Eventually gale winds shouldn't be a problem for an Andromeda like Phoenix -- especially with the mizzen and new staysail -- but when testing the initial performance of the new headsail, it seemed prudent to wait for more moderate air.
We had NW winds at 10-15 knots and we started things out sailing on a downwind run with a full main and genoa. The sail shape looked great and we were cruising along at or slightly faster than the apparent wind. The helm was easy (as you'd expect) going downwind.
On both a broad and beam reach, Phoenix picked up speed and we were comfortably doing high 5s to low 6s with very little effort. Admittedly we weren't breaking any records, but a respectable speed given the relatively light air.
|We could never get this nice of a slot with the old headsail!|
|It was chilly out there!|
|Looking up from the foredeck|
|Genoa on a broad reach|
Upwind sailing was going to be the true test, since our old, bagged out sail caused excessive weather helm when sailing close to the wind and we typically heeled at about 20-25 degrees. With the new sail, Phoenix heeled over quickly then stabilized at about 15 degrees, and we were really able to flatten the new headsail and maintained excellent helm control.
For kicks, we reefed the headsail a few turns (about 10%), and the rope luff did a great job keeping the luff tight and the sail flat. Bill let out the sheeting a hair and we were heeled at about 10 degrees and picked up a bit more speed.
With the new canvas, Phoenix's upwind performance is 1,000 times more enjoyable! After a bit more fine tuning of the rig and sheeting, we're sure that her performance will be even better!
Over the years we've seen too many people unwittingly wait way too long for new sails and wonder why their boat isn't performing as well as it should. As sailors we spend so much time and effort on other improvements and maintenance projects that sadly the sails are often the last thing to get replaced.
If we can offer any advice, pay attention to your sails and how they are wearing over time. I didn't realize that a bagged out sail could cause such a difference in sail performance, but I'm a true believer now!