One of the major events in the world of sailing in recent years has been the selection of Rodion Luca L30 monotypes by the International Sailing Federation (World Sailing) to host the World Offshore Racing Championship in Malta in 2020. We met with Alexander Zybin, L30 dealer in Russia, 2017 Match-Rail Champion of Russia and International Master of Sport, and asked him to tell us about the advantages of L30 and the prospects of participation of Russians in the World Championship.
- Why do you think L30 has been chosen for the World Offshore Racing Championship?
- In April last year World Sailing announced a tender with a clear description of the criteria of the boat for the offshore world championship, the L30 fit in well with its equipment and seaworthiness and took part in it.
The L30 has basically many advantages. It is a boat with two handwheels, easy to operate and very convenient in logistics. It is not tailored purely to one kind of sports program - it is multifunctional, which keeps its value on the secondary market. You can go to any competition - mono-fleet races with a full crew (optimal - six people), short races on a loop, offshore ORC races, solo ...
The boat is universal. This few boats can boast.
Different people can prepare in the same boat and for a long offshore in twin carriages, and for any Rolex Regatta six.
The boat is trailer-like, very mobile. It's the only boat that you can hook up with any off-road parquet boat and go to any distance for any competition. That is, it does not need any special cargo transportation, no special trailer design and installation of the boat on it at an angle to comply with the rules on road dimensions. Accordingly, there is no need for special escort or convoy and no fuss with documents when transporting only one boat. I caught it and went.
It's the only 30-foot-wide boat that fits the road dimensions.
I raced it in Travemund, Germany last year (we tested it there) . We came for one day. We had 1-3-1 arrivals at ORC on a very short distance. The boat showed itself as well as possible. It is very fast. I don't speak about the full course at all: we just fly away from all our rivals, competitors. I am sure - once you chase this boat, a person will want to chase it more and more.
Well, here we are - finished in Travemund, already went to the base. We started to approach the crane. About 40 boats piled up to climb. The Germans work fast, everything is fine-tuned, but in any case it would have taken three or four hours.
We looked, smiled a little, landed the president of the association Rasmus Töpsch, who raced with us in the schools. He jumped out, went to drive a car with a cart to the slipway, drove it into the water. At that time, only the second boat was raised. We were about 45 in line. We quietly raised the bulb-kil, raised the feathers and drove into the cart. The car started, we drove the slipway. Done, we got up.
At us, of course, everyone who was waiting for the climb, looked at us with round eyes: «What a convenience!»
A lot of people ran away, asked about the boat. While they were being told, the two of us with Rasmus cleaned the mast by hand, without the help of a crane. It took about forty minutes, maybe an hour. During this time we packed the boat, rinsed it, and, in principle, were ready to go.
- And people will all be standing...
- Yes. The people, of course, were pleasantly surprised: «we have not yet seen them disarm»so quickly," they say. During this time, we managed to crane four or six boats to shore. The boat is big, it seems to have a lot of hemorrhoids. Actually, it will not.
She's standing in a garage, ready to go, and an hour to her destination. In 2.5 hours, the boat will be on the water, ready for racing. No one of this size can do it anymore.
If you take Beneteau Figaro, for example: it costs 200 thousand euros at least. To organize the transportation of Figaro is a whole process, it is very expensive in logistics. It's a very high cost for drivers, for the two crews it's especially relevant. With the L30, it's a lot easier.
In the future, when they choose a boat for the Olympic Games in 2020, I think the L30 will have a good chance. The affordable price of the boat, the affordable cost of service and transportation between the water areas will play a role.
Our task is to make the boat as accessible as possible for any representative of the middle class or small private teams. To do this, we need to reduce its cost as much as possible.
Now we are negotiating with different sailing companies for the World Championships, everyone will have the same sails there. For private needs - anyone who orders a boat can sew sails in any company: North Sails, Quantum, Doyle, One Sails, UK Sails... Any sails can be ordered and set within the rules of the class. It will be even more interesting, because different design of sails will give different speed.
We plan to create a fleet of 100 boats in the near future in order to at least meet the initial consumer demands. Then there will be normal competition, a normal choice of regattas, low cost of mattresses, and yachtsmen all over the world - professionals and amateurs - will be able to afford such a boat.
- And how much does it cost now?
