After a weekend of not much wind in the Gorge, Monday filled in quite nicely east of Hood River. Many of the Hatchery and Swell regulars made their way to Doug’s Beach which gave them an opportunity to try the new ’09s. Sailor feedback is an essential part of David’s goal of designing and building the perfect sail. Magazine tests with professionals are fine, but finding out what the grassroots sailor thinks and feels on the water is a vital part of his design process.
Stan returns after a test session.
The wind had been slow to come up at Doug’s as the remaining clouds from a passing front lingered till about noon. But with clearing skies from the west, the wind quickly filled in averaging in the mid 20’s. Stan from Colorado is a great sailor who loves sailing the Gorge each summer, particularly on windy days with big swells. He also loves being powered since slogging is something he would rather do without. He started on the 4.2 Panther, and after a short lunch break, went back out on a 3.5 as the wind ramped up. An hour later he shared his impressions: “I never felt overpowered, even in the gusts. It definitely felt comfortable and balanced from the beginning. What really stands out for me is the low end power in the sail…coming out of a jibe or from a turn on a swell the acceleration is smooth, just like stepping on the accelerator pedal. And talk about speed, I was passing people like crazy; the sail is fast too. And it’s so easy to jibe. It just feels like the power of the sail is in the right place. I really like the way it seems to hold the power through the jibes and turns.”
Colorado sailor Stan tests the Panther.
Another sailor who wanted to try the new Panther was Gunner from Salt Lake City, Utah. Gunner’s a Gorge regular here for the summer. He lives for the big days with big swells. He started with the 4.7 but as the wind average pushed into the mid 20s he switched to the 4.2. After a solid session he had these comments: “I was very impressed by how well the sail steers while riding swells…the power is very controlled; it was so easy to add or reduce the power in the sail. Also it handles gusts very well; it’s smooth and not twitchy at all.” He said that it has been his experience that many sails become narrow in their range as the wind increases…thus “twitchy” on/off feeling.
Bingen test pilot, Alan with the new Freewave.
My last test sailor was Alan, a Gorge local from Bingen. He took the new Freewave 3.7 and disappeared to his secret swell riding spot (not in view of the rigging area). An hour later he returned with a huge grin on his face, “What a surprising sail…it’s wonderfully effortless; you don’t even know you have a sail in your hands. It is so smooth to jibe, it’s like butter. Compared to my older SE it seems to have way more low end when it gets light. The sail’s a winner.” Thanks to everyone who joined in on the fun. If you’re coming to the Gorge for the holiday weekend, plan on trying the new sails, see you on the beach, Gary & Nancy