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Yet another newbie advice thread

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Hi all,

I've just done a three afternoon RYA cat sailing course on Lake Garda, so I know enough to be a menace to safe navigation. I'm looking to continue on Port Phillip this season and need some help picking a class. My partner found cat sailing is not for her, so a boat that can be sailed one-up with occasional crew. Live in the eastern suburbs and have family on the peninsula so something with a strong club scene on the eastern side of the bay would be good. Something relatively modern (so not Hobie), with trapeze. Budget $5k.

Ignoring what's sailed locally one of the 14" Nacras looks ideal, but they don't seem to be popular down here. A Mosquito seems closest of what is commonly raced on Port Phillip. Anyone have any better ideas?

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Welcome to cat sailing, there aren't many Nacra's sailing there but that doesn't stop you sailing one yourself, I am quite often the only Nacra sailing where I sail, a boat that would fit your bill with a big fleet near you is the Taipan 4.9, you can sail that one or two  up, you won't get a fibreglass one for $5000 but there is a ex national champion timber one in very good order on Gum Tree, it was been repainted light grey, with good sails etc. The mozzies not a bad option it is more weight sensitive good luck with your search

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The best boat will really come down to how much you weigh, and how much you expect your occasional accomplice to weigh.
Realistically, anything over say 120kgs-130kgs combined weight on any 14 is too high to be competitive - unless it's blowing 20 knots +.
And then (as far as the 'fun' factor goes)  it's relative to what everyone else in the fleet's sailing.
If you want ease of use / rigging and manipulation on the beach / off and on the trailer, then the Windush 14 / Nacra 430 / Maricat 4.3 is the way to go.
If you want to go solo 90% of the time - then the Taipan 4.9 is the go...
Keep in mind you can put a spinnaker on a Windy or Nacra 430 - and boost their light weather performance considerably - and also give the crew something to do as a sloop-rigged/spinnaker boat.
You may be able to find a reasonable condition 'bulk-head' Windrush 14 for around $5K on trailer - but it may take some time...
Check out the Windrush Sailors Forum - (look for the 'Fun Vids' of Windrush 14) - to see some cool action videos on the boat...

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Agree with most of Prince Planets' advice. Personally I would not consider buying until you have visited the local clubs, find a strong fleet that you think may suit, and chat to member/owners, some body will probably offer you a ride. Don't buy without getting back on here for advice.

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Not sure how far you're prepared to travel Simon, but South Gippsland Yacht Club appears to be approx 1.5hrs drive from the middle of the eastern side of Port Phillip Bay.

It looks like a brilliant place to sail - and they do have a couple of very nice Windrush 14s regularly tearing it up down there... check out the website - look for the section titled "Serious Surf Stuff 2015 day 3 Gallery"
Some very enticing pix there... also on their splash page a very cool pic of a Windy in full flight ; 1-up Super Sloop.
If that image doesn't get your interest - nothing much will...
Maybe worth the drive?

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Another good 14 foot boat is the Arrow, they have hulls that are flat on the bottom, very high buoyancy, when I did my first Lake Eyre Regatta I sailed an Arrow two up in some of the races at about 160kg and it handled it ok. It's a good idea before you sail whatever boat you buy to get the tips to depowering it 

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My 2cents worth......


For starters dont just look at whats being sailed at the local clubs, have a real close look at the social side of the club as well ..... nothing worse than having the right boat but not fitting in with the members that are there.

Be prepared to travel and have a look at more than just the nearest club, you'll enjoy it far more if the boat AND you fit in.


Secondly, $5k ........ seriously ????

You've just discovered our sport and really are taking a big financial step by pouring in that sort of coin on something that may not be you cup of tea in the long run. Start off small and work your way up, a budget of say $2k would easily get you a boat that will leave room to spare for some good upgrades or on the other side its not such a loss if this sport is not for you.


Some of my favorite memories are on an old mosquito that was certainly well under the $2k mark, sure I've spent hours of work on it to get it to where I wanted it to be ..... it wont ever win a state championship but its done me proud on many an occasions both at club level and throughout the regional regattas..... best bang for buck I've ever had and without doubt the best of memories both good and at times bad, not to many of us have put a catamaran over backwards in 30+knot winds and a 6metre swell, sounds scary but now in hindsight hell it was fun and a challenge to boot but for the life of me I couldnt tell you what race I won that got me this silver plate thats sitting on the coffee table.


