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Ben Schooling on his first event using the Musto X mainsail

by Ben Schooling 29 Apr 02:54 PDT 20-21 April 2024
Musto Skiff X Mainsail © Tim Olin / www.olinphoto.co.uk

I sailed the Stokes Bay Skiff Open using the Musto Skiff X mainsail. Saturday was Northerly 5-15 knots and Sunday was Northerly 7-20 knots. Both days were very gusty and shifty. I'm 74kgs, 5'10" and lightly built these days from too much cycling!

An impressive 40 boat fleet (plus a further seven RS700s) made for a busy race course with the usual high calibre of competition and it was great to see two other X's in Chris Haslam and Alicia Biggs.

Upwind I felt the boat was able to get into the groove more easily, so I could get into bow down mode in the gusts more effectively than the standard main. Off the line I could hold my lane OK and pace was comparable to the boats around. With a gusty, shifty northerly wind it wasn't an ideal day for boat speed comparisons but I didn't feel underpowered or disadvantaged in the lulls.

Downwind I felt I had to sheet the main in a little harder to hold more leach tension. Through the gybes the boat is more forgiving and so moving bodyweight is less critical, however I still managed to capsize through a lazy gybe when I didn't ease enough mainsheet. I found the sail quite "twitchy" whilst sitting between races but that was perhaps because there was more batten tension than I'd normally carry. My results were 11,5,14,20 (with swim) so probably about where I'd expect to be with the standard main.

I'd like to try it again in a steady 15kt breeze with long beats (like a more standard drag race) but overall I was pleasantly surprised with the X sail. I think it certainly opens up the boat to a wider range of weights and sizes, which means it meets the design remit, and another benefit was the sheeting loads are marginally lighter, which is an advantage to the smaller sailor.

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