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Alpha Omega F14 - Beautiful Winter Sail in Perth


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Dear Cat sailors,

Here is just a few words to get you enthusiastic for the sailing season - and some praise for the Alpha Omega F14.

I bought one of Darryl Barrett's AO F14s a few weeks ago, and have been trying to get out for a sail ever since. Its been disappointing wth lots of drifters and winter calm Sundays, but today was blue skies, cool but with 5-8knots of lovely steady breeze.

I took the AO F14 out and had some fun sailing with a spinnaker for the first time ever (at least since getting one quick demo on how to hoist, fly and retrieve the spi the day I got the boat). The wind was just perfect for learning the spi.

Wow - it was fun. Sailing with a spinnaker adds a new dimension to going downhill. It wasnt as daunting as I had first thought (though with only 7-8 knots it was perfect - more wind would be scary stuff). The boat is just fabululous, light and responsive. It sails high and fast (compared with my prevous Windrush).

I practised hoisting, dousing, hoisting again. Then gybing. The trick seems to be the big heave "pushing" foward with a fist full of both spi sheets in one hand as you gybe-oh - hopefully then the spi "pops" out on the other side. A bit of rudder to steer "up" and off she flys. The boat just loves that spi - it revels in it.

I cant wait for the next weekend and hopefully some more sub-10knot breezes for more practice.

Time to start thinking of the start of next season!

Fair winds for all 14 foot cat sailors!!


Mike Dean

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I weigh in at 75kg - with sailing gear on and whilst wet (which is quite often the case :) )

I am not sure of the "optimum" weight for F14s (being very new to the class)- but I am sure that some others on this forum can give some thoughts to this.

As per most classes I think "optimum" weight depends on the conditions on the day. Yesterday in Perth for example in 5-8 knots - the optimum weight was probably 25kgs! But come summer when it can blow 20+ knots on a race day - I'd quite happily be weighing in at 95kg!

I do know that Darryl Barrett's advice was that 85kg and 90kg sailors have been sailing the #01 and #02 Alpha Omega F14s quite happily and competetively (against much bigger cats).

Not sure if your question is aimed towards what is the "minimum" weight I can safely sail an F14 - or rather what is the "maximum" weight I can competitively sail one?

Perhaps you could clarify?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just an update to keep the 14 foot forum moving - and get a bit of enthusiasm for another sailing season around the corner!!

Went out again for a "training sail" on the AO F14 today. Bit grey and wintery in Perth, wind 10 knots gusts to 13 and 15 knots. Found out it was a bit too much for my novice spi sailing skills!

Was really pleased to get the boat from the sailing club compound, get it off trailer to beach wheels, rig it, launch, sail, retrieve, derig and get it back on the trailer - all on my own! Its a great thing about a 75kg boat - you are free of crew, helpers, passers by etc. You can sail all on yr own at any time that suits you. Brilliant.

I practised tacking (no jib on this boat) so momentum into the tack - and picking the wave to tack on seems quite important (like any una rigged boat).

Then turned downwind and hoisted the spi. Whoa! with it gusting to 15 knots it was fairly hair raising. I was only marginally in control - though by constantly steering downwind I was able to keep it upright.

I messed a gybe up when I managed to get the boat (at first going quite slow - nicely with the wind right astern) too high, a puff came and over I went in a moderately graceful roll. Luckily I wasnt at speed and/or on trapeze.

The first job was getting the spi back in the chute which I did from the boat on it side standing on the hull. Based on the advice I'd received beforehand - this prevented catching prawns, tearing the spi and generally making it harder to right. Once I did this the boat was righted quickly - the boat being so light meant even I could right it.

I went up and down wind for about an hour. Got the spi out again, but the gusts - and the fact that I havent mastered the spi from the trampoline - let alone the trapeze - meant it was "life on the edge".

One thing I did notice - just for discussion - was the impact that sheeting the spi has on the shape and power of the spi (like any sail of course). All good fun to learn a new thing/sail/boat.

Enjoyed the couple of hours on a nice quiet river, with just me and the boat!! Unfortunately come summer and it wont be so quiet - and some better skills will be required to navigate a boat (under spi) through the maelstrom! It will be a challenge.



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  • 6 months later...

Chocko, Hi, yes in a fashion!! I am still getting used to being out there, so its a certain set of conditions that it works for me. Usually breeze 12-15 knots and not to gusty/puffy.

It is an absolute blast when it works. The other day I sailed/raced with other nameless two person cats, on a shy reach across one leg of the race, wind almost abeam at 12-15 knots, I got out there, kite up and the boat just took off. Left the competitors (no spi) for dead.

I have to move back to rear of the boat and use the footstrap. As the gusts come and go, you need room below you to bear off/head down and bleed off speed and power. In a crowded situation this would be a worry (and probably an inevitable capsisze for me). The winwdward hulls is flying/skimming the waves and the leeward hull bursts through the waves.

NB: The AO F14 is nothing like say a Windrush for burying the leeward hull, it just keeps pushing up and through the waves. Not to say it couldnt be forced under with concerted effort!

Once the gust passes I head up again to desired course. Being out on the wire, back of boat and in footstrap is an exciting and scary place, because the boat is absolutley flying at this time. You try not to get complacent because it is on the margin of being "out of control"! The boat is light and loves to respond instantly to gusts. I have found being on this boat a bit like being strapped to a kite.

The other day I survived a 27 knot day on the river. Lots of white water and big waves. No spi that day! Came home literally black and blue with capsizes and falling around the boat.

From the above you can tell I am an enthusiastic amateur - and still learning!



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G'day Mike,

Everytime i read your posts, i want to drive down to Adelaide and camp on Darryl's footpath until he builds me one!!! I'm still waiting to see how the finances are before i make the big decision on which boat to buy. Do you know how much she weighs all up? They look a fantastic machine on Youtube.

You never know, i might meet you at the nationals one day,

Have fun, and keep the lessons coming,


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Cheers mate, re boat weight - Darryl advised it is on minimum class weight of 75kgs. There is a lot of carbon things on it (beams, boom, mast, mast spanner, tiller arms and cross arm). It is great being light enough to go sailing alone (off trailer, rig, down/up beach, derig and back on trailer). Hope to see you out there with one of these boats one day.

NB: Not sure if its still for sale but Darryl had/has the #01 boat for sale. See the For sale list on this site. Big discount to new and only a few years old.



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