Sail Reports

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AS-29 SAIL TRAILS                                                   

Here is Dan Farmer's report on the first sea trials of the prototype AS-29 "Woodwind" (Media, Philadelphia, USA 1991):
"The first day winds were between 5 to 10 knots and the second day they started around 15 knots and worked up to about 20.
All sailing was done without a reef. We had a hand bearing compass and an inclinometer aboard, but no knot meter or anemometer. However, we kept good track of the wind speeds via the VHF weather reports on wind velocities from nearby stations on the Bay. There were plenty of stock boats anxious to see us with whom we could tack.Woodwind02
Speed: She's fast. On a beat, a fin keel modern production boat could get away, but the full keel boats couldn't catch us. She points high. She will sail -- slowed -- through 80 degrees. At 90 degrees she's almost up to best she'll do on a beat and at 95-100 degrees, she's at maxiinum speed. In stays she is amazing. 15 degrees of tiller brings her about fast, with little loss of speed. She starts off on a new tack without that moment of stall typical in cats and sharpies where one needs to head down. She just goes over and takes off. In short tacks I would have demolished the stock boat fleet. I was gone while they were waiting for the genoa to come over.
Heeling in puffs around 20 knots, she showed no propensity to round up and I was not even aware of much helm pressure. At 10 knots of wind she is heeled about 7 degrees and probably making 3 or 4 knots. At 15 knots of wind, she goes to 15 degrees and seems to be going fast, but I couldn't give a speed. As the wind goes from 15 to 20 knots, she heels to about 17 or 18 degrees and stops (heeling). All this was on beats. On reaches and runs she seemed fine, but I couldn't find other boats to sail against, so I am not sure how fast she was going. Not much of a following sea, but no rolling or rounding up. On beats I could trim the helm neutral with the mizzen most of the time, although there were moments when she still seemed to have a slight weather helm even with the mizzen luffing. To steer with the mizzen sheet or get her to sail herself, I had to hold the tiller on center because once the rudder goes to the right or left of the stream, it suddenly pops over and starts a turn. Complete control at all sailing speed could be had with 15 degrees or less of rudder."
Dan talks a little about maybe needing more mizzen then concludes the sailing report with,
". . . she sailed like a dream, and I've sailed a lot of boats. Imagine our excitement when we were able to keep up with our friends in a trimaran on a short cruise."

(Common Sense News #71)


This is a letter from AS29 builder Mat Nash (Booral, New South Wales, Australia 1993).

... I launched my AS29 on April 3, named "Leyenda" after a favorite piece of Spanish guitar music. I've been living aboard for over 2 weeks now and sailed her for most of that time. For the sake of brevity, I'll keep details to a minimum.Leyenda

Total 1520 lbs. (760 each side) including cement. Settled to about 1/2" below designed lines - I reasoned that without the gear aboard she would float on her lines or just above.
Water: 100 lbs; tools: 100 lbs; food etc.: 100 lbs; bicycle: 50 lbs; books, bedding, clothing etc.: 50 lbs; SHOEBOX punt: about 70 lbs; plus 35 lbs. CQR + 50' X 5/16" chain + 100m 1/2" nylon rope.
600 lbs. lead each side laid in ballast boxes + 110 lbs cement (vol.est.@ 96 lbs/cu. ft.). A further 50 lbs. lead each side was laid in the bilge under sole abaft b'head E to help trim her level only slightly down by head. She trims level 2X5 gal. jerry cans water at aft end of cockpit well, plus 1 or 2 people in cockpit. I think a ram on the bow is definitely not required. (At anchor she now seems level on her lines without any people aboard - perhaps just one in her cockpit.)

She sails fast and handles well - a delight downwind. Responsive, lively and highly maneuverable; reminds me of dinghy or skiff sailing... very much like a large version of the old mk 2 moth design (with hard chines).

Windward . . . points high although better to sail her a bit free. Gets along well with minimal leeway; not stiff yet not too tender, ballast ratio seems about right. She heels to about 20 in a steady 15 knots of wind and heels no further except that in stronger gusts she will need a fair bit of helm and/or mainsheet eased to counteract rounding up from excessive heel. At anything over 15 knots I'd say the first reef should go in; 20 knots and over requires a double to make her more docile. She goes about beautifully stalling to a minimum. Slight weather helm, also I think the long low aspect rudder gives her a reasonably heavy feel to windward. Pounding does not seem to be a problem except in a ruogh chop wind against tide situation.

Downwind . . . here she excels. Sails very easily and well balanced with beautiful fast, clean wake. If wind gusts significantly on a beam reach or three quarter she can occasionally round up.
I remedy this by releasing mizzen virtually right out as well as easing the main. If she persisted she'd need some sail reduced. I think the cat yawl rig requires a bit of learning through trial and error, but seems an easy rig to handle although the main is a handful in stronger winds - better to reef a bit early so that she's always under control withought the broaching tendency. Also some adjustment is required on my part having come from a 13 winched tri. to a much simpler concept. The spinnaker is easy to set and douse and adds a lot of fun as well as a few knots... should be very useful on long reaches in light to maderate winds.
Several other experienced sailors from other boats have taken the helm and all seemd impressed with performance and behavior.

... just great. I restrain from waxing lyrical here but one visitor from another boat commented that even if she never sailed she would be worth building as a houseboat! ... anyone who comes aboard is impressed by the room and layout. Obviously she has created a lot of interest, admiration and curiosity - some recognize her as a Bolger boat. I enjoy the comments as "What's it good for?" or "That's the strangest sailing craft I've ever seen!" or "Phil Bolger strikes again!!" or "Is she from the River Nile?" but also many favorable comments. Soon I'll sail the 100 miles south to Sydney ... the reaction should be interesting ...

About the only one I've found is at anchor in a chop. The bow somethings slams sending a shudder throughout the hull, especially when fishing trawlers motor past at night. Of course, the solution is to seek the most sheltered anchorage possible and if too noisy for sleep, beach the boat, assuming tides OK. The noise from the ripples under the bow I am now used to and don't mind - It's the larger waves that annoy so. I'm thinking of making a 'breakwater' to be lowered over the bow when necessary.

I'm very pleased. I feel this boat suites me, yet I'm still to find out how she handles rough seas if caught out. As cruising should be all downwind she is right for the job, but makes good headway to windward if needed.

(Common Sense News #85)

Tim & Lady Kate

After having something of a crisis of confidence (various reasons, won't go into), I gritted my teeth and have been singlehanding the AS29, which  turns out to be a great confidence builder. I've found that everything  needful can be done by one person, in time, provided things are done in segments. For example, rounding up to reef, the balance rudder has to be lashed or the boat will tack herself, but a totally unattended helm results in a falling off. So its flatten and center the mizzen, round up, lash the rudder, drop the gaff then throw a sail tie to keep the gaff and boome together; attend to the helm; go back and neaten up the sail roll; attend to the helm; go forward and lower anchor; check whether set; attend to helm; have a cup of tea. So everything gets done, but not in one continuous movement. The AS29, at least in gaff yawl rig, does not want to look up into the wind when hove to - more like a catboat, not quite beam on but about 45 degrees to the wind. BTW, everyone else gets out of the way of an AS29, including car ferries (punts, on cables - don't try it on North Sea RORO ferries!)

See also: AS29 cruising - Lady Kate