I'm looking to buy a new catamaran primarily for singlehanded sailing but it might be nice to have a crew along on occasion. I've got two years experience sailing a 17' planing monohull dinghy but very little time on catamarans. Primary interest is going fast and having fun on inland lakes; racing not my primary interest but this could change in the future. I've read the previous posts but still have some unanswered questions.
1) Would it be a mistake to go directly to a high-end modern cat like a FX/one or Taipan 4.7 as my fisrt cat? Are these designs really only for racing or also good for recreational use and are they any harder to sail than typical beach cats such as the H16?
2) Is it safe to assume that a F18 catamaran such as a Tiger would not be well suited for singlehanded sailing, particularly by a sailor new to cats? Is the main issue getting overpowered (too little human ballast) and difficulty in righting singlehanded?
3) Can a 170 lbs single sailor right a turtled catamarn such as an FX/1 or Taipan 4.7? Only in certain wind ranges? Any aids needed? Also, will masthead floats absolutely prevent turtling or just reduce likelihood? I would think that a lot of wind pushing on the tramp with the mast to leeward could bury a float in waves and brute force a turtle despite the bouyancy.
4) As a singlehanded sailor, will I be limited to uni (ie, will I need the ballast and extra hands of crew to sail with jib and/or spi and if not what is the upper range of wind that people typically sail singlehandedly with jib and/or uni)?
5) Does anyone know where one can see any FX/ones and Taipan 4.7s in the Seattle, WA area?
6) Any input on why to choose FX/1 vs Taipan 4.7 would be very much appreciated!
Hi Jerry, I don't think that it would be a mistake to go to an fx or taipan 4.9. However, any boat that you get will probably get more wear and tear as you figure it out. Such as moving it around the beach, trailoring, righting it etc. I think the taipan 4.9 is the better boat.
I definitely would not recommend a Tiger for a new single handed sailor.
As for righting, not sure, but I think that it should be ok.
I would definitely choose the Taipan over the fx because I think that the formula classes are the way of the future (F16HP) over one-manufacturer classes. Also I think that the 4.9 is more versatile (uni/sloop/spin)
And yes you don't have to sail uni if you are singlehanded. You might want to put a furler on your jib for when the wind comes up. I can sail my Nacra 6.0na single handed up to about 15 knots, jib furled, and its a beast of a boat, so the 4.9 should be a lot easier.
Another consideration is what everyone else in your area is sailing. This is important because if (when) you start racing it is better to race against like boats.
Definitely get a ride on each boat you wish to consider. David
Jerry, The T4.9 is a great boat and you would be hard pressed to pass it up if you are considering one. Just so you know the most frequent national title holder in all the Taipan ranks sails a T4.9 Uni and when I spoke to him last he was the same weight as yourself. No matter what you use the boat for racing or recreational sailing its all about balance and feel. Sail them all and buy the one that has the best feel.
I know that the voices in my head aint real, but they have some pretty good ideas. There is no such thing as a quick fix and I've never had free lunch!
I've had a Taipan 4.9 since last July. I'd be happy to answer any questions about it. I've seen the fx-1 but haven't sailed it--so I could offer some "anatomic" but not performance comparisons. If you get down to Calif, I'd be happy to take you out. There are now two 4.9s here.
As far as rightability, I've righted my 4.9 solo fine several times and on one occation in extreme conditions--heavy Pacific seas, spinnaker wrapped around the top of the mast, etc. I was capsized for quite a while while I got the spinnaker put away; the mast retained its bouyancy and never wanted to turtle. This is because the top section of the mast comes from the manufacturer (AHPC) sealed with a foam plug, providing adequate buoyancy.
The 4.9 is a wonderful boat to sail in terms of feel, whether uni (solo) or sloop (w/crew). In terms of performance, the experienced racers (definitely not me!) can equal or beat Tigers boat for boat.
As far as cat sailing experience goes, if you can sail a planing dinghy you should have no problem switching over. In fact, you'll find it a lot easier to go fast without crashing! The other 4.9 owner in Calif had previously been sailing a Musto skiff.
