test drive

test drive

Well, the Austin Yacht Club Test Drive Day is now behind us, and what a day… By all accounts a huge success. Mother nature came through with spectacular weather, delivering bright sun, warm temps, and great breeze in the high teens gusting to the high 20’s (maybe even a bit TOO MUCH breeze at times), which made for some e-ticket rides.

The Corsair 31 broke 20 knots boatspeed during 2 different outings today, giving some new sailors the thrill of a lifetime. TheJ-80, Melges 24, and Viper 640 also provided some big thrills and serious downwind sleigh rides, leading to "bugs in the teeth" smiles on all the sailors as they came off the boats. John Kolius on the Weta Trimaran was kept busy non-stop, starting at 9:45 am all the way past 3pm, as people lined up for a ride on this ultra-fun little tri, skippered by an Olympic silver medalist and America’s Cup sailor (how often do we get to do that!?!). Likewise, the Corsair 31, Melges 24,J-80, and Viper 640 sailed pretty much non-stop, with a mix of experienced sailors, beginners, and complete newcomers all coming away smiling as they went from boat to boat.

The J-105, which sailed over to AYC from way up the lake for this event, was busy all day giving rides to folks who were looking for something a little more relaxed than the Melges or Viper, but even they saw speeds over 10 knots under white sails only. I think the skipper was kicking himself that he left his kite at home, because he would’ve liked to go chasing after the sportboats. Even the Bic O’pen got a workout, as full-grown adults shoehorned themselves onto the little skimming dish of a boat to go scoot around the harbor in between rides on the bigger toys.

Among the many highlights of the day:

  • The 6-yr old boy who went for a ride on the Corsair 31 Tri (thebiggest and fastest boat at the event by far), promptly took the tiller andexpertly drove the big tri upwind to the amazement of all onboard. Whenthe boat pulled back in after the ride, he didn’t want to get off… Momand Dad, looks like you’ve got a natural sailor on your hands!
  • The teenage sailor who took her two non-sailor friends out onthe Viper, and within minutes took over the helm from the skipper, on their wayto some serious speed runs in the big breeze. Quite an intro to sailingfor her two friends! After the ride, she informed her parents thatthey were going to have to buy a Viper 640. Way to go!
  • All the folks who went out on the Weta, and came back soaked tothe bone (there’s a reason it’s called the Weta… turns out it really makes youwetter!) but didn’t seem to care one bit. Who cares if you’re a littlewet and cold when you’re going fast!

All in all, we hosted close to 40 people at the event, with a great mix of club members, new sailors, and even non-sailors who wanted to comeout and see what the fuss was all about. It was also great to see a really young crowd at the event, and without exception all the kids seemed to walk away itching for more. A recurring theme as we all stood around the keg after the event (thanks, Viper 640/Rondar for the beer) was how much fun people had, what a great idea the Test Drive concept was, and how we need to do this on a regular basis at the Club. In two weeks, there will be a multi-hull test driveday at AYC, and plans are already in motion for another big AYC test-drive event in the fall. We highly recommend to other clubs that they host similar events, to help rekindle the excitement in sailing, and maybe even get some new people into the sport.

Thanks to all of the AYC members who generously gave up their day & provided their boats for test drives. Without them, this event would not have been possible.

Many thanks also to our sponsors, JBoats Southwest, RondarRaceboats, and KO Sailing (John Kolius himself came up from Houston with theWeta Trimaran and Bic O’pen dinghy). Click here for pics and to comment.

Felipe Payet
Austin Yacht Club
Viper 640 USA-103 – The Stig