test sails

  • 2014 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Garcia Exploration 45, Seascape 27

    Garcia 45 sailing

    Day two of this year's test-sailing program looked to be a bit snotty weather-wise, with the forecast early on showing wind gusting to 30 knots, rain, and a good chance of thunderstorms. Great conditions, in other words, for trying out the new Garcia Exploration 45. As things turned out, the weather was actually a bit more moderate than that, but we still enjoyed sporty conditions out on Chesapeake Bay during our first test sail, with the wind blowing about 20 knots true.

  • 2015 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Dragonfly 25 and Oyster 475

    Jens Quorning

    Pardon me a moment while I step into the Not So Wayback Machine and dial into the middle of last month, post boat show in Annapolis, when I was doing my routine round sampling new boats under sail. Subject number one this year was the new Dragonfly 25 trimaran, which I sailed with Jens Quorning (see photo up top) of Quorning Boats in a typically light 6-10 knot breeze on Chesapeake Bay.

    You think of course a trimaran should be fast, but speed is a relative concept. It seems bottom line on this little hot rod is that in light-to-very-moderate conditions like we had you’ll usually be sailing at wind speed, which is pretty damn good for a boat just 25 feet long. Problem is it doesn’t seem so fast when you know the boat is capable of so much more. In this case, Jens informs me the top speed they’ve seen on this little 25 is a skosh over 20 knots in very strong conditions. Fifteen knots is common in moderate-to-strong wind.

  • 2015 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Jeanneau 64 and Gran Soleil 43

    Jeanneau 64 cockpit

    My first outing on day two of this year’s test-sailing binge after the Annapolis show found me on the new Jeanneau 64, which is effectively a mini-superyacht built on a mass-production basis. That photo you see up top shows a portion of the group I sailed with enjoying the big lounging cockpit while noshing on donuts and coffee proffered by Jeanneau’s Paul Fenn (he’s the one gesticulating closest to the companionway). Both those cockpit tables can be set at variable heights, or can be lowered all the way to form plush cockpit berths.

  • 2016 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Allures 39.9, Seawind 1190 Sport, Fareast 23R

    Allures cockpit

    I had a full dance card my first day testing boats last week after the show closed down, and as often happens on Chesapeake Bay, even in the fall, the forecast was for increasingly light conditions through the day and on into the next. Fortunately, the boats I was sailing also got increasingly lighter as the day wore on, starting with the Allures 39.9, a nice aluminum centerboard cruiser from France. I enjoyed an excellent sail in 9-12 knots of breeze with these prospective buyers (seen here enjoying the comfy cockpit with high-backed coamings) as well as Pete McGonagle from Swiftsure Yachts (they represent Allures in the U.S.) and one Brian, the boat’s owner.

  • 2016 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Xquisite X5, Solaris 50

    X5 stern

    Day two of my test-sailing regimen on Chesapeake Bay earlier this month involved just two boats, both a good deal larger (50-footers) than the three I sailed on day one. The wind forecast, lamentably, was for even lighter conditions overall than the day before. This worried me a bit, particularly with respect to my first ride, the impressive X5 cruising catamaran on which I bloviated at some length in my post on the Annapolis show. We approached her via water taxi in the morning as she lay at anchor off the Naval Academy (see image up top), and I noted with dismay the mostly unruffled water on which she floated.

  • 2104 ANNAPOLIS TEST SAILS: Bavaria Cruiser 46, Xc 35, Beneteau Oceanis 35

    Bavaria 46 stern

    Just back from test-sailing boats apr├Ęs-show this past week at Annapolis. Five boats in two days in fairly strong conditions, with the wind blowing 20 knots at time. Once I even saw gusts to over 30. This is ideal! Normally we get light wind, which makes it harder to get a good sense of how boats behave. My first boat on day one was the Bavaria Cruiser 46, which really is just a new updated version of the Bavaria Cruiser 45. The hull and underwater appendages are the same, but the deck and interior have been modified. As you can see in that photo up top, she has a very wide butt and an enormous fold-down transom.

  • EASTER SUNDAY MASSACRE: First Solo Sail on New Lunacy

    JFD on deck

    It went pretty well actually, except for one part at the very end. The weather at least was fabulous. Bright and sunny with a moderate 15-17 knot breeze out of the west. I motored down the river, Le Jaudy they call it, against the dregs of the flood tide, and raised sail just before reaching the entrance. There followed a few hours of experimentation in open water. Took a reef in the main. Played with the Windpilot windvane for a while. Diddled with the electronics. Reveled in the moments and all. One of the highlights was when I turned back in and saw the creator of the Boréal, Jean-François Delvoye, heading out on his own new boat (that’s him on the foredeck trying to take photos of me) for a bit of an Easter Sunday jaunt.

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