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Chris White Atlantic 42/46 - Performance

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We are tentatively looking at fast cruising catamarans for a potential multi-year journey starting in 2019/2020. Currently we (me, wife, two small kids) sail a Farrier F-32RX, that is perfect for our 1-3 week tours through the baltic sea. Most of our daily trips are less than 5 hours, with a few longer legs inbetween, but usually not more than 24h on the helm. Sailing is fast and fun.

But for the planned extended cruising with longer passages, I would like to have a bit more comfort, that means stuff like an oven to bake bread, a walk-in-shower, more space for the kids when they get bigger. I am willing to trade a bit of performance for that, but... not too much. On one hand I don't want to loose those "woooshh" moments, when the boat effortlessly goes from 10 to 18 knots in a small puff, on the other hand I would like to be able to switch gears and have a stable platform, where I can turn the auto-pilot on and safely sail-on at 10 knots while cooking/eating dinner in the salon. Might be impossible on one boat. :-)

Chris White's Atlantic series appeals to me (forward-cockpit + inside-helm). The 42/46 are still quite expensive for an older catamaran, but financially might be within reach.

What kind of performance can realistically be expected from such a boat? Some math makes it clear, that the cat will be slower and less nimble than the tri, with about half the sail-area per ton of boat-weight compared to our small boat. 

Most reports of these cats are very positive, but I read some less than stellar observations about the Atlantic 42 here http://www.boatsandlife.com/2011/07/cool-as-a-cat-amaran/ 

"Upwind: When the relative wind angle opened up, the boat really started to accelerate, but at the cost of the apparent wind speed excessively increasing, which loaded up the rig to a point of concern. When the boat was sailed too close to the wind, the speed dropped way off and the pitching action of the waves further depressed our forward momentum. As a result, the cat was difficult to steer in the groove. I mistakenly expected a quick and lively upwind boat."

Is this just the interpretation of a mono-sailor, that is suprised that he cannot pinch upwind? Then again, the boatowner was on-board, so  he could have corrected the wrong notion.

These guys here http://www.ecosailingcharters.com/ have extensively blogged about their travels on an Atlantic 42 - and don't seem to be doing a lot of sailing. In most of the pictures from their blog, you can see the jib rolled up and/or the stack-pack closed.  @Peccadillo: from this forum has "super-charged" his Atlantic 46 to achieve good performance in lighter winds. Similar mods can be found on a few 42s as well (e.g. here https://www.cruisingclub.org/pdfs/bws_catalyst.pdf) Maybe that is necessary to give better performance?

@Wess: Have you sailed one of the smaller Atlantics? How does it compare to your current boat (ignoring for a second, that this is somehow comparing apples and oranges)?

Paul

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The Holy Grail of multihull enthusiasts--performance like a beach cat AND the ability to haul a (small, of course) living room around.  The best way to do that is to get something 60' or longer with the accommodations of a 30-35' cat.  Drat! Just blew the budget and the easy to handle small sail plan!

Here's the deal.  A good cruising catamaran can provide equivalent or slightly better (off wind) performance than a similar sized monohull with much more comfort and livability both underway or at anchor.  A Rapido 60 'might' do the job for you*. Full stop. The end.

 

*Note to Paul:  Love the 60, but I'd freeze to death at the helm trying to cruiser her in the PNW and north to Alaska.  Besides being a touch shy of enough nickels, that's my only significant complaint. Of course I'd need my own dock since finding a place to park it when I'm not using it is problematic.

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East for me to compare the A42 and F27F. 

But words matter a lot here.

Can you get the Holy Grail Veeger describes... yes!  If I use your words exactly as you wrote them Toolbar. 

Yes I have sailed the A42 and liked it.  It is certainly one of the better performing cruising catamarans of that size.  But don't take my word for it, or take the word of any of those on-line links you posted. Everyone has their own biases and comes to sailing and/or racing with different levels of ability and different approaches.  What one man can't make point, another man will make beat a Grand Prix racing monohull to the windward mark. You should perhaps instead use a reasonably consistent and unbiased source of relative performance assessment... PHRF numbers.  And PHRF numbers will tell you that the A42 rates about the same as an Ian Farrier designed, Corsair F27F (ie 48).  So with the A42 you get F27F performance and an ability "haul Veeger's living room!"  Like I said, I have sailed it, and so can confirm that performance.  So there you have the Holy Grail... and Light Speed (the A42 you linked) is for private sail on the west coast. But...