I'm not a believer in the philosophy that everyone needs to start cat sailing on a Hobie 16. (Isn't that like saying new drivers should start in an old 1970s Honda civic rather than a newer design?) I'm more interested in modern designs and interesting technology. It's much more fun sailing a well-designed machine than one with inherent defects you've got to learn to compensate for. Definitely go ahead and jump in at the deep end.
An F18 would not be a good choice for single-handing. Sure, it could be done. But much more managable would be the 16-17 footers. Also, you're bound to get the itch to enter a race once and a while--better then to have a boat that is designed to be raced solo (like the T4.9 uni or Fx-1)
Here's a list of other boats you might consider besides the T4.9:
Stealth F16 Swell Spitfire Swell Shadow Jav 16 (pending?) Blade (? if avail. yet) Inter 17R Inter 17 regular Hobie Fx-1 Nacra 5.5 uni Nacra 5.2 Nacra 5.0 Hobie 17 Isotope Sea Spray (hey, don't laugh--these things fly)
One advantage of the 4.9 and Stealth is that they were designed as versatile boats from the get-go. They're set up for either uni or sloop sailing while the others were designed specifically one way or the other (okay, I know a jib can be added to the fx-1 or H17). Also, the highly developed rigs of these boats allows you to tune them for a wide range or wind conditions. Having said that, I get pretty trashed sailing solo if the wind is >18-20; may just be lack of experience on my part.
Good luck--lots of excellent options...Send me a private message and I'll give you my phone # to answer any other questions directly.
Eric Poulsen A-class USA 203 Ultimate 20 Central California
Hi Jerry: We have a very strong fleet of Hobie 17's in the Seattle Area. I have been sailing one since 1987, my son Tom has had his since 1989. There are two now stored at Sail Sand Point, Magnuson Park on Lake Washington, see www.sailsandpoint.org. The local market is also good for the Hobie 17, check the classified section in www.hobiedivision4.org. You might also want to check with Dan Carpenter, at Hobie Cats Northwest in Kirkland, our local Hobie dealer.
I would be glad to take you for a ride, or arrange to have you link up with one of the H-17 sailors at Sail Sand Point. If you do want to get into racing, we have a very good local group, and be glad to help you get started. We usually get about 10 Hobie 17's out for our Division races.
I live in Issaquah on Lake Sammamish, and am in the local phone book. Give me a call.
I had all the same items on my wish list as you, and purchased a new Hobie FX-1. it was a VERY tough choice with the same exact boat, the Taipan 4.9. In the end I felt the Hobie was better overall, though just my opinion. I went with the jib option versus the spinnaker (my personal belief is that spinnakers may be detrimental to the sport, but that's a topic for a different thread). I've attached a photo. In summary, I leaned towards the Hobie (after not owning a Hobie since 1989, after which I had 3 Nacra's) for the following reasons: 1. Felt there was a better chance of a growing class with the FX-1. (Especially now that the Hobie 17 is out of production). Even if you are not racing, there IS strength in numbers, better re-sale, etc. 2. The FX-1 was more "conventional" - the mast is stepped from the rear while boat still attached to the trailer, sail is hoisted with a halyard... 3. It looks nicer
Of course, to be fair, there were cons too: 1. At 170 lbs you will just barely be able to right the FX-1 yourself. The daggers are long and strong enough to stand on, so you can skip the pole systems (which I tried and found about the same as standing on the boards).
2. The FX-1 is heavier than the Taipan4.9 by about 80 lbs. (Bit it's also bigger).
You shouls also consider a used or new Nacra 5.5 Uni (which is the same platform as the two-person Nacra 5.5SL), and also the Nacra 5.0 and Mystere 5.0 which are excellent entry level single and two-person boats.
Feel free to contact me offline, and we can discuss more over the phone....
If looking for ease of rigging, ease of righting....and a fun and fast fleet to sail with....
Have you considered an A cat? There are now about 10 in the Seattle/ Portland area. It is a very "simple" boat in the rigging aspect, however it can be also very technical....depends on how much you want to play or pay.
For single handed racing, you may also want to check out the H-17. There is also a fleet of them around the area as well....but at 300+ lbs....not as easy on the rigging...
There are I think 1 or 2 Inter 17's in the area....aside from having a chute (great time!)....they are still in the 300 lbs range...
