First-time Sailor… What a Kick!

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    Don Rasky
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    Two weekends ago I took my brand, spanking new sail rig from KayakSailor.com, rigged it to the Trinity II and took it to the closest body of water in my Zip Code, 92595. Before that Sunday, I had never sailed even once in my life. It was a late afternoon, early evening to remember. Wow.

    Basic Details
    Boat: Trinity II USA Model, Inflatable
    Sail: KayakSailor.com 1.6 square meter sail rig
    Lake: Lake Elsinore
    Wind: W/NW 10 – 12, 15 – 20 mph
    Distance: 7 – 8 miles

    The sail rig came mostly pre-assembled and only required some incredibly minimal assembly prior to attaching it to the boat. The KayakSailor people suggest rigging it on land and becoming familiar with it for the first time before taking it to the water. This is very good advice. It takes only about 3 to 5 minutes to rig the KayakSailor to the boat using the cargo loops in sewn into the floor of the boat.

    The sail rig came with detailed instructions and the support from the KayakSailor folks both from the website and email was great.

    When I took the rig to Lake Elsinore the wind was good 10 – 12 mph when I arrived. The area of the lake reserved for power boats at the lake, leaves paddle craft with fairly narrow paddle lanes (30 – 50 yards on average). This was my first concern. The kayaksailor rig handled it beautifully.

    I sailed the first 3 mile leg of the lake (roughly rectangular) beam-to on the port (left) side of the boat. I did a bunch of mini tacks up/down wind when I came into a fishing area to stay clear of people fishing from the shore. While I wasn’t breaking any speed records, my progress in such a narrow lane was certainly no slower than had I been paddling into the wind and surface chop.

    The first true upwind leg was more interesting. I also had a much wider lane with which to work/sail. It was quite a thrill watching the sail fill and to see the boat driven by the wind with just an occasional paddle stroke here and there to change course on each tack.

    When I got about 2/3 the way across the width of the lake, the wind had picked up to at least 15 mph with stronger gusts every now and then. I made it just far enough upwind to line up a long beam-to run with the wind driving the sail and the boat from the starboard (right) side. The Trinity really got moving at this time.

    With the sail full of wind, the boat easily held 5 mph and put me in a wonderful position to beat the sunset and to get off the water before dark. I found the Trinity II so easy to control with the kayaksailor that I was able to really enjoy my first sail ever. I should also mention at this point that I used a modified rigging to attach the rig to the boat knowing that it might have unexpected consequences. I rigged to the cargo loops rather than the recommended under the boat strap which would have been better for water trials. I wanted to avoid any potential drag from the strap and the forecast said winds “less than 10 knots”.

    For water trials I probably would have been better off going with the under the hull strap. I had a little bit of lift (less than 4″) of the cross tub supporting the sail rig when the winds began gusting and then holding 20+ knots at times. The basic construction and design of the rig was so rock solid that it more than made up for my many first-time sailor mistakes.

    When I hit the downwind leg of my paddle around Lake Elsinore, <<<WHAT_A_RUSH>>>. I had the Trinity II planing, the mast slightly bending, and a few times intentionally took the boat off wind to slow her down. The boat was doing great. I needed a little time to adjust to the idea of basically surfing the little wind waves across the lake at what had to be 7+ mph. I took the wrong batteries that day so I will never really know for sure how fast the boat went under sail that day.

    What I can tell you for sure is that the Trinity overall went at least as fast over the 7 – 8 mile course as had I been paddling it at 3 – 5 mph (my usu. speed on flat water in wind). At it’s peak speeds downwind, the Trinity under sail when faster and felt more stable than anything I’ve ever paddled. Only a ride in really BIG surf would have been faster and not nearly as safe as the Trinity rigged with the kayaksailor!

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