Future of multihull racing?

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by Corley, Jun 29, 2011.

  1. Corley
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    I'm curious about other multihull sailors thoughts on this. I'll take for an example the club I'm a member of the Multihull Yacht Club of Victoria. I don't want to bag out my club but feel the problems of multihull sailing in general are writ large in my own backyard. I like to think of it as an array of problems that need to be addressed.

    1) Communication - Why sail a multihull? The answers are obvious for people who sail them regularly but how would anyone else know? I look around at boatshows and there are a small and shrinking proportion of sailing boats and virtually no multihull representation. Can we encourage novices to look at multihull sailing first? We have no regular newsletter or publications, our meetings are irregular we have no clubhouse, no library no real archives of our former events or club champions or what they have achieved and our clubs history is not well recorded.

    Most of our sailors now have trailerable multihulls and we have a rough affiliation with Hastings Yacht Club no further spaces are available in their yard for new boats how do we expect to grow our regular racing fleet? Most sailors do not want to raise a mast every time they go for a race. It shows me that multihull sailors as a group have not been willing to invest in infrastructure to make the sport stronger while monohull sailors have.

    2) Involvement - How are new sailors supposed to get involved in multihull sailing some would argue off the beach cats are the answer but there seems to be no structured approach to encouraging sailors of off the beach cats into larger multihulls if you look at the programs offered by conventional yacht clubs which focus on monohulls there is a clear progression into keelboat ranks for sailing members should they like to take the opportunity.

    3) Enthusiasm - By this I mean enthusiasm at a club level to actually organise events, MYCQ seems to be active in organising events and a few other clubs most others are prepared to be passive or simply demand a division at existing yacht clubs and their events. In the past MYCV for example used to run the Southern Oceans Multihull Regatta now we simply go along to Audi Victoria Week where our division is just a tiny portion of the whole.

    4) Opportunity - Where are multihull sailors actively offering potential multihull owners rides on their boats I know a few members of our club do take new sailors out but basically most of the boats have the same crews week in week out with little change.

    I dont want to sound like the purveyor of doom but I cant see how we can grow our sport and get new people involved when the whole multihull racing fraternity feels like such a closed shop. I can get a ride on a boat any race but I look at the new enthusiast and cant see any path for them to get into racing multihulls the group of sailors is too insular and too self absorbed and I think it's a real pity. I feel a telling point is that most new multihull sailors seem to be monohull sailors who have decided they prefer multihulls for a number of reasons be it performance or more space not people who have come through existing multihull ranks.

    The answer seems to be to take a leaf out of the book of existing monohull sail training programs take the chip off our shoulder and start getting more people out on multihulls for a sail. When my boat is finished and sailing I'm going to make it my mission to take a new sailor out every race some might like the experience others may not but I'm going to do my best not to be passive and accept the situation because due to our lack of a welcome to a novice I'm sure we are turning potential racing sailors away and off.

    In future I'll take on a role in the MYCV and try and improve our current lackdaisacal situation but sometimes I wonder whether a new club and a new approach have to be created for substantial progress to be made.
     
  2. John Perry
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    John Perry Senior Member

    We have recently returned from the best part of a month sailing in Brittany in France (on a monohull). Learning to sail is a standard part of the school curriculum in that region. There are numerous sailing schools and I think these are mostly state funded or at least state subsidised. It would seem that the kids mostly start with 'Optimist' syle monohulls and/or canoes then progress to fast dinghies and beach cats. Quite a large proportion of the boats at these sailing schools are small catamarans. France leads the world in offshore multihull racing.
     
  3. Corley
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    John, I think your on the right track the multihull option needs to become available at an earlier stage for it to gain in popularity the boat designs are out there allready to fulfil the need. I wonder how you would go making sailing a part of the school curiculum in Australia cant really see it gaining acceptance here but I suppose the opportunity has to be offered before it can be refused.
     
  4. cavalier mk2
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    cavalier mk2 Senior Member

    Start with the private schools Corley. They may want to give their students an edge if you can find some of the studies correlating higher mathematics performance with sailing. Some of the big sailing schools have the data but ts easier on the nerves for the newbies to be in 5 knot boats and work up to the 20 kt advanced models.
     
