Just back from 3 days racing in the "All Souls Regatta" held at the beautiful tourist and diving location of Puerto Galera, Philippines hosted by the PGYC. After her first launching at Leya Beach on the island of Luzon, the W17 was soon comfortably sailing at 11 knots. I was just so excited and grinning from ear to ear. We quickly crossed to the next island of Mindoro about 10 miles away, with our support boat ready for the races the next day.
As I was already committed to racing on another boat we had built, a local champion Hobie racer took the helm for the 3 race days together with another keen W17 boat builder as his crew. I watched the W17 from the deck of a Farrier 32AX. and was rewarded with clear views of her progress. It was great to see this little boat flying from wave to wave and we could even see daylight under the keel on several occasions as she leaped off the wavetops. She was the smallest in the fleet by far and competed in some rather rough conditions with 20k winds and waves up to 3ft on all three days. A real test of her strength and design. We clocked her at 13k with the GPS on several occasions and the crew seemed to be having a blast and I hope to hear more from them later. I had planned to take lots of pics of the W17 sailing from the fore deck of the larger Farrier, but even there it was too wet and wild, to risk using the camera.
I sailed the boat home after the races with Louis—a 50+ mile trip sailing back up the SW coast of the island of Luzon to Punta Fuego. Just as the designer promised in his design brief, this boat is a very sweet boat to sail and she moves very easily. She is both more comfortable and drier than the beach cats I have sailed. Having proper seats, coaming lockers and large storage spaces makes a big difference. We particularly enjoyed using the reacher downwind and it is an easy sail to hoist and retrieve. We made the trip in daylight and started very early as our goal was to arrive at PF before dark. We also travelled in the company of two other yachts for safety. We enjoyed ideal sailing conditions for most of the day with winds between 8 to 13 knots. Unfortunately the wind gave out 15 miles from our destination so we chose a tow for the remainder of the way. While being towed comfortably at 6 knots, we experienced the most amazing tropical downpour that lasted over an hour. The self-draining cockpit was a great plus though as it saved us from having to bail. ;-) We arrived back at Punta Fuego by 6.05 pm, in good time to get everybody home for a good night's sleep. This was an adventurous finish to a very long weekend of sailing but this last leg reinforced my confidence in the boat and confirmed just how versatile and capable she is.
Despite the conditions over the 5 days of sailing and travelling by sea a distance of more than 130 miles, the boat seemed very solid and the only thing that broke was a part of the mast step borrowed from an old Hobie in the rush to get the boat ready in time for the weekend. She feels very stable and at no stage did I or the racing crew experience any concerns about capsizing.
Lots of sailors have said positive things to me about the boat and we've been asked to build more. We hope we'll soon have a little fleet of these W17s. They'll be terrific for outings to other island shores, weekend picnics and particularly for exciting racing. We have already been given permission to race regularly with the local Hobie 16 fleet and I am looking forward to racing her myself next weekend against a fleet of very competitive Hobie 16s .. even if I'm not quite in their class!
GM of Melvest Marine
Builders of fine Farrier trimarans
Although I can sail on our hi-tech Farriers whenever I wish, I initially built the W17 because I love trimarans and wanted something small yet capable with which I could experirnent and try things. I now also think this boat will fit well with the local Philippine market.