160 boats at the Worlds!

The latest on the F18 class and a look at the Nacra Infusion and Loday/White Shockwave
The F18 class never ceases to amaze. It is ironic that at a time when catamarans may possibly have been canned from Olympic competition, the F18, despite still being a relative expensive boat, is seeing pitching up at events numbers one typically only associates with the Laser… This year is set to be a typical example with the World Championship being held in Belgium, at the Beachclub Duinbergen just up the road from Zeebrugge over 11-17 July, where the limit of 160 boats is expected to be reached. 160 BOATS! Because of this demand, many of the top nations wishing to take part are having to hold selection trials and in the UK around 30 boats are having to compete in three events, starting with Datchet this weekend, to fight for the 20 available spaces. Since we last personally looked at the F18 class a while back, king of the F18s was unquestionably the Hobie Tiger, helped along certainly by the powerful marketing wing of the dinghy cat world’s most renowned brand and powerfully represented by works sailors such as Mitch Booth and Darren Bundock. Since then the Tiger has begun to show it age although Hobie has just started production on their latest F18, the Wild Cat, that is expected to make its debut in the UK in April. Remarkably, given that dinghy cats are hardly a new phenomenon, the F18 has seen a fundamental change in the design of its boats since the heyday of the Tiger (above), with hull shapes moving from a V-eed shape, to more of a increased buoyancy flat bottomed-U shape, the first examples of this being seen on the Martin Fischer-designed Australian-built Capricorn when it was introduced five years ago. The new shape relies mainly on the foils for preventing leeway upwind, rather