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Cats for beginners and kids


owen
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Hi

I have been looking into cats for beginners and kids. In the newer designs there seem to be the Nacra 350 and the Hobie Wave, while in older designs maybe the Windrush or Maricat.

I have also been looking at the Weta Trimaran which also looks great.

Most experienced sailors have long since forgotten how hard it was to start with but a beginner can easily get into big trouble on a powered up cat very quickly if the wind changes. Or they get frustrated by righting problems or the time taken to rig up. Then they go away and never come back to the sport which is a shame for all.

The aim is to have a cat that be rigged, sailed and righted with one adult or perhaps one larger teenager or two kids and maybe take a friend out sometimes as well.

Something safe, forgiving but still fun. Something that would enable more people to get into the sport.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Thanks

Owen (SEQ)

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I've had stacks of cats that would suit what you want to do, really it comes down to your budget but if you can afford to consider a Weta then there are a lot of new style cats that you can look at. Nacra has been focussing on high buoyancy easy cats to sail, I haven't been on a Nacra 350 but I did sail a Nacra 430 two months ago, though I normally sail a Nacra 5.8 I thoroughly enjoyed myself on the 430 and found the performance quite reasonable so perhaps take a couple of boats for a sail. 

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For 2nd hand production cats, a Mari would be you best bet.

Cheap, $1000 to $2500 for Mk2 on reg trlr.

Simple and easy to rig, I can be on the water in 10 minutes, cat rigged.

Can still be bought new, made in Bris.

2nd hand parts readily available and cheap.

Advice and assistance readily available through this site and local fleets.

Only production 14 still racing State and National fleets in Aus

A 40 yr old Mari, with new race sails, can still win a national title, in the right hands.

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As a beginner way back when, I like 99% started my first season on a monohull (flying ant)

 

my 2nd season was on a small cat that was not only designed but built locally by a guy that STILL sails to this day !!!

 

That boat was an Impara Cadet.

Very similar in size to the more popular Arafura Cadet with the most obvious difference being the curved hull shape of the Impara V's the flat bottom and sides of the Arafura.

 

I started sailing this boat at the ripe old age of 12 and a mate crewed for me for the first season

I sailed it singled handed the following season without any issues in ALL weather types..... infact I loved it blowing a gale to go sailing in rather than a sedate 10knot breeze.

 

My scrawny weight back then was low and NO I don't recall it but to give you an idea I'm now 74kgs and haven't varied much from that weight since I left school...

I never had any problems righting the boat from my 2nd season onwards once I'd gained the knowledge and skill to do so, Icould at the end of my time on that boat right it in about the same time as the old flying ant

 

Impara's are rare and only a few still survive today

Afaura's however are still out there and being sailed actively although in low numbers.

 

http://www.catsailor.net/index.php?/topic/297-impara-cadet/

 

http://www.catsailor.net/index.php?/topic/6099-arafura-cadet-build/

 

;) 

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Owen I bought my kids a Hobie Bravo for exactly this. It's very simple,  lite, super easy to rig and teaches them all the fundamentals about sailing whilst being very very forgiving. I can easily transport it on top of my H16 or H17 and it offers a lot of fun for the bigger kids too especially in high winds.

Another chap who sails from WoodyPt on a regular basis has also bought one for his young kids.

Certainly when my kids get older and become competent sailors i'll consider an upgrade.

 

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The Weta doesn't go much faster than any of the cats mentioned, takes much longer to setup, is all carbon so if your kid prangs it is expensive, on the plus side kids don't need to know where the wind is because the ama's support the boat and the boat can do complete 360's with you lying on a tramp in under 10 knots. If you purchase a second hand boat your not risking much, you can buy anything now sail it for the summer then change to another one next year if you want and you won't loose much money. My suggestion would be whatever boat you look at get the owner to show you how to sail it and deliberately capsize and right it. If you can't right it don't buy it

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Some of the videos of the Weta seem to show when it does capsize that it turns turtle, which makes it that much harder. I wonder why they don't put a mast float on it?

 

I went to see the Nacra 350 being sailed around today at Paradise Point on the Gold Coast and I was very impressed. Beautiful little cat that seem to be happily sailed by a couple of small kids, then an adult, then an adult and three kids. Looks like a reduced size 4.5 but easier for beginners of course. If I had enough spare cash I would go get one.

