Open 60 virgin

Peter Bentley describes his initation sailing aboard Graham Dalton's new HSBC
Earlier in the week I was lucky enough to sail aboard Graham Dalton's new Open 60 HSBC as she prepared to leave Belgium for her sail to London for her official launch today. Never having sailed an Open 60 before I really didn't know what to expect. Anyone who has sailed a reasonable selection of big powerful race boats might be forgiven for thinking that they would have some idea what it would be like to sail an Open 60. They would be quite wrong. Open 60s are simply quite unlike any course-racing boat. Despite being among the fastest monohulls for their size, Open 60s are also among the easiest to sail. While absolute speed is important in terms of race-winning potential, the ability to sustain high averages speeds is even more critical. Similarly, the majority of time will be spent with the autopilot in charge and having an easy helm is vital to reduce both wear and tear and keep the power consumption down. The first thing that struck me on stepping aboard Graham Dalton's Open 60, HSBC was just how big it was. How could one man (never mind one small girl) manage all this on their own? The sheer physical effort of it all was driven home just as soon as the time came to hoist the mainsail. Even with two guys, this proved one hell of a job. The 'training' mainsail on Dalton's boat weights in at 180Kg and it all has to be hoisted over 20 metres into the sky. Imagine having to do that every time a reef had to come in or be shaken out. It would certainly focus one's mind on whether or not a sail change was really needed. Taking the mainsail down and rehoisting it would be something to