May 20, 2005

CATRI 24 entered in Round the Island Race

I have just enetered the Round The Island Race and I'm looking for competent crew to do it with me in the CATRI 24. Who is available to race this extremely fast boat around the Isle of Wight on June 18th? More importantly, who is available during the period beforehand to work up in the boat? Anybody know what Ellen McArthur is doing?

The boat, the first in the UK, will have the exclusive sail number, GBR1. It is being shipped over from Latvia on May 30th and so there will not be much time to tune up a crew. Really I need a competent racing skipper, as I have not done this sort of thing before. Are you available?

Posted by Stephen Walker at 12:45 PM

May 11, 2005

Porth Dinllaen, North Wales

On Friday we drove along the North Wales coast past our usual launch site in Colwyn Bay, past Caernarfon and onto the beautiful little fishing village of Porth Dinllaen on the Lleyn Peninsula. The cottage we were staying in with friends was right on the beach and vehicular access was not possible at high spring tides.

However, when we arrived with the Magnum 21 trimaran the tide was half way in and we were able to negotiate our way onto it. Not something I would have tried with a two wheel drive car.

Unfortunately, as forecast, the wind blew up from the NW on the Saturday. Whilst we have sailed in the Magnum 21 in conditions like this and had an exciting time, the prospect of taking a novice crew including a 10 year old boy on his first trip filled me with forboding so we went for a walk instead.

What a spectacular place.

On Sunday the wind was the same, again, as forecast, so we took the Magnum 21 to Pwllheli. This is the advantage of a trailer-sailer, especially one so light and easy to assemble as the Magnum 21. I intend to keep the CATRI 24 at Pwllheli when it arrives so it was worthwhile going there to view the facilities.

From here we sailed to Abersoch in a good force 5. We took one reef. The water was cold and we got soaked. It was like having buckets full of cold water thrown over us. But then we were doing 13 knots at times and it is diffcult to stay dry in any boat at this speed.

At Abersoch we anchored close to the beach, ate our sandwiches and Welsh cakes and nearly dried out or should I say thawed out in the sunshine. Always remember to raise the centreboard and rudder when anchoring like this. I forgot and we had a couple of moments with the anchor rode. No great drama though.

Then we flew back to Pwllheli at speeds between 8 and 12.5 knots where everybody agreed they had had a great time. Smiles all round.

Sue and I disassembled the boat and we were back in Porth Dinllaen for afternoon tea.

Posted by Stephen Walker at 12:40 PM

May 02, 2005

Conway on Bank Holiday

With the 21.S out of commission we took the standard boat to Conway for an afternoon sail with a couple we had met the night before and their younger daughter, aged 6.

We had almost completed the rigging when the heavens opened. When the thunder started I cancelled the trip. Then the sky cleared and we changed out minds.

The tide was out and the Beacon slipway at Conway stops short of the water at low tide (even at neaps) but this was not a problem for the RAV4, especially as the Magnum 21 is so light.

We had a great sail out to beyond the Fairway buoy in light winds and on the way back when the wind had picked up sufficiently to create breaking crests and even white horses we found ourselves, all five of us, lying flat back on the trampoline whilst I read off the speed on the GPS, 10 knots, 11, 11.5, 12, 12.3, 12.5, 12.7 knots! In just a force 4 in the standard boat. What an inspriational design.

Posted by Stephen Walker at 07:07 PM

May 01, 2005

Llandudno in a Force 6

Three customers turned up to Rhos-on-Sea today to try a Magnum 21.S. The tide was out so we walked the beach before putting the boat together and venturing onto the sand with my four wheel drive and trailer. The beach has been destabilised by recent dredging activity in the adjacent harbour.

The wind was stiff. Probably force 5 and the sun was shining. We were in for a great day sail.

We were quickly doing over 13 knots and jumping around the boat in the gusty conditions. Off Penryn there was little to stop the SW wind and all of us were out on the windward float to keep her level. The spray was staggering but this was fine when standing up, which it is easy to do because one can hang onto the outer shrouds attached to the floats of the 21.S.

Pretty soon we were doing 15 knots.

It went a little quieter as we passed the Little Orme but quickly blew up again in Llandudno bay. What a sight Llandudno is from the sea. All those fine hotels in a big crescent with the Grand Hotel at the end by the pier.

We shot across the bay and into the lee of the Great Orme where we turned round and zipped back across the bay again with the vague intention of heading inshore for a cup of tea.

Eventually we dragged ourselves away from these glorious reaches and beat inshore at some 8 knots, dropping the sail and motoring in the last bit as the wind was freshening somewhat.

Llandudno was alive with people. The traditional British seaside holiday is not dead. People were making sand castles, skimming stones and even swimming in the sea! On the promenade was a troop of Morris dancers (I thought that this was the sole remaining English tradition yet here it was in Wales), there was a fair that I could see in the background and I am reliably informed there was a steam rally going on too.

The world and his dog was at Llandudno enjoying the spring sunshine and we sailed right into it. One of the customer said, "We don't have anything like this on the Solent. My kids would love it."

After tea and sandwiches we took a reef and set off back towards Rhos-on-Sea. At one point we were keeping up with a jet skier doing about 15 knots. Then when we came past that windy area off Penryn the reefing cringle tore out of the Pentex main sail!

The factory tell me that they are not fitting this particular type of sail any more and they replaced it under warranty as there was clearly not enough reinforcement around the reef cringle.

Anyway, we sailed back on the jib alone at some 6.5 knots with four of us aboard. The jib was difficult to furl without the main up so we used the main halyard attached to the mainsheet to pull the mast backwards and tighten the luff of the jib. This worked well. If it had not then we could always have run downwind, which would have made it very easy to furl the jib.

We had the boat packed away in 3/4 hour, which is pretty good considering it is more complicated than the Classic boat.

And the conclusion was that everybody really did enjoy their day's sailing.

Posted by Stephen Walker at 06:47 PM