The need for speed
The production multihull industry in Australia is deservedly proud of its ability to build excellent products at fair prices. I strongly believe that we have some of the best production builders in the world. Of course we also have access to some of the best designers and custom builders as well.
THE PARADIGM till now has been, production builders build excellent cruising boats with the more performance oriented requirements being handled by custom designers/builders.
Change however is well and truly on the agenda and in that regard we recently examined three production boats that have broadened the focus and, as a result, the choices for owners looking for performance enhancement.
The Stallion Marine built Spirited 380 is already deservedly regarded as being at the sharp end of performance production cruising cats. Stallion, in conjunction with Allyacht Spars and Ullman Sails are however taking another step in the area of innovation in genuine performance cruising cats.
Lightwave Yachts build some excellent cruising boats with more than reasonable performance figures, they too have identified a need to offer something more for the performance minded sailor, and have recently launched a Lightwave 38 with minor modifications to enhance performance.
Lightwave has also taken control of the very rapid Raider series and in conjunction with Allyacht Spars are developing two versions of the Raider, both designed to build a strong ‘one design’ class and offer line honours performance at the same time.
The following vignettes are not designed to be in-depth boat tests – all these boats have been well reviewed before, they do however provide an insight into design considerations, owner desires and performance expectations.
Lightwave 38 – with board
Nigel and Janette have owned a string of fast boats, most recently a Corsair 36 and a Corsair Sprint. They enjoyed all their tris and gained a lot of performance as well as cruising enjoyment from their boats. Recently they decided to look for something with a little more comfort and settled on the Lightwave 38 design. Nigel however wanted his boat to have dagger board/s. This lead to significant discussions and engineering review by Roger Overell and the team at Lightwave and finally it was determined that it could be done and done in such a way so as to not compromise the strength or other virtues of the boat.
The build was also approached with an eye on weight, again strength was not to be compromised but where an opportunity to lighten the Lightwave presented it self, either through fitout or build approaches, it was taken.
The result was Cat Balou, a Lightwave 38 with a single dagger board built in.
According to Roger Overell: “We took the approach of meeting the customer’s needs, but only after we were able to satisfy ourselves that all other virtues of our boat would remain and that strength and reliability were not compromised. Accordingly we developed a process of building the single daggerboard into the pre existing mini keel. This provided a strong, almost ready made housing for the board, maintained mini keel protection to the rudders and props and ensured that the boat was able to be beached with confidence”.
Roger was happy with the design and build outcome and thus far Nigel is very pleased with the realisation of the intended performance gains. Nigel and Janette have only raced it in social WAGS/SAGS style races thus far, but he has seen his handicap tumble as the boat demonstrates its potential. The races are handicap starts and the results thus far see Cat Balou starting after Farr 1020s and other excellent monos, alongside or after Farrier 680s a Rogers 32 and a Fastback
The only boats with a later handicap start are Corsair Sprints, an F31 and an open bridgedeck Crowther.
Particularly pleasing to Nigel and Janette is the performance to windward. I had the opportunity to spend a few hours aboard on a SAGS race recently. We sailed out of Scarborough near Brisbane and proceeded to the race start. We started at the rear of the fleet and I was pleasantly surprised at the way we pointed higher and sailed faster than some very good boats, including a lot of good monos that ‘will always outpoint a cat’.
We continually made ground on the fleet and by the last rounding mark we were with the leading boats and ultimately went on to come home line ball with a boat that started a fair bit earlier than us. What was also interesting was that the race was in very light airs, traditionally not the preferred winds for a cruising cat.
It is a very impressive variation on the Lightwave 38 theme and if you are looking for a performance edge, it’s a concept well worth exploring. And underneath it all is a Lightwave 38, which means there is a strong capable and comfortable boat that can take you almost anywhere you wish to sail.
Raider One design and other developments
One of the few high performance production boats in the market is the Tony Grainger designed Raider. A 9.2m beach cat on steroids the Raider has a solid record of race performances, including two Brisbane to Gladstone OMR wins.
The Raider had been the product of the All-Yacht Spars team with Geoff and Joel Berg leading the development and sailing testing of the boats. Recently the Berg family and Roger Overell from Lightwave Yachts got together and now the Raider is being manufactured by Lightwave. One of the key developments is the development of a One Design class for this boat.
Previously the Raider 302 design, as it was known, had proven its performance credentials in offshore racing around the world, and has now been formed into a true ‘One Design’ International Class. Lightwave Yachts and Allyacht Spars are joint campaign partners, and are working with multihull racing champion, Jamie Morris.
The Raider One Design can reach speeds of 25kts offshore in 20-25kts wind. It will fly a hull in 12kts, creating a spectacular sight.
The Raider One Design is a very fast sports cat which can be demounted and towed on a road trailer. It can also be containerised so it can be delivered to overseas buyers or to compete in various international events around the world.
According to Roger Overell “The Raider One Design is intended for offshore and coastal racing and the teams compete under strict one-design rules, producing real competitive sailing and crew work. The boats are offered as a Grand Prix or Club Sports package, the design is an open bridgedeck cat, featuring 1.8m headroom in the hulls and kick-up balanced rudders for sharp handling characteristics. Construction includes premium quality foam glass construction, Carbon boards and rudders, dyform rigging and a fantastic blend of easy to operate sailing systems. Both packages offer accommodation with the Club Sports incorporating a cruising pack onto the Raider One Design hulls.”
