MX Ray - Downwind Sizzle, Upwind Fizzle

Plenty of excitement downwind, but not a boat to be in with a ten mile beat to get home
The MX Ray comes from the drawing board of Vlad Murnikov, designer of the rather unusual 1989 Russian Whitbread yacht, Fazisi. If you were around to remember that boat, you’ll see the similarity. It has the same radical shape, and the distinctive sweeping shear line. The MX Ray claims to be 'one of the fastest single-handed dinghies in the world'. Peter Bentley went along for MadforSailing on a brisk, 15-to-18 knot day, to put her potential to the test. He came back to report that she might be one of, but is definitely not the fastest. The MX Ray is fundamentally a one-man skiff with an alternative appearance. The rig also looks and is unusual, with its substantially pre-bent mast and lots of luff curve. It’s very soft by dinghy standards, so setting up the mast and sail is closer to windsurfing practice. On the MadforSailing Overall Rating the MX Ray didn’t shine, a lot of that stemming from the fact that the boat is simply horrible to sail upwind. Much of this pedestrian performance stems from the mast, it’s underdeveloped and too soft sideways. On the upside, her stunning downwind speed cannot be ignored. She proved to be quick and fun, blasting along at blistering speeds on a reach with the kite up. Performance is very much in the skiff class, with the apparent wind coming forward very rapidly as the kite fills. Gybing is no harder than in a Laser, and in ordinary circumstances hoisting the spinnaker proves reasonably easy. The few fittings are well placed. The combined halyard and tack line system features a reverse 1:3, requiring a pull of just over a metre to get the sail up. That makes for a fast hoist, and getting the kite down is not much harder. But upwind is her