  5. keysdisease
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    keysdisease Senior Member

    Our club adopted Hobie waves as the clubs small boat fleet. Dang things are industructible, fun and the kids love em. We have several sailing programs for kids that are aggressive in bringing them in to see what its about.

    Start em on multi's young and early and there's no going back ;)

    http://upperkeyssailingclub.com/

    http://www.msysp.org/

    While our club is still predominately monohulls the next generation will be very familiar with multihulls.

    Steve
     
  6. Samnz
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    Samnz Senior Member

  7. Corley
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    Thats great Sam, I'm really hoping that will become the norm for our club too.
     
  8. catsketcher
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    catsketcher Senior Member

    Maybe multis aren't good race boats

    Gday Corley

    I am a pretty lone voice in this but I think multis make pretty poor race boats. I have raced Tornados, my Nugget, my Twiggy a few other multis and lots of monos and I get heaps more kick from monos. I love racing dinghies but get bored on the typical fast cabin cat when racing. In monos you can get closer, they manouvre better, they are tougher so they can bump a bit, they are slower (which makes them less scary). You also need to tweak a mono every gust and the whole crew gets involved in working the traveller, steering, calling gusts, sitting on the side. On a multi you rarely need to ease the main until you hit your limit. An inescapable fact is that there are heaps of monos.

    This means you can find a club that echos your ethos - not just your boat choice. If you end up ending back at the same spot you left from then speed is pretty irrelevant. Multis are fab at what they do - going fast with little need for constant attention and without heaps of feedback. This is essential in a coastal cruiser - so you get where you want in the daylight without getting worn out.

    I have a Lock Crowther interview in which the great man states that everyone will be racing multis in ten years. It's from about 1981. I think its time we faced facts and got used to multi racing being a small thing for the masses.

    cheers

    Phil
     
  9. Corley
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    Thanks for your input Phil, I cant say I really agree with you but everyone has a right to their own view I learnt to sail on dinghies at a club level and never really experienced the same pleasure as your describing when I moved to mosquito catamaran and raced one up in the mixed class I prefered it to the dinghies I was racing previously (I started out sailing an aquanaut with my dad then moved onto sabre and 125). Maybe it's the conditions we sail in on Port Phillip Bay I always felt jiggled around on the dinghies because of the chop we get here while the cat seemed to slice through beautifully.

    I also think you have to compare apples to apples beachcats to dinghies and larger multihulls to equivalentely sized keelboats to get a fair comparison. The key to good racing seems to be having enough boats on the water, in Westernport Bay the Hastings multi division usually has about 13 boats racing which is quite good but still needs work, maybe when Ian Farriers F22 kit is released it may provide an entry level small multihull to the masses assuming he can bring it in at the price he is speculating on.

    The comments from monohull sailors who have come out when I've been sailing with other members of the club is not so much that they prefer monohulls but the entry price for multi's is too high and it's hard to disagree an entry level monohull like an endeavour 24 is probably about 6-10k for a good example whereas an entry level older tri like a TT720 is probably still around the 20k+ mark.

    I'm by no means one eyed either I'm a real fan of traditional style monohulls my next project after I finish my kraken 25 is to build an Iain O caledonian yawl, the reason is in my area the launching facillities just suit monohulls better and theres a low bridge at the entry of patterson river that means I'm going to have to ship and unship the rig which will be easy on that design. Also from a daysailing perspective the boat has good camping ability and load carrying in a small package.

    There is also the Kurt Hughes singlehanded formula 40 trimaran I'm looking at building too the plans are on the way thats a longer term project though. I was looking at buying Kurt Hughes boat out of the states but could not raise the dollars. I think I'm addicted to building boats :D

    p.s. I like timberwolfs new floats, curved lifting foils too.
     
