This weekend the UFO finally shattered my old notion of “usable wind range”. Saturday’s forecast was for a big stinking gale to roll through during a demo day with the Dublin School sailing team. It ended up being 27 knots in the lulls and consistently 35 knots in the gusts according to the weather station right next to us. However that sheer magnitude wasn’t in the forecast. We talked with the coach and mutually concluded that blowing off a fun day on account of a prediction just wasn’t in our blood. As we went out with the first wave of kids, the breeze kicked up into the high teens/low 20’s. Kids learned to fly. I was impressed.
As the next wave came out, the breeze kicked up to the low 20’s gusting low 30’s. Kids continued to learn to fly, crash and laugh. “Woah!” I started thinking. “the granite state has some pretty tough kids.” As the breeze climbed into the mid 30’s the wave state got tall enough that things got a little dicey in the hand offs and you really needed to stay airborne through the waves to get around them. Tutorial conditions were finally extinguished and we called it. I went for a few more passes and the coach managed to snag this picture. No idea how fast I was going because we didn’t have a speed puck bow WOW it was FAST. The boat just yucked it up and kept on chugging. Everything held up perfectly. About five minutes after I got ashore a waterspout came down the harbor, clocking in at 50 knots. Astounding. What even is an upper wind range?
Sunday we had the first day of Newport UFO frostbiting and an entirely different type of day. We left the shore as the laser fleet was coming in thanks to no wind. Boy was it ever! The breeze was ultra light and incredibly shifty but to be honest, we all had a complete blast racing in it. The difference between sailing the UFO well in light air vs poorly is at least a two times increase in speed and maneuverability. The tactical and technical nature of it just keeps me grinning from ear to ear. One bad tack or some poor trimming and you’ll get smoked.
Call the shifts right and you can totally reverse your fate. We decided to do a Le Mans Finish (first to be on a dolly on the beach wins) for our third race out of concern that the breeze would drop to absolute zero. I couldn’t stop grinning. Frankly I’m still stunned about the diversity of sailing that we’ve done over the past two days. I can’t do this in any other boat. Or at least not as easily and free of hassle as this. The smile still hasn’t left my face. – David Clark.