Crash and Learn
It’s been almost three years since my one and only attempt at sailing a foiling moth, and that was a tiring failure in the Detroit River with one of the first Bladeriders in North America. 32 months, 24 countries, and 25 pounds of marriage weight later, I finally got the chance to try again. On Monday we launched a loaner that would rapidly becomeup our new favorite media platform (more on that later) to get the evidence on Biscayne Bay just south of Miami. But 6-7 knots of wind wasn’t enough power to lift my 235 lbs. out of the warm water, even on the well-tuned, current World Championship-winning boat. Was I destined to remain hugging the sea forever?
Despite being out of clean clothes and after 8 days on the road, we stayed to try again (yes, my wife is that cool), and on Tuesday, we fueled up the RIB and went out for an early morning shoot – that’s noon to people that use regular clocks. I was skeptical – with maybe 13 knots of warm wind, I was sure that it was a waste of time to even try, but my coaches just laughed. "No worries," Bear said as he laid his windward wing on the tube of the VSR RIB.
As he scampered off, I slid aboard, remembering to kneel near the mainsheet bridle on the deck of the boat – all 14 inches of it. A couple of slow tips later, I eased, hiked, and trimmed my way out of the water, and amazingly, I stayed there! So there you have it folks; the guy that everyone knows is the biggest sailing hack on the internet can do it – at an out-of-shape 235 pounds with no Laser or windsurfing past – so what’s stopping you?
For me, the wait was worth it. And I’ll be back at it soon.
Crash Boat Dreams
We also got to try out the relatively new VSR – or Very Slender Rib. We’ve seen these deep-bowed 16 footers at all the Olympic venues for the past couple years as they’ve rapidly taken over the world of coaching, but until this week, we didn’t really know why. A few hours doing chase boat duty answered all our questions.
Stability: The flat stern and deep tubes provide a very stable platform at slow speeds, and the ultra slender bow slices through water much more like a sailboat’s plumb bow than a conventional RIB. Result? Less pitching in the chop and less slamming in the rough.
Simplicity: The deck layout – which is customizable to some extent – is open and symple. Two centered speed seats, a half-dozen well-positioned and waterproof cubbies, a 20 gallon molded fuel tank, and a bag with all the safety essentials are all you need to coach or provide crash boat support – why would you want more?
Economy: Everything about the VSR screams "EFFICIENT," from the light weight, simple fitout to the low-resistance hull’s gas sipping economy. The 60 HP 4-stroke produced 27 knots of boat speed with three people aboard, and we would never have had to fill her up on Tuesday morning had "Mr. Bean" left more than three gallons in the thing.