  10. rayaldridge
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    rayaldridge Senior Member

    You may have put your finger on a problem for recruiting new folks into the multihull ranks. There are literally thousands of designs for the monohull camper-cruiser, for entry level participation in the sport of sailing (for non-racers) but almost no analogous multihulls. I think this is a weakness, because many racers start out daysailing and gunkholing, only to have their competitive instincts aroused by the sport. A rare example of an entry level camp cruiser is my little beach cruiser Slider, a 16 foot cat that is easy to trail and launch, and has a sprit-sloop rig so can get under low bridges. The rig is designed to be easily dropped and raised with everything attached. It is vastly more comfortable to sail than a Caledonia yawl, and probably faster as well, but without any white-knuckle stuff. It can carry two people and a fairly luxurious camping outfit. I really don't understand why there aren't more boats like this. For an amateur designer with no track record at all, I've sold a lot of plans. I wish more real designers would take up this sort of design challenge. Some have, like Richard Woods and Jim Brown, but most of these boats are tris. One designer who has done great work with inexpensive multis is Gary Dierking, and he has gotten lots of folks interested in multihulls at a low entry price. More needed!
     
  11. Corley
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    I'm of the view that the more options available the better it's good to see that small camp cruising multihulls of all types are becoming more popular I think the whole argument of cats vs tris (or proas) is a little pointless people will chose what they prefer to sail and most likely it will be a commercially available option.

    It reminds of the furious responses that a sailing magazine editor received from cat sailors at catsailor.net (I think thats where I saw it, sorry dont have a link) when he mentioned that the magazine had reviews of a couple of trimarans in their next edition heaven help them if they had reviewed a proa. If you look at it objectively the bickering does nobody any good since all types of multihulls designed properly will fulfil their design brief quite well. I think prospective multihull owners must be taken aback by the amount of backbiting that exists in our own ranks.

    I also think that we tend to look at groups and declare them to be united when they are not a lot of dinghy sailors aren't interested in keelboats and a lot of keelboat sailors couldnt care less about dinghies they are all monohulls though. I'm sure a lot of people who like traditional monohulls arent much interested in the latest plastic fantastic from Benateau either.

    It would be great if the human creature could celebrate diversity I'm all in favour of it I would just like to see multihull racing flourish just that little bit more than it does now.
     
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  12. cavalier mk2
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    cavalier mk2 Senior Member

    I'd like to see someone come up with a good handicapping method. Over here the main competition are F boats, F-9s F27s F31 fetc....and the locals don't seem really experienced at coming up with ratings. The fleets in Oz seem more diverse what do you guys do over there?
     
  13. Corley
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    Most boats here race to the OMR rules the boats are measured and given a rating based on their weight, sail area and a number of other factors. It seems to give a good overall result and keep the fields pretty close together. The observation has been though it's nearly impossible for the top boats to ever achieve both a line honours and handicap victory. There have been a few attempts at rule beater boats but none that I know of have really found to be that much of a success. I think that overall means it's a pretty good rule for diverse fleets.

    http://www.mycq.org.au/OMR/
     
  14. Corley
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    In some ways I think from a commercial perspective the seawind 24 is very similar to the new boat your proposing Ray the main difference would seem to be the folding which may make the boat more saleable, I was surprised when seawind pulled the plug on the design as it seemed to have a loyal following and was a good entry level catamaran the numbers must not have been selling to make it work though.

    There are small commercial trailerable cats that have been tried before on the Australian market the Windrush 600 and Red Baron would be two examples you could trailer them at normal width and they had conservative sail plans to match their reduced righting moment none of them really caught on despite many owners of the boats singing their praises. Most people went out and bought monohull trailersailors that were less expensive.

    I suppose the folding trailerable trimarans took over that small market, hard to argue with the practicality of a c24 or an f24 trimaran for most people. It would be interesting to compare the useable interior space of a seawind 24 and a farrier 24. To me cats really only make sense as a cruising boat once you can have a bridgedeck and cantilevered berths otherwise the trimaran seems to win out particularly if it has an aft cabin just IMHO of course.

    A friend of mine has a Macro 25 Catamaran it has a small bridgedeck and comfortable berths for a 25' boat exceptionally safe and spacious it gives a new meaning to slow though and the hobbyhorsing in short chop has to be felt to be believed.
     