- A boat in basic configuration costs 68,615 euros. There is already a carbon ranking in the base and a lot more that other manufacturers include in the custom and performance versions of their boats. Our goal was to make the boat as attractive and modern as possible, without increasing the price. Naturally, the two-crew program will require some retrofitting of the boat, but with such a rich basic equipment it will not be so expensive.
- You're talking about a fleet of 100 boats. And when do you plan to get to that level?
- Now we are working on it, it is difficult to guess. The production is organized in Slovenia and Ukraine... This season, there will be more than two dozen boats. It's possible to expand production. If there are more producers, respectively, we will be able to keep the lowest cost to the end consumer.
- Is there anything in it that you think will need improvement in the future? The class is new, it's only three years old, do you have any significant shortcomings?
- The L30 is seriously thought-out.
Rodion (bow, itboat) has taken the best of five or six classes and combined them in one boat.
Besides, thanks to the successful choice of the designer and the shipyard for the start of production, a well-designed prototype was obtained, which practically did not require «a file». There were no pleasant surprises - after the first tests it became clear that it is possible to give up a couple of winches: they simply became unnecessary, left only a couple of winches on the deckhouse.
Now this second pair comes back in connection with recommendations after tests for two crews. Minimal changes have been made to the layout of the interior - adding a berth on the port side. Now in the set for two crews the boat is maximally refined: strict one design, all boats are identical, there are no differences between them. The technology is worked out so much that even the same amount of plastic per unit is used at two different manufactures. Next week, the seventeenth hull leaves the matrix.
- If we talk about Russia, how popular is the class now?
- Everyone is watching it, everyone wants to chase it.
We have one boat in Russia, in Sevastopol. I recently went on it, set it up.
I hope that in the future there will be about ten of them in Russia, there will be a rival company and guys who will chase them. It will add a lot to the masses. Now we should at least start with Europe, so Russian crews will be there.
- It turns out that if there is only one boat in Russia so far, there are not so many prospects for participation in the world championship?
- To participate in the World Championships, an application will be submitted by the National Federation only in spring 2020, six months before the competition, or even later.
- So it's too early to talk about specific candidates?
- Yeah, it's a little early for that.
There are certain people, four or five pair options, but I can't solve the mystery yet. Watch out, it'll be interesting! The strongest crew will be invited to the World Championships.
In general, we have very few offshore single boats in Russia. The only girl off-shore in Russia who races abroad is Irina Gracheva. There was also an experience of single Transatlantic on mini 650 by Yura Firsov, now the single program on mini 650 is mastered by Fedor Druzhinin. All the others... I don't know anyone for long races. I hope somebody gets out.
I don't know yet by what criteria the selection will take place. I think that the one who will participate in Europe in 2019 and 2020 in twin carriages (on any classes, not necessarily L30), who will be competitive, tactically competent and fast, will go.
I, as a representative and dealer of the L30 class in Russia, will be telling people, showing their capabilities. I am open to communication with all interested people. It is possible to agree to go to the regatta or to a test boat to buy or get acquainted with Europe.
I am now recruiting the crew for the Lake Garda Class Championship (Italy) in the first week of September. Six people can participate and watch the boat at the same time.
Many teams are planning to race, there should be about 15-17 boats - and the French, and Americans, and Hong Kongers, and Hungarians, and Germans, and Ukrainians. There's going to be ten countries. It's going to be an interesting composition. They'll be chasing parishes, no ORC recalculations. Perhaps even two Russian crews will be accepted. Depends on the interest.
Further will be more interesting, of course, because in November 2020, after the October World Championships, World Sailing will choose a boat for the Olympics, and we do not know who it will be. Any one of the five or six contenders, including the L30. Who is it? We don't know who yet. This will be determined by a large number of criteria: ease of transportation, logistics costs, convenience in the boat, steering, habitability, adjustment of sails (so one person can work).
The decision will be made, I think, during the next summer, when the big competition will be held around the world in different classes - Figaro 3, J99, L30... I think this season will show a lot for choosing a boat, next winter, during which people will race and prepare for Europe, and next summer. The strongest riders from different classes will be able to compete in the Dual Crew World Championships in October 2020.
World Championships - 600 mile race. This is roughly five to seven days depending on the wind. That's decent. In a week, people will be both tired and understand whether they're comfortable or uncomfortable. Everyone will share their thoughts about which boat is better.
