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sailing an A class


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Hi everyone,

I am after some very basic advice. Having sailed a laser dinghy for the past 7 years I am considering moving sailing/racing a Cat next season. I sailed a maricat around twenty years ago so i have some basic cat sailing experience. Is it too much to be able to start sailing an A class ( at club level)or should i look at something like a paper tiger or cat rigged taipan as a more gentle introduction. would a Mark 3 a class be competitive at club level. i am based on the central coast of NSW. Any advice or info would be greatly appreciated.

many thanks


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G'day Peter,

If I was in your position, I would definitely "try before I buy". There is a pretty big difference between a Paper Tiger and an A Class.

I am heavily involved in the Paper Tiger class, but I will try not to be biased in my comments!

A Paper Tiger is certainly an excellent introduction to catamaran sailing, especially the racing scene. They are a great training ground for some of the bigger classes as well. The current A Class World Champion, Glenn Ashby, sailed Paper Tigers for a number of years before moving into the A Class. He has stated many times that the PT was the ideal training ground.

The PT regularly attracts around 50 boats from 5 states to the Nationals, something you won't get in other 14ft cat classes. The PTs also have an International Championships 2 years out of every 3, alternating between Australia and New Zealand. The top ten from the Nationals form the National Team, with others being able to compete based on their Nationals results.

In my mind, to jump straight onto an A Class is asking too much of yourself. They are a full on racing machine with loads of power, which needs to be controlled properly for you to be able to enjoy it. A Taipan is probably a better intermediate step than going straight to an A Class.

However, give the PT some serious consideration. There are PTs sailing on the Central Coast, which I can put you in contact with.

The 2006/07 Nationals will be in NSW and this will be a selection event for the team to go to New Zealand in Easter 2007, so keep that in mind.

PTs have good resale value, so buying one as an intermediate step to a bigger class won't see you out of pocket.

Anyway, like I said, try before you buy. Organise a trial sail of the classes that interest you and see what you think. Spend some time watching them in various wind conditions and see if they are for you.

Please let me know if you would like any further information about Paper Tigers.


Dave Stumbles

Publicity Officer

Australian Paper Tiger Catamaran Assoc.

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I think Dave has given some good general advice but I would like to add another angle.

If you are going to race at club level, look at what boats other people are sailing at the clubs in your area. There is little point in sailing an A if everyone else is on 14 footers - apart from always being first to the warm showers and cold beer - or being embarassed if they beat you home. The reverse applies also. If there is a fleet of bigger boats you not only compete but get help and advice from people on similar boats.

Specifically on the A Class, I'll declare my bias as an A sailor for 24 years. They quite an easy boat to sail because of the light weight and simple efficient rig. Their responsiveness an instant feedback helps you to adapt quickly. They're a dream to handle on and off the water. If you can sail a laser downwind in 20kts you'll have no problem with an A.

A Boyer Mk3 or similar would be a very good club boat. A's of this vintage are becoming quite popular on the mid to north coast.

The Taipan 4.9 is a very good chioce if you want to sail both cat rigged and sloop rigged with a crew. If you are only going to race one up the A is a much better proposition. The 4.9 is actually a Mk3 Boyer A with 2 feet cut off and the keel widened out from the main beam back to carry the weight of sloop rig and two crew. As a cat rig it actually has slightly more sail area than an A and is 2 feet shorter. It is also 40% heavier as it has an alloy mast and been beefed up for the sloop rig. Great boat for two - a real compromise for one.

I believe power to weight ratio is crucial - go for an A if you sail with larger boats and the PT if the fleet is generally smaller boats.

Hope this is some food for thought.

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