J/22 World Champ Mike Marshall jumped on one of the sportiest of sportboats last month, and his story about sailing the VX-One is just excellent writing, and inspiration for those looking to jump into fast, wet boats. Here’s an excerpt:
As expected, sailing this boat flat is the key upwind, but you also need to be able to put the bow down. There are two solutions to this problem: Add weight to the rail or pull the vang on and hike. Since the boat is very weight-sensitive and more weight hurts you downwind, the best solution is to use the vang, and a lot of it. On the windiest day, with 15 knots, I pulled the vang as hard as I could get it. This allowed me to ease the sheet to stop the boat from heeling while still maintaining the leech tension for point. Consequently, I was able to put the bow down and get the boat sailing flat while keeping the leech engaged and forcing the boat upwind.
For a short-cord keelboat, the faster you go, the better the foil works, and therefore the boat slides to leeward less, but at the same time the boat also “releases.” By this I mean that it frees up and becomes easier to sail. Small rudder movements do more to change the boat’s direction instead of just creating drag. The mainsheet becomes easier to play because instead of having to dump and trim 6 feet of sheet, you have to play only 1 to 2 feet. The increase in speed powers the boat through waves instead of having the feeling that you’re hitting them and bouncing off. All this means that you can spend more time going fast and less time worrying about your speed relative to other boats. The key to the whole mix is the vang. Whenever I felt the boat bound up, I’d try pulling on a little more vang, and off we’d go again. This was true even in the lighter air.
Read on for the rest of the story, and go here for HD video of the mighty Blue Lobster gettin’ the poison out in 20+ knots of big Newport breeze – with a trapeze! Photo copyright the awesome Billy Black.