You might have read my article on me, a first timer, fitting a Code-0 lightwind sail on a brand new boat. It was an “unboxing” event and for a guy not having any professional clue nor having read any manual I thought we´d performed very well in fitting all parts delivered by the yard properly and setting up the whole equipment. Indeed, that very day, weather conditions proofed to be too harsh for a sea trial so we postponed it. Until last weekend.
The sun was up, still a bit chilly, but wind was down to 6-8 knots true, no waves at all and it was a lovely weekend. So we decided to drive to the marina, let loose the land lines and casted off for a first-time sea trial of the Oceanis 30.1 Code-0. I had to since the handover to the client is scheduled next weekend and I bet they want to have a thorough briefing and training in how to use the sail. Here we go …
Sailing on a Magic Carpet: Code 0-Excitement!
Let me sum up my first time experience (as skipper) on sailing with a Code-0: It´s pure bliss! It is even more than that, it is just like you´ve unlocked the secret to the Magic Carpet. There is literally no wind at all, just a mere puff, a very low whisper in the air, even the water looks kind of gooey or pasty, like lead. And whilst all others around you are merely floating (or utilizing their engines), our boat sprung to live and sailed. It sailed quickly.
Oceanis 30.1 – surprisingly – do not come equipped with Beneteau´s standard sails supplier Elvström but with sails by Technique Voile. As such the Code-0 is also made by this French brand. It comes with a nice Facnor furler of a good quality, which you can read in detail in this post. I hoisted the furled sail, tightened the halyard and also adjusted the tackline to add even more tension to the cable. Then I unfurled.
Seeing the sun shining through the laminate was a great sight and as usual, when big light wind sails are hoisted, the view is gorgeous. I did have my two kids aboard with me because I though that might be a perfect chance to add further, small, step towards making sailing attractive to them. And even these kids applauded in the face of this mighty sail.
A bit of numbers here: Pointing with Code-0 is exceptional. The boat luffed to slightly under 40 degrees and sailed nicely under Code-0, of course the best performance was between 40 and 45 degrees wind angle. In a breeze ranging from 6 to max 8 knots true the boat did not fell under 5 knots, clocking in at 6.9 knots SOG at maximum. I found this exciting. Bearing away from the wind we could sail it effectively up to 60 to 70 degrees I´d say, after that it was too hard to control the sheets and have the sail working properly.
Who is afraid of a Code-0?
Because of the fact that a Code-0 is sailed like an ordinary Genoa I would say it is even easier to control than a Gennaker. You just put the leeward sheet onto a winch and treat the lightwind sail like it was one. Trimming is easy and since it´s a sail commonly used in calmer weather situations you will immediately receive feedback from any trimming action and see whether it was worth it or not.
A Code-0 cannot be used in a gybe. Or let´s put it this way, it turned out for us that furling it almost completely in, perform a gybe solely with mainsail up and have it unfurled again is not only faster and more convenient, it is also safer. Same goes for a tacking manoeuvre for which there is no way to get the sail to new leeward through a tack in front of the forestay is impossible. That is something you ought to practice when sailing with a Code-0. Other than that it indeed is incredibly safe and easy to control and I was excited seeing and watching this great sail unfold its power.
After one hour the wind increased that much that, with respect to the well-feeling of my young kids – I decided to take the Code-0 in and unfurl the Genoa which was a good idea. Speaking of taking in: I´ve learned it the hard way … now that I´ve experienced it by myself it´s logical, but up until that very moment I did not knew that you furl in the Code-0 sail always to windward. That is because the pressure of the wind onto the tension cable stabilized the furler and holds the sail in place – using the other end of the furling line will only turn and twist the line in itself, taking in the Code-0 is impossible this way.
We went back to the marina, moored the boat and spoke about our impressions of that sail. The Code-0 is a sail nobody should be afraid of. Sure, these sails can be utilized in winds of up to 20 knots (for certain boats) but it is and will be known as a lightwind sail. For a cruiser it´s as essential as the Gennaker being the upwind-sail, as the Genny is the downwind sail. I am glad we did this sea trial and I surely have learned a lot from this day out.
Is a Code-0 worth the money?
Many of our clients, apart from many of them – for my taste – going for too big units, do not really think about their sails. I don´t judge this and it is perfectly okay to buy a sailboat for nice weather and “just for fun” – after all, these are pleasure craft. But precisely this is the reason why a lightwind sail (better both) like the A3 Gennaker and the Code-0 should be part of these boats: An ordinary cruiser-skipper will most likely be sailing in light puffs. Bot those heavy, over-equipped and under-powered modern cruisers won´t sail well mostly in winds of under 7-8 knots. It´s this underperforming causing disappointment in some of the new owners after having spent such big budgets.
A Code-0 for an Oceanis 46.1 for example will cost around 6.000 to 7.000 Euros. That is not more than approximately 1.5 % of the whole boat budget. How much is having fun on your new pleasure craft worth? Most of our clients try to save money on these sails: Which is a dead end for me because they are cutting off the fun in my eyes. Seeing the incredible easiness and gain in performance with a Code-0 that weekend opened my eyes even more. Do I have one for my own new boat? Not yet (just a Gennaker) – but I am sure there is one coming!
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Gennaker sailing a Pogo 40
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