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Displaying items by tag: Catamaran

In his Sailing on Saturday blog of August 23rd, Afloat's W M Nixon reported on a sail test of the new-to-Ireland Lagoon 52 cruising catamaran, which was undertaken with a crew of all the talents, including 1993 Round Ireland Record Holders Con Murphy and Cathy MacAleavey - their time of 44 hours for the circuit with Steve Fossett's 60ft trimaran Lakota still stands, despite being established all of twenty-one years ago.

In his report on the Lagoon 52, WMN commented:

"Not that you'll be using it (the steering wheel) for long, for with her efficient systems, this is a boat which will be largely steered by the auto-helm. And should they be needed, the 56hp engines with saildrives, neatly located in each hull down aft, move the Lagoon 52 very sweetly indeed with little fuss and less noise. In fact, with her ultra-modern architecturally-inspired appearance and ease of movement under quite small power packs, I suggested to Ross that she surely would make a very handy if unusual motor-cruiser. Not surprisingly, he said that there is already a handsome power version of the Lagoon 63 available which cruises at 12 knots and can reach 16 with very little bother, and in a very few weeks time there'll be a similar variant on the Lagoon 52".

As it happens Ross O'Leary of MGM was just slightly ahead of the curve - the power-yacht version of the Lagoon 63 sailing cat has only just made her debut on the market this week, while the smaller power cruiser will be based not on the Lagoon 52, but on the Lagoon 39 (there's one based in Malahide), with the powerboat being the Lagoon 40MY.

The above vid show that our reviewer was spot on – the new Lagoon 630MY is a very cool piece of kit. In fact, much and all as he is normally a sailboat fan, in this case Nixon reckons it's the power version which hits the button. "Why cart that ludicrously tall pitch-inducing sky-scraping rig around with you, when you can have the utterly elegant effortlessly moving pleasure platform which is the Lagoon 630MY, and with less expense and hassle?" he asks.

Published in Boat Sales
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#solentwhisper – Southampton Solent graduate Geoff Holt, the first quadriplegic sailor to sail solo across the Atlantic, will be unveiling the University's latest exciting technological development – an innovation which could change the face of small boat inshore racing.
This year's PSP Southampton Boat Show will give the industry its first real look at 'Solent Whisper' - a 5.9m sailing catamaran with a cutting-edge hydrofoil system.
Designed and built using the state-of the-art yacht design and engineering facilities at Solent's Warsash Maritime Academy and city-centre campus, the catamaran's technology has already attracted attention from world-class sailors during sea trials this summer.
The revolutionary new hydrofoil system provides stability, ease and safety, which along with an affordable projected purchase price, has the potential to offer America's Cup-style sailing to the masses. The craft's easy and stable sailing style also mean it could prove popular and accessible for disabled sailors.
Primarily designed with ease and safety in mind, Solent Whisper has also exceeded expectations on the speed front. It comfortably achieves over 25 knots and it can 'fly' on its foils in as little as five knots of wind.
The new hydrofoil technology is the brainchild of Ron Price, a Solent yacht and powercraft design graduate who is now Senior Lecturer in Naval Architecture at the University's Warsash Maritime Academy.
The prototype is the result of months of hard work made possible by the technical experience, support and skills from colleagues across the University and the state-of-the-art facilities at both the engineering workshop at the maritime academy and the composites lab at Solent.
"I was very fortunate to have access to the incredible skill and knowledge of the engineering technicians, the support of staff, and use of the superb facilities at the University," says Ron."
It is hoped that a retail production version will be available for the London Boat Show in January 2015.
"We are engineering the boat in a way that the design is smart enough to keep the production costs low," he says.
"I'm hoping that my design ideas will make inshore and small boat racing more accessible and affordable for the average club racer, those who sail for pleasure and people with disabilities," adds Ron.

Southampton Solent University has a reputation for leading the world in maritime education and technology, and Ron is one of a long line of design graduates who continue to shape the world of sailing including: Jason Ker, working on Sir Ben Ainslie's GB America's Cup bid; Guillame Verdier, who designed the yachts that came both first and second at 2012 Vendee Globe; German Frers Jr; Bill Dixon; Ed Dubois; Rob Humphreys; and Juan Kouyoumdjian.
On the sailing-side world-class Solent alumni include: Helena Lucas, who won Great Britain's first ever sailing gold at the 2012 Paralympics; Paul Goodison who took gold at the 2008 Olympics; and Herve Piveteau who sailed to victory in the Production Boat Class at the Mini Transat 2008, the French equivalent of the OSTAR

Published in News Update
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#catamaran – It's the time of year when any sensible sailor is dreaming of skimming across warm blue water without a care in the world, and feeling at one with the ocean. W M Nixon introduces an organisation which is built around this aspiration, yet has a deeper meaning for Pacific island communities.

