What a treat to have the owner of the new Archambault 31, Ann Acland, on board with us when we took Anticipation out for a sail in Mahone Bay the day before Chester Race Week started. We were also joined by the North American representative for Archambault and Aigle, Philippe Paturel, and Canadian sailor, Jeff Brock. The boat scooted along in the light breeze without effort and the tiller, mounted with a handle extension, was very responsive to the wind because of the 6'3" spade rudder. The UK sails made out of the San Francisco loft were made of carbon fibre, done with a new heat-sealed process without using glue.
I like sailing light boats. Their spirited performance lets them respond instantly to a puff or to bounce across the waves delivering quick precise feedback for the sailor. There is no sluggishness, no inertia from a heavy lead keel and no crew to buy lunch for. Small boat racing is returning to my local club in Midland, Ont., and a good part of the reason is the simplicity. Preparing the boat for a race is only a matter of minutes. The leader in this field for a long time has been the Laser, a 14-foot singlehanded daggerboard boat designed by Canadian Bruce Kirby. Manufacturing the craft has had its ups and downs but the more than 100,000 boats built are surely a milestone of success.
Canada's Conneticuit-based yacht designer Bruce Kirby has long been known for the singlehanded Laser. Of course, he has designed numerous boats in the two decades that have passed since the famous dinghy made its debut, and one of the most recent is the Ideal 18. Although this new design is a keelboat, with a crew of two, the basic philosophy behind it is true to the little boat that made Kirby a household name -- in nautical households.
The International 14 is a dinghy for those who crave raw speed and have no need for practicality. The boat is small, wet, tippy, expensive, requires incredible agility to sail and is useless for picnics. So why does a cult-like group of sailors continue to worship it? I can attest to the fact (I have been there) that it is the blinding, put-on-your-goggles, scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs, get-silly speed.
Sitting quietly at its mooring, the J/105 has a mean and hungry look. With low freeboard, a soaring double-spreader fractional rig, open cockpit and an ergonomic deck layout, the 105 is a highly strung thoroughbred, ready to charge out of a starting gate.
We opened our 1984 Lake Ontario sailing season in early April with a test ride on a J/22 the new, small planning keelboat from J Boats, Inc. of Newport, RI. We discovered a fun, spritely yacht packed with performance. Launched in the United States for the 1983 season, the J/22 has been an instant success, with more than 360 boats sold south of the border in less than a year.