Designed for raiding

Designed for raiding

Ibeen looking forward to trying out the first BayRaider 17 since spending nine days in Swallow Boats’smaller Storm 15 sailing and rowing around London. The prefix ’means a double ender (in 15,17 and 19-foot models); Raiders are open, day/weekend boats with a transom: the new BayRaiderl7 and the 20, now Swallows’most popular boat, and the SeaRaider 22.

The 17 is the baby of the range. First impressions are that the littleembodies much of the Swallow ethos and she particularly takes after her big sister, the 20. Firstly, there is the light displacement that comes from her 6mm ply/epoxy build. This is not there just for sailing performance —italso because the 17 was designed to be hand-towed on her trailer down low-tide beaches where cars cango.

Water ballast weight-saving

Another weight-saver is the water ballast system, also from the 20. Again, it aids trailing (you donhave to tow your ballast around), and on the water you have different ballasting options to suit crew weight and conditions.

drop gunter

The total water capacity of 220 litres doubles the boatweight in moments: you simply pull back a lever under the sole and the watertight compartment between sole and keel fills. We found the extra weight comforting on our bumpy ride to Cowes. Less satisfactory was letting the water out again, hard to do without a good head of speed.

The gunter yawl rig with sprit-rigged main is another Swallow trademark. Again, it trails well (all spars fit inside the length of the hull), but has a number of obvious pluses on the water too. The chief one, for Matt at least, boils down to safety: the mainsail can be dropped for a large, instant reef, while still leaving a balanced sail plan of jib and mizzen. There are the usual yawl advantages of weather-cocking and manoeuvrability.

Shooting bridges

The ability to drop the gunter yard is a huge advantage for shooting bridges too, giving the 17 not just the shallow draught to explore the upper reaches of rivers, but a correspondingly low air draught for the progressively lower bridges that one encounters going upstream. There is a penalty: drop the gunter and you share the boat with a load of rigging, although this could be cured with the simple addition of a topping lift.

This first 17 was impressive on all counts, the only glitch being the water ballast outlet. It is easy to rig and row, self-tacking and well-behaved under sail with good locker space —and its light weight makes it easy to handle on the trailer. A rare boon is an outboard well with room for the motor to tilt back. A sprayhood and tent are on their way to make this a great little two-man raider. Available in kit form (?4,995 +VAT) or built (?11,995 +VAT).