"We are disappointed it was taken away from us," said U-37 driver Jean Theoret. The curved surface on inside of the skid fin meant better cornering and a better grip, he said.
"The caivty inside creates a vortex and the boat handles better," he said. "It takes some time to get used to it. When we hit buoys (earlier in the 2006 season), that was us getting use to it. Almost no drifting. With older fins, you drift into the corner."
"They changed the rules," said U-37 team owner Billy Schumacher, "and outlawed our skid fin."
Last year, the U-37 had a skid fin with a more concave center. Schumacher said it give it great handling in the turns. "It stopped the yaw," he said; "extremely effective heading into the curve."
"We weren't the fastest boat last year," he said. "You could see that on the straight-aways. But we'd get into the curve and sometimes pick up two full boat lengths on somebody."
But all good things come to an end. This year's rule book says no curved skid fins. And so the straight, flat skid fin was a big part of what was being tested in the Tri-Cities for Spring Training 2007. "We want to make sure it rides as well as it did last year," said Schumacher. "Smooth."
The boat's also about a hundred pounds lighter and needed a bit of touch up after last year. "We rebuilt a lot of it. 3 broken frames. Engine. Rudder. Plus the re-design on the skid fin."
Schumacher says he expects the boat to be a little more balanced, faster, and tight in the turns.