But words matter here.  Is this what you mean by performance?  At the same speed the F27F and the A42 FEEL world's different.  The F27F will be alive and responsive.  The A42 will feel like a blue water boat ready to take on the world.  The F27F will surf the wave downhill or beat you up beating into it, with big changes in speed and heading, while on the A42 you will likely not have even noticed the same wave existed.  If we did a Chesapeake Down The Bay race (Annapolis to Norfolk) in breeze that started S15 and clocked to N15 you would arrive at the same time if you sailed the A42 or the F27F.  On the F27F you would likely be stepping off cold, wet, tired and exhilarated after a really fun race.  On the A42 you might have been bored.  I don't mean that in a bad way about either boat... just trying to highlight the differences.

If you want not the same level of performance, but rather the same level of responsiveness... if you want the same "joy to daysail... don't you dare put it on autopilot... this is too damn much fun to drive" then you actually need a larger boat that is much better performing than the smaller one.  Its still doable.  They can be found.  Or built.  But they cost much more than you will ever be able to resell them for because it seems to me at least that nobody actually buys "holy grail" boats.  Much to my dismay, LOL.  Though to be fair even I don't want F27F responsiveness other than on day sails... for most cruising and deliveries you want easy, no drama, comfortable, bore me to death, high averages.

 

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And I'd add:

- comparing PHRF ratings works for empty local boats that are racing for long term cruising, but once loaded up with family and gear (~1500 kg or more) the A42 will be a lot slower but all the other cruising boats will be loaded too - so at least you will be faster than most of them

- the lightspeed folks have had their boat up for sale on and off for the past 2 years or so. I think their price is extremely unreasonable.

- lightspeed folks a video showing 10~13 knots boatspeed with spinnaker in 21-23 knots wind. The waves are quite small so sailing in lee of one of the big islands shown on the chart plotter. Pretty similar to our 40' cat. But really, we don't carry a chute in these conditions unless day sailing/racing and the waves are small like this. Much easier on the boat/crew at sea in bigger waves/swell.

Transit speeds:

2012 passage Mexico to French Polynesia

Total distance sailed 2750 nautical miles (Cabo to Fata Hiva) 
Total time underway 17 days 15 hours 
Average speed 6.50 knots (slower than expected, but with a overloaded boat, light winds and conservative sailing, not so bad). 
 

We did the nearly same passage in 2011 in our boat. 2800 miles rhumb line/2900? miles over ground in just under 19 days. We are a somewhat slower boat than an A42 - they are maybe a knot average faster in same conditions. Much bigger sail area etc. In general we averaged 150 mile days on ocean passages. We are lazy sailors at sea, not trying to eke out every knot of the boat. We tend toward sailing the boat for comfort. At sea in a cat, you may well find yourself slowing the boat down quite often to keep the motion comfy and the inside quieter. We were very happy sailing at 7-8 knots quite often. Doing 10 knots was much bouncier.

So, no, when crossing oceans you won't be accelerating from 10-18 knots. Just won't happen with a loaded cruising boat.

And consider older Catanas, Outremer, TRT1200 cats too. All are in the same sort of speed area with the Outremer's being faster than the Catanas - but much smaller inside too.

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Wess and Zonker have both refined the intent of my answer.  Responsiveness is indeed what most are asking for when they talk about performance (great clarification Wess!).  That finger light touch on the tiller and the immediate surge in acceleration as the wind strengthens are what sailors yearn for but seldom get once they are cruisers.  Zonker alludes to the real truth of 'speed' and 'performance' when cruising.  Except for a downwind sleigh ride in a good breeze but small seas, sailing offshore at speeds over 10 knots is not relaxing for families who have to eat, sleep, cook, bathe, whatever on a passage.  Monohull or multihull, the motion and the heightened sense of alertness required of the crew quickly get old and tiring.  It's no fun living in foulies (from the spray), planning each step and handhold just to get from your seat to head or your bunk.

I still say that (with rare possible exceptions), this 'performance' you speak of is not as achievable, nor as desirable as one might think when living aboard and cruising.  A great afternoon sailing in the bay is far different than an ocean crossing...

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I've sailed an A42 extensively. I'll add a "+1" to Wess and Zonker's comments. Context matters, but the 42's are on the more performance end of the cruising cat spectrum.

