors to improve their performance?

NB: Keep aware of changes in wind strength and direction when sailing in light winds. The Solution is a very light weight boat so accelerates quickly but equally doesn’t carry much momentum.
My biggest improvement came when going to my first open meeting- I had been over sheeting the main and found myself hiking out so assumed it was a good thing. Turned out I was just going sideways and not forwards! You can learn so much by going to an open meeting with your Solution – see how other people sail them, pick up some tips and have a great time! It’s a great bunch of sailors and you don’t need to be worried about being at the back – there is a good spread of experience.

Inverview with Kevin Clark 2012

With the 2012 Nationals looking to be a very close and competitive event we’ve spoken to Kev Clark to pass on some tips to help the rest of the fleet:
Kevin Clark

SCA (Solution class association): So how did things start off? When and why did you and Andrew Elliot conceive the Solution idea?

KC: I enjoyed sailing the Phantom but was somewhat on the lighter side of the weight range (at around 80kg) so started talking to Andy Elliot of Red Eye Sails about how to cut a sail which was sufficiently de-powered to make the Phantom more manageable. The conversation then wandered on to building an entire phantom which was 10% smaller. I thought it could be done so went ahead and had a go as it were! Obviously it wasn’t as simple as just scaling down the phantom by 10% – a lot of thought and effort went into coming up with a design which worked. We also worked on improving some of the challenges that phantom sailors face –such as the “sunken” deck was included to overcome the phantom problem of running control lines back to the helm. We also changed some things to contain costs – such as having a single manufacturer and alloy spars. The outcome of a few of these enables the boat to cost almost 50% less than a Phantom.

SCA: Why the name Solution?

KC: Well, the trend at the time was to use numbers a lot– 800, 4000, etc and we wanted a word. Picking which word was the problem and “Solution” was the solution to that problem.

SCA: What classes had you sailed previously?

KC: Quite a few over the years starting with a Mirror, National 12 (as crew), Streaker, Comet, International moth (magnum8), Laser 2, Contender, Wayfarer, many Phantoms and since then the Solution, (and more recently an Albacore!)

SCA: Did you have a good time sailing the prototype? What were the main changes that took place to the hull and rig during this time?

KC: Yes we had a great time sailing the boat during the development process- mainly in the Solent out of Seafarers SC and also inland. During trialling the rig was moved slightly further forward in the boat (circa 100mm) and numerous mainsheet arrangements were trialled before settling on the current arrangement. The hull shape didn’t need to change from the moment it got wet.

SCA: What are the more common mistakes sailors new to the class make?

KC: Oversheeting the main – it ain’t a Laser! Trying to point too hard – being a light hull it doesn’t carry momentum and is easy to stall if you pinch. Not enough kicker – pull it on till snot comes out of your nose if it’s windy.

SCA: What hints could you give club level Solution sailors to improve their performance?

KC: The main tip would be to come to at least one open meeting to see how other Solutions are being sailed, even if you’re not interested in sailing an open circuit. There is no better way to learn than to follow a well-sailed Solution up the beat.
Sail the boat flat. As in properly flat, not at the 5 degree angle we all think of as flat.
Don’t be afraid to really rake the rig back when it’s windy.