Boat Reviews

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Kaidoz 31
Some of the most innovative boat designs and concepts come out of France, and here is a fine example. The Kaidoz 31 has the rig of a hotshot racer, a hull design that gets it planing at 16 knots or more, and an accommodation plan that’s unlike anything I’ve seen on a monohull sailboat.

The twin rudders, torpedo-shaped ballast bulb slung from a skinny keel, huge rig, and flat, beamy hull form with minimal overhangs all conform to up-to-the-minute performance fashion, la the Open 60. It’s the rest of the boat that’s full of surprises.

The small cuddy cabin houses a head and stowage lockers. From just abaft the mast, the remainder of the boat is given over to a vast cockpit that contains the galley as well as winches and other sailing paraphernalia. Two fiberglass hoops arch over the cockpit and act as supports for an inflatable “cabintop.” This can be deployed fully to completely enclose the cockpit or partially to act as a windbreak for a crew of up to twelve.

This is a boat for warm summer weekends. It’s marketed as a fast and fun daysailer, but it can sleep six on the cockpit benches and on a couple of beanbags that are kept belowdeck. It has proved popular with French charter companies, which usually specify the performance-sapping but user-friendly twin-keel option—3 feet, 7 inch draft as opposed to the fin’s 6 feet, 5 inches. Upwind sail area, with the flat-topped, heavily roached mainsail and blade jib, is 753 square feet; by way of contrast, a J/100’s is around 480.

This boat may well be too radical for the typically conservative American sailor, but the concept makes a lot of sense, given the way that most people sail these days. www.kaidoz.com

Let’s all shunt together
Say “multihull,” and 99 percent of sailors will think “catamaran” and/or “trimaran.” The other 1 percent might add the word “proa.” These intriguing and speedy craft, with their reversing rigs always mounted on one of their two hulls, have never been mainstream outside of the Pacific islands where they originated.

As an offshore racer, the proa reached its apogee in 1968, when Tom Follett placed third in the OSTAR in Cheers, the 40-foot Atlantic proa designed by Dick Newick. A number of well-publicized boat failures and losses followed, and soon the proa was banned from ocean racing.

The proa became the preserve of eccentrics, individualists, and would-be record setters. Most of the Little America’s Cup boats that attempted to set sailing speed records were based on the proa concept.

Proas have their accommodations in one hull; the other is used to provide stability. Cheers was an Atlantic proa, with hulls the same length; accommodations and the unstayed schooner rig were in the weather hull, and the outrigger or ama was always to leeward. In effect the boat was two-thirds of a trimaran. The buoyancy of the leeward hull countered the wind pressure on the rig. In contrast, the traditional, or Pacific, proa is sailed with its ama always to windward, where its weight acts as a counterbalance to the wind pressure, and the accommodations and rig are in the leeward hull.

There are many variations on these types, but the basic premise is always the same. The proa is not tacked, but “shunted.” It is sailed into the wind until it stops; then the rig and rudder are reversed, and the boat is sailed backward into the opposite tack; the bow becomes the stern, and the same hull is presented to the wind. This is completely against the natural instinct of sailors and goes a long way toward explaining the distrust of proas.

An interesting take on the proa comes from New Zealand designer Rob Denney, whose Harryproa concept has its accommodations set in a pod atop a short windward hull and the rig set on a longer, slender leeward hull. The advantages of this arrangement, he says, are light weight, safety, economical build cost, and excellent performance.

Various examples of Denney’s designs are being built around the world. Dutch sailor Jan Schippers sent us photos of his recently completed 40-footer, Blind Date, which he uses to train blind sailors. Blind Date can sleep five in its 30-foot-long windward hull and has a vast amount of deck space for lounging.

The boat was built by Schippers and a professional boatbuilder from cedar strip and foam sheathed in epoxy. Carbon fiber was used in high-stress areas, such as the lifting rudders, crossbeams, and unstayed rotating rig, which is controlled by a single sheet. Schippers says he’s delighted with the boat’s performance and ease of handling. The bendy carbon spar spills wind, and full sail can be carried in up to 25 knots of breeze. Come winter, the boat can be disassembled for easy storage.

Blind Date is a striking boat, and the Harryproa just may be another step in the proa’s path to acceptance by the larger sailing community. www.harryproa.com

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