An island is both an escape, and a prison. On one side of the coin, it seems to provide the means of getting away from the tedium and pressures of over-crowded mainland life. On the other, you're trapped on it if you don't have some sort of choice and control over your own coming and going.

For most of us around boats in Ireland, the ability to sail to islands is one of the greatest attractions in what we do. Sailing to our small islands is pure joy, truly satisfying in a way scarcely justified by the modest distances involved. And being on small islands is a delight. Yet generally we don't want to live on an island year in, year out.

This may seem absurd to those who write off Ireland itself as no more than a small damp island somewhere out in the Atlantic. But for us living here in reasonable content, Ireland is just the right size. It's a complete place, a proper country – that it's an island is almost incidental. We don't really think of it as somewhere you can drive across in only three hours. It's the size it is, that's the way it is, and anywhere else is just unnaturally large.

Probably we actually think of Ireland as a world unto itself – a small but viable landmass which happens to be surrounded by water. So if you want somewhere distinctly different, it's not the obvious one of great open continental land spaces of tundra or prairies or savannah, with unending mountain ranges or trackless tropical forest. On the contrary, the most complete contrast with Ireland is to be found in the Pacific, where the world is almost totally one of water, with tiny islands dotted about at vast distances, some of them with populations so small and remote that they're barely viable communities.

In such circumstances, the people on the islands have traditionally needed to be truly at one with the ocean, embracing it with a natural affinity which meant they were able to voyage long distances in relative comfort with craft which may seem primitive to us. But those vessels too were in harmony with the sea – they didn't battle it, rather they went with its moods, leaving only the lightest of furrows in the ocean astern.

Despite being 73ft long and able to carry a crew of 16, the working weight of these vakas is only 14 tons, and they are easily driven with a relatively small sail area.

The key to it all is the temperature of the sea. When you have an ocean which isn't going to give you hypothermia within an hour or two of immersion, you can voyage on light boats which skim the water. But in our northestern end of the North Atlantic, despite the tail end of the Gulf Stream washing our shores, here in Irish waters we need boats we can be in, rather than boats we're on. We need boats which provide a genuine level of protection from the sea and its punishing cold almost regardless of how we handle them.

So, much as we like to feel we have an understanding with the sea, in some sort of empathy, in fact we're battling with it. Even the surfers who have been putting in such fantastic performances on the west coast in recent days are more akin to bullfighters than sea creatures. It's all about controlling something which is bigger than they, something which arises mightily but then dies and disappears, yet the surfer remains, banging away with his jetski to hit the right spot.

For sure we respect the sea, but as this week's vids of the Safehaven boats being tested off Cork have shown, we aspire to boats which can continue to go about their business almost regardless of sea conditions, while providing complete protection for those on board. Although we may seem to have experienced some overwhelming weather these past few weeks, underlying our attitude is the notion that we know what's going on, that we're in control. It may seem a fine example of human folly and delusion. But the reality is that for most people in what we used to call the West, life is pretty much under control. We live by the clock. Trains, boats and planes leave and arrive pretty much on time. We build and control the machines, and the machines control the world. When disaster headlines erupt, it's only because this comfortable and mechanical state of affairs has been temporarily upset. But normal service is soon resumed.

Set against this powerful certainty, small and isolated island communities in the vastness of the Pacific become fragile. While the elders may live naturally in the old ways and understand the workings of the sea and the necessary regularity and ordinariness of island life, their younger people know only that in the outside world, life is different. There's more readily available entertainment and excitement. There's a wonderful life of machines and timetables. Anyone who can pay the fare can go when and where they please. And huge numbers of people seem very happy with this state of affairs.

So the island becomes a prison, not a paradise, as the old voyaging skills decay. The young people are no long capable of sailing away to distant places as their ancestors did, yet they lack the money to avail of the air travel which is often the only way to get off the island. And the soul of the community, if not actually lost, is sorely troubled. But there are those who feel that while the islands in the sun certainly have to adapt to the dominating realities of modern consumer-oriented life and global communication, they also reckon there's a way in which the old ocean voyaging traditions can be re-jigged to provide a meaningful experience for modern islanders, young and not-so-young.

When that noted solo sailor Sam Davis of Strangford Lough was cruising the Pacific in recent years with his Rival 41 cutter Suvretta, he met up with a group in Tonga who so enthused him that when he finally arrived in our harbour on his way back to Strangford Lough last August, far from talking of his own remarkable voyages, he was almost completely absorbed by talking of the Tahitian Voyaging Society and their fleet of 73ft catamarans.

