By R. Norson
It's a real easy trend to spot. How many
new mono hulls are being built in Australia today? The easy answer
is bloody few. Though the very best of the lot are still doing
well, Martz for example, The volume
market is dominated by factories in France, USA and Germany but
the local production builder or homebuilder has gotten more scarce.
From a beginning that was the territory of 'outsiders' and nonconformist,
catamarans are a popular flavour of the new millennium and for
SPEED!! You can't get around it. In similar
conditions a modern cruising cat can do twice the speed of the
mono. You can argue about specific examples but in a general
sense that formula is useful. You can also argue that speed isn't
that important. Well maybe not to everyone but besides the fact
many think speed is fun
how about beating foul weather
to an anchorage or avoiding a night landfall to a strange destination
etc. There is a safety and comfort argument for speed, and speaking
COMFORT!! Racing multis can be a rough
ride. If you read my account of Rendezvous
2004 you know that it was only a matter of which way the
Trimaran, Adios was going to kill me, beat me to
death or drown me! That's not the normal though. I talked to
Rod Cunningham, currently the skipper of 52 ft Dufore cat Jinga
how he got perverted
.er.. I mean converted to Cats and
he told me the story of how he was racing in the Whits, punching
hard to windward in miserable soaking wet, cold conditions in
his 31 ft Jim Young design mono, White Knuckles when
he was passed by Catamaran, The Boss, whose crew
were relaxing sipping coffee in the cockpit. That was it. His
next boat was Light Blue Touch Paper and Stand Clear,
a Crowther Windspeed.
STABILITY!! Now here is where the shit
fight starts! A catamaran.. no way, I don't want to be
in one when they flip over! I've seen examples of monos
and multis laying upside down in the water waiting for rescue.
(remember Bullimore?) What they usually have in common is they
were racing and racing boats have oophsies. A modern cruising
cat winding up bum up, would have to have been grossly mismanaged
or in conditions you wouldn't want to be out in in anything.
This is the boat that I crewed on
in the Rendezvous. It recovered from this scary moment without
any crew even getting wet.... but there may have been some changes
of clothing nonetheless... yes.. it was racing.
COST!! Now we are at the real multi problem.
I believe that if Cats and monos were the same cost a lot of
mono fans would be raving Cat pilots overnight but the cost factor
can work for a Cat as well and here is how.
BUILD IT!! Take a look in the boat trader
and the division between mono and multi prices jumps at you.
Just like the speed thing the effect is about double
more. Some will see that as an impediment and some as an opportunity.
If one were to buy the materials now to build a mono, say in
steel like the old days, a forty foot boat would owe you about
$100k when done unless you were very frugal. Problem is that
the value of the boat when done would be about the same figure!
Put $150K in materials into a good style of Cat and you should
have at least $300k worth of boat when done. The Cat can ad value
at a rate that pays you about $100K per year for
your labour. ( Figures like these can be massaged around enough
to keep a good argument going forever.) This assumes an individual
with some related boat building skills working diligently and
full time, but the fact is, this is one of those rare times in
history that building a boat by an individual can actually pay,
as long as it is a Cat of popular design and length, which means
about forty feet. Here is the real dirty secret
no tax (yet) on the gain in equity on your boat so it's tax free
. don't tell anyone!