Best Boats 2016: Whisper Foiling Cat

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Performance Multihull under 30ft


Whisper Foiling Cat

At approximately 1445 on October 13, 2015, the day after the Annapolis sailboat show, history was made when the increasingly creaky and cranky 195lb, 51-year-old executive editor of this magazine experienced full-foiling sailing performance in all of about 10 knots of wind. Talk about foiling for the masses! The sailboat that accomplished this feat was the new 17ft 8in Whisper catamaran, built by the UK’s White Formula and distributed in the United States by Nor’Banks sailing. Even more incredible than the fact that the boat could get our great lunker beast of an editor airborne was how easy it all was, thanks to its clever foiling system. Unlike the various other cats out there employing those same twitchy J-foils developed for the 34th America’s Cup, the Whisper uses a pair of Moth-style T-foils with a control wand immediately aft of each blade to create a ride that is stable, predictable and precludes the need for helmets and body armor. It also means any decent sailor can get airborne and stay there within minutes of taking the helm.

On a practical note, the all-carbon Whisper features two-piece construction, in which the “deck” is bonded to the hulls to create a monocoque structure that is both stiff and durable. The rotating mast, boom and sprit are also all carbon and the jib is self-tacking. Twin trapezes get crew weight well outboard for keeping the boat steady and provide a great vantage point from which to watch the horizontal foils slicing through the waves. All-up weight is less than 200lb, and the rudders and daggerboards are retractable to facilitate beach launching and landing. Best of all, the entire package can be had for just $36,000, less than the cost of a mid-size sport boat. Wouldn’t it be great to see a robust one-design class develop around this boat? Talk about breathing new life into the sport of sailing!



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