Sam Davis with his much-travelled Rival 41 Suvretta in Howth, August 2013. Photo: W M Nixon

That and mung beans. Sam is into mung beans in a big way. He seems to have lived on them for much of his voyage up the Atlamntic back to Strangford Lough. He was so keen to push the case for mung beans that I didn't have the heart to tell him that in our house we eat little else, apart from the occasional potato and some porridge. So he gave his sermon on the beans, and then we got back to the boats.

And what boats they are. Everything about them is seductive – the way they sail, and the places they sail to. These are not brutal boats of the modern world which rely on ballast keels and high tech engineering and large auxiliary engines. Though their hulls are fibreglass, they are as simple as possible, relying on wind and solar power, and leaving no trace as they sail sweetly across the sea for thousands of miles.

The Tahiti Voyaging Society is the inspiration of German sub-aqua film maker Dieter Paulmann, and in 2011 this remarkable initial fleet of seven 73ft catamarans began voyaging. Three years down the line, they've sailed tens of thousands of miles, and now other islands want to get in on this inspirational programme.

This is where Sam and Suvretta get involved. After wandering to many strange places beyond the seas, they fetched up in Tonga and stayed for some time. Another voyager, Christy Butterfield, the woman boss of a Pacific charter ketch operation, introduced him to her crew – most of whom were Tongan - and then when the big catamarans (the Pacific name is a vaka) arrived in port, they brought him up to speed on what the boats were doing, and how they hoped that Tonga would one day have one if its own, just as places like the Cook Islands, Aotearoa, Tahiti, Fiji and Samoa already do.


The simple life for seafaring. Two of the big cats in port in Tonga, November 2012, with Hine Moana next the quay. Photos: Sam Davis


As it is, Tongan sailors have put in many sea miles as visiting crew on other islands' vakas and one of them - Aunofo Havea – was the first woman skipper in command for a long voyage, sailing the Hine Moana from Tonga to New Zealand. So the spirit is there, the ability is there, all they need is support.

In an Ireland which is currently devoid of any sail training ships north or south, it may seem a bit far-fetched to be voicing enthusiasm for what is in effect a traditional sail training vessel for the Pacific islands. But if you happen to see Sam Davis bearing down on you with a determined look about him, be prepared to take on board an impressive load of information about Pacific voyaging and the vaka programme. And a bit of precautionary research on mung beans wouldn't go amiss either.

Published in W M Nixon
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#Offshore - A catamaran sailing from Ireland to Cornwall has arrived safely at Newlyn harbour after a 22-hour journey troubled by poor weather.

As This Is Cornwall reports, the vessel was being monitored by Falmouth Coastguard after its original plans to dock at Falmouth were scuppered by inclement conditions at sea and a lack of fuel.

Published in Offshore
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#NewDesign - A new catamaran designed for servicing offshore drilling and energy platforms could help work crews get to where they're needed safety in some of the roughest seas.

Wired's Autopia blog reports on the SHC Wavedancer, a proposed catamaran with a submersible hull that could literally cut through and dissipate potentially dangerous waves - keeping the vessel stable enough in swells of up to 15 feet so that delicate operations, such as work on oil pipelines or wind turbines, can proceed without delay.

The new design is the work of veteran energy installation and construction consultant Dennis Knox, who is looking to crowdfunding to finance the first stages of the project.

Wired Autopia has more on the story HERE.

Published in Power From the Sea
3rd September 2011

Bon Voyage to Stena Voyager

The Stena Voyager high-speed ferry will make its final crossing between Belfast and Stranraer in mid-November.
BBC News cites the high cost of running the service, as well as its limited freight capacity, as reasons for the mothballing of the Stena HSS (High Speed Service).
The world's biggest high-speed ferry was a revelation when it was launched in 1996. The catamaran could reach speeds of up to 40 knots powered by enormous gas turbine engines.
But the rising cost of oil prompted a reduction in the ferry's cruising speed to save costs, making room for competition from conventional ferry routes with larger freight capacities.
The Voyager's fate was sealed when Stena Line announced plans to move its Stranraer port to a new location that will shave 20 minutes off the crossing for the two new but standard ferries that will replace it.
As previously reported on, the Stena HSS between Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead will also be suspended from later this month, though it is planned to resume service in 2012 for the summer season.

The Stena Voyager high-speed ferry will make its final crossing between Belfast and Stranraer in mid-November.

BBC News cites the high cost of running the service, as well as its limited freight capacity, as reasons for the mothballing of the Stena HSS (High Speed Service).

