I've heard that before too. I was a dealer in the '80s and got in the first pair of EPO's that anyone had seen. There was a regatta on Kerr Lake that weekend, and I already had a 16 sitting on a trailer in the parking lot from demos earlier in the week. The EPOs came in a couple of days earlier. I pried a set of lower castings apart with opposing wrecking bars, and sent the upper castings and arms with a friend on the way to the lake who had a machine shop in his garage to enlarge the opening in the upper castings.
Long story short, it was a race to get to the first starting line on time. I had just stuck the rudders together on the boat and got it into the water with barely enough time to make the start. The trouble was, in haste the rudders had too much slop in them front to back, so I adjusted them tight as we floated downwind from the start while everyone else started. I thought we'd just throw out the first race, but we started anyway. Conditions were gusty, but not quite trap conditions, and we decided to start anyway. Most of the other boats where halfway up the first beat.
The race was twice around a triangle maybe a little over a mile long, 8 to 10 knots. By the first reach on the second lap we had passed all but maybe a half dozen boats. This was before anyone had ever published anything about doing the "wild thing" going down wind, but it just sort of came natural in these conditions. We'd head up to get boat speed up a few boat lengths before a gust hit, and then ride the short and frequent gusts down. We passed a bunch of boats like they were dragging anchor. I think this is where the rudders reallys shined in keeping the flow attached during all that steering at speed.
On the last beat we were closing fast and passed all but one boat. Wick Smith beat us by a couple of feet to win that race. If the line had been a couple of boatlengths upwind, we would have won. I'll bet Wick still remembers that race. Terry Hanchey was running race committee. I'll bet he still remembers it too. I don't remember the year, but it was in the '80s.
On the next race, port end Starboard tack was favored. We started closest to the port pin, but a half dozen boats right beside us were over early. We continued upwind after a discussion with those boats about them having to go behind us since they were over early, and I was sure we weren't. As soon as our sail numbers were clear ahead of those boats, the conmittee boat called out our number as being over early, so we were the last boat to restart.
At the second jibe mark, we jibed inside of Bob Poteat into third place, with Wick and one other boat (I think maybe Doug Efland) ahead of us and they could see that we were closing on them. Soon after, the wind died completely, and racing was called for the day. Stormed out the next day, so that was the racing for us that weekend. I've raced a bunch of different things, in many regattas since then, but that one still stands out clearly in my memory.
I'm a decent sailor, but didn't consider myself a better sailor than some of the other guys on the water that day. I had the only boat in the fleet with EPOs that weekend. I sold quite a few after that, but didn't get back to racing a 16 much at all after that. I wouldn't want a 16 without rudders at least as good as the EPOs on it. I'm not convinced that simply having a thinner foil shape is that much of an advantage. Keeping the flow attached at various angles of attack, such as steering downwind at speed, is as important as overall drag, but I don't have the answer either, since I've never even seen an EPO2, much less sailed with a pair.
Last edited by Tom King on Mon Oct 31, 2011 1:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.