No, the idea of putting a parallel, or biplane, rig on a catamaran is not in itself novel. Those with long memories will recall Crossbow, a 60-foot biplane cat that set a sailing speed record (36 knots) back in 1980. Younger sailors will refer to the ill-fated 120-foot Team Phillips that Pete Goss put together for The Race in 2000. A few adventurous souls have also installed such rigs on smaller one-off cruising cats over the years.
But no one has ever before put a rig like this on a production boat, which is why our judges thought it important to recognize the new Radical Bay 8000 by Radical Catamarans. Builder Ian Morse took a kit design for home-builders marketed by Australian designer Jeff Schionning and has ramped it up for prime time. Morse has altered Schionning’s original rig, adding wishbone booms and a pair of free-flying jibs that furl on their own luffs. One true innovation is that Morse has reinvented the wishbone rig by adding mast tracks forward to shift the boom up and down and control sail shape, an improvement over the conventional choker line. During our test sail we were impressed by how very versatile the rig can be. A big part of the fun is figuring out what variations work best.
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The benefits of a biplane cat are manifest. By splitting the sailplan and moving it off the main crossbeam and onto the hulls, rig loads are carried by the boat’s inherently strongest parts. The structure joining the hulls can be made lighter. The rig’s center of effort is both lower and more evenly distributed to windward and leeward across the boat’s horizontal beam. According to Morse, it is impossible to fly a hull. In that the combination of speed and safety is always inherently attractive, we look forward to seeing how this intriguing project develops. For more information, visit sailradical.com
LOA: 26ft 4in
LWL: 26ft 4in
Beam: 18ft 10in
Draft: 1ft 0in
Sail Area: 441 sq ft