Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

What's it Like to Sail a Cape 31: Ireland's Newest One Design Class?

23rd September 2021
Up to four Cape 31s are heading to Irish yacht clubs in 2022 Credit: Rick Tomlinson/Cowes Week

With up to four Cape 31heading to Cork Harbour and Howth, the South African inspired racer from the drawing board of Mark Mills looks set to be part of the Irish one design scene in 2022. Boasting high-performance features such as an innovative ramp deck, an all-carbon keel fin, and a Southern Spars carbon rig, the light but powerful 31 has been impressing sailors on both sides of the Atlantic. Last week, Cork sailmaker Barry Hayes sailed the Cape 31 on the Hamble last week, and Afloat asked him for his first impressions.

Cork sailmaker Barry Hayes spotted on a Cape 31 on the Hamble last weekCork sailmaker Barry Hayes (centre) on a Cape 31 on the Hamble last week

Is it easy to sail?
It is super easy. The deck layout is super simple and easy to use. All the lines and systems are well thought out with the right rope in the right place and easy to hand.

The Cape 31 has a very clean deck with cross sheeting. Cars are set onboard all the time.The Cape 31 has a very clean deck with cross sheeting. Cars are set on board all the time

How about the performance? 
It’s a weapon downwind, but very stable like it has two rudders (but only has one); the grip and stability are incredible. Upwind it’s the same very quick; the sheeting angle is squeaky tight max in you can’t fit between the jib and the mast. 
It's a super-efficient sail plan with lots of power. 

The sheeting angle up wind is really tightThe sheeting angle upwind is really tight

Will it sail well on IRC?
Well, I think it’s proven that already in Cowes week. It’s got an excellent rating, and it can sail to it. But sailing against other IRC boats up the first leg will take a bit of getting used to. You will need to sail at their angles and speed for the first beat. After that, you're gone, and you can sail it as fast as you like. And the faster, the better! So just hang on in there until the windward mark, and away you go.

Well thought out control line arrangements at the mast Well thought out control line arrangements at the mast

Is it easy to control the power in the boat?
Yes, the stability and sail area allows you to control the boat. There is an excellent main sheet set-up and jib sheeting system, which is cross sheeted. Having the kite sheets send jib sheets along with the outboard sheet all going to the same spot makes it so easy to trim and power up and depower.

How about the halyards? None of them come to a winch?
They don’t need to. The main is 2:1 and set down below at the base of the mast, inside the boat. The jib halyard is 2:1 and loads of power in it. So it doesn’t need a winch. The kite halyard is super easy and just 1:1.

How about spinnaker hoisting and dropping?
This is the best part about the boat. The kite is up and down in 5 seconds, super simple with no one pulling the kite Into the bow hatch. It’s pulled down with the retriever line into the forward hatch, which goes directly to the stern where the line pops out, and the tactician pulls the kite down. The bow main guides it into the hatch, but that’s all. This is by far the best part of the boat.

The spinnaker goes down the bow hatch with a take down system on it. The hatch is nicely roundedThe spinnaker goes down the bow hatch with a takedown system on it. The hatch is nicely rounded

The spinnaker inside the boat on the take down systemThe spinnaker inside the boat on the takedown system

Below see three quick vids showing the big kite of the Cape 31, then the spinny takedown system from the stern and thirdly, closing the hatch

Is there much for the rest of the crew to do then?
Yes, everyone has a role from bow to stern. From trimming the jib downwind in 20 kts to the spinnaker takedown, everyone has a job. It’s full-on fun sailing.

Down the main hatch is the bulkhead which the mast base is set onDown the main hatch is the bulkhead which the mast base is set on.

How does the flat deck on each side of the cockpit work out?
It’s excellent, so easy to walk directly up and down the deck. Having the jib sheets so low and not in the way with the cross sheeting makes it easy.

Is this a boat for anyone?
If you're not going offshore or doing ISORA, this is an excellent option for anyone looking at one Design racing and club IRC racing! Having the one design restriction in place totally controls how the fleet works worldwide. Limited crew and limited sails really keep the costs down. You need to bring your runners and leave your boots at home; it’s not that type of boat. You wouldn’t have time to get them on…

You like the boat. Is it a game-changer?
Yes, I think it is. Mark [Mills] did an excellent job finding a very fast boat, simple to sail, can sail in IRC and complete. With crew and sail limits. It’s not easy to do in this day and age. Job well done, I think...

Cape 31 deck planCape 31 deck plan - The low freeboard aggressively chined hull shape that maximises stability in a breeze but enjoys low wetted surface when upright. Plans courtesy Mills Design

Cape 31sail plan - the new design accommodates a socketed deep carbon keel fin and a powerful sail plan, developed with North Sails South Africa and set on a Southern Spars Cape Town carbon rig Plans courtesy Mills DesignCape 31sail plan - the new design accommodates a socketed deep carbon keel fin and a powerful sail plan, developed with North Sails South Africa and set on a Southern Spars Cape Town carbon rig Plans courtesy Mills Design

Published in Cape 31
Afloat.ie Team

About The Author

Afloat.ie Team

Email The Author

Afloat.ie is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

At A Glance – Cape 31

LOA 9.56 m
Draft 2.45m
Beam 3.1 m
IRC Rating 1.15

Yacht Builder Mills Design
Model Cape 31
Performance Level Performance Racer

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating