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 –

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