Asymmetric Option for the Vortex

If you own (or are considering) a Standard Vortex (i.e. one without an asymmetric spinnaker), it is worth considering what a kite could do for you...... The Asymmetric Kite adds a new and exhilarating downwind performance to this already wonderful boat. Smooth and fast upwind and now very fast and tactical downwind.

The asymmetric system was developed in 2004 for and on behalf of the Vortex Class Association by four times National Champion Keith Escritt. The system went through several design – test – modify cycles but the final version uses a retractable pole and overall weight has been kept to a practical minimum with the use of a carbon fibre composite pole and chute. The complete kit is available to purchase from Mike Saul at MSDS and can be retrofitted to any standard Vortex.

After trials and testing of several shapes and sizes, and following feedback from Keith and several other 'test pilots' a 15 square metre spinnaker was specifically developed for the Vortex by Colin Goodman and Paul Austin at Hyde Sails.

Superspars supply the carbon fibre spinnaker pole (all the way from New Zealand) - modified and strengthened especially for the Vortex.

The Association would like to extend a special thank you to Dave Winder at Winder Boats (Custom Carbon Chute) and Ashley at Bairstow Engineering (Custom Bow Frame) for their invaluable design contributions.

Thanks also to Mike Saul of MSDS for his advice about fittings and Richard Towers of North West Sails for designing and making the spinnaker socks.

For more information, pricing details or to place an order please contact Mike Saul (see the link for Spare Parts in the menu on the left).

Please note;

To comply with class rules and for optimal performance, the system needs fitting with care and some accuracy. Please read the instructions (available in the Association Members area) carefully and fully before starting to fit your system. If anything in the instructions does not make sense or you get stuck please contact either Keith Escritt or Clive Harries directly or, preferably, via the Class Association website / discussion forum.

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 For those of you who are new to the class or who weren’t aware of it, the document pasted below gives an insight as to the development of the the Vortex Asymmetric System

Jim Swinburn first rigged an asymmetric on a Vortex in 2001 - there was little interest to start with but this slowly grew and at the 2002 AGM the class agreed to develop a system - essentially for evaluation purposes.

At the 2003 AGM there was strong support for the development and some funds were allocated towards taking it further, with the intention was to have a system ready by Spring 2004. That was almost achieved as by May 2004 the prototype was sailing pretty much as it is today.

By then, the system had been through several changes – in particular, the kite grew from around 11sqM to 12.5 then 13.5 and finally 15sqM. The first few fixed pole systems were replaced by a retractable pole and some modifications were made to create a single forestay system, with the addition of a carbon chute to replace the initial metal hoop

By the end of 2004 several people had ‘had a go’ on the various prototypes and feedback was generally enthusiastic.

The prototype has sailed off a handicap of 930 (30 less than standard) which seemed ok in light winds (F0-1), favourable in medium (F2-3) and harsh in windy (F4-6). This changes with course and conditions (in F1 you want to reach, rather than dead run and in F4 you want to do v broad reaches everywhere.) and of course there’s quite a learning curve.

So what have we ended up with?

The kite itself is a 15m2 radial cut developed by the class and Hydes. It is available in white only but with a choice of colour for the ‘star’ in the middle. For colours available see the photos in the gallery!

The pole is carbon and supplied by SuperSpars although they source them in New Zealand!

We have a unique, aircraft grade, tempered aluminium frame between the bows. This performs 3 functions;

  • It acts as a support/guide for the pole
  • it gives additional stiffening between the hulls
  • It also acts as an initial ‘chute’ to collect the kite without it ever having to be dragged around the forestay (thus saving one of the major causes of tears and early deterioration of the kite).

There is a custom made Carbon chute especially developed by the class and Winder boats together with a made to measure self draining sock. And finally, of course there are the fittings, rope, wire etc to make it all work.

The 2004 AGM approved the Asymmetric Option which officially marked the acceptance of Asymmetric boats into the class. To date the Standard and Asymmetric Vortexes make up the class association and still race alongside each other at events. Prizes are awarded to the leaders in each category to ensure boats without spinnakers aren't at a disadvantage.

Since the 2004 AGM over 100 kits have been fitted to Vortex all over the UK and abroad.