The recent proliferation of large cruising catamarans has been well documented, but there is also an increasing number of smaller performance catamarans that offer modest living accommodations for go-fast racer/cruiser types. One of the most interesting of these is the Raider 30, a very sleek craft that was born four years ago in Australia and debuted in the U.S. early last year.
There is no denying the Raider's competitive credentials. The boat's Aussie builder, Geoff Berg of ASA Yachts, campaigned hull number two in 2001; he won the Southern Ocean Multihull Regatta and took fourth overall in a 330-mile offshore sprint from Brisbane to Gladstone. In the Gladstone race, the Raider crossed the line ahead of everything except one Open 60 monohull and two much larger racing cats. Since coming to the U.S., the Tony Grainger-designed speedster has likewise routinely waxed the competition in several South Florida events.
In keeping with Berg's ambition to promote the boat as an accessible one-design class, the Raider is not at all exotic in its build. Hence, it is reasonably priced, especially when compared to similarly sized folding trimarans. The only carbon fiber aboard is found in some reinforcements in the rudder and daggerboards; otherwise, the hull is vacuum-bagged glass over a Divinycell foam core. The spars are all aluminum, on both the standard rig (with a 42-foot, 6-inch fixed mast) and the racing rig (with a 46-foot wing mast). The boat can also be derigged for trailering.
Could you cruise in this cat? Most definitely, but only if you're the type of cruiser who loves to sail fast and doesn't mind lounging on the tramps a lot. Though livable and reasonably generous for a boat of this type, the accommodations are fairly cramped and minimal.
I spent an afternoon sailing the Raider 30 on Biscayne Bay in Florida and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Unfortunately, conditions were light, with just 8 to 10 knots of wind. Despite the mildness of the breeze, the boat developed a very gratifying turn of speed, running a steady 11 to 15 knots. It starts to fly a hull when the wind hits 12 and has plenty of volume forward to keep the lee bow from stuffing into waves. In light conditions you'll even need to send a crewmember to leeward to help keep the bow down. Berg reports that he's never seen waves come over the bows or beams in rougher conditions offshore. In just 15 knots of breeze the boat will purportedly move at over 20 knots, with a maximum speed somewhere in the mid-20s.
The deck layout is superb, with controls neatly led to both cockpits, which are comfortably large and feature integral hiking racks that allow the crew to keep weight outboard while handling lines and helming the boat. Steering is light and very precise. The mast is well aft, and there is some weather helm when the boat is flying under just main and jib. As soon as the big screecher is hoisted, however, it balances out perfectly.
All in all, the Raider is an extremely impressive package.
Draft (foils up/down)
Sail area (main and jib)
565 sq ft
9.8-hp outboard (optional)
Sail area-displ. ratio