Sage 15 sloop ASOLARE sailing on Port Townsend Bay, WA, June 2016.

Sailing a Sage 15 sloop

During the Cruiser Challenge I, Dave, added five hours to my sailing time in Sage 15 sloop ASOLARE.  At the time of this writing I have 24 hours of time sailing a sloop rigged S15.


So folks reading this know my ‘sailing curriculum vitae‘ I have sailed many many hundreds of hours in Jerry Montgomery’s small pocket cruiser designs as I owned a Montgomery 15 (M15), own a Montgomery 17 (M17), and these past five yeas spend most of my time sailing Sage 17s (S17s).

sages in monterey

Sage 15 sloop ASOLARE and Sage 17 GOSHAWK in the Monterey Marina’s parking lot.

The wind and sea states experienced on Monterey Bay, CA, were sporting: wind 12kts – 18 kts (average about 16kts) with gusts to the low 20 kts, wind waves 2′ and ocean swell 6′-8′ with a close period and an occasional breaking top.  These were perfect conditions for continued prototype testing prior to Sage Marine starting customer deliveries of the boat.

Sage 15 sloop sailing observations:

  • The boat likes to heel to 10 to 15 degrees and then hits a wall.  The heeling motion is very similar to the Sage 17.
  • Once the boat heels she does not feel like she is going to tip over.  You really do notice that there is a 200 pound bulb of lead 3′ under the waterline!  In the 20+ knot gusts I did have the leeward deck in the water.  The boat felt secure and was a blast sailing!
  • When I was over canvased Sage 15 gave me appropriate feedback by having heavy weather helm … but I didn’t experience complete loss of rudder control.  I let the main out a couple of feet and the boat got back on her feet (less heel).  At no time did I feel the boat was out of control.
  • Sage 15 is much lighter than a Sage 17, 750# v. 1300#, so she is more active as she goes over the waves.  She also reacts more readily to the crew moving around the boat than the heavier Sage 17.  Both the S15 and S17 stiffen up at about the same angle of heel and once over a bit don’t like to lean more.

healing sage 15

  • Off the wind on a reach Sage 15 is faster then beating to windward.  This is different than the Sage 17 which is equally fast beating and off the wind.
  • The helm feel on Sage 15 is lighter than on a M15, M17 and Sage 17; and she doesn’t rudder stall, round up in a wind gust, as easily Jerry’s other pocket cruisers.
  • Using the TillerClutch Sage 15 will hold her own course relative to the wind direction when sailing to windward.  I’ve not been able to do this on a Montgomery 15 as the boat rolls more when the crew moves their sitting/standing position.

In the above video Sage 15 was sailing her own course with a TillerClutch holding rudder.

  • Sage 15 hoves to better than the M15, M17 and Sage 17.  After setting sails and tiller the boat will point her bow about 60-degrees of the wind a slide-slip with a good ‘oil slick’ of water coming off the keel to windward. The S17 and M17 are very good at heaving to, though both tend to far-reach (the bow falling off when the sails are set in a hove-to setting resulting in the boat sailing slowly off the wind instead of pointing the bow towards the wind) in some wind speeds.  The M15 is very difficult to hove-to as when the crew moves the boat is prone to rounding up and tacking; or falling off and jibing.
  • As with all non-backstay rigged boats, Sage 15 sloop is a 3/4 fraction rig with three stays (forestay, and two shrouds), one must keep tension on the mainsheet as luffing the main allows the mast rock forward and slacken the forestay.  A slack forestay results in a poorly shaped jib (when going to weather) and the boat will heel more (even with the main luffing) than if the main was pulling.  This is identical behavior to the M15.
  • I have tried sailing Sage 15 sloop under main alone.  She did go to weather though didn’t point as high to the wind.  I need to test this sail set more to see how well the boat is actually going to weather across different wind speed and sea states.  M15 will not sail to windward at all well under main alone
  • The halyards, jib downhaul and sheets on the Sage 15 lead to the cockpit.  Raising and lowering the main and headsail are easily done.  I reefed the boat in under 30 seconds standing in the companionway.
  • Sage 15 is a dry boat, like all Jerry’s designs, with minimal splashes reaching the cockpit as wave size increases.

