Pulling up a brand new suit of sails on Day One of a National Championships is normally a fairly anxious moment, but I was ‘reasonably’ relaxed in this instance bearing in mind the design was largely based on the championship winning sails Rick and Adam produced for me back in the glory days before both took a sabbatical from sail making. Hey, a suit of sails is a suit of sails, isn’t it?
The week was absolutely full on, with a couple of days lost to gales, and every race was sailed in nothing less than a Force 4 to 5, often more – the sort of conditions I’d have given my right arm for 30 years ago with a large, strong crew! When I first had the pleasure of sailing with that bundle of energy and enthusiasm, Sam Barker, two years ago, my rather ‘old and wise’ post championship advice to Sam was to get himself even fitter for crewing sitty-out boats, and to max on the pies. Well, he’s certainly fitter, but what happened to the pies Sam? He’s still a piece of string.
No matter. The sails proved to be fast straight out of the bag, and after some instant help from Rick and Adam tweaking and tuning the rig, they were right on the money. Despite giving away at least three to four stone to all the other front runners, the sails were easy to depower, giving us surprising height and speed upwind to the extent that we managed to pop around the first mark in the lead on a couple of occasions. The kite was designed with our fighting weight in mind with longer leaches but marginally narrower in width, and was wickedly pokey downwind but, crucially, still manageable on tight three sail reaches, and we spent most of the week in the fast lane off wind, with speed to burn on all bar the very tightest legs when virtually everyone struggled. Very satisfying.
Rick came out on the water at the beginning of the week (see video), and has been out again since, to take a good look at the sails in action, and already has some ideas for a few, largely cosmetic, improvements. To my mind, the sail shape is pretty much there in terms of pace and control, and we are looking forward to mixing it on the race course in 10 kts less wind. It will be interesting to see just what they can do in what should be our sweet spot in terms of power to weight ratio.