The first video is of me trying out the boat solo with reefed mainsail alone. I’m pretty light but this sail area worked nicely in the 18-20k of wind I faced.
Leaving my rather protected beach, you will note the boat accelerate noticeably when I run into clear wind and open water. It’s a fun, noticeably sensation. (A couple of explanatory notes. First, the ‘white tails’ flying from the shrouds are the adjustment tackles for the trapeze; and then, the ‘siren’ at 1.45min was a passing police car, not far from where the camera was located ….. sorry about that!) In the rough stuff, I found the wide mainsheet track very useful. I could let the main well out, but still keep the mainsail acceptably flat with a tight mainsheet. This gave me good power through the waves and also overload control, as I could more easily shed some wind by briefly luffing slightly. Also note that due to the unique asymmetrical shape of the ama bottoms, there’s no slamming when the windward ama drops into a passing wave top … in fact both the hull shapes work very well overall and I’m totally satisfied with the result when correctly trimmed.
The second video is with an added crew and jib, but still reefed, as the wind was now sometimes gusting over 20k and the waves had picked up. These lake waves are very short, not like those at sea that are generally well spread out, even if measurably higher. You’ll notice that the crew was very eager to have this first try on the trapeze and too often, the boat has too much weight to windward, sometimes even lifting the leeward ama out! It’s important when tacking, to try and keep the boat slightly heeled, so that the boat can turn on 2 hulls and not 3 – so we found it advantageous to move the crew over fairly quickly. Slowly we got the feel of things and by the end of this short video, you’ll see us better trimmed and going faster. We actually hit 14.4k that day, which felt pretty good considering the many short waves we had to deal with … with some close to 3 feet in height. At 2.30 mins on the video, we pass a small rock island (Gull Is.) and as this is 1.3 miles offshore, you can see the amount of telephoto we needed to get these shots!
As reported elsewhere, my boat later suffered some damage when some unusually high waves lifted the boat off my shoreside boat hoist during the night and I had to pull the boat off a rocky beach in the morning, where it was scrubbing up against a metal dock in some pretty rough water. Remarkably though, most of the damage is cosmetic with only 2 small holes in the upper ama side from bolt heads on the dock. None of the other surface scratches seems to have penetrated the glass sheathing or Kevlar keel tape, so that’s a good reason for their existence ... especially on the amas and the main hull bottom. I feel very fortunate to have gotten off so lightly.
Due to the above, this may be the last video I can get this season, but I hope this is enough to show you that this is a very capable, fun and satisfying boat to sail, and that you’ll consider building your own this winter. The building is really a fun project in itself, and plywood kits are now available for those who want to save some time. And when all is done, sailing the boat is really great fun ... a real blast … even at my age ;-)
I remember reading that Chris White’s lovely Discovery 20 was promoted as “a boat you could take your grandmother out in”. Well, this more recent W17 design is proving to be “a boat your grandfather can sail even alone, and in pretty exciting conditions too ;-)
Of course, matching experience with the weather conditions is always important.
So enjoy; send me your comments!
mike, Sept 2014
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