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Mike McLaughlin and Will Beery are a pair of Connecticut sailors who sailed with each other for years. Importantly, as you chat with them, you quickly learn that in addition to being shipmates…they’re pals. Mike grew up sailing with his dad but really didn’t race until he was an adult and started to frostbite at the Norwalk (CT) Yacht Club. Will, on the other hand, came up through the ranks of the NYC junior program and crewed on various boats over the years, sometimes alongside Mike.
A few years ago, the pair decided they’d like to have their own boat, but it had to be affordable. About 20 years ago, Will had sailed on the Soverel 33 CELERITAS. “She was a pretty quick boat,” Will said. As they were poking around boatyards looking for a boat to buy, they came across CELERITAS and found that she could be purchased affordably. The Soverel was in tired shape but the pair decided they would take on a total refurb of the boat.
After buying the boat last year, “We put in 620 hours of work on the boat…we kept a log,” said Mike, “We pretty much rebuilt the entire boat. We did it all on our own except a few sail repairs as we’re on a super budget program.”
Along with the hull and rig came a pile of vintage sails from UK Sailmakers. A few of the Tape-Drive® sails that, much to the guys’ delight, had withstood being stored in the boat for many seasons. “The only real repairs those sails needed were due to animal damage,” noted Will, “They apparently like leech lines!”
On the water again after years on the hard, CELERITAS is back on the racecourse and, as in her past, again quite competitive. Surprised, delighted, and relieved, the new owners found that the 20-year-old Tape-Drive sails had held their shape, by and large were in good physical condition, and were still fast.
“We’ve used the Tape-Drive main for 8-10 races and it gives us great pointing ability, and the jibs are powerful,” Mike continued, “The boat sails fast and points high. We have little trouble getting a lane up over a boat ahead, even bigger ones. And the old UK spinnakers are quick, too. We’re still learning how to sail the boat upwind in breeze and, for now, light air is certainly our sweet spot.”
All in all, Mike and Will have put together quite an effective and competitive club racing program. They have campaigned CELERITAS in the local beer can races, missing out on bullets often by seconds, and finished second in their division in this spring’s Geartester Race. Just listening to them talk about their boat, the journey they have traveled with it, and what they foresee in their future on the water will put a smile of satisfaction on anyone’s face.
Tape-Drive sails from UK Sailmakers were the first loadpath sails and were developed over 25 years ago. With continuous load-bearing tapes running corner to corner carrying the sail’s aerodynamic loads, Tape-Drive sails were built to be fast…and to last. As Mike and Will discovered, their inventory of vintage Tape-Drive sails have done just that. Will commented, “The construction of these sails is phenomenal. I don’t know if they were designed to last this long, but they have, and they are still holding shape and fast.”
After being the workhorse sails for UK for over two decades, Tape-Drive sails recently evolved into X-Drive sails where the loadpath tapes were replaced by sets of individual high-strength yarns laid down in sets of 11 at a time. X-Drive was quickly adopted by club racers and serious performance cruisers looking for performance, durability, and affordability. https://www.uksailmakers.com/sails-overview-racing/x-drive-racing-mainsail
Postscript: Will sent the following after reviewing a draft of this article: “As a side note, and I know that it sounds like a plug, I want to reiterate how impressed we’ve been with the shape and longevity of these sails. We fully expected to blow them all out this summer. Instead, we’re faster than we dared hope and it looks like our inventory could hold up for the next few years. We have discussed several times on the way home from successful races that if we ever bought new sails, they’d definitely be from UK Sailmakers.”
Geek’s note: CELERITAS is a Latin word, translated as “swiftness” or “speed.” It is often given as the origin of the symbol c, the universal notation for the speed of light in a vacuum, as popularized in Albert Einstein’s famous equation E = mc².