I will try to answer the points that were left open by the other posts.
On the other point I agree with the other posts entirely; especially "try the all out and than make your choice"
-1- Skiff sailing. Which 17 foot skiff have you sailed ? Going from skiff sailing to catsailing is relatively simple and if it was a spi skiff or one with significant wings than getting straight to a high end single hander should not be a problem. There are some differences in how the rig works and I don't advice going out the first time in 20 knots. But when you know how the cat differs from the skiff rig them (a couple of weeks if you learn quickly) then any high end Single Hander should be fine.
Pro's of older singlehanders like the P16 or P15, nacra 5.0, H14 etc is that you can get them cheap and get alot of bang for the buck. But racing them is not much fun anymore now that everybody got fast cats. I still like my own (first cat) P16 a lot (even after owning several other 18 footers) but in racing I much look forward to racing my Formula 16 and not finish at the rear hoping for a good handicap time.
-2- Biggest problem will be to right the F18 ; apart from that it is done now and then. The F18 controls are good enough to depower it in most conditions although you'll hit the end somewhere (about 14 knots I was told). Then there is the weight. While sailing this is no problem but after a good sail the weight will break your spirit when it has to go onto the trailer. I have Beach parking but sold my 18 footers because I was getting really tired of pulling these up the hill in soft sand we have on the beaches. It is a great workout but I began to really hate it.
-3- Answer this question depends on the type you are looking at; just being 16 or 17 foot long is no garantee you at your weight can right it. If sailed 18 footers (A-cat) that I could easily right myself and 16 footers (H16) which I couldn't. Apart from this I agree with the things said about the different types by other posters; these are also my experience with these named types
-4- Mast float. Don't do it. Of all the boats mentioned non have a tendency to turtle on his own without a float. Floats are needed for narrow mast boats like H14 and maybe other 14 footers like the Dragoon, Wave and mystere 4.3. But all the 16 and longer boats have more volume in the mast because its needs to have a bigger crosssection area to withstand the bending loads. The new Wingmasts seem to be impossible to turle all together even when you keep hanging off the boats from the wrong side.
-5- Singlehanded rigs; I've sailed/raced anything singlehanded from just the mainsail. To sloop + spi. The more sails you have they more you need to work while sailing to get everything trimmed right. In manouvres this even more so. I've raced the sloop setup singlehandedly and after an initial period of getting used to it you will become used to it and be able to do this up to high winds. Spinnaker is more difficult but also faster in lighter winds. And of course you don't have to pull it in the big winds. Selftackers will make sloop sailing solo really easy. I've raced sloop up till 20 knots. It is a slightly different game but when you learn its differences then it can be done quite well. On such rule it to never just uncleat the jib in big winds when it is backwinding the main. Point up or down to the safety zone first and then reset the jib. A main that goes from backwinded to not backwinded can generate a sudden jump in heeling force of about a factor 1.5 On a singlehander this means capsizing. On a doublehander this means and "oohh and ahhh" with the skipper saving the situation by quickly letting the main out.
-6- The rig dimensions of both the FX and Taipan are identical. I've sailed them both for quite a bit and can comment on them. However I am heavily involved in the F16 setup to which the Taipan "belongs" If you trust me enough than I can describe the differences in a private conversation. I will not directly compare pro and cons in public. This is sort of an unwritten rule between class officials and between dealers. And I think much has been said already in the other posts.
I would like to end with a suggestion of looking at the Stealth F16. All european boats (which includes the hobie high end productline) are relatively expensive now due to the nosedive the dollar took over the last 6 months. The UK build Stealth has alomst kept its price in US$ the same; it is now a very price efficient boat. There is one in South California as well so may get a test ride on that one as well.
To answer Erics question mark (Blade ?) building of the first production boat is starting now. It is also done in EU so it may suffer from the Euro;dollar rate. It should come out near to the Stealth though.