In summary I’m impressed and happy with Sage 15 sloop’s sailing ability.  She is well behaved and predictable.  She handles large seas and strong winds similarly to her larger sister Sage 17.  I look forward to getting out for a multi-day trip to test her cruising abilities.

– Dave

Click on the links below for past Sage 15 sloop sailing stories shared on this BLOG –

This photo is of SageCat's broken tabernacle post just after she was put back on her trailer in Monterey, CA.  The knuckle is inside the post so at this moment we were unsure 'what had broken first'.

SageCat Update

So what happened with SageCat’s mast?

In Monterey when SageCat’s mast came down Jerry Montgomery believed that the rotation knuckle on top of the tabernacle post failed.  At the time this could not be confirmed as the knuckle had been driven down into the tabernacle post and could not be inspected.


This photo is of SageCat’s broken tabernacle post just after she was put back on her trailer in Monterey, CA. The knuckle is inside the post so at the time this picture was taken we were unsure ‘what had broken first’.

Upon return to Golden, Colorado, we removed the tabernacle post from SAGECAT and found that the leading edges of the knuckle’s plate had failed.

What cannot be confirmed is if the plate failed and then broke through the tabernacle post, or the post failed and this resulted in the knuckle’s plate failing as the mast fell.

This broken rotation knuckle is from a Montgomery Panther.  The Panther is a 17′ raceboat Jerry built for a few years in the 1980s.  The post is, or was, an aluminum casting.  Yes, the prototype part was made 30+ years ago.

We have made a new, stronger, tabernacle post and machined a new, stronger, knuckle.


New interim rotation knuckle on the left, the broken modified Montgomery Panther version on the right.  As Sage Marine is part of Spyderco knives the new knuckle was CAD designed and then CNC milled out of a block of 6061 aluminum.

These new components have been installed on ASOLARE, the Sage 15 sloop, for testing.


Improved tabernacle post, interim prototype rotating mast post and chainplates installed on Sage 15 ASOLARE.

Dave did sail the catboat rigged ASOLARE the 6th of August … and again on Chatfield Reservoir on 12 August … but only light winds were blowing on each lake.  We continue to wait for strong wind, 15+ knots, to confirm the serviceability of the new setup.

So there you have it, prototype boat testing means there will be failures and things needing improvement.  Sage Marine tests boats hard.  We, meaning Sage Marine, do this in order to assure owners the craft is safe and seaworthy in real world conditions.

Sage 15 ASOLARE-cat going downwind on Lake Dillon, CO.

Sailing a Sage 15 cat

Since the two Sage 15s, sloop version ASOLARE and cat version SAGECAT, have returned to Golden, CO, from Monterey, CA, a series of modifications and improvements have been made.


Sage 15s back at the Sage 15 shop in Golden, Colorado. Sage 15 catboat SAGECAT to the left, Sage 15 sloop ASOLARE to the right (and temporarily rigged as a catboat).

An upgraded tabernacle post and interim prototype mast rotation pin have been manufactured and installed on ASOLARE.  Also installed are catboat chainplates.


Improved catboat tabernacle post, interim prototype rotating mast post and chainplates installed on Sage 15 ASOLARE.

Why install catboat hardware on the sloop?  ASOLARE is the first Sage 15 constructed of resin infused components.  We now are testing the strength of the infusion foredeck to support the deck stepped catboat rig.


Sage 15 ASOLARE-cat going downwind on Lake Dillon, CO.

This past weekend Dave took ‘ASOLARE-cat’ sailing on Lake Dillon.  Usually Dillon is a windy place with 15-25kts of gusty air blowing after the lunch hour … well this was not the case on Saturday 6 August ’16.  The weekend winds were in the low single digits.  There was so little wind that that the Dillon Open Regatta, the ‘world’s highest regatta’, didn’t happen –


The Dillon Open fleet waiting for wind … no wind arrived.

Here is a link to some pictures and video of the Dillon Open boats Praying for wind at the 2016 Dillon Open Regatta.

