Since 2012 Nick Thompson has been using C2 Marine’s ProGraphite tiller and NiteStick tiller extensions. In early 2015 Nick and the RYA’s technical guru, Steve Mellors, asked C2 Marine to get involved in the development of a super stiff tiller with the aim of minimising the clearance between the underside of the tiller and the aft deck while still having sufficient stiffness to avoid the tiller ‘bottoming-out’ on the traveller cleat.
Lasers have always had a generous tolerance on transom fittings meaning the same tiller on different boats could ride high or sink low and you never quite knew what you would get. The ProGraphite tillers have always had sufficient material in the stock region to allow users to ‘home-tune’ their tiller to their boat, ie to lower the tiller – instructions for doing this being on the website. The trouble is that the more you lower the tiller the greater the chance of you ‘bottoming-out’ the tiller on the traveller cleat.
So without wanting to compromise the structural integrity of the tiller or change the external geometry we set to and made some internal mods refining the materials used in the stock region and also introducing a higher stiffness carbon fibre in the laminate construction. Whilst this work was underway the RYA developed a metal jig that would allow anybody to make adjustment to the underside of the tiller stock with the aid of a belt sander. Messy work but easily done by any old sailor, Nick included. No offence to Nick – he’s a superb sailor but fine mechanical refinements in the boat park are not his forte. We tried several different laminate lay-ups and eventually settled on the construction that Nick used in the 2015 and 2016 World Championships and the 2016 Olympics. So now if you apply a 100N load at the location of the UJ, the deflection is reduced by some 20mm compared to the standard construction. The final refinement made was to remove the metal wear plate altogether and replace it with an integrally moulded carbon wear strip. This not only reduces the height of the tiller where the traveller rope crosses but it also takes a few grams weight out of the tiller. During all the training sessions Nick has undertaken in 2016 and all the events he has competed in there is no sign of wear in the traveller region of the tiller. As a result, even our standard ProGraphite tillers are now made with the carbon wear strip.
Of the refinements made, the RYA’s Steve Mellors says “the tiller is already a great product and hopefully now even better, with C2 implementing our suggestions perfectly”. So, C2 Marine thanks both Nick and the RYA for the opportunity to work with the double World Champion in his quest for gold at the 2016 Olympic Games.