In fact, only in a year and a half will it be known whether or not the country can buy boats for the Olympic team. I think it is unlikely that in any country the national team will be able to afford boats (and you need at least two for full sparring), each of which costs more than 100 thousand euros. The cheaper the boat, the better the chances.
Another question, where will the crew prepare for the World Cup and the Olympic team? In fact, there is almost nowhere to prepare in Russia.
L30 One Design is organizing three offshore academies in Europe, one of which will be based at one of the world's oldest yacht clubs, Yacht Club Italiano, in Genoa.
The other two are in the approval stage. As long as Barcelona, Valencia, Travemunde, Tallinn and Kaus (UK) are claimed, two boats will also be available for charter in the US and South Korea.
- So the Russians can only go to Europe?
- We have St. Petersburg for participation, but the weather there is always unclear. There is Kaliningrad, as an option, there is Vladivostok, Sochi.
But it seems to me that most drivers who want to be «at the level, of»course, will find the opportunity to train and keep the boat abroad. There will be training races on Lake Garda, not only L30 class championship in September. There's gorgeous winds.
It's a long race for two crews. Most likely France, Italy or Slovenia, Croatia. If anything, you can go to Montenegro as well. There's the climate, there's the main rivals. If we had two or three Russian crews who would prepare for the World Cup, I would assume that they would prepare in France, or right in Malta. Because there are certain conditions, currents, winds. We need people to prepare, as if to live there. Then - yes, then we can compete.
The French have the largest number of offshore champions in the world. You can't even count them on your fingers. There's a lot of them. The competition is very strong. The French are some of the strongest in the single and pair offshore now. The selection will be fierce - there are more than 25 male candidates only and about seven female candidates. Which one of them will go to the World Cup - one crew from the country - I have no idea.
I think if we start training with them, our level will be much higher.
- And how difficult is it to reposition the L30 from another class? For example, offshore Nord Stream, in which Russia takes part, is held on completely different boats.
- If a person was racing a helm boat instead of a tiller, I think it's a lot easier. The boat is mobile, it goes comfortably. With its two feathers, it is very controllable at the heel and very well controlled during the turn. At any turn it lies on a course, as they say, where it is necessary: you will not pass, you will not fall off. In principle, it is very twisty. After the other classes I went to, I did not notice it. I liked the way it behaves: how it goes, how it is controlled, driven-down.
If you compare it to something, the way she walks on an aviator... It feels like she's nailed to the water - she doesn't go left-right. It's as stable on course as a locomotive, and it's on a clear line.
The main thing is to steer and tune the sails clearly.
The bakshtags give very good tuning for both manoeuvring and sailing on a full course.
Another chip brought in from RC44 is the swivel edge of the keel, the Trim Tab.
The back edge of the keel moves seven degrees either to the left or right. When you start at the lowest start line, you can gently pull the Trim Tab out in the wind and start twisting your opponents gently. It's also used when walking with Code Zero (long as a gennaker and flat as a stack, sail).
The boat has been tested by many without exaggeration by great riders. The same Torben Schmidt Grael, two-time Olympic Champion from Star «class, for example, sailed on it. He really liked it. I can even say that he will race at the world championship from Brazil with his daughter, the Olympic champion from class 49er. They already have a crew: father and daughter. Slowly, I think they started to prepare.
I think, as there will be offshore races for two crews at the Olympics, the whole world will be watching these boats during the season. After leaving the program of the 2012 Olympiad of «Stars», most of the riders on keel yachts were left without an Olympic boat. And do not forget about the finishers «-»they too were left out of business...
After the publication of an article by World Sailing that L30 was selected for the world championship, it was viewed 21 thousand times a day. I think almost the whole sailing world has seen it and thought about it.
L30 will have a lot of professional racers from RC44, TP52, Volvo Ocean Race.
there are reports that some of the helm teams from the «America»'s Cup will be participating.
Champions from «Star», «Finn», other classes of the Olympic program may come.
When new people - super racers with their superknowledge - come into the same class, the class rises very strongly. The boat can be accelerated even better. There will be extreme competition, but for the class it is good!
There are people who have positively perceived the L30 Opera Design as a class for the world championship, but there are also those who are against... A lot of people don't understand yet. Some people are upset that they haven't tried this boat yet, and because of that they don't understand its advantages either. Everything's new so far isn't familiar to people. But when they try it, I think their opinion will change drastically. I'll say it again - if you chase this boat, you'll want to chase it again and again!