In late September, prior to departing Golden for the Annapolis Sailboat Show, Greg and Dave took the Sage 15 catboat SAGECAT out for a high-wind sail. For over a week we had been checking the wind forecast looking for a blow that would test the re-designed tabernacle post … meaning sustained winds 15kts or greater. We got our wish!
We took SAGECAT to Chatfield Reservoir a lake about 30 minutes from Sage Marine on the southwest ‘corner’ of Denver. When we arrived the winds were bowing 10-15kts, as expected, and a half-dozen sailboats were on the lake.
We rigged the boat in about 25 minutes and put her in the water. Away from the dock we raised sail and shut down the outboard. Less than ten minutes later we could see a wind line coming down the lake … the wind went from 10 or so knots to 15-20 knots. SAGECAT took to the wind well and stiffened up at about 15-20 degrees of heel.
Five minutes later the wind was blowing over 20kts. Greg took the helm and Dave started to put in a reef. Dave quickly found that when rigging the boat he miss-ran the first reef clew line. As Dave corrected the line Greg scandalized the sail. The gusts were blowing over 30kts and Dave decided to skip fixing the first reef lines and pull in the second reef.
The wind was blowing so hard and with the sail having no shape Greg started the motor to put the bow into the wind. With the motor going full bore Greg needed to steer both with the rudder and tiller to get the bow to wind.
As the bow came up Dave pulled the second reef into place. Greg fell off the wind and SAGECAT leaped forward fully in control and heeling 15 degrees in winds steady at around 20kts with gusts in the high 20s.
Greg shut down the motor as Dave helmed the boat. SAGECAT was moving right along with just a bit of weather helm. During the highest gusts, going to weather, Dave would let the main back fill a bit by pointing high. Dave never fully dumped the sail, meaning released the mainsheet and allowing the main to fall fully off the wind.
As we tacked up the lake we noticed that all the other boats had dropped their sails and were heading for the marina. We were the only sailboat sailing … and other boats were all larger boats! The wind was really blowing and as the seas came up the occasional wind wave would be blown across the bow and house. The ride was controlled with Greg and Dave turning their heads every now and then so they didn’t get spray right into their faces.
After put the boat through tacking drills … she tacked just fine even in 30+ knots … Dave & Greg tested SAGECAT off the wind. One very strong gust rounded the boat up. At that moment the wind was blowing the tops off the waves.
After an hour on the lake Greg and Dave had proved the boat easily handled the sporting conditions. As SAGECAT returned to the dock a few folks shaking their heads at the ‘crazy guys sailing in that wind.’