Wouter Hijink Formula 16 NED 243 (one-off; homebuild) The Netherlands
Leave the spin and 'sprit on the beach until you are comfortable handling on the trap, then rig the chute for blast reaches. Optional jib package, but I don't think there is a DPN with jib; would give the crew something to do if you went two-up. IMHO, the uni-rig was designed-for and is plenty efficient for the design weight of single-handed. I am 178# and not overpowered below high-teens of breeze. No problem getting it back up using the stock righting line and standing on a board (after swimming the bows upwind and uncleating the main).
You don't have to tune perfectly in the beginning, but isn't it nice to have all that control once you start to need it? You can always sail a fast boat slowly, but you'll forever be limited by a slow boat. Gotta have boards to go upwind and a spin to cook downwind, and what fun are roundings in traffic without having three-too-few hands?
Advantages of I-17R: Although a lot going on and challenging to master, great performance, great helm. DPN considered favorable by many. Decent number around U.S. fleets for OD scoring. S-O-T-A I believe for factory design and production. Plenty sturdy, I thought (some complain that side hulls flex when standing on them; so don't--corners and non-skid are stiff). Great dealer and factory support (was important to me).
Jerry, Whatever you decide to get,..you will be a pleased sailing 1-up Uni.
I have a 2000 Inter -17 normal.
The 'normal' configuration means an aluminum mast 18 inches shorter than the 'R' carbon one. That is it.
We sail in the Caribbean, specifically US Virgin islands, in the Equatorial Trdewinds that blow 15+ ( waves 2-3) 95% of the time. A friend sails a FX-1 here also.
Never have any of these boats failed in these sea/wind conditions. It is nice to know the quality of boat you are sitting on when unexpected weather is upon you.....yes?
In the race season, many times the wind is 20+ with a little bigger waves,....these boats fly......the FX-1 'hops' over the water as the I-17 'plows' thru them....you never 'back down' as the boats are usually tougher than the skippers.
In fact, it would be very interesting to put a I-17 normal next to a I-17R in 15+ winds and see what happens
The I17's are great boats. I have an I17R. You asked what would happen between an I17R and an I17........Like in a race?? I guess you could race them PHRF, but boat against boat is no contest. In the Nationals, we had several days with winds nearing 20 knots. The boat did well and all nine I17R's flew their spinnakers on the downwind legs!!!
Hi Jerry, I came to catamarans after 30 years of sailing high performance monohulls, dinghys, like your experience. You don't have to and should not start out sailing beach cats that won't tack and pitchpole in a heartbeat to learn how to sail beachcats. Beachcats are much easier to sail than monohulls. They are more highly powered and therefore the feedback to the sailor's actions makes a bigger difference in boatspeed. The boats are responsive; they talk back to you and with your experience in monohulls , you will catch on and come up to speed quickly. To your questions: 1. Get the boat you really want first. Do not buy an old design, hard to sail boat that won't tack. The higher performance boats are much easier to sail and much more pleasureful to sail than the one you mentioned. 2. I have no experience there. 3. First of all a catamaran that turtles easily, like every time it turns over, is not properly designed. It is not a safe boat. It is not a necessary characteristic of a catamaran to turn turtle every time it turns over. This is the exception, not the rule. If a beachcat is properly designed, it won't turn turtle. There is enough volume per unit length in the mast, bouyancy, that the boat will not turn turtle when turned over. When a beachcat turns over, tramp to windward, the boat immediately spins around to a tramp to leeward orientation. This is because the tramp becomes the sail and the center of drag now is out in the middle of the sails and rigging which are in the water. The turned over system is only stable with the pulling force, the tramp, downwind of the drag force, the wet rigging and sails. 4. There is a 17' US built beachcat that is designed to be sailed by 1 or 2 persons. It has a true self tacking jib so it can be sailed by 1 person with jib and main or 2 persons. It also comes with a spinnaker and spinnaker launcher and retracting system if desired. The spinnaker option is usually sailed with 2 persons. This boat also comes with a factory righting system for one person righting and it doesn't turtle. 5. and 6. No experience or knowledge. Good luck, Bill
Are you suggesting that there is a such thing as a turtle-proof catamaran (in the context of this 'beach cat' discussion)? I disagree - I can't imagine any cat capsized with the trampoline bottom perpendicular to a stiff breeze that won't turtle. That is, unless it's equipped with some sort of a mast tip float. However, I'll concede that some are prone to turtling faster than others.