I don't know what the quote about their upwind performance was on about. Yes, they load up when the apparent wind builds. That's a feature, not a bug. Choosing a good upwind VMG/V, particularly in cruising context, is as much art as science. Generally I run boat speeds higher than what I think the ideal VMG is. I like having some momentum on the boat; it covers up some of the sins I commit when steering. Upwind sailing at 10 knots is not an uncommon thing. I think the remarkably good (in a cruising context) upwind performance of the A42 is one of it's charms. The loads on the boat are noticeable but they're accounted for in the design. No worries.

It is worth remembering that a voyaging boat with a small crew will not generally push hard day in and day out. Also, many of the great passages can be shortened significantly if a motor is used. It's hard to compare passage times in a meaningful way without know who is willing to drift around in the light airs and who is turning the motor over when the speedo drops below some arbitrary speed. We're willing to drift about in the light and don't carry much fuel. Even so, our passage times tend to be quick. The boat is a very capable voyager.

I also like daysailing the boat. The forward cockpit keeps me in touch with the apparent wind and makes the boat feel smaller and nimbler than it really is. Moreover, I think there is something to be said for having a boat that's fun to day sail when you get someplace exotic. We've had the boat over 20 knots kicking around between the islands in Vanuatu, frolicked all around Vava'u, sailing almost every day for weeks, wiggled around inside the reefs of New Caledonia... And so on. Space and time constrain me, but we love to sail the boat. And because it is fun for us to sail it we've tended to sail it around more than most. Of course, everything is a compromise. In the 42 you pay for more performance with less volume and payload. You don't get the agility of a day boat or the volume of a condo. One boat can not be all things at once. I keep telling my wife that the answer is more boats :)

 

 

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16 minutes ago, Veeger said:

Wess and Zonker have both refined the intent of my answer.  Responsiveness is indeed what most are asking for when they talk about performance (great clarification Wess!).  That finger light touch on the tiller and the immediate surge in acceleration as the wind strengthens are what sailors yearn for but seldom get once they are cruisers.  Zonker alludes to the real truth of 'speed' and 'performance' when cruising.  Except for a downwind sleigh ride in a good breeze but small seas, sailing offshore at speeds over 10 knots is not relaxing for families who have to eat, sleep, cook, bathe, whatever on a passage.  Monohull or multihull, the motion and the heightened sense of alertness required of the crew quickly get old and tiring.  It's no fun living in foulies (from the spray), planning each step and handhold just to get from your seat to head or your bunk.

I still say that (with rare possible exceptions), this 'performance' you speak of is not as achievable, nor as desirable as one might think when living aboard and cruising.  A great afternoon sailing in the bay is far different than an ocean crossing...

I mostly agree.  Will say I do think its achievable - and while generally quite expensive I will even say having been serious enough in my exploring that I think it can be done for sub 7 figures.  Things like the Bieker designed Fujin (or some Gunboats, etc...)... can do both roles but not the sub 7 figures obviously, LOL.

But yea, for sure ocean crossings or frankly any coastal delivery of more than 2 days... is a lot different in terms of desired boat attributes than an afternoon daysailing. 

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8.2 knots is almost a two hundred mile day, The boat and I were very happy with that speed, while cruising. We always had more stuff then we really needed, its too easy to load up a cruising cat, before you realize you have. 

But there is some serious consideration to hunt up a very good sailing cat, Because they are few and far between. 

A catamaran that's designed to charter party first, and then sold latter as a ocean voyageur, isn't a very good sailing cat.  

A very good sailing cat, is designed too sail well first, and then try to take on all the cruising stuff we all pile on 2nd.

When I was hunting for a cat for cruising, my first priority was, she had too be a very good sailing design, as i wanted too spend as much time as possible under sail. 

Also too be able too ocean voyage, for passage making.

I always liked Scout, shes an Atlantic 46 mark two, and built by kiwis, that's always a good thing, she looked like a good ocean sailing and voyaging cat too me....

http://www.trademe.co.nz/motors/boats-marine/yachts/multihull/auction-1325632793.htm

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Thank you all for the insightul analysis, guys. As Wess described I am more concerned about the "feel" of the boat than about the actual average speed.

I'm quite modest: If the same boat could give 180+ miles per day when loaded and tamed down for cruising, while still hitting mid to high teens when emptied and sailed with a bit of passion that would be fine with me. :-)

I guess I will have to leave the virtual world and try to hitch a few rides on these boats. Outremers can be chartered in the med (even older designs, that might be interesting to buy like the 40/43), but I guess Atlantics will be a bit harder to find in my part of the world. 

Paul

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Older Outremers have hull cross sections that are almost exactly look like this:

U

So they have no hull flare to