Size DOES matter ....  a  18' boat is a handfull on the water, sure its fast and fun but its even worse to move around on the beach by yourself..... and rigging it, and loading and finding room at home for it too.. so your physical size will really depict the boat size you should have in your sights, if for example your a 70kg flyweight then maybe the 14'footers like an arrow or papertiger might be on your list.... around the 85kg mark and the mozzies are right on the money in the 16' foot mark.... getting up there on the scales then the bigger 18' boats will be better suited.... all of that though will change when we take in your fitness levels the bigger the boat the fitter you'll need to be to get the best from it.


& my best advice. .. ASK .... we're all here to further our sport but not one single person here or at your local club is a mind reader, regardless of how stupid a question you might think it is, always ask.

Now where's the rum..... ;)

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The 5k budget is trying to avoid a fixer-upper. I'd rather be sailing than fixing a boat. Assuming I don't destroy it that's not lost money. I'm not doing something completely insane like buying new.

The advantage of a Taipan in Melbourne is there are stacks of clubs to choose from without travelling.

I'm 75kg, so 14' would be ideal. Only reason for not looking at a Paper Tiger is I'd prefer a boat with trapeze. I'm not even considering 18' boats.

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Simon all the info here is really good. As your a newbie I would suggest the 14s, windy, maris, arrows, PTs, they're enough to handle in a breeze and you can always jump up a size when your confidence levels increase. As the guys say check out your local clubs and get advice and a ride on any or all. There's a lot of fun rivalry between the classes but there all good boats to sail and similar in speed.

As Pirate says get advice from sailors before you buy cause there are people who will tell you anything to get a sale where people who sail at a club want you to join them so it's unlikely they will tell you untruths. And your always welcome to get advice from this site.



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IMHO, it's not 'insane' to buy new... as long as you buy the 'right' boat 4U…
Buying new means you'll be immediately competitive - assuming of course you know what you're doing...
The hard part about used boats is to find 1 that's not gonna cost you at least what you already paid for it (or more) - to make it competitive...
The other thing is you must be realistic about its primary use.

If it's 90% racing - then the Taipan is probably the right boat - especially if there are clubs nearby - and there's at least 1 sailor willing to help you get up to speed...
But it it's going to be a dual-purpose boat - and you don't want the hassle of centre-boards, you want fast single-handed rigging and the ability to go where you want occasionally - on your own (complete independence) then the Windy / Maricat / Nacra 430 makes a whole lot more sense...
With a set of beach rollers, you can quite easily launch and retrieve most 14 footers. Skippers in the know will also share the single-handed mast raising techniques with you.
The Nacra 450 is just too large and heavy to do most of that - but definitely an excellent load-carrier for when you take heavier crew along for the thrills.
Unfortunately the Taipan (and boats like it) can't effectively sail in shallow water due to centre-boards. Like the Paper Tiger - it's a little fragile if handled poorly.
At 75kgs - u r spot-on to be competitive in the Windrush 14 / Maricat 4.3 / Nacra 430 Super-sloop configurations.
They're pretty indestructible - and can be rigged/de-rigged solo - and sailed pretty much anywhere...
The pix above of the W14 Super Sloop clearly demonstrate that if you can find a nice bulkhead or foam sandwich boat - you'll have a ball - without all the hassles and drama of the larger boats...

If you can somehow stumble across a genuinely good (cared for) used Windy / Maricat or Nacra 430 - you should seriously consider it.
But be prepared to pay more than $5K. About $6K - $8K is the going price... and if it's a Windy or Maricat make sure it's around the 105kgs rigged weight - max. The Nacra 430 is heavier - but not sure how much heavier...

You just don't see Taipans, or even Paper Tigers being sailed off sandy beaches purely for pleasure. They were designed as racing boats - and are very good at it - but not so nice as 'fun / easy-to-sail' recreational craft. The Taipan will 99% of the time require someone to help rig it - and to manipulate it on and off the trailer - after all it's a 16ft boat - albeit a light boat at 105kgs all-up - but if I'm wrong then someone please correct me...

The Nacra 450 is nearly 130kgs and 15ft long - so realistically needs 2 to manhandle it... either that or get thyself to a gym and put on 25kgs of muscle...

For a very good comparison, download the current VYC Catamaran Yardsticks - you'll notice the N450 and Windrush 14 Super Sloop are within 1 'point' of each other... and suggested skipper weight is also very, very close too...

As suggested above, finding a good used boat (without hidden faults) is the real difficulty. That's why buying new can make a lot of sense. Realistically, it means you shouldn't have to buy anything for it for at least 5 years - and you can just hop on – tune it correctly – and go for it...
It's what I did - and I don't regret it a bit.

Keep in mind that you can sail to handicap at any club - it's only if you want the same boat that others are sailing that that aspect becomes the deciding factor...


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