Dave was able to sail, for about four hours, and has the following comments on a catboat rigged Sage 15 –

  • The boat moves when you can barely feel a ghost of a wind.  The fathead main catches the breeze up above the water even if you can’t see a cat’s paw (a pattern of ripples on the surface of water caused by a light wind).
  • The helm in these light winds was light and the boat tended to sail herself with the TillerClutch locking the rudder.  Many times Dave, meaning me, couldn’t tell which direction the wind was coming even though the boat was moving and leaving a visible wake.  Setting the sail at any sheeting angle resulted in the boat finding the wind on her own and sailing an appropriate course.
  • In the stronger puffs … a few times had wind blowing 5kts for about two minutes each time, the boat moved well with a balanced helm.
  • When there was a light wind that its direction could be ascertained pointing ability was good and about 40-45 degrees off the wind before the sail would stall (the luff luffing).  This is the same pointing ability as the Sage 17 and the Sage 15 sloop.
  • As expected the catboat rig is easy to sail as there is no headsail to be concerned about.  The challenge when sailing in very light conditions is finding the direction the wind is blowing as the boat will move and you can’t feel or see evidence of the breeze across the water surface.
  • The conditions were not enough to really test the boat as the rig needs to see sustained 15-20kts and related seas to test the upgraded tabernacle post and pivot pin designs along with the infusion foredeck.  Higher winds are also needed to test the mast and the boat’s balance.


In addition to the standing rig change ASOLARE received a daggerboard raising system upgrade and improved bearings in the daggerboard trunk.


ASOLARE’s daggerboard in the down position.


The brown material in this picture is what we call a ‘daggerboard bearing’. This is the second version of the bearing and provides lateral support for the board.  NOTE: this daggerboard does not have the top plate that will prevent owners from dropping their cellphone, keys and other important items into the board.

If the above changes work as expected on ASOLARE, SAGECAT will be upgraded with the new daggerboard and mast systems.

Cruiser Challenge Race Day (Part 2)

This is the second post about Cruiser Challenge 17 (2016) Race Day in Monterey Bay, CA, 23 July 2016.  For Part One on the Race Day CLICK HERE.


The Second Race –

Between the 1st and 2nd race I sailed a bit away from the start/finish line and conducted a hove-to test of the Sage 15 sloop.  With main sheeted to the leeward aft quarter, jib backwinded (ie, sheeted to windward) and tiller pushed to leeward, ASOLARE settled in about 60 degrees off the wind and side-slipped with a great ‘oil slick’ of water coming off the keel to the windward side.  She performed the maneuver much better than a Sage 17, Montgomery 17 or Montgomery 15.  I also found that with the tiller about 10 degrees to leeward the boat would far-reach some and ‘noddle’ along at a slow comfortable pace.

With ASOLARE hove-to I enjoyed my light lunch, used the head and watched boats finish the race and the Monterey scenery … including a large column of smoke from a forest fire.  The wind was increasing during lunch so I, and almost all the other boats still on the course, put a reef in the main.

The race committee sent out pre-start warnings over the radio and I headed for the start line.  I zigged and zagged finding  the side of the line I felt had the best line for the first tack.  The wind was really up and I was moving fast.  As a result of the high speed I ended up heading for the less favored side of the line and luffed to slowly approach and not go over early.  Dan and Dave B. (D&D) in SIX approached to my lee and we hit the line within seconds of each other (D&D or I may have been ahead … it was very close).

Off we headed toward the Monterey Marina.  I pulled away and was ahead of SIX by ten or so boat lengths upon reaching the breakwater.  I tacked and headed, I thought, on a good line for the windward mark.  AGAIN I made the same error as during race one and didn’t tack back in to the shore  meaning current and wind blew me away from the windward mark.  I definitely didn’t have my head in the Race.

About halfway through the windward leg most everyone shook out their reefed mains in moderating wind.  Yes the racers were focused on going fast!

I rounded the windward mark in only three tacks … seven minutes behind D&D who had kept to the shore and sailed a much shorter distance.

At the windward mark only SIX and ASOLARE were representing the small boats; all others had retired the race.  This time I nailed setting the whisker pole and ASOLARE surged forward off the wind.  Surfing the waves ASOLARE at times showed eight knots on the GPS!  I was gaining on SIX; but there was not enough distance to make up for my windward leg error.  After rounding the leeward mark and crossing the finish line D&D secured the regatta win with a five minute advantage.  Again, SIX sailed the better race and congrats to her excellent crew!

The results with finishing times are located on the Cruiser Challenge www-site. CLICK HERE to see the details. 

My next post about Cruiser Challenge XVII will cover details on how ASOLARE handled the windy conditions and high sea state.

– Dave