I bought my new AI since my last post. What a water toy! It really draws a crowd at the beach, too.
. You're The Man, yakman, sailing it through the surf. I've experimented quite a bit now getting through the surf, and I must say, I prefer pedaling to sailing as the locomotion through the surf zone. By pedaling, not sailing, I can slow and pause to wait for a wave to break in front of me. I don't have to consider wind direction, and I don't have deal with lowering the dagger board in the wild surf. (One less thing!) I did discover that you HAVE to cleat the rudder. I experimented with leaving it uncleated as protection against a backward movement, but the ability to steer is greatly diminished. So here's my method:
Place your paddle on the leeward akas of the boat and, with the sail furled, walk the AI to knee-deep water. Climb over the forward aka and standing on the windward side insert the Mirage drive and lock it. Push one pedal full forward. Check your sheets and make sure they're cleated and off the seat. Lower the rudder and cleat it. Wait for a lull in the surf. Sit down and start pedaling. If you fear an approaching wave is going to break over you, slow your pedaling just enough to steer directly into the wave. If you stop pedaling altogether, you lose your ability to steer. Let it break in front of you. After it breaks, pedal hard working your way out past the surf. Pretty easy to master, actually, and not that different from what paddlers do.
Returning, I try to stay on the backside of a breaker. When it breaks, then I pedal like Lance Armstrong at the end of a race. When I feel the Mirage fins brush the sand, I quickly raise the rudder and push one pedal hard forward. Now I'm helpless, without steering or power, which would be bad news for a catamaran, but the trimaran cannot flip in shallow water with the sail furled. So you let the surf turn you, as it will, bringing you in the last little bit sideways.
Use this time to bungy the Mirage pedals into place. Then you climb out into shin-deep water and pull it onto the beach.
Having said all this, I'm very impressed by the stability of the boat. You'd have to get hit pretty hard broad side to flip it. The surf zone has always been my nemesis with my Getaway. But with the AI, I can see it's really going to be a non-issue.