Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Seen at the 2015 Annapolis Sailboat Show: The Small Cats

Foils, foils and more foils. Foils were the centerpiece of attention for two very interesting small catamarans on display at the 2015 Annapolis Sailboat Show.

The Nacra 15 junior catamaran was the first cat that I stumbled upon as I wandered the show, sitting next to the Melges 14. It had all the bells and whistles of the modern cat, double trapeze, square-top rig, assymetric spinnaker with tube launcher though what stood out were some nifty foils usually not seen on a production catamaran. The problem with the high aspect, tall rigs of the modern cats is that, when married to a short hull, they pitchpole spectacularly. To work around this problem the designers of the Nacra 15 have fitted curved daggerboards and anti-diving winglets on the rudder. The curved daggerboard provides upward lift when fully down. This unweights the leeward hull and keeps the bow out. The anti-diving winglets on the rudder take over when the pitch angle starts to go negative, applying force to hold the stern down. Despite just a couple of production prototypes sailing in the fall of 2015 the Nacra 15 impressed ISAF enough to be named their official junior catamaran in December, 2015.

If I was marketing director over at Nacra I wouldn't keep this platform only for junior sailing. What about offering a second, smaller rig with only a single trapeze and making a detuned Nacra 15 class targeted for couples?

More about the Nacra 15 here.

In this photo is one of the curved daggerboards. Also the entire deck between the beams is covered in SUP anti-slip foam.

The small rudder winglets.

Promotional video of the Nacra 15 at speed.

The second catamaran to catch the eye was the spectacular, all carbon, foiling 5.4 meter/17.7 feet Whisper from England. The platform weighs just 78 kg. The moldings and fine detail work was exquisite. The foils are typical to what is used on the International Moth, T-foils up forward, controlled by a wand, and a T-foil on the rudder. I didn't hang around long enough to get an explanation on how it is all adjusted but I did have a short conversation with Robb White, the builder. He said the foils were designed for early lift-off (more area), and not ultimate speed.

Only $30,000 USD if you have a burning desire to be the fastest one on the river (and if you have the time and crew to learn how to sail her).

More info on Whisper by clicking here.

Yachting World's Matthew Sheehan put out this video on his sail test of the Whisper foiling cat. At the end of the video, Matthew, like many in the media, feel that foiling will take over the sport. I, on the other hand, feel foiling will always remain an enthusiasts niche - not one for the general sailing population.


JP said...

I saw that the Nacra 15 was the runner up in the Yachts & Yachting 2016 Dinghy of the year as announced at the London Boat Show - the winner was the foiling Waszp

Tweezerman said...

Thanks JP for the info. I don't know the numbers for the junior skiff 29'er but I wonder if the Nacra 15 will become more popular down the road.