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Jav 2, a Hot New Formula Cat

2003 BOTY Nominee (from SW’s July/August ’02 issue)

September 17, 2002
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Peter Mcgowan

I helped in the testing and development of the Jav 2, and now own one. My initial impression of this 18-foot Italian import after two regattas is that it’s simple, light, and fast. The boat made a name for itself during its North American debut, proving its first-to-finish speed at the Key Largo Tradewinds Midwinters and again in April at the 160-boat Spring Fever Regatta in Georgia. Both times, its ability to get the gun turned a few heads.

Jav 2 one-design fleets are flourishing in Europe, where the boat is built by Bimare in Bellaria, Italy. It was originally named the Javelin B, but the nickname Jav 2 has stuck to the extent that the builder also refers to it this way. It was designed within the concise parameters of the Formula 18 High Tech class. The rule defines a two-person boat no more than 18.1 feet long and 8.2 feet wide, with a minimum displacement of 286 pounds and maximum mainsail area of 215 sq. ft., mast included.

Unlike most two-person beach cats, there’s no jib on the Jav 2. Upwind its tall square-top main and 34.5-foot carbon mast provide plenty of hull-flying power. Even with its long mast it’s an easy cat to right after a capsize. Tacking angles for the Jav 2 are less than 80 degrees in most conditions, another major advantage over sloop-rigged cats when racing in open events. Off the wind, a 215-sq. ft. asymmetric chute doubles the boat’s sail area. With a long luff length and a short foot, the asymmetric is optimized for maximum aspect ratio within the sail area restriction. I’ve found jibes to be snappy and quick because the square-top main maintains flow across the top sections of the sail.

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At 285 pounds fully rigged, this is an easily managed boat for coed teams. Many 18- to 20-foot cats weigh more than 400 pounds, so this is truly an improvement. The significant weight reduction is achieved by the low-volume wave-piercing hull design, which greatly reduces total hull area. Both the rudders and high-aspect daggerboards are hollow. The boom is exceptionally light, and the narrow-section carbon mast has a variable wall thickness, which saves weight aloft.

The boat has all the essential controls to keep powered up. The main downhaul is a powerful 16-to-1 internal system that can bend the mast to control mainsail shape. Mast rotation can be adjusted as windspeed increases to reduce drag, and the crew can handle the mainsheet to fine tune hull flying while the driver adjusts the traveler for large windspeed changes. Spinnaker sets are quick and easy without the normal complication of handling a jib. The skipper takes up the halyard with a spring-loaded retractable dog leash (see photo). With spinnaker sheets lead to ratchet turning blocks mounted on the main beam, the trampoline is uncluttered.

This cat generates plenty of apparent wind so the optimum downwind main traveler position is only 6 inches from centerline. Jibing angles are generally 90 degrees, and hull flying begins in about 9 knots of true wind. Helm balance is light with slight windward helm upwind and a neutral-to-slight leeward helm downwind. Steering is very responsive even during slow pre-start maneuvers, normally a uni rig’s greatest weakness.

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In my experience, the Jav 2 has been first to the windward mark against fast 20-footers and has been able to stay ahead downwind in light to medium winds–impressive for an 18-foot cat. The boat’s speed comes from its flat-bottomed bows, which create dynamic lift and have less wetted surface and wave-making drag. Windy conditions might neutralize the Jav 2’s boat-for-boat advantage; but then again, its wave-piercing hulls may prove more effective in getting through chop. Only after testing the boat in windier conditions will its total performance spectrum be known, but so far, the Jav 2 has definitely made some owners of older cat designs jealous.

Priced between $11,500 and $12,500 FOB Virginia Beach, Va., the second container of boats is already going fast according to the importer W.F. Oliver. The base price includes sails and rigging. The $12,500 model includes the carbon-fiber spinnaker snuffer.

The first Formula 18 High Tech North Americans will be held November 15 to 18 in Key Largo, Fla., and it was announced in May that the Jav 2 will be used for the Worrell 1000 in 2003. The Formula 18 HT World Cup is being planned for May 2003 in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

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Sailmaker Randy Smyth was involved with the development of the Jav 2’s sailplan. He’s currently training for the A Cat Worlds in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., in September and the 2003 Worrell 1000.

Jav 2 Design Evolution
By Peter d’Anjou

The Jav 2 was designed by Michelangelo Petrucci and is based roughly on the A-Cat Flyer design by Nils Bunkenberg. Petrucci consulted with Bunkenberg on the design of his singlehanded Javelin A, introduced two years ago, before making the wave-piercing doublehander known as the Jav 2. The new boat has more volume and is heavier than an A Cat so it can support the extra crew weight. The foils were designed by Dr. Martin Fischer, a fluid dynamist, who also created the foils on the Boyer and Flyer versions of the A Cat. While the design was completed in Italy, much of the testing and development was done in Florida. Randy Smyth assisted with sail development. Riba, an Italian composites company that also makes Formula 1 car chassis, manufactures the carbon mast. The hulls are S-glass and epoxy vacuum bagged over a PVC foam core. Because the boat was lighter than F18 HT rules allow, oversized 4-inch aluminum beams were used to bring it up to weight while also providing extra stiffness.

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