Updated 8 March , 2001.
On February 21st 2001 Multihulls Magazine hosted a multihull Sail Off (sort of a rally) to look at various aspects of the new breed of performance multihulls. Each was sailed by its designer. The results will feature in a forthcoming issue of Multihulls Magazine.
I was there aboard my Shuttle 32 design "Skye". This is the same as the Shuttle 31 with a 12 inch scoop added to the stern. The rally started with a dinner at the Great Western hosted by Charles Chiodi and Corsair Marine. The atmosphere at the dinner, the meetings and on the docks was more of a group of like minded enthusiasts all having a go at their version of how to make a performance cruiser. Two of the reasons I flew over for the event were to see the other boats first hand and to meet and enjoy the company of multihullers who are trying to do something a bit different.
For many years I have been wrestling with the problem of how to provide genuine performance with a reasonable level of cruising comfort. I was, and am, still sure that there are many beach cat sailors who will still want a high standard of performance when they upgrade to a bigger boat to go sailing with their family. I also believe that these are the most comfortable boats to go long distance cruising in - because their efficiency is achieved by being easily driven and having a smooth ride over the waves. So I took great pleasure in seeing so many of these boats at the boatshow.
The sail off (or rally as I have been calling it) was a friendly affair and great fun to be involved in. The boats all looked good in their different ways. The rigs are sophisticated and well developed, ranging from fixed aluminium (Shuttle 32) to carbon wing masts (TRT 1200). This is a class of multihulls where there is room for real innovation and the future promises some exciting developments with talented people putting their minds to the problem.
On the day the weather was fine with an 8 to 10 knot breeze out of the ESE with a light chop. Charles had organised the Multihulls crew to be aboard a Lagoon 48 power cat, and there was an independent observer aboard each boat. The First leg was from just off Government Cut to about 4-5 miles offshore, fairly hard on the wind. Then south to Fowey Light, about 4-5 miles. At that point we regrouped - and waited - while the Bare Naked 42 sent a man up the mast to free his spinnaker halyard. The boats then sailed under spinnaker ( Except the Shuttle 32 which did not carry one) into Biskayne Bay.
Purpose of the Sail off - rally.The aim of the exercise is summed up Charles Chiodi of Multihulls Magazine:
Performance Cruising Catamarans to be Tested by Multihulls MagazineMULTIHULLS Magazine will test four performance cruising catamarans off the coast of Miami on February 21. They are:
All four catamarans will sail at the same time, under the same conditions, each with her designer aboard.
The test is not going to be a "contest" or "race" but an evaluation for a host of cruising requirements and performance criteria. It will be conducted in two parts:
1.Prior to sailing, at the docks: Interior layout, creature comfort and ergonomics, headroom, storage space, sail handling ease, and engine installation. What will not be tested are: electronics and gadgets that are optional equipment, or selected by the owner. The overall survey will be done by Charles E. Kanter, a certified marine surveyor; the liveability and galley will be reported on by Corinne Kanter, MM's columnist (Corinne's Culinary Corner.)
2. Sailing and powering performance: There is good wind in southeast Florida in February and there will be some short chop going through Government Cut (from all the powerboats leaving the show) in order to evaluate the comfort level in those conditions. Wind speed will be carefully recorded, boat speed will be measured with GPS. Each boat will have a MULTIHULLS Magazine observer on board to take notes, evaluate performance and handling ease, and take on-board photographs.
To have some unit of performance comparison, we will use an F-31R with a crackerjack crew as a benchmark boat. Its performance is well known around the world. Enough data has been collected to have a base against which the catamarans will be compared. It may or may not start a cat/tri controversy among some readers, but it is not our intention to start one.
The flagship/headquarters of this operation will be a brand-new Lagoon Power 43 catamaran, courtesy of Bruce Wagner, Lagoon America. It will serve as committee/press boat from which sailing photographs and video filming will take place.
An independent panel of multihull yacht brokers and sailors will judge the results. The brokers are about as close to boat buyers' mindset as we can get and they have the insight of what is important to a future multihull owner. The findings will be published in the March/April 2001 issue in a similar fashion as the test of four catamarans was in Comparing Cruising Catamarans in our July/August 2000 issue. The video will be available worldwide after editing is completed, targeted for late May release.
In addition to our own publication, we have invited Sports Illustrated and the Miami Herald, as well as the local television stations, to join us on the Lagoon 43.
At the end of the day at a dinner party, hosted by Corsair Marine, all opinions will be heard and noted. All skippers and crews are invited.
For those who want to predict the possible outcome of these tests, here are the vital statistics of the boats:
* main and jib. Genoas and/or spinnakers may be used, depending on wind conditions.
The official performance judging will be done by the Performance Prediction provided by Nico Boon of the Netherlands, an internationally known and respected rating expert.
All the boats were completely stripped out for the Sail Off except the Shuttle 32. We were handicapped in performance by the owner insisting that we should not unload anything. His reasoning was that he never sailed stripped out and he was more interested in seeing how his boat went with the normal crusing payload. This made some sense to me although I was frustrated to not be able to show the boat at her full speed potential. However what we did discover was that she sails very well with so much weight.
