The First ESCAPE! And . . . Fun! 

by Thom Burns

It was so windy only the windsurfers were out on Lake Calhoun. The test boat was the new Escape by Sunfish Laser. Being a recreational windsurfer, I sort of envied the great ride all these board heads were getting as they whipped back and forth across the lake, occasionally hooting on gusts.

Within a few minutes the boat was ready. I climbed onto it from waist deep water to test the stability of its nearly 5 foot beam. The boat hardly heeled as I rolled my 175 lbs. aboard. I thought this is really stable since I weigh more than the boat.

Now I was ready to join the speedy windsurfers for some exiting runs. The first shock was to get over being wet. The 1-2 foot chop gave me a constant spray as I blasted upwind. I let the gusts heel the boat about thirty degrees or more. It seemed easy to control and quick to power up.

Once on the other side of the lake where I could turn downwind, the Escape took off like a rocket skimming over the waves and drenching me in spray. I moved almost off the stern to keep the nose up which worked. Most spray was now shooting off the sides five feet or more. What a ride!

When I jibed at high speed the boat handled perfectly. The fixed boom makes jibes and tacks smoother because it doesnít flop around and itís always high off the deck so it should easily miss your head. The windsurfers were having a different problem.

After three or four runs across the lake I began to encounter fallen surfers who were worn out from their lightning fast runs. I could keep going until I got bored with the excitement. I gave up a lot of speed which is a small price to pay for stability, wet comfort and easy enjoyment.

The designer, Garry Hoyt, is well known in the industry for his innovations which make sailing easier. The freestanding carbon fiber masts on Freedoms and the independent, fixed boom with roller furling main are two examples which come to mind. Both of these are present in this package.

Sunfish Laser has built a fine, stable entry level or second boat. The new design is totally easy to sail. Itís made of tough rotomoulded polyethylene which is affordable. When you can get a boat for under $2,000 with a carbon fiber mast, roller furling main and Harken hardware, youíre getting good value. This boat is compact, cartoppable and virtually maintenance free. Itís not an advanced racing design, but it is a nice design for regular folks who want to enjoy recreational family sailing.

Thom Burns publishes Northern Breezes and Sailing Breezes.

For more info: Escape Sailboats

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