April 28, 2005

Gale force gusts in a 21.S

Driving along the A55 with dark grey clouds overhead after last night's electrical storm I was pleasantly surprised to discover sunshine and blue sky on arrival at Colwyn Bay. But I was also confronted with white horses and gusts from the south that would have blown the boat off its trailer had I attempted to launch from Rhos on Sea.

My customer arrived from the lake district at 10.30 and we decided that I should show him how to put the Magnum 21.S together and review the situation thereafter. The wind had gone down a notch so we elected to give it a whirl.

The launch went fine and we motored away from the pier and dropped anchor close inshore, where the wind was coming from. This was undoubtedly the easiest circumstance in which to hoist the main sail. We prudently took a reef.

We set sail in a lull and were running at 5 knots. Then with simultaneous shift in direction the first blow arrived and the centreboard started humming at 10 knots. Then the first gust arrived and we were doing 12 knots +. Then the spray obscured the GPS so we concentrated on staying upright.

The water was fairly cold and my customer wished he had done up his jacket properly! I was dry inside but soaking outside. From where I was sitting, at the helm, it was almost impossible to look forward.

We were quickly at the end of the bay and so we tacked and headed back to the pier. She was quite a handful in this force 6 with gusts up to force 7 occasionally. Not what the Magnum 21.S was designed for. This bigger sportier rig was designed to give you much more speed in lighter winds.

West of the pier, as we approached Rhos, the water was clearly more disturbed and the wind much stronger. A gust, probably now force 8, knocked us down. My customer, who fortunately was not a lightweight like me, was courageously hanging over the side of the windward float examining the underside of the hull and the centreboard.

I had to climb down into the bottom (side) of the boat to knock off the main sheet, which on reflection, I should not have had cleated in the first place. Not a moment too soon she came upright. We heaved a sigh of relief. This was too much wind for this sporty trimaran. My view is that it can be and definitely will be capsized by somebody, unlike the standard Magnum 21, which is much easier to control and has yet to be capsized. But then there are people who like sailing on the edge like this and it is for these people that the new version has been created.

Meanwhile on the shore, Nick, the harbourmaster's man, who had been watching us with envy, had his hand on his mobile phone ready to call for assistance. He was also eager to lay his hands on the bottle of Champagne that I had said I would buy him if we capsized this boat.

We had really been enjoying ourselves but decided to call it a day. We dropped anchor in the same place to lower the main without fuss. And motored back to the slipway. Just as I was about to go astern a gentle wave picked us up and we surfed onto the slipway.

It turned out that our maximum speed was just over 15 knots! Not surprising really.

Posted by Stephen Walker at 09:14 PM

April 22, 2005

Back from Latvia

I'm back from Latvia where I was viewing progress on my CATRI 24 demonstrator. It's not quite ready yet but I was able to stand up inside it for the first time and get a feeling for the space and head room, of which there is plenty.

I will have to go back again in a few weeks to test it and ship it over to the UK.

Meanwhile I am available for demos of the Magnum 21.S. Call me on 0870 770 2728 to arrange yours.

Posted by Stephen Walker at 09:17 AM

April 14, 2005

Off to Latvia to see CATRI

I'm off to Latvia tomorrow, Friday 15th till 21st, to see the progress on the CATRI 24 demonstrator that I have ordered. It is nearly ready. The sail maker was asking if it was OK to put GB1 on the main as the sail number, as they put SWE1 on the first boat delivered to Sweden. Sounds exclusive enough to me.

I'll have my mobile with me, 07985 043 981, but you can leave a message for me to pick up on my return on 0870 770 2728. Or you could just send me a cheque for the a deposit on the boat of your choice! Magnum 21 trimarans ordered now will be ready at the end of May.

I should be able to give demos of the CATRI 24 during May but I would appreciate it if those contemplating ordering one for next season should hold off until I have demonstrated the boat to those keen to order for this season.

Posted by Stephen Walker at 10:02 PM

April 13, 2005

MAGNUM 21S in Falmouth

What a splendid weekend we've just had in Cornwall. First a reunion near Bodmin of the university crew I rowed in 35 years ago followed by some sailing and rowing demonstrations at Falmouth. The tide was out all day at Padstow or we'd have done them there. We did cycle to Padstow from Wadebridge on Saturday afternoon though. I can recommend that.

At Falmouth the first snag we encountered was that one of the rigging screws had fallen off the mast on the journey down. However, I was able to jury rig something with the purchase of the cunningham and we ended up with a very satisfactory sail shape. Actually it was better than I managed to achieve on Monday.

The conditions were perfect on Sunday for instructing a customer who had little or no knowledge of sailing. Enough wind but not too much. We even managed to pick up a buoy under sail on our return. I always think that being head to wind on a mooring buoy is the easiest way of getting the main sail up and down.

The next day I was able to source a new rigging screw but the wind was so light that I might as well have had no mast stiffening at all. Whilst I was out sailing poor Sue managed to scrape somebody's car in the car park with the trailer and so we went for a sail together in the afternoon to chill out and give ourselves a little reward.

Almost immediately the forecast wind of about force 3 arrived and we were scooting across Carrick Roads at 12 knots. We quickly sailed across the harbour to have a look at the picturesque village of St Mawes before leaving Falmouth harbour altogether with the gennaker up to go and look from the sea at The Three Mackeral restaurant, where we had dined the evening before. Out at sea there was relatively little wind.

But when we got back to Carrick Roads we were beating at 7.5 knots and I couldn't resist the temptation of a reach. There were little crests on top of the waves so I guess the wind force was 3 gusting 4. We were flying along again at almost 12 knots with both of us sitting out on the edge of the trampoline, as we are both lightweights. This is where the telescopic tiller comes in handy. I guess the only way we could have gone faster would have been if one of us had taken to the trapeze.

On the final reach back in we were dazzled by the sun reflecting off the water and afterwards my face was red and throbbing like a belisha beacon.

This time we took the main down whilst adrift with plenty of sea-room in the lee of a hill. If you let go of everything the boat behaves very well, gently tacking upwind. The main has become easier to put up each time we have sailed the boat. It was very stiff the first time. Now I am reassured that it actually does fit the mast.

So it's a thumbs up for the sailing experience provided by the Magnum 21S trimaran. The downside has to be the time it takes to rig and derig compared to the standard boat, which I now find very straightforward. I am getting faster at it though. One thing I am going to try next time is to attach the outer shrouds before raising the mast. This will keep them out of the way and enable me to check the running of all the halyards before the mast is up. So far, each time, I have found a halyard or two threaded through the diamond of stiffening stays on the mast. Not a big deal; it just wastes sailing time sorting out these little problems.

Of course we couln't have had such a great weekend without some problems. Sue developed a very heavy cold on Sunday and I had it too on Monday. Then there was the slow puncture on the trailer tyre that was noticed by a following motorist somewhere between Tintern Abbey and Monmouth. Thank goodness for my four wheel drive. I had no idea there was anything wrong till we stopped at the traffic lights on Monmouth Bridge and there was a knock on the window.

The last time I had an incident at Monmouth Bridge was when I was coxing an eight on the river Wye there in 1973 and managed to break it into a coxless five and a coxed three! But that's another story.

Posted by Stephen Walker at 05:00 PM