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Viper Review

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Here is Viper review, written by Pim sailing out of the Swan River in WA. It's a good read. Tony

From F18 to F16

After sailing formula 18 for 10 years and sailing a Hobie Tiger with as a mixed team for the last 4 years we decided to buy a f16 catamaran. The weight of a f18 was the problem; Handling 180 kg on the beach was unpleasant and weighing 138 kg together we were always struggling to meet the minimum weight on f18 events. Also sailing a f18 is quite heavy for a female crew.

Sailing in Perth

We are sailing at the Nedlands Yachtclub in Perth. The club is located at the Swan River, were we have a club race every Sunday. The Swan river is a lake of approx 5x2 km with flat water most of the time. Sometimes there is a small chop due to the amount of boats on the water. In the afternoon there is a sea breeze of 12-25 knots. (Above 20 knots we hardly sail).

The Viper

The viper steers very light and is very responsive. Up till about 20 knots of wind it is a real joy to sail. Above that it will feel more nervous because it is lighter and it responds so extremely well to the rudder. The boat is sensitive to weight movement. Due to the shorter hulls you will need to move forward and backward more than on a F-18 to keep it level.

Diving: although the hulls are shorter we have not yet experienced being close to capsizing over the nose. When required the crew can be comfortably standing at the stern when in trapeze due to the sloping part on the stern. If the boat dives, it does not give the impression to want to capsize over the bow. With the tiger the same amount of diving would be a lot more dangerous because of the flat decks.


The viper sails comparable to F18. The speed is about the same, with some advantage for the F-18 in conditions where the f-18 crew can just be in the trapeze and the f16 just can not. Because of the added sail area. Also in heavy wind conditions the F-18 will be faster and easier to sail due to longer hulls and more mass. In other conditions I feel that the Viper is slightly faster.

At our club we sail against F-18’s and tornado’s. The tornado’s are not a good reference as they should be a lot faster. Although at times we can have a nice one to one race with some of them. The F-18’s are comparable in speed, but as we are new here it is difficult to know who to compare with. Some f18’s are faster and some are slower then us. By getting to know the boat better the F18’s finishing in front of us become less! We have received a lot of tips from Greg Goodall and he has a good set of trim tips on his web site.

The Weight

The weight of the Viper is perfect for dual handed sailing. With our 138 kg’s we are supposed to have optimum weight. I also sailed with heavier crew (155 kg together) and it did not seem to make a difference (probably due to the volume of the hulls). The boat weighs 125 kg which is a Joy to handle on the beach. But still the boat gives a very strong impression. For me it does not need to be any lighter. I have not tried it single handed yet, so I don’t know if it is easy to right after capsizing.


The main modifications we have made is changing the main sheet from 1:8 to 1:10 with a tapered sheet. That is a big improvement. The other is adjustable trapezes. Some benefit there although we hardly use it and due to the lower attachment point of the hook, it seems to unhook (unwanted). Maybe we will go back to the original arrangement. We also bought a very light tiller extension from Nacra. When I installed it I noticed it did not work because of all the flexible connections of the cross bar. So I switched back to the standard long one and am now used to it. Central sheeting could be handy with the crew sheeting or single handed. For the rest the boat comes with everything exactly on the right place.


We are really happy with the Viper and hopefully more people will be discovering the F16 class in WA soon.

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  • 8 years later...

I have now been sailing a Viper F16 for one and a half seasons. This review is spot on and assisted me when I deliberated between an f18, Nacra 15 or a Viper.

I sail single handed a great deal (80 kg ) and the boat is well behaved and awesome to sail up to about 18 knots. Into the mid twenties, when going downwind I feel the lack of crew weight makes keeping the bows up difficult, there is just so much power in the top of the main and the kite, When going main sail only it seems better with sheeted on than twisted off, effectively stalling the sail up top.I don't have the guts or skill yet to trapeze downwind in 25knots solo. Up to 18 solo its rainbows and puppy dogs all the way.

More recently my 13 year old son has taken to skippering the boat like a champion while I crew. It's been great for me to learn the boat and spinnaker sailing and now be able to pass this on to my boy. We are both on a massive learning curve and loving it. All his with one boat. Our first boat was a Hobie 16, he lost interest after two years as he got bored crewing on it. The Hobie had all the right characteristics, light to move, stable, big fleets. This is far more refined, balanced, easier to sail, exciting and a pleasure to tear around on and race.

Being an inexperienced sailor at first I took many risks on the boat and came off second best a number of times. As I have advanced and learned to sail within my abilit this is important to keep in mind, reckless sailing is punished hard, now with a bit more finesse the boat just continues to reward us.

i still push the boundaries as I am yet to find the limit of this engineering masterpiece. I still crash/fall off and capsize trying new things especially trying to trapeze with the kite in one hand tiller in the other. The wipeouts are getting less common and the sensation of gliding downwind with the kite is almost ethereal.

I absolutely love this boat!




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