By the time this article is published the first pair of these boats will have had an intriguing match race in the 2008 Brisbane to Gladstone. Jamie Morris and Joel Berg will each be leading a crew on a pair of these boats. Jamie and Joel are good mates ashore but I reckon there will be plenty of willing sailing and a deep desire to get one up on the other guy.
Jamie is a multiple Gladstone line honours trophy winner with Simply The Best and Flat Chat and the equally skilled Joel is the defending Australian Multihull Offshore racing champion with AYS Raider. Jamie and Joel have worked side by side over several months building their identical catamarans.
There will be much interest in this battle and it will provide an excellent proving ground for the new one design class. The Raider is another variation on the need for speed theme.
Stallion Marine The benchmark in performance cruising
And squarely in the middle of these two approaches to performance sailing is the latest version of the Stallion Marine Spirited 380 Craig Schionning designed cruising cat.
Already a cat at the leading edge of the performance dimensions, the team at Stallion in conjunction with All Yacht spars have developed a carbon rig for the Stallion Spirited 380. Working along side these guys is the Ullman sails crew who have developed a sophisticated sail design and lay-up process.
The basic excellent design of the Stallion remains with all the positives that are offered in that package. In terms of performance per dollar in a genuinely comfortable boat, the Stallion was already at the front of the pack. This new variant will enhance the reputation for performance sailing that the Stallion has already established.
This project is not simply a case of slapping a bigger rig on a standard boat. The boat has been carefully assessed from the ground up to determine where appropriate modifications can be made. The basic premise of the Stallion as a safe easy to handle and comfortable cruiser remains and is enhanced by contemporary approaches in terms of rigs, sails and systems.
The rig for the new boat is a carbon mast developed by AllYacht Spars. It’s stiffer, stronger and lighter than an aluminium section normally fitted to this boat. It reduces weight aloft as well as reducing weight overall by around 100kg. As well as enhancing performance, the lessening of weight up high leads to a better motion and more comfort. Shrouds and associated rigging are PBO and dyform.
Sails which are capable of taking advantage of the opportunities offered by this rig are critical. Ullman Sails on the Sunshine Coast have been involved with Stallion Marine since its inception and have worked alongside the Stallion and Allyacht team to design leading edge sails that can use the new rig to its best advantage. The sails are a Fiberpath Membrane design with the fabric constructed in such a way that the fibres are aligned to the curved load paths of the sail and then laminated in that position, which means lower stretch whereby the designed sail shape is achieved and more importantly maintained over the life of the sail. A key feature and benefit of Fiberpath sails is their ability to maintain their optimum designed sail shape across a wide range of wind strengths. The sails also weigh less than traditional panelled sails and this adds to the overall design focus on reducing weight – especially aloft. Importantly on a performance cruising multi the sails can be constructed from technora and/or carbon fibres individually or blended, with these fibres offering a high degree of UV protection, and laminated with a choice of finishes from film/film for grand prix racing, film/taffeta for club racers, or the durability of taffeta/taffeta for high performance cruising. The superior lamination process formed by a latest state-of-the-art lamination machine also results in a loadpath sail that is long lasting and durable for cruising applications. All of these key features are very important in a boat that will spend a fair bit of time cruising and needs a durable, long lasting, and low stretch set of sails.
The unified approach continues through all systems, with the electronics and electrical systems being the focus of careful design thought. Stallion has partnered with Raymarine in developing a unified system that provides high levels of state-of-the-art advancement such as the small format colour screen ST70 multifunction instrument series. The whole electrical and electronic system has been carefully built to ensure that the cruiser lacks little but that each item contributes to weight saving and reliability. This ranges from innovative approaches to radio cables, instruments that need half as much power and along with other electrical careful design (LED lights etc) leads to an opportunity for batteries that can be smaller whilst providing the same cruising convenience.
The Stallion is clearly the benchmark in high performance cruising boats, and this latest project demonstrates where the industry will head over the longer term to maintain strength and comfort whilst enhancing performance and enjoyment.
As a wise sailor once said you don’t have to go fast but all things being equal it’s a lot more fun.
This new Stallion option will be on display at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show. Sounds like the show will be very interesting this year with a lot of different boats and philosophies all on show. I can’t wait to see the new Stallion; I thought the current one was pretty bloody impressive. More importantly I can’t wait to get out for a sail on one.
So there you have it. Three different boats with a common theme, more performance. I am very impressed with the level of innovation shown by our local designers and builders and strongly recommend that when you are considering a new boat you look at all the options and talk with all the builders and designers to see what developments are on the way.
Performance can be had in many ways, but there is a truism on multihulls and that is ‘add lightness’. Sometimes you can actually transform your own boat by simply unloading half the stuff that is aboard. Try it sometime and you will get a glimpse of what some of the leading edge boats like Lightwave and Stallion are like.
But to really realise the benefits of lightness you need a boat engineered from the ground up, and that’s where these designs offer performance with confidence.