The day had arrived.... Time to see how the girl performs!
In preparation for the big day, John, the previous owner, had come down to spend some time running though how he prepares the boat, ready for a seasons sailing. As she is a one off design, there are no forums or websites we can refer to, to get helpful hints from other owners. So, during this process we got to learn 8 years of experience, know how, tips and tricks to getting the boat ready from John himself. (thank you John!)
Waking up on the morning of the test sail, we were both nervous, but super excited! John arrived as did our good friend Simon. I have sailed with Simon for many years, he is methodical and thoughtful in his approach to sailing and his seamanship is second to none and better still we both trust him completely. So we invited him aboard so that he could helm the boat, leaving Sarah and I free to work with John in running through all the sails and systems and gaining vital knowledge on this completely bespoke boat. John had perfected his approach to sailing her over many years and this was our chance to learn from him direct, so we were ready to make the most of it.
We had fair weather and better still the wind was forecast to build a little, letting us try the sail wardrobe in a number of modes.
We set off from the marina and were soon in the Solent ready to hoist the main - it was truly awesome to see the main up for the first time! We unfurled the working jib and were nicely gliding along at a couple of knots in just 3.5 knots of wind - it was ideal conditions to learn what went where and what rope did what, on this unique custom carbon rotating rig.
We had ideal conditions, so we furled away the working jib, extended the carbon bow sprit and hoisted the largest sail, an asymmetric (aka. Big Red), we then pulled up the sock and big red ballooned out in front of us. It was a beautiful sight!
In 3.5 knots of wind, at a broad reach, we were travelling at over 5 knots - awesome !
As the wind continued to build, we swapped the asymmetric for the furling drifter, which is also deployed from the 6ft carbon bow sprit - this too was an amazing sail, being effective both up wind and off the wind too.
As the morning flew by with the excitement of seeing our girl, Given Time, sailing along for the first time, the wind, as forecasted, had built nicely and we had made our way down wind along the Solent towards Cowes. So before turning and heading back up wind towards Lymington, we slowed down to enjoy a bit of lunch on the Solent.
So, with full tummies and our mugs refreshed with tea, we put away the drifter and the bowsprit, unfurled the working jib and turned to head up wind.
By now the wind was peaking at around 20 knots, about the limit for carrying full sail, so the decision was made to try out the water ballast. John talked Sarah through the water ballast system and before we knew it, 750 litres of water ballast had filled the windward tank and had us sitting nice and flat - we were FLYING along doing 7.6 knots, up wind.
Just before tacking we would let the water ballast flow across to the leeward side tank and you could hear the roar of air rushing into the emptying windward tank. We would go 'tippy' for around 60secs whilst the water transferred, then tack and be nice and flat again. We were 100% powered up and right on the limit for full sail, but with a flat calm Solent we were screaming along, it was a total pleasure. Taking turns on the helm she was super responsive, easy to helm and the self tacking and water ballast meant their was no hard work. We were sailing flat and fast. Before we knew it we were back in Lymington and this time we parked her on her pontoon without drama and felt like we had had a very fulsome handover, in all respects from John.
The boat is elegant, fast and very, very comfortable and a true pleasure to sail - we cannot wait to cross an ocean in her!
Thank you to Simon, for always being up for an adventure and doing an awesome job of helming the boat on our first sail!
A MASSIVE thank you to John, the boat you had designed, built and sailed is incredible and we both feel very lucky to now be her custodians into the future! Thank you for all the help and support during the process of buying her and getting to know her.
And to all the team that John worked with to design and build her we thank you and hope we can do her justice as she becomes the centre of our adventure and our new very comfortable home!
Conor & Sarah x