The world's biggest high-speed ferry was a revelation when it was launched in 1996. The catamaran could reach speeds of up to 40 knots powered by enormous gas turbine engines.

But the rising cost of oil prompted a reduction in the ferry's cruising speed to save costs, making room for competition from conventional ferry routes with larger freight capacities.

The Voyager's fate was sealed when Stena Line announced plans to move its Stranraer port to a new location that will shave 20 minutes off the crossing for the two new but standard ferries that will replace it. 

As previously reported on, the Stena HSS between Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead will also be suspended from later this month, though it is planned to resume service in 2012 for the summer season.

Published in Ferry

I am reflecting this week on a varied list of maritime issues which have arisen in my writings on marine topics.

Following recent pieces I wrote about the attitude of political parties in the General Election towards the marine sector, I had a telephone call from a senior Fine Gael politician and, lo and behold, the party included the marine sector in its manifesto, pledging to restore the Department of the Marine, abolished by Fianna Fail. I await post-election developments with interest.

It has been a good week for those interested in protection of whales and dolphins. Hundreds of dolphins were spotted off the Old Head of Kinsale, apparently following shoals of herring and sprat on which they were feeding.

In the Antarctic the Japanese whaling fleet was forced to give in to pressure to stop culling. The Japanese have killed hundreds of whales every year, claiming this was for "scientific purposes," even though it has been identified worldwide as for human consumption. The fleet was ordered home by its Government after increasing international pressure.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group published its annual report this week. It was formed in December 1990, dedicated to the "conservation and better understanding" of cetaceans - whales, dolphins and porpoise - in Irish waters through "study, education and interpretation." IWDG turnover in 2010 was around €300,000. It has dealt with up to 10,000 queries a month for information on its website. A total of 92 strandings of 128 individual cetaceans was reported to the IWDG in 2010. This compares to 137 strandings of 169 animals for 2009.

This week oil prices rose because of the unrest in Libya and David Surplus, Chairman of B9 Energy Britain's largest windfarm operator, warned that sooner or later oil will run out. BP is examining the possibility of building a fleet of carbon-neutral, wind-powered sail ships planned, to carry world trade.

On the international sailing scene the new AC 45, forerunner of the next generation of America's Cup boats was launched in New Zealand and had its first capsize. The wing-sailed catamaran is designed for speed and close racing, capable of making up to 30 knots, while intended to be handled in tight, tactical courses. An exciting boat to sail, it will also be very testing of ability. The first capsize of the new boat occurred on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf, hit by what was described as "a freak gust of wind," while the crew were doing maintenance on board before a sailing test.


Back in dock after the capsize

It capsized fully, ending upside down. Three support vessels were needed to pick up the crew and right the boat which was sailed back to its base in Auckland. There was damage to the wing sail, but no injuries to the crew. However, helmets may be an additional precaution needed for sailing these boats, which are to be used in the AC World Series! This will be a circuit of eight regattas for which venue bids are being made at present, with fleet and match racing, to raise the profile of high-performance sailing on worldwide television. Racing is to start in July, with regattas running until May of next year, leading into preparations for the next full AC series in the bigger AC72 catamarans in 2013 in San Francisco.

As the past week showed, there is always something interesting in the sea.

This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website:

Published in Island Nation

The Irish Multihull Championships visit Ballyholme for the bank holiday weekend, and they'll be going the distance, with the even stretching across three days and a variety of formats.

Saturday and Sunday will feature three races each, which won't surprise many, but Monday is a passage race, covering somewhere between 25-40 miles, which will pose a fresh challenge to the fleet.

Catamaran fleets around the world are renowned for being innovators in small boat racing, with the likes of the Worrell 1000, a 1000-mile beach cat race in the US and the Archipelago Raid in the Scandinavian Islands.

Socially it will also have a packed agenda starting with a welcoming family night on the Friday, South African braai barbeques and music.

Full details on the Ballyholme YC website, HERE

Published in Boating Fixtures

A 1965 built sailing catamaran originally owned by author Jim Andrews who wrote about the yacht in his book “Twelve Ships a Sailing”, is for sale on the Afloat boats for sale site. More recently “Twintail”, a Prout Ranger, has cruised the West Coast of Scotland and Irish Sea areas with both her current and previous owner. The current owner has added a wheelhouse that provides full protection for the helm position. The UK built boat is for sale at £12,500 STERLING. The broker, Blue Flag boats of Northern Ireland says it is a strongly built and well proven design. Photos and full details here.

Published in Boat Sales
Page 2 of 2

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.


The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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