To those who have responded to my questions, I really want to thank-you all for your excellent, detailed, and thought-provoking replies! I am really impressed with the catamaran commumnity if you guys are representative... On the one hand, you've succeeded in answering/resolving many of my issues; on the other hand you've raised at least as many new issues as you've solved! I guess I wouldn't love this sport if it was easy...
Your tolerance permitting, a few more add-on issues:
1) Fisrt, my experience was not on a skiff (wish it was!) but rather on a fast 17' daysailer which does plane (Hunter 170); I've heavily modified it to make it much more performance oriented and allow it to handle higher winds but it's nowhere near as fast as a catamaran. I've sailed it singlehandedly as a sloop in 15-18 kts (its a handfull!) and as a uni with spi in 10-15 kts. I would hope the fact that my time was not on a skiff would still not be an issue in jumping to a modern catamaran design.
2) Second, I'd appreciate some clarification on a few issues:
a) In one of the replies it was described that in higher winds the FX1 "hops" over the waves whereas an I17 "plows" through them; have others seen this difference and what are it's implications (ie, is one faster than the other and is a boat that hops over the waves a more bumpy/jarring ride? I had thought that the FX1 had wavepeircing hulls that would perform similarly to the I17 and F16's. Do the F16's act more like an FX1 or I17 in hopping vs plowing waves?
b) Regarding turtling of cats: I've seen H16's turtle and I thought they have a wing mast with sufficient bouyancy. Is there a big difference in the turtling likelihood of H16's and the more modern boats? It's not clear which boats have masts which are well sealed or have foam in them. I wasn't really that concerned about turtling in "fun" winds such as 15 kts; the problem I was concerned about is that sometimes you go out in these fun winds and later find yourself in 30-35 kts! Even if I were to head home pronto at that point it would be easy to be overpowered and that's so much wind on a big tramp I have a concern that a catararn might not "spin itself around" (mast to windward) before the force on the tramp can plow the bouyand mast below the waves. Am I being overly concerned?
3) Finally, you guys have given me tons of food for thought regarding options and broadened the choices I need to learn about; since reading your posts I've begun the process of learning about some of the additional options. It's clearly going to be a tough call since all the choices (one-design FX1, Inter17, Nacra, H17) and F16HP's look so good. In fact, it looks like it's not going to be easy to see let alone sail many of these boats. It may help to get input on a few issues that were not addressed:
a) Thoughts on the tradeoffs between the hottest new technology/design (ie, Stealth/Blade) vs designs that have been around long enough to be proven but are still modern (ie, I17, Nacras, Taipan 4.9)? When is a design too new for non-racers to buy (ie, Stealth/Blade vs Taipan)? When is a "modern" design too old to be a boat with lasting competitiveness?
b) If I were primarily interested in racing, focusing on speed alone might make sense. But since (at this point at least) that's the secondary objective, issues related to 1) bulletproofness, 2) intelligent ergonomics in the layout of controls (ie, non-cluttered/foul prone; well suited for single vs double handing; accessible from the tramp edge and/or wire), and 3) quality of the ride/responsiveness in various (aka rough) conditions are very important to me. Which of these boats excell in these areas and which suffer?
c) The strength of the manufacturer (likelihood to stay in business and prosper) and it's dealer(s) will impact everything from resale value to availability of parts and service. Since I live in the US, I'd appreciate advice on whether it's wise to limit my choices to boats made by larger established companies with US dealers? Have others had problems dealing with smaller manufacturers, non-US manufacturers, or geographically remote dealers?
Jerry, I helped a friend get into an Inter-17R in Seattle about 1.5 years ago. He's not into racing that much, and uses it both single and double handed, sailing out of Magnuson Park (Sail Sand Point) I've sailed the boat with him a number of times, and I think it's very close to the perfect boat for what you describe. The spi helps it really get moving in the summer, and it handles very nicely.
I also sail a Musto Skiff, and am looking at an A-cat for racing locally. I think I'd still prefer the 17-R, but it deosn't have the fleet in Seattle. The skiff is a blast as well, but *way* more difficult to sail, and physically considerably more effort, particularly in the light 5-6 knot wind range.