  15. CT 249
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    Great post, Corley! From what I can see, as an occasional/former multi sailor (did a couple of years on a small cat, now sometimes sailing an offshore tri) I think you're right on the money in seeing the issue as partly (largely?) self-created. Running a club or a sailing "scene" takes a lot of work but it is vital in creating healthy fleets. Blaming the mono-oriented mainstream as some do is (IMHO) just an easy cop-out and mostly simply wrong.*

    Windsurfing could be seen as an analogy. Like beach cat sailing it boomed in the '80s but failed to work at laying down proper foundations and therefore collapsed. The problem was self-inflicted. It is now building itself up again gradually on a foundation of renewed emphasis on beginner-friendly and accessible gear, kid's training and club-type events.

    There has also been grass-roots work from small groups of individuals who have built not-for-profit amateur websites promoting certain sectors of the sport. At the time the first such website in one area of the sport started up, there wasn't a single windsurfer for that discipline in production. Now there's about a dozen. Obviously it wasn't all kickstarted from that one website (far from it) but having a dedicated site really allowed the word to be spread, with articles being copied from Australia to Poland and Thailand.

    Something as relatively simple as forming a national offshore multihull body (doesn't even to have to be incorporated these days in many ways) with a website could be a boost. That gives you a chance to provide the history by simply scanning in old mags, you can publicise up and coming events and communicate easily.

    As far as getting new sailors in, it's good to see that you have the "grow your own" attitude as it seems to work much better than trying to drag sailors out of monos. Most of the dinghy clubs do a huge amount of work training, it's no wonder they end up with most of the kids. Many mono clubs are pretty beginner-friendly in most ways so they end up with adult beginners. Clubs in other areas of the sport often don't welcome anyone but complain that their numbers are small and blame it on some supposed powerful "establishment" instead of doing some work.

    One of the major cat builders in Oz feels that kids are better taught in monohull dinghies, and therefore they get into the mono scene and aren't really interested in cats by the time they are old enough to be sailing them. They say that not to knock either cats or dinghies, but to understand one reason why the latter are much more popular. Their response (still born for various reasons) was to create their own dinghy class for kids, so that kids would learn to sail well in dinghies but not be drawn into the general dinghy scene and therefore would move into cats. Similarly, windsurfing has found that the best way to get kids is to "grow your own" by having setups such as the UK's brilliant T15, which attracts hundreds into the sport, or the more modest local Junior One.

    In my very limited experience the Hobie Bravo would actually have many of the good points of dinghies and cats for kids - I wonder what would happen if a bunch of multi clubs agreed to use them as their common kid's boat? It could create a small but viable scene of kids oriented to bigger multis.

    With windsurfing we have found that attracting dinghy kids works quite well AS LONG AS YOU DON'T TRY TO KILL OFF THEIR PERFECTLY REASONABLE LOVE FOR DINGHIES. Even as an adult, when I sail multis I get put off by the arrogance of the anti-mono attitude of a number of multihull sailers. As you know, telling mono sailers that their craft are crap isn't friendly or persuasive, nor is insulting monos and then wondering why they won't welcome you into their scene.

    Up here in Sydney there is also a lack of cheap cruiser/racer multis, as you point out. I can understand why the guy who can only afford a Trailertri 680 isn't interested in racing a 30 foot carbon cat that finishes an hour earlier.

    One point could also be location - in quite a few places there aren't any multi clubs near the centre of the sailing scene (space issues??) and therefore the boats aren't very visible.

    I agree with Catsketcher that we will never see the majority sailing multis (that attitude that everyone should sail them is a turnoff in itself IMHO) but the scene could be bigger.

    Apologies for the essay and rambling, but it's good to see someone looking at the structural issues as the cause of the problem, rather than blaming others. From my experience in running windsurfer classes and being involved in other scenes, a website dedicated to promoting Aussie cruiser/racing multis (without bagging other types) could be the first step, together with ensuring that there are classes for cheaper boats, recognition for the slower boats and not just the carbon wonders, and perhaps organising kid's sailing later.


    * lots of the alleged bias doesn't exist IMHO. Take the often-complained about "ban" of the early Herreshoff cats. It's just complete fiction, they attracted a lot of the support from officials and were raced just like anything else was. And while some mono events ban multis, EVERY type of sailing does the same thing by restricting entries in one way or the other - hell, some multi clubs ban proas or tris!
     
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