It seemed like a good idea; I had a couple of hot singlehanders ready for testing, one of them largely unknown, a forecast for breeze, and a pile of sailors, wetsuits at the ready, itching to check ’em out for a detailed report on this page. I ran around looking for a RIB, and longtime Anarchist ‘Boyd’ stepped up to sacrifice an adorable little Apex Inflatable to the cause. The kind folks at SSA even let us set up and launch the RIB and the Stealth CL singlehander, and Stealth development dude Owen went on a ripping ride in 20 knots to get her ready for us.
And then reality set in.
The water temperature is in the low 50s here. The breeze was gusty as hell and strong. And then Owen came limping in, the tiller sheared at the rudder head. And the Musto Skiff didn’t come out to play – too breezy for mortals to handle. And the little 11′ RIB, while appreciated and useful, made me look like a hairdresser named Susan whose other ride is a Mini Cooper.
So our little singlehander test was a dismal failure, but not without a silver lining or two. We’re planning another one – a truly dispositive test of as many modern singlehanded boats we can find. And we’ve even come up with a name for it: Replace The Laser. Some time in the next couple of months we will invite every manufacturer or dealer of high-po singlehanders to somewhere fun, windy, and most of all, warm, and we’ll invite the anarchists to come check them all out. These boats are the purest sailing we can do – the most fun, with the least hassle, and we think it’s time to sort them all out and see which ones have what it takes to replace the long-lived but now-dopy Laser.
Another silver lining popped up as I was lifting the little Apex out of the water: Quantum’s Scott Nixon popped up on the phone, and as I lowered the boat on its trailer, I clicked on “answer.”
“Yo Clean, what are ya doing tomorrow?”
“Heading home, I hope. Why?”
“Feel like doing bow on an Etchells with me and [Star Olympic Medalist] Mike Wolfe tomorrow for the NOOD?”
“Umm…with you? And Wolfe? Seriously?”
So instead of being home with my lovely wife right now, having driven 10 hours to get a story that disappeared, and despite my pledge to stay away from the NOOD, I find myself doing bow tomorrow morning on a boat I’ve sailed once in my life, with the current Melges 24 NA Champion and an Olympic medalist. I guess I’m cool with that – and I hope you find the story interesting.
Wish me luck.