April 21th, 2008
Key West - Interview with John Gluek
He is at Key West Race Week to represent DIMENSION-POLYANT and to seek contact to active sailors to exchange information. We spoke to John Gluek, President of DIMENSION-POLYANT USA, about his involvement at the international race week in Florida.
Key West Race Week in January is one of the most important race weeks in the USA. Reflect on your thoughts for what this means for DIMENSION-POLYANT.
Key West Race Week has always been the introduction of the new season regarding suppliers involved with racing. Suppliers here have completed their design work and R&D, and whether it’s cloth, rigging, spars, hardware, yachts, sails, or apparel, they’re here to see how their new products stack up against the best in the world. For DIMENSION-POLYANT these products cover many levels, considering we produce woven polyester, nylons, laminates and D4® membranes. Competitors on over 260 racing yachts, with some 60 foreign teams, represent classes that utilize all styles of the fabrics we produce, from One-Design up through the ranks of Grand Prix.
As one of the initial and ongoing sponsors of this event, we devote time and effort to assist this important regatta,which maintains and stimulates the well being of racing in the States.As you can imagine, the organization of racing for this many boats on four different race courses, combined with the logistics of the over-all management of the regatta off the water, requires a great effort of many people to put on such a world class event.
What did DP do for a presentation?
DP had a booth on site at the prize-giving tent. Each night we had direct contact with the crews, skippers, sailmakers, designers and others in the industry. With myself, Moose, Tom and Art from our facility in the States and Uwe from Germany all available, we were able to show samples and discuss cloth specifications and applications. We took part in the daily racing to maintain direct contact with the sailmakers /designers, as well as being able to assess our fabrics under race conditions. This year we saw the wind range from 8 mph up through 27mph, giving us real time feedback on how different weights of fabrics perform through the different wind strengths.
During the race week the well-known One-Design classes like the Melges 24 and Farr 40’s were sailing as well as classes such as PHRF and IRC. Which DP cloths characterize the fleet?
This mainly depends on the class rules or the size of the boats. Classes like the Melges 24 have strict specifications on fabric and weights, so we see a range from our Woven Polyester HTP® plus constructions up through a custom GPL laminate. Many of the high performance IRC and PHRF fleets used our D4® membranes or combinations of D4® with paneled sails built from our GPL Carbon/Technora styles, X-Tech® Twaron/ Aramid styles and Pen laminates. One-Design classes such as the J-105 use our woven polyester for their mainsails. On the water observation of our fabrics and their applications gives us a strong edge in cloth recommendations, ensuring the end user is getting a product that meets their needs. On the Grand Prix circuit, customers may trade off longevity to gain an advantage in performance. Most others, however, invest in a sail for this regatta while keeping durability in mind for the coming season at the club level. Here is where I feel our strength is above others, understanding the trade offs and constructing fabric for each level.
What is the meaning of D4®?
Bob Fraser, who is a very well known and successful sailmaker/racer in Australia, along with DPM Manager Brad Stephens came up with one of the first membrane system to compete at the Grand Prix level. The name derives from “The 4th Dimension” and has taken on levels of racing from club up though the America’s Cup. We are very fortunate that DP purchased the rights for D4®, allowing us to manufacture this product at two of our sites and having Brad continue the work he started. Brad has been in charge from the start and continues to develop the membrane product for all sailmakers to use. While many sailmakers use D4®as a means to access our unique yarn laying process, confidence in the long-term lamination processes developed by DP as a roll good supplier assures the customer that they are getting the finest, and most durable, laminated membrane available.
This is the first year for the new Swan 42 One-Design. What is your reaction to this new class on rules?
This class is based on the concept of keeping the professional sailing to a minimum. The goal is to allow one non-paid Category 3 sailor to assist in sailing the boat, though not driving, while all others are amateurs, or Category 1. There are many highly skilled owner/drivers in this class and it was rewarding to see that they could bring their regular racing crew with them to aggressively compete at this very high end of sailing. Knowing many members of the various crews, and closely watching their racing, I see this as a group that could race at any level. The goal of keeping the arms race down to an affordable level is being achieved, yet most aboard have won major races. I believe this as a healthy sign of the future of racing, where there are choices for our racers to choose from, be it One- Design, PHRF, IRC or others.
Racing on the TP52, what knowledge did you walk away with?
This is a great racing machine that requires a fine coordination of good crew work, tuning techniques in a wind range of 6-30 mph, tactical strategies with sails and wind shifts, trimming, good driving and mental toughness. When you think of all these areas, there really is no difference from racing a Laser on up to a Maxi, all the skills you have tried to perfect come into play in any yacht race. The more time one spends on the water, with the goal in mind to learn something new each day, can only bring success down the road.
What did I walk away with?
– Ready to go racing again soon!