Optimist rock star and LYC junior sailor Duncan Williford was aboard during Speedboat’s sail testing days down in Florida last month, and the grommet came up with a nice story of his trip. Note that the Duncan was part of LYC’s Melges 32 "Take a Junior Sailing" day, a program that thankfully, has now spread (it’s in effect at the East Coast Champs this weekend). Here’s Duncan’s report, with a Jeff Ecklund photo:
My experience on Speedboat was one that I will never forget. I am edging toward the end of my Opti sailing career and am just now starting to think of life after those square little boats.
When I was invited to spend the afternoon on Speedboat, I thought, "100 ft sailboat, huge proportions and high speeds, sounds fun!" This light-hearted approach was swept away when I first laid eyes on the towering mast from across the road – I was simply blown away. I guess I hadn’t really given much thought into how big the boat and her mast would be, but the scale of the thing was just awe-inspiring, dwarfing everything around it.
As we waited for the crew to prepare the boat and sails, I realized how much planning had to go into just one day of sailing. On my boat, you grab oyur mast, rig your sail, and launch your boat. It takes one person, and the best part about it is that you can do it any time you want, whether planned or on the spur of the moment. With Speedboat, sailing days need to be planned weeks in advance, and machinery and hydraulics needed to be used even to get the sails aboard – definitely there are real tradeoffs with a boat like this.
Getting on board, I noticed that everything was super-organized, each line and block having its own place. Our trip was to test sails and get the boat back into sailing conditions after a long time in storage, so I got to see just about everything. Compared to the bumping and rocking that I’m used to, Speedboat was incredibly smooth, and I kept looking up at the sails because I could just not believe how high they went. Whenever we tacked, a man was hauled about 12 stories to the top of the rig to pop the battens through with a sharp kick.
It was the first time in my life that I had ever been on a sailboat and gone faster than the wind. Even though I got the concept of how it happened, I thought it was more amazing than anything else I experienced that day. Though everyone else was probably used to it, I just could not get over that wind was making the boat move, but we were still moving faster than the wind.
My day on Speedboat was not just a happy memory, and not just a glance at what a maxi racer is like to sail – it was a look into what I could grow up to do one day. I will never forget it, and want to thank Alex Jackson so much for allowing me aboard.