North Sails LOFT NEWS
CUSTOMER SPOTLIGHT: ARD VAN LEEUWEN
New Year, New Boat, New Adventures
Tell us about your journey to the J/112s? What was your biggest surprise when it came to the learning curve of the boat?
There was hardly a learning curve to speak of. After two seasons on a J/88 the J/112e felt like a more forgiving version of the J/88. For racing it helped that we were now pretty much in the middle of the fleet in terms of boat length, PHRF and displacement. It made it easier to learn from what other boats were doing.
How did you decide on your new inventory of sails?
We decided to keep it simple for starters and just go with 105% jib, main and A2. The second year we added an A1/A3 hybrid. I wanted to do some point to point races and we thought a reaching spinnaker would come in handy.
North Sails advice has been very helpful. As I’ve gotten more into racing over the last four years, I bump into the Toronto staff more and more. They run on the water racing clinics. They give seminars on sail trim in the winter. I’ve seen them crewing on boats I’m racing against. They volunteer to help organize regattas. They are plugged into the local racing scene and can offer advice accordingly.
What steps did you take to learn more about the boat? How did these steps help improve your sailing?
The most important thing was to just get out on the water in all kinds of conditions and experiment. That really helps to determine where the boat’s boundaries are. The polars were always a good reference point. Asking a lot of questions to people who’ve been sailing for decades is still a big help. The winter is (too) long so there’s was a lot of time to learn in different ways other than sailing.
The biggest difference between this year and last on the boat?
I learn best after doing it wrong the first time. Having had three seasons of doing many things wrong really helped. In terms of racing one big difference is that we are making fewer mistakes and recovering from them faster when we do make them. There’s less second guessing because we are now more confident about knowing the pros and cons of choices in front of us.
What is your best piece of advice for anyone thinking about solo-sailing?
Get a reliable auto-pilot and a furling headsail. The crucial parts are figuring out a way to get your sails down and how to get back on the dock by yourself. The rest is easy. For inspiration go to YouTube and search for the “Don’t text and drive (with the big gennaker up)” video by Peter Gustafsson. It hooked me.
What motivates you to keep going? To keep racing?
It’s fun, relaxing and challenging all at the same time. Racing adds a little edge and excitement to that mix. A crew adds in teamwork and there’s always the social angle after the sail. And, let’s not forget the prizes. I won the “Best hat in the fleet” award at Mimico. What’s not to like?