We were carrying a large fixed bimini over the whole cockpit. 2 x Solar panels. 3 batteries. 42 gals of fuel, a 40 HP fourstroke engine with Handler. Stores and drink for 4 for a couple of weeks. 3 anchors with chain and warps. Dinghy and outboard, Fridge/Freezer with compressor. Separate built in Ice box full of food and ice. Separate Ice box filled with "lunch", ice and drinks. 7 people. Fishing gear. Diving gear. Wet weather gear. Ample charts. Full compliment of electronics. Propane. Stove with oven. Double sink. Pressurised hot and cold water in both hulls. 3 comfortable double cabins with cushions and full bedding. Saloon that seats 8. Shower and proper w.c. Holding tank. 100 gallon watertank (empty) 10 gallons of water. Fire extinguishers. Bilge pumps. Clothing, wetsuits, etc for a week for 4. Fenders and 3 x 6ft lengths of 2 x 4 for mooring. A case of beer and a case of wine ( in addition to "lunch"). And a fully equipped galley. and last but not least over 500 lbs weight of Corian surfaces.
This pushed our weight up to just over 10,000 lbs. Yet in spite of this we were still able to tack through 85 degrees, and sail up wind in 8 to 10 knots of wind at 6.9 knots boatspeed. In fact the TRT 40 was only 19 % faster than the Shuttle 32 on the upwind leg. (The fastest boat upwind was the Gulfstream 35 and they were only 23 % faster.) We timed the boats at the windward mark. That seem like a reasonable amount of reduction in speed for up to 25 % shorter waterline and all that weight.
My performance predictions are that if she sailed stripped out like the other boats at an easily achievable weight of 6600 lbs, we would have been 21 % faster. Which would have put us in exactly the same performance bracket as the other boats.
Comments form other desingers.
This bears out what Peter Wormwood aboard the Gulfstream 35 thought ....I quote .... "To summarize the results, Merlin was definitely the fastest boat. The Osbourne 42 showed good speed, particularly off the wind. As time goes by and they sort her out, I suspect that she will prove to be faster than Merlin in some conditions, perhaps all. Given her sail area, sailing length, and weight, this is as it should be. The TRT will be faster in smooth water and with better sail selection. She has a higher speed hull shape than Merlin below the chine. That plus her longer sailing length, lighter weight and greater sail area should make her capable of higher top speeds than Merlin..... The F-31 showed the performance that we all expect of her, being always in the hunt - faster than the TRT, similar to the Osbourne 42, and slower than Merlin. The Shuttleworth never really got to show her stuff, so she will remain a mystery. I suspect that, even light with the right sails, she will be a bit slower than the F-31...but not much. Certainly faster and more fun to sail than what else is out there...unless you consider a few jacked up Stilettos that lurk in Sarasota."
And Bruce Osborne from the Bare Naked 42 said..I quote.. "I believe the primary intent of the sail off, graciously hosted by Multihulls Magazine, was simply to highlight what they perceived to be a new(er) breed of production cats - ones that tried to retain some of the thrill of beach cat sailing while providing the ability to take family members for an afternoon or a week.
John Shuttleworth pioneered this breed of performance cruiser and his elegant designs - like the beautifully executed Shuttlecat 32 by Dale Schneider - benefit from his experience and artistic talent.
Just as SUVs caught the public's fancy (whether you love 'em or hate 'em) -now you can buy any of several dozen types - so has a desire for higher performing cat cruisers arisen. Hmm, that's some badly mangled syntax but the meaning should be evident.
The Wormwood is a work of art that sails like a witch. The TRT is a very clever - and fast - attempt to bring the most cruising bang for the buck...and they have done a great job of it.
Our attempt with the Bare Naked 42 was to use proven hulls from Lock Crowther (Design 72, Super Shockwave) coupled with a minimal cruising layout for our needs here in the Florida Keys and the Bahamas. Our hardtop will be installed after SORC along with a minimalist interior. The name "Bare Naked" was coined by Pete Melvin who did our structural engineering. He said it conveyed the spirit of this type of cat - keep it light & "bare naked" and it'll perform. Sail it in warm weather areas where "bare naked" sailing is an option. And it brings up interesting opportunities when it comes time to shoot publicity photos!
Hopefully, we are entering a time when potential buyers of cruising cats don't have to choose between Floating Winnebagos but have a real performance alternative for the kind of short term cruising most of us do."
So although I would have preferred to sail the rally on an equal footing to the other boats, the advantage of the way we did it is that we have proved that the boat will still sail at a very good speed even when loaded. Many people want to know whether the boat will carry weight, and the answer is now clear, that yes she will. Performance willbe reduced, but not drastically. the flared hull shape is excellent for carrying weight since the hull gets wider as it is more deeply immersed, - thereby increasing the weight carrying ability with less cost in performance.
An amusing end to this story occurred when the Shuttle 32 was returned to her dock at the owner's home. They unloaded 1300 lbs of gear, the boat rose 2 inches on her marks, and the owner ordered a spinnaker from Dave Calvert. So maybe he caught a little of the racing bug. For my part I leaned more about how to relax, and enjoy a seriously good lunch, provided by a very generous owner.
Some photos of the participants. Obviously I have more photos of my own design