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First F-22 Launched in NZ

By Ian Farrier

The first local F-22 (built by Rob Densem) has now been launched in Christchurch, and has led our first
production F-22 into the water by maybe two months or so. Work was actually started on both boats at around
the same time and it has been a close finish, but we have had quite a bit more work to do.

Owner Rob and son Fraser had setting up well advanced when I arrived at the ramp in
nearby Lyttelton Harbour.

Getting ready to launch at the fairly rudimentary ramp. Was once inside a marina, (piles behind) which
was destroyed by one of our typical southerly busters in 2000 (Lyttelton can be a rough harbour at times).
No one has been game to build another one since, so we are left with an open ramp and those piles, which
can be quite hazardous in crosswinds. Also forget about trying to retrieve in a southerly, but on the plus
side note how clear the air is, which is usually the case here!

Now afloat, and about to be unfolded. It was the first time I had used this ramp, and the only way to
board is by a set of stairs at the end of this walk way - definitely not Southern California or Seattle,
but manageable with a little care.

Now motoring up the harbour to clear a gathering yacht race fleet and to where we could safely
raise the sails. The 8HP Yamaha (2 stroke) was having no problem in driving us into a 14 - 18
knot head wind and choppy seas.

Main and jib up and starting to move - we were soon doing over 11 knots to windward, which
even surprised me for a new and untuned standard F-22. Winds were now gusting to 25 knots,
with quite a chop, but the F-22 seemed to handle it with ease, and was just humming along. In
fact it looked to be both faster and drier than an F-27.

This is mostly due to the more advanced F-22 lines, the main hull being sharper in the bow,
flatter on the bottom, and with less rocker. Seemed to be working very well in conjunction with
the new floats which are as big as one can go (largest in their class), with more buoyancy low
down and further forward. Boat did not feel pressed at all, even in the gusts - it just went faster.

It was rough, so occasional spray from main hull bow would come back over the wingnets when
we hit the bigger waves, but the cockpit stayed dry. Even the nuisance spray that could come into
cockpit from the aft beam outer ends on earlier designs looks to have been completely eliminated.

This is because the larger and more buoyant floats kept the beams high, so that the new higher set
third generation beams (see comparison) with their built in spray rails, were well above everything,
or easily knocked any minor spray down. Even the above bow spray will be greatly reduced on the
production F-22 where the horizontal deck to hull join flange will also act as a spray rail.

Lyttelton harbour heads are visible in this shot - head straight out, with a slight bear right, and the
next stop is Cape Horn!

Owner/builder Rob Densem at the tiller, with NZ sailmaker Roger Hall (Doyle Sails). No sign of any
spray on these guys! Roger was quite impressed at the comfort of the deep central cockpit, meaning
no need to sit with one's legs straight out as on many cats. Roger's sails were also very impressive.

Now heading back in, still under just main and jib. Conditions were a bit too boisterous to try the
screacher (rolled on deck) for the first time, but we still did around 14 knots under main and jib
only, while just taking it easy on a loose reach and without jib being barber hauled as it should be.
Screacher can be carried in these conditions and it probably would have got us well into the high
teens or more. Lyttelton Harbour is certainly going to be a great place to test the production F-22!

Speed figures came from a portable GPS unit brought along by Grant Oborn, owner of a local
Marine Chandlery (Oborns Nautical) who had helped Rob with the final fitout. Being a long time
mono sailor Grant was very impressed by the speeds attained in only a 22' boat.

Now safely back on the trailer after some tense minutes at the difficult ramp. Probably not fair
to the ramp itself as it is actually quite good, just a lack of any dock or easy boarding facility
and those looming piles makes it a tough one to use.

Now heading for the de-rigging area

where Rob and son Fraser did most of the de-rigging. For just their second time out I was impressed
at the system Rob had already implemented, and the whole process only took around 30 minutes at
this early stage.

Note that with all amateur built and/or kit boats there are always some variations to suit owners preferences, and thus some items as seen on Rob's boat will not be used on the production F-22. The standard F-22 will come with a bolt rope main (my preference) coupled with a roller furling boomless mainsail, while a roller furling boom will be available as an option. Slides can also be used, but roller furling then does not work well, and lazy jacks may be needed to keep mainsail under control.

Standard wingnets will also be of a much more open mesh, as while the cat style tighter mesh nets as used on Rob's boat are preferred by some, they can also trap more wind underneath so one has to be a little more careful when sailing on the limit. I have always preferred to keep the net weave as open as possible.

Only a couple of small glitches, one being an aft wingnet corner starting to pull away, as these can become very highly loaded with tight nets, particularly when a couple of crew stands right in the corner. But an easy fix. The beam compression pads were also too tight, but being on top of the beams, and fully visible, it was easy to see and solve the problem. Otherwise folding was easy as per usual, as was going on and off the trailer.

Other things that worked very well included the 'two to one' jib sheets, where there was no need to use the sheet winch if tacking quickly. The simple mainsheet (4 : 1 and 8 : 1) also seemed up to the task, but this is still provisional. Time will tell, and all these little things will be finalized once we have our own boat sailing.

We are now looking forward to getting our Factory F-22R on the water, which will be faster again with its taller rig, but hand built boats like Robs are usually a little lighter when done well (as is Robs), so the competition could be close!

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