- The Class
- Design Info
Elliott 7 - Resurgence
Resurgence of the Elliott 7 Class Continues
The technical refresh program, which started in 2008 with introduction of the option of carbon fibre for booms and spinnaker poles, has culminated in the adoption of a square top mainsail as an alternative to the “pin top” mainsail.
This continues the tradition of careful evolution in the Elliott 7 Class from the time the boats were introduced into Australia in the early 1990s when the sail area and mast height were increased from the original New Zealand design and the Class adopted the Elliott 780 rudder blade. Subsequently, the widespread adoption of the “Sailing Scene layout” of controls for the running rigging brought a new level of ergonomic efficiency to the Class.
Much care has been taken to ensure that the adoption of the square top main will not disadvantage owners who elect to stay with the pin top main. Separate class ratings have been negotiated for the new sail under CBH and SMS to ensure that Elliott 7s using the square top main can compete equitably with Elliott 7s using the pin top main and in with other classes of trailable yachts and sports boats in mixed fleets.
Arrangements have already been made for a bulk buy of the new sails to be ready for the coming season. Consultations have been also been held with sailmakers about the option to re-cut existing sails to the new configuration.
The new square top mainsail has been designed to have exactly the same sail area as the present design. Sail area has been taken out of the roach and added to the square top. The foot is slightly shorter, but the sail still fits existing hardware perfectly well.
Trials have been conducted over the past six months by a number of boats with skill ranges from the National Champion to middle-of-the-fleet, but experienced E7 owners. The square top sail has been used across the full range of wind strengths and sea conditions and in a variety of locations.
The results of the trials show consistently that the new design gives superior gust response in 10 knots and up to 25+ knots. The square top helps the sail to self regulate - de-powering to a greater extent than the present design - and the straight leech means the sail doesn’t flog like the present design does in the stronger wind range. There is a clear improvement in controllability and, together with provision to allow full length battens, we expect enhanced longevity of the sail. We don’t see the need require sailmakers to build slab reefing points into the new design, because it is so much more controllable in heavy breeze.
No appreciable difference has been found in boatspeed between the two designs of sail across the full range of wind and wave conditions.
Downwind, the same sail area gives the same boatspeed. Across wind, the boat is easier to control because the square top twists off so well in a gust. To windward, the sail sets well in its relationship with the headsail. Off the wind it combines well with the spinnaker.
The mast is assisted by decreased pressure in the rig with more sensitive gust response. There is less stress on the rig in heavier wind ranges. The new sail requires less vang pressure and less tension in the lower shrouds. The bend profile of the mast is changed with greater leverage in the head and lower vang pressure so that maximum bend occurs at the level of the hounds, where reduction of the chord of the mainsail is most needed, compared to greater vang-induced bend that traditionally occurred at the level of the spreaders.
Because the boat is easier to control in heavier conditions, there may be some advantage from allowing the # 1 headsail to be held into the higher wind ranges. However, the trend over the last decade has been for most E7s to do this anyway, as crews learnt to feather the rig to windward. Already E7s carry their # 1 headsail into wind ranges over 20 knots, so we don’t think this will end up with any significant additional advantage in terms of boatspeed on any point of sailing in any wind condition.
Controllability and longevity are the big benefits.
The Designer, Greg Elliott strongly supports the introduction of the square top mainsail.
The Class has been growing strongly in Queensland over recent years and has been re-established in Western Australia, with four boats sailing at Nedlands.
The class is regenerating at Mornington in Victoria and on Lake Macquarie in NSW.
The program of events for the Grand Prix Series for the 2011 – 2012 Season is:
This does not prevent local clusters of E7s promoting other events, such as the Heaven Can Wait 24 hour event on Lake Macquarie in October; the Marlay Point ONR on Gippsland Lakes in March; and the Bay to Bay Race in Queensland in May.
The Class web site is in the process of reconstruction with a new “look” and provision for interactive sections; including on the techniques of rigging and sailing the boats, and the leadership skills needed to recruit and manage a crew of five people. It will include a special section for women sailors, lots more current photos and ads for chartering boats for away regattas as well as boats and gear for sail, plus lots more.
The Committee for the 2011 / 2012 Season is:
The Elliott 7 Class has always had women crewing and helming the boats. It’s been a feature of the Class since its inception in Australia. Now, the Strategic Directions give even greater priority to attracting and supporting women as they enjoy themselves and excel at the forefront of top competition. Watch this space.
The Strategic Directions also give high priority to support of E7 sailors in their local areas. The Committee has been expanded in include three Directors for regional development and to provide closer support by the Association for sailors in their clubs. This includes closer liaison between the Association and clubs where Elliott 7s are sailed.
The Elliott 7 Class occupies a “sweet spot” in the trailable and sports boat community. The symmetrical spinnaker remains a decided advantage in the popular windward/leeward configuration for top-level competition; ready accommodation for four adults makes the boat uniquely family-friendly; the rolling technology refresh keeps the Class at the forefront of serious developments; the strong Class Association and Australia-wide clusters of local boats provide strong support and competition; the presence in the class of renown sailors keeps it at the leading edge of national competition; support for women reinforces the inclusive nature of the E7 community; and the strong one-design nature of the Class means that older boats can win national championships.
The attractiveness of the Class is also ensured by the availability of good boats for sale at attractive prices. Why would you pay for a gold mine, when good Elliott 7s are available for $ 25 to $30 k ? It’s a “no brainer” !