SailGP’s F50 catamaran is one of the most cutting-edge racing boats to ever hit the water.
A key player is the Driver who not only steers, but also controls the rudder differential; a priority task to ensure perfect foiling.
To keep on top of this task, the F50 steering wheel is a cutting-edge design featuring many buttons and grips so the Driver can manage the differential without needing to stop steering the boat around the course.
This is achieved via the Dial set directly at the top of the steering wheel control panel. The Dial is split into 10 sections each identified by a vibrant color upon the black base of the control panel.
Australia SailGP Team Driver, Tom Slingsby, explains how he uses this dial and how it works in relation to the twist grips on the wheel itself.
“The colorful wheel is what sets my daggerboard foil rake adjustment increments,” reveals Slingsby. “1 does the smallest movement and 10 does the largest movement for a set amount of twist grip movement on the wheel.”
“The twist grips on the wheel [are] how I control fly height.”
“Rolling them forward decreases rake and the boat comes lower, while rolling them back adds rake and the boat flies higher.”
Sounds simple . . . but in the heat of a race, and seven other teams competing for space at a turning mark with the foiling, multi-hulls hitting 92.6 km/h (50 knots/57.5 mph) things can get a little hectic.
In addition to the Dial there are five buttons, each providing quick, pre-set controls.
This button, located directly at the bottom of the wheel control panel when in its upright position, is the reset button. If a system alarm goes off and the issue is fixed, the reset button is used.
At the top left of the control panel, button 2 switches the rudder differential to maximum. This is turned on when foiling.
This button, located underneath button 2, turns the rudder differential to neutral. This is the state the F50 is in when it is not foiling.
Buttons 4 and 5
On the right side of the control panel, there are a further two buttons which also control the rudder differential. However, these buttons control the differential in small increments, rather than maximum/neutral of the left-sided buttons.
Button 4, located at the bottom right, removes rudder differential by 0.3 degrees with each press.
Button 5 is located above button 4 and does the opposite job, adding rudder differential in small increments with each press.
Great Britain Sail Grand Prix, Plymouth, 17 and 18 July 2021
The next SailGP event is the Great Britain Sail Grand Prix at Ocean City, Plymouth, on 17 and 18 July 2021 with eight competing nations in the natural amphitheater.
This is the third event in the global championship calendar, following opening events in Bermuda and Taranto, Italy.
Racing takes place between 2pm and 3:30pm on Saturday 17 July, and 2:30pm and 4pm on Sunday 18 July. The official spectator area will open at 11:30am on both days.