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Almost impossible to capsize a Weta in under 15 knots, if you do just unscrew the hatch on the AMA that's under water it fills with water, right the weta, then as you sail the water self bails out of the AMA. Not urging you to get one though as I think they are pretty boring to sail unless it's around 20kts and over, then they are entertaining. If you talk to Brisbane Catamaran Centre they make the Nacra's and they could tell you of boats people might be looking to sell, they can definitely organise a test drive somewhere for you. You haven't named your budget so pretty hard for anybody to point out a cheap boat that would suit you now

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As an enthusiastic Weta owner I think I should correct some of the misinformation included here:

 

1. The Weta is not all carbon

The mast, bowsprit, float arms are carbon. And the folis have a carbon core. This makes it light enough for anyone to rig it.

The main hull and floats are fibreglass and foam core.

2. It takes a long time to rig/derig

It takes under 25 minutes - which is quicker than nearly every cat mentioned. And here is the proof.

3. No fun

With all 3 sails and one person the Weta is fun to sail above 10 knots (it planes upwind around 8 knots) - and really fun above 20 and up to 30 knots (when all the catamarans are off the water) but it depends how you define fun.

 

Catamaran vs Weta for beginners

 
- Safety
Unlike a catamaran, a Weta is much less likely to go over and if it does it’s much easier to right  than a catamaran (undo the porthole on a float, let the air out and it rights like a monohull).
 
- Flexibility
Unlike most cats, a Weta can be sailed single-handed, with children or with other adults. A smaller main and furling jib are available as well as a larger kite for light wind locations.
 
- Storage
A Weta requires only 4x2M to store – roughly the space of a Laser
 
- Technology
The Weta is lighter (only 120Kg fully rigged) than most rotomoulded catamarans and has a rigid carbon platform performance which maximises performance.
 
- Performance
For it’s size, especially when sailed single-handed, the Weta offers much more useable and exciting (but not scary) performance in any wind condition compared with a catamaran which can’t really be used above 23 knots (my local multihull club abandons racing above this limit - FFS).
 
A Weta was the only multihull entered in the 2011 Double Damed race 41 miles up the Hood River against a 3-knot current in winds between 18-40 knots. It came 3rd overall and was the only boat to keep the kite up the whole way. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBrs-Nqt-dc
 
- Launching time
A Weta can be launched in 25 minutes and the lightweight mast and components means anyone can rig it. 
 
- Growth & Support
There are now 1000 boats worldwide. There were 24 boats at the 2014 nationals in the USA and France. The boat will be used for the World Masters Championships in 2017.
 
 - Focus
Weta only make sailboats and that is their primary focus. A revised boat was introduced for 2015.
 
- Reliability and Investment Potential
Second hand Wetas are rare on the market and have held their value. Fibreglass can easily be repaired and the Mylar sails are easy to care for and long lasting, keeping their shape.
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Your post about club sailing limits and cats being off the water in 20 to 30 kts is misguided and it shows you are another over enthusiastic Weta owner, the club safety limit is imposed by the insurance company. You shouldn't get too pumped up with bs like your American cousins, the Australian Weta owners have dragged the handicap back to about the slowest of any cats sailing in Aus and I haven't heard much about handicap wins yet. The Weta marketing campaign is slick, with it launched as having the same performance as a Hobie 16, along with people like you spinning yarns. When the local sailor pulls up at his club with a 14ft cat they mostly leave their stays attached so they just stand the mast up pull the sail up and go, when you arrive you put the amas on, you lace the tramps separately, then put all the rest of the gear on, when I put in a lot of hours on the Weta the instruction book said to sail it for a short while then retighten the tramps all adding to the time. You should be able to work a video camera perhaps you would like to show us what a Weta looks like on the beach in 30kts when the wind gets under the ama's another good one would be sailing off a beach in under 5kts wind and 2ft waves rolling in, you get washed back in. You can indeed take the Weta out in high wind as it has a relatively small sail area with a bendy mast, the amas aren't designed to lift the centre hull for performance they are there for stability much like training wheels on a bike as I stated in my earlier post it's entertaining and it is an ideal boat for the less adventurous sailor

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"Your post about club sailing limits and cats being off the water in 20 to 30 kts is misguided and it shows you are another over enthusiastic Weta owner, the club safety limit is imposed by the insurance company."

The reason the insurance company imposes such a low limit is surely due to previous claims by cat owners

 

"You shouldn't get too pumped up with bs like your American cousins, the Australian Weta owners have dragged the handicap back to about the slowest of any cats sailing in Aus and I haven't heard much about handicap wins yet. The Weta marketing campaign is slick, with it launched as having the same performance as a Hobie 16, along with people like you spinning yarns. "

 

Um it's not a cat - it's a tri - and you seem to have ignored all the rotmoulded rafts in your comparison. So not only do you get a boat that performs well in a much wider wind range than a H16 - you also get a better handicap as well - result!

 

The reason you probably haven't heard about handicap wins is we haven't had that many mixed fleet races. There were 10 Wetas at the ACT Multihull Championships and 10 at Jervis Bay.

 

 

When the local sailor pulls up at his club with a 14ft cat they mostly leave their stays attached so they just stand the mast up pull the sail up and go, when you arrive you put the amas on, you lace the tramps separately, then put all the rest of the gear on, when I put in a lot of hours on the Weta the instruction book said to sail it for a short while then retighten the tramps all adding to the time.

You obviously didn't read the instruction book fully or study the video link I gave above where they used a stopwatch to time the 25 min rigging time. You leave the stays attached to the amas and tramps laced up  - insert the ama arms in the main hull and then tie the tramps to a block at one end and cleat it at the other (no lacing required) takes less than 2 mins in the video above.

 

You can tighten them up as soon as you put it in the water in my experience and it takes less than 5 secs to pull on both lines (I put a loop in the end of mine to make it easier).

 

 

You should be able to work a video camera perhaps you would like to show us what a Weta looks like on the beach in 30kts when the wind gets under the ama's another good one would be sailing off a beach in under 5kts wind and 2ft waves rolling in, you get washed back in.

If it was blowing 30 knots on a beach you'd put the boat head to wind so the wind can't get under the tramps (the amas are too narrow to be a problem in strong winds) - if parked, you'd tie it down just as you would with any boat. But you did look at the video showing the Weta sailing in the Double Damed race in 2011 in up to 40 knots?  Three Wetas also took part in the Peter Loft Marathon at Pittwater this year in up to 30 knot gusts - and none went over. I can't say the same for many of the cats that I went past.

 

I've never had problems sailing my Weta off a beach - I've had problems sailing a H16 off a beach into a headwind up a narrow boat channel (to keep clear of swimmers) which was almost impossible to tack out of - where a Weta could easily have done so.

 

If you have problems with Weta beach launches  -- study this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlG-qx7Jnps

 

 

You can indeed take the Weta out in high wind as it has a relatively small sail area with a bendy mast, the amas aren't designed to lift the centre hull for performance they are there for stability much like training wheels on a bike as I stated in my earlier post it's entertaining and it is an ideal boat for the less adventurous sailor

 

Yes it's a great concept - you get a boat which is fast (to sail and to rig), fun (in a wide range of wind conditions) and easy (to store, own and sail).

 

It's not a white knuckle ride and it's not as fast as the Nacra, Tornado, A-Class etc but it doen't pretend to be and it is more useable by more people - which is the whole point - the OP was asking for boats for beginners and kids - not experienced swimmers.

 

But how adventurous do you want to be?:

The 41 mile Double Dammed race in 18-40 knots (no cats have entered yet) Here's another video of it.

The 200 mile Everglades Challenge (practice sail in up to 40 knots)

300Km Sailing from Townsville to Cairns 

 

Australian Weta Class Page - www.facebook.com/ausweta

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Some of the videos of the Weta seem to show when it does capsize that it turns turtle, which makes it that much harder. I wonder why they don't put a mast float on it?

 

I went to see the Nacra 350 being sailed around today at Paradise Point on the Gold Coast and I was very impressed. Beautiful little cat that seem to be happily sailed by a couple of small kids, then an adult, then an adult and three kids. Looks like a reduced size 4.5 but easier for beginners of course. If I had enough spare cash I would go get one.

 

Because mast head floats are slow and ugly and a Weta is easy to right on your own in about 3 mins - no rescue boat required. Undo porthole, sit on the front of the float to let the air out, right it using the centreboard like a monohull. Sail away while the water drains out of the ama and lean back to do up the porthole.

 

See video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xXm-x3OgD0

 

Contact Kevin Bates if you want a demo sail in a Weta

Kevin Bates - QLD

Weta Queensland

Ph: 0427 515 791

Email: kevinb@bristolbay.com.au

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Thanks Paul, I think the Weta does look like a really innovative boat that caters for a lot of people, except the price is high at the moment and there aren't many at all second hand. Maybe the price is right, maybe not, just a bit too high for the group of new sailors who are still exploring sailing and not ready to commit to a price that is roughly twice that for a Nacra 350 or Hobie Wave, which are also new boats in this category though certainly not all of the same performance level.

 

For older boats there are also the others mentioned in the posts above such as Windrush, Mari-cat, and so on. Some newer sailors end up going for second hand boats that are available and appear to be affordable but are probably too big and require more skill than they really have particularly on a windy day, so they have problems and the boat ends up sitting in the yard going unused. I am sure many people have seen that problem. I just look around the neighbourhood and see all the boats not being used.

 

As for the Weta mast float comment, my comment on turning turtle is because some areas where I sail are shallow with lots of sandbanks and mudflats not too far below the water in places and I wouldn't want to have a boat turn turtle and embed the mast in the mud. But the Weta looks easy to right by anyone which is a big safety feature. I would be happy with one for sure. 

 

It is an interesting discussion.

 

All the best

 

Owen

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Hi Owen

 

I bought my Weta second hand in Melbourne and had it towed to Sydney  - so they are around. In fact there's one in Perth on Gumtree for $13,500 uship.com.au from multiple transport providers.

 

I agree that the price is higher than the rotomoulded boats you mention but the Weta can be used in a much wider wind range than most cats - without feeling out of control and hence they don't tend to sit in boat parks unused. And it doesn't matter if you want to sail it 1, 2 or 3-up  - so you haven't got the issues of finding crew - particularly when kids can be so picky and have so many competing activirties.

 

There are a number of Weta owners who own multiple cats but take the Weta more than the others because it's not so much effort to have fun. Particularly if you have knee/back/elbow issues from sailing oither boats. But don't just take my word for it - read the experience of other owners here.

 

The original inspiration for the Weta was when Roger Kitchen was in France and noticed multihulls being used to teach kids to sail - instead of the dull and uncomfortable Optis, and so from that perspective, I think the Weta achieves the design brief of providing useable performance that scales with your abilites.

 

If you're sailing in shallow water in strong winds then it is a good idea to prevent the mast from digging into the mud in any boat (I broke a Laser mast like that).

While the Hobie mast floats may be effective, there are automatic inflating alternatives whcih are less intrusive:.

http://www.grabner-sports.at/Masthead-float.1675.0.html?&L=2

http://www.marinechandlery.com/secumar-auto-inflation-anti-inversion-mast-float-15917

 

Another Weta owner who sails in shallow water suggests the technique to get the mast out of the mud is to undo the porthole on the submerged float (to reduce the pressure on the mast) and then gradually put your weight on the bowsprit (to help twist it free) and if this doesn't work, pull yourself along the mast while wearing a PFD. Then use the dagerboard to right it as normal until it's upright and you can enjoy a mud shower!

 

However, while Wetas can go over, it usually only if you fail to heed the ample warning signs that it's going to do so - whiich you can avoid by easing the main and/or turning downwind to spill wind and allow the bouyancy of the hulls to keep it upright. 

 

Hope this helps

 

Paul

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  • 1 year later...
  • 1 month later...

I know it is a bit off topic and sounds like I am stirring the pot but.  We had a race in Bundy on the weekend and there where four cats and four wetas. 15 to 20knots.  The wetas won the capsize prize. 2 wetas upside down compared to one cat. 

Back on topic.  We had a kid on a Nacra 350 here. He had a ball.  Anything over 5 knots still out there in 20knots.  He travelled to all the regattas we went to and raced against the monos or did a lap less than the big cats if he raced with us.  At home he raced the wetas and kept them honest but not really competitive until it got up to 15knots or so but that is what yardstick is for.  He has now migrated to a 4.5 because as kids do he is growing fast. If you are planning on joining a club check to see what they are sailing.  One club up this way had a large fleet of hobie 14's.  sailed two up till big enough than one up.  With kids it always seems best to get them on what the other kids are sailing.  Lake cootharaba used to have a good fleet of arufura cadets for their kids

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