Can I race the Bongo in a handicap fleet?
Yes, the Bongo can be sailed in Portsmouth fleet see the rating at http://www.ussailing.org/portsmouth/tables04/tables04kb.htm . You can derive the PHRF number from the Portsmouth Number. This number will change as results from regattas are entered. Not all PHRF fleets will let you race due to local requirements. I think the Portsmouth Rating is much better for dinghy racing then PHRF.
Can the Bongo be sailed by two?
I designed the Bongo as a sport boat for one, but also to sail with a small crew. The ideal total crew weight that works great is from 120 lbs - 300 lbs. Due to the reef system the boat has great range. All racing with the Bongo will allow double handed division that has class rules.
How do I douse the spinnaker?
Spin take downs are tricky.
When I drop the spin on starboard gybe with the kite rigged to port I do the following.
1. Take all the slack out of the take down line prior to easing the sheet. Take the line snug so the grommet is over the hole.
2. Once the take down line is tight, let the sheet go at this point the kite is folded in half and the load is gone.
3. Then release the halyard from the cleat and pull the take down line quickly to the kite comes into the boat.
4. There will be a tight spot when all three grommets come through the launch tube. Pull hard. If you find it is stuck you have stepped on the halyard and it has cleated, reach down and uncleat.
We found in FL clinics that only using the bottom grommet at the foot and the top grommet will ease the load going through the tube. This will leave 6" of kite hanging out of the tube when sailing up wind but I have found it to be worth it. You just ease the halyard and the sail falls in the tube. Also make sure you McLube the glass take down tube, pole, and tack line to ease the load.
Take down when rigged to port and on port gybe.
There are two ways. But for both method there is a trick to the take down line. Before you go onto port jibe you must know if you are going to douse. If the option is there, prior to the jibe you can keep your foot on the take down line so it does not get stuck under the furling drum. This means pulling it tight enough to have a little load in the jibe. It will pull out from under your foot but that is OK since it will be above the furling drum. If it does get under the drum try Carol's method since that might help it clear the drum.
One way which Carol prefers is to go deep to the edge of jibing and pull the port sheet around to try and wing the kite. At this point pull the take down line and once the foot grommet is over the tube follow the above method and douse.
Other method is to go deep to the edge of jibe and just pull the take down line while keeping control of the sheet till the grommet is over the hole and tight, then douse. The take down line has to be over the drum for this to work.
Both of the weather douses you need to go very deep to get the kite to come around the headstay. I also McLube the headstay bottom three feet.
How fast is the bongo?
Well this has been a controversial question. I designed the boat to be a single handed sport boat that is easy to sail. It will not achieve the speeds of a skiff or multi-hull. But the boat is fun to sail in all conditions and an excellent trainer for all larger sport boats and anyone learning about apparent wind sailing. Upwind the boat sails slightly wider angles since the foils are so high aspect and need lots of flow to provide the lift needed. The foils were designed this way to make the boat very easy to handle in big wind down wind when planning at speed. The addition of the jib has helped the Bongo tremendously upwind. The tuning guide will tell you the same as most one design classes, keep the boat in a fast mode to achieve the best VMG upwind.
As for down wind the boat is a fun single handed sport boat that offers a great ride. I have held steady 18 kts of boat speed in 25 kts of wind and flat water, sailing as hot as I can hold the kite. The great thing about the boat is the ability to dive very deep and bring the kite into the boat and catch a wave by the lee then as you are coming off the wave heat up quick and the kite keeps you on a plane. Also the boat is very forgiving to sail around the waves. Top speed is relative. Is it a burst or steady speed for long distance? I have achieved higher speeds but only while dropping into very big waves off Newport RI. The boom came to centerline and the ride was down the wave face. Fun and fast but not sustained for long distances. You will surprise the bigger boats in your harbor in all conditions.
Either way for a single handed forgiving sport boat it is a great ride and fun to sail in a wide range of conditions.
How hard is the Bongo to sail?
The Bongo is easy to sail due to the added safety factor of the bulb keel and the ability to adjust the sail area while sailing for the conditions. The very comfortable seating position adds right moment due to the winged topsides. These features make the Bongo a great boat for beginners through expert sailors to enjoy the thrill of sport boat sailing.
How much hiking is needed?
The keel dampens the feel of the boat a bit in displacement mode. This makes it feel more link a sport boat then dinghy. Down wind going fast you don't hike that hard since it is all about control at that point. When it is lighter you get under the straps and work the boat a bit.
You have to hike hard up wind to get the maximum out of the boat. But if you are out for a fun sail the righting moment of sitting on the wing will keep you going fast. Remember it is on a very well laid out deck, so the legs are properly supported. I am 170 lb in over 7 kts I am hiking hard all the time upwind and reaching when racing. But as I said I can't do that on most other dinghy's due to low cockpits and poor hiking platforms. The boat is easy on the knees. When not racing just sitting out and enjoying the ride is a fun experience.
The keel does not come into its own until you make a mistake. Then it will act like a keel boat and wipe out but not go over in most conditions. It has allowed me to have the boat out in 30 kts, 10' waves. That is near the limit. Put the keel at 90 degrees and it is doing the work of a 100 lb crew at the bottom 4" of the fin. That is why it has a keel. Most people do not want to take the flipping over that is needed to learn to sail at the same speeds on skiff or other high performance dinghys. The Bongo softens that blow and allows eveyone to enjoy the thrill of planning with the kite up and going fast.
How wet is the bongo to sail in waves?
The Bongo is very dry for a 15’ Sport Boat. The seated position puts you outside the spray. The fore deck and house are getting wet in big waves and wind but it gets blown by and goes out the open transom so the sailor stays pretty dry. Also down wind the wing again keeps you dry being outside the water that my go through the cockpit. But both of these situations are when it is rough. All other times you are very dry.
Will the Bongo flip over while sailing?
So far we have not been able to flip the Bongo. But never say never. I have sailed the boat in up to 30 kts and wiped the boat out often. I have had many demo sailors try and flip the boat with out going over just wiping out the same as a larger keel sport boats. What happens is the boat goes to about 70 degrees of heel and stops due to the bulb keel and buoyancy in the wing. You can do this with out getting your feet wet just stay on the weather foot chock and release the spin halyard or ease the main sheet and off you go sailing again.