So the Unicorn 2013 range has been launched with so many new goodies that it would be remiss of me not to talk about at least one or two of them here. And that means there must be what you might call a commercial break in my “Technique Spotlight” features. But never fear, they will be back - otherwise I’ll doubtless be in trouble from, among others, Kevin, Jeff, and Eddie (which reminds me, I’ll relay your point about points, etc, to Unicorn, Eddie).
And whilst on the subject of posts to my last blog, it’s also worth mentioning that Kevin’s contention about the possibly greater consistency of players who use torpedo-shaped barrels rather than “pencils” is very much on-topic for today’s subject – so more on that later!
But first I’d like to thank all last time’s correspondents and commend checking out their posts, which include Pete’s perceptive views on control of game pace by John Lowe and Phil Taylor, Mihai’s find of a nice link on the former (in which John explains the reasons for that change of stance I mentioned - fortunately looks like I was more-or-less right on that!), and Glen’s real enthusiast’s insight into equipment developments in darts over the years.
A nice coincidence here is Glen’s mention of some 1939 Silver Comets; a coincidence because what should have just appeared on this website, available for anyone to acquire? Yes, a set of 1937 Silver Comets - well, Heritage Range replicas of them, anyway - featured together with a portrait of Unicorn founder Frank Lowy (see link below). And, as Glen says, it’s not difficult to see a family resemblance – not just between the portrait and the snapshots of current Big Boss, grandson Edward, that occasionally appear on this website, but between Frank’s Silver Comets and a modern set of Sigma 950s or 970s, developed under the patronage of Edward and his father Stanley.
Which just goes to show that, as I’ve said before, materials science may advance, brass may give way to tungsten, but the laws of aerodynamics don’t change. And neither, if I may add a personal comment, does the Lowy family’s support of both innovation and tradition. So I’m sure Edward will have been very pleased with Glen’s generous return of those Silver Comets!
But back to my point about advances in materials, the Unicorn 2013 range is a good example of that as carbon fibre features prominently for the first time, not least in new ranges of shafts, including a Sigma end-loader – no side-loader yet as carbon fibre SlikStik tops would be (even more than polycarbonate, Pete!) rather prone to brittle fracture. Still, never say never – I only started working on that problem in the 1980s!
You’ll hopefully forgive me if I leave the wider subject of carbon fibre shafts for another time and move on to focus on a new barrel in the 2013 range that was designed specifically to exploit the exceptional strength to weight ratio of that material - the new Sigma Super Pro Carbon 95% tungsten (in 21, 23, and 25gms). And this is where I return to Kevin’s contention about the possibly greater consistency of players who use torpedo-shaped barrels rather than “pencils”.
As I’ve explained before, the lower moment of inertia of well-designed torpedo barrels allows them to straighten more quickly in flight, which in turn means they need a smaller flight for a given level of stability, which can be good for accuracy. That not only tends to support Kevin’s still-debatable argument, but is also why the original all-tungsten Sigma 970 and 950 barrels are torpedo-shaped.
Unfortunately, as I’ve also explained before, many players find a more parallel-sided dart easier to throw, which is, after all, a rather more important quality than any subtlety of aerodynamic performance. After causing me much head-scratching, this fact eventually resulted in the development of the lightweight, low-inertia, Zero-D screw-in titanium nose cone which enables the Sigma XL to have a longer, less curved, barrel than the 970s and 950s and also permits the Sigma 4 to have a front-biased grip. Even then, the level of stability required in a Sigma One is unobtainable in these designs, so they are only available in a Pro version (and, for the XL, the yet less forgiving Super Pro).
But for 2013 both a Sigma nose cone and shaft are available in carbon fibre, which is not only lighter than titanium, but is even lighter than the ultra-light alloy of the Super Pro magnesium shaft. This lightness has allowed the Sigma Super Pro Carbon to feature a long, positive, completely parallel, grip. Like the XL Super Pro, it won’t be the most forgiving dart in the world, but my hope is that, if you’re good enough and prefer a “pencil” dart, it will do the business for you.
Tungsten may be Swedish for “heavy stone”, but darts technology is definitely not in the stone age, carbon darting can tell you that!
The 1937 Silver Comet