Following Afloat.ie's recent coverage of the new National 18 design and her maiden sail in Cork, there have been extensive trials undertaken with over 50 people in Cork harbour sailing her in the past number of weeks. The protoype is now moving on to the UK for the next few months to determine a path for the future of the class.
The National 18 is unique as it is the only three person centreboard dinghy of its size currently on the market.
Originally developed in 1938, the class has gone through a number of developments over the years from fibreglass boats, aluminium masts, lighter hulls and most recently carbon masts. Unchanged for 20 years, the latest evolution of the class was developed this year. Sailors in the fleet from both Ireland the UK, recognised the boat needed modernising in terms of weight, speed and its broader appeal to younger sailors, and men and women alike.
To understand and assess all of the options available to the class in the modern era a new National 18 prototype was launched. The prototype boat, named "Odyssey" and designed by Phil Morrison, is a modern interpretation of the class rules originally conceived by Uffa Fox. The new boat retains the modern rig but has taken some big steps forward in hull design. She is lighter, faster, more stable and safer in a capsize.
One of the big difference is hull shape and weight. These boats are 50kgs lighter with a chined hull. The hull of the prototype matches the performance of the rig better. The loads have been significantly reduced and combined with better performance have created a much more stable boat to sail.
The design has transformed the look and feel of the National 18 class and has been warmly welcomed so far. The class have recently completed six weeks of engagement sessions in Cork with more than fifty sailors of all ages and both genders enjoying the National 18 Prototype in 2-30 knots of wind.
The project now moves to the UK where the team have an excellent itinerary over the coming months visiting all the current active National 18 clubs in England and Scotland and entering targeted events such as the Sailjuice series to put her through her paces.