SailGP’s F50 catamaran is one of the most cutting-edge racing boats ever launched.
A key player is the pilot who not only steers, but also controls the rudder differential; a priority task to ensure perfect foiling.
To stay on top of this task, the F50 steering wheel is a state-of-the-art design featuring numerous knobs and handles allowing the rider to manage the differential without having to stop steering the boat through the course.
This is achieved via the dial located directly at the top of the steering wheel control panel. The dial is divided into 10 sections each identified by a vibrant color on 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 steering wheel itself.
“The colored wheel is what defines the rake adjustment increments of my fin’s foil,” reveals Slingsby. “1 makes the smallest movement and 10 makes the largest movement for a set amount of movement of the twist grip on the steering wheel.”
“The twist grips on the steering wheel [are] how i control the flying height.
“Rolling them forward decreases rake and the boat sinks lower, while rolling them back adds rake and the boat flies higher.”
It sounds simple. . . but in the heat of a race, and seven other teams competing for space at a bend with the foils, the multihulls reaching 92.6 km/h (50 knots/57.5 mph), things can become a little agitated.
In addition to the dial, there are five buttons, each offering quick and preset commands.
This button, located directly at the bottom of the steering wheel control panel when in the upright position, is the reset button. If a system alarm occurs and the problem is resolved, the reset button is used.
At the top left of the control panel, button 2 sets the rudder differential to maximum. This is activated when foiling.
This button, located below button 2, switches the rudder differential to neutral. This is the state the F50 is in when not foiling.
Buttons 4 and 5
On the right side of the control panel there are two more buttons which also control the rudder differential. However, these knobs control the differential in small increments, rather than the max/neutral of the left knobs.
Button 4, located on the lower right, removes the rudder differential by 0.3 degrees with each press.
Button 5 is located above button 4 and does the reverse work, adding rudder differential in small increments with each press.
British Sailing Grand Prix, Plymouth, 17 and 18 July 2021
The next SailGP event is the British Sailing Grand Prix in Ocean City, Plymouth on July 17-18, 2021 with eight nations competing in the natural amphitheater.
This is the third event on the World Championship schedule, following opening events in Bermuda and Taranto, Italy.
The races take place from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday July 17 and from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday July 18. The official spectator area will open at 11.30am on both days.