June 17, 2008

First sail of the Alwoplast built Atlantic 57:

Last Friday, “Espiritu Santi” the first of several A57’s building by Alwoplast, of Valdivia, Chile went out into the cool Pacific for her first sail. Onboard was a large cast; the builders of course, the owners, the designer, the delivery crew assigned to sail the boat to the USA, the owner of the next-to-launch A57 and his surveyor.

As usual with the inaugural sail there was much to do and a little bit of confusion as people unfamiliar with sailing this cat “learn the ropes”. Having just finished sailing another new A57 to Bermuda, from where I went directly to the southern hemisphere winter, I was under dressed for the cold “fog”- a euphemism for an air/water mixture which anywhere else in the world qualifies as rain. But during the south Chilean winter, it seems the term rain is reserved for use only when about 50% of the air is filled with water and it is moving mostly in a horizontal direction!

Wind conditions were quite variable, light and shifty until we got clear of the Valdivia River then briefly some stronger gusts as a little squall passed then back to about 12 knots of wind. I am always a bit nervous the first time the rig of a new boat loads up- what parts haven’t been properly secured, what running rigging items have been mislead or not tied off, how is the mast behaving as load is applied- is it standing straight? No significant problems were evident, so the sheets were gradually hauled in as ES gathered speed and the apparent wind built. Typical for this design, we were soon close hauled at 10 to 11 knots as she lifted gently over the 5 foot swells outside the harbor.

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