Fire and Halo sail variants
The Fire (small sail - 8.8m²) and the Halo (large sail - 11.5m²) are variants of the Blaze and all Class Association events are now open to both Fire and Halo sailors.
'Fire' is the latest addition to the 'Blaze' family and was developed in early 2014 for release from Autumn 2014 in production form.
It uses a totally standard Blaze hull, either new or any of the original marks, and the sail sets on regular Blaze spars with minimal rigging adjustment. The only significant differences are:
1) The 'Fire' sail is approximately 8.8m in area and like the Blaze main is 'semi-battened' with a mix of full width and partial battens.
2) The intended users are mainly a slightly different demographic to the regular Blaze - the young(er) ... and old(er) plus the very light and, of course, ladies. The performance is very crisp and 'Fire' is hardly slow but it is less demanding particularly in higher wind strengths.
How fast then? The CA and owners have run Fire versions for several months against mixed fleets including Blazes and Halos. Their assessment is approximately a handicap of '1065' at present - or roughly 40 'points' slower than a regular Blaze (about 2.5 minutes per hour).
This is not a manufacturers figure (!) but one in use at several clubs.
This is already being used at a couple of clubs where Fire sails have been supplied. As race results are recorded and forwarded to the RYA (and 'Great Lakes') handicappers more official numbers will emerge.
It has been decades since a racing dinghy for the larger helm has been launched. Yet in this time the population has grown – apparently, we are mostly heavier and larger than in the past.
During this period there has also been a series of technical developments that made rigs more adaptable and easier to use. The impact of innovations such as composite masts and modern sail materials on racing is that today lighter and lighter helms can handle boats that years ago would have effectively been denied to them.
Put another way …. The bigger helm is frequently at a disadvantage today, even in classes where they previously dominated.
We are ‘larger’ and technology has worked to give a differential and greater advantage to the lighter helm.
It sounded like something needed to be done.
Heavyweights also approached the company arguing passionately for a Blaze type boat but one specifically developed for the larger helm. The best way of doing this was to focus on rig development and use the proven and highly effective Blaze hull and systems.
The Blaze-Halo concept was born: We would use the technical advances in design and sail material to put a significantly larger rig on the hull and offer the larger helm a ‘Heavyweights Blaze’. Work with a small group of capable heavyweight helms and produce a modern boat specifi cally for them and the 30% of adults who currently have very limited choice.
The result is stunning and well suited to the target market. The Halo sail area is 11.5m, powerful but still very manageable and refined if you are the right weight. Early versions used a longer special Halo mast - but from August 2014 a regular Blaze mast can be used on a revised Halo2 North sail - significantly reducing the cost to get into Halo racing. In fact switching between versions only takes 10 minutes.
Halo is fast. In suitable wind it will plane upwind with ease and is very fast off-wind. The additional sail area allows Halo to go ‘deeper’ at speed if the course requires yet the single sail rig can easily cope with the tightest reach without compromise.