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South African F-9AX Sailing

Frans and Tanya Loots launched their F-9AX "Banjo" in South Africa last year, and have now done some sailing. Frans writes:

Dear Ian,

I got some nice photos of our F9AX under sail in Algoa Bay, off Port Elizabeth. It is "just round the corner", 55 miles up the coast from our home port St Francis Bay.

I singlehanded the boat up the coast to sail in the Algoa Bay YC's annual regatta. The trip up the coast was a nice test for me and the boat. Most of it is open ocean sailing and was done with a 25 to 35 knot breeze up the tail. A Simrad 1000 did a lot of the steering but when it got really windy I chickened out and took over the helming so I could bear off with the heavier gusts.

As you well know the boat just flies, you pick up a good wave and take of, faster and faster and the boat holds the wave for ever. And it is just two fingers on the helm, nice and relaxing.

My family then joined me for a nice windy regatta. The Club kindly let us sail cruising class, non spinnaker (The other classes were all IRC). After day one with three races and three straight handicap wins I went to the committee and suggested they review our handicap! They had obviously underestimated the boat. All we wanted was to have a nice burn around the course and to come in first over the line, not caring about the handicap. Anyway, we ended the regatta with a third. At least that ensures we can go again next year because this is not multihull country.

The boat was however the talk of the club. Afterwards two of us sailed the boat home again.

The best for me was that my wife and young kids enjoyed the sailing with me. And my wife is definitely NOT a sailor. She was going to sail one day only, but then refused to leave.

What I can add is that with the boat coming to the end of its first season there has been not one single breakage. The boat is kept afloat and my to-do list is a good wash down, antifouling, a hull polish and to fiddle with the mast rake. No other mods or tweaks are required. I honestly believe that is due to nothing else but the quality of your design specs. Bear in mind I built this boat with no real boatbuilding experience. Anyway, enough for now.


PS I have now also done a final costing of our boat. I had to focus on costs, but at the same time I decided that only quality materials as per spec would go into the boat. I decided to curtail cost by keeping things simple when in came to fitting out. That did mean I had to fit a fixed mast and had to order conventional sails. And no spinnaker at this stage. After years of offshore sailing I also know that there is a lot of stuff that is totally unnecessary if you just want to get sailing for fun.

Well, we launched the boat and got it sailing for 56,000 US dollars.

That included labour to help with laminating the three shells only. It included a fair amount of tools and even a compressor for painting. There was also a bit of wastage in that the second float half was not up to standard and we dumped it in a skip. We could not source affordable nets, so I had cargo type nets made. Very cheap, but very nasty. It will have to go soon as it is out of place with the rest of the boat.

Three hulls were laminated in polyester resin, everything else in epoxy. Folding system from Precourt. Quantum sails South Africa. Only main (sq top), jib and storm jib. Sparcraft South Africa mast. All hardware as per spec, Ronstan, Lewmar and Spinlock only. Three winches, only one, the halyard winch being self tailing. Only speed and echo sounder, Handheld GPS, VHF fixed set and one handheld VHF for emergency compartment. High level of safety equipment to meet the compulsory safety inspection. 15 hp Yamaha 2 stroke o/b.

What we left out was no trailer. We don't really have the need for one (and cannot afford one!). No bunk cushions (yet). No instruments, not really necessary.

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