Report back by Alex Schon
"I would first of all like to take this opportunity to thank you and your team for making the charter of the Cape 31 possible.
Mike Giles was very helpful on all counts and certainly made this experience a very memorable one for my entire team.
The fact that Nigel was on board only added to this very positive experience. His in-depth knowledge of this type of boat, as well as his ability to communicate the do’s and dont’s in a very professional manner, greatly assisted the crew (especially me) and I simply cannot praise him enough.
Organising the charter at the last hour meant that I had to choose some inexperienced crew, and the way that Nigel handled this situation was exemplary.
Now to the boat... It has not been often that I have had this much pleasure in sailing a boat (I own and sail a Nacra 20 and Thompson 7), and I truly believe that you have hit the nail on the head with this boat. Not only is she incredibly stiff going upwind in a breeze, but also a sheer delight going downhill in a breeze. My belief for a long time is that sport boats hold the key to attracting people from outside the sailing community into this sport. Compared to ‘normal’ boats they are relatively simple to sail (especially downwind) and certainly have a huge amount of ‘wow’ appeal – something that is certainly required in our world of instant gratification."
From Nigel Biggs:
"Having raced the Cape 31 in conditions ranging from 0-25 knots true, I cannot speak highly enough of the new Cape 31. This Mark Mills designed pocket rocket is an evolution of the boat he designed a couple of years ago and many lessons have clearly been learnt from the previous project.
On stepping aboard I was surprised by the stability of the new boat and fascinated to see how the boat performed in breeze. Our 2 day regatta featured a 60 mile upwind race from Cape Town to Mykonos which started in a light breeze. The boat is extremely easy to handle, the stiff carbon rig requiring no support from the split backstays during the pre-start manoeuvers in these conditions. Cross winching the jib is the obvious way of sailing this style of boat and the cockpit is laid out well to enable the jib trimmer to trim the jib whilst still hiking.
The mainsheet trimmer has all necessary controls easily accessible and the boat is extremely responsive to small adjustments in trim. As the breeze built we sailed upwind in 14-16 knots true, at almost 7 knots of boatspeed. The narrow sheeting angle enabling us to outpoint the majority of the (larger) boats around us.
The following day dawned with a solid 25 knot south easterly for a pursuit race around the bay. Sailing upwind the boat was nicely balanced, but everyone onboard was waiting to get to the top mark for the first downwind leg… Hoisting the asymmetric spinnaker directly from the forehatch was easy, the jib setting nicely from the hobble. Trimming on the sheet the boat heeled over a little before settling on the chine and lifting onto the plane accelerating to 15 knots in what seemed like an instant. Rock steady and light on the helm, the boat accelerated with each gust to over 20 knots at times, whilst remaining much drier than expected despite some water coming over the deck as we caught up with the waves.
The boat is everything that a sailor could wish for; responsive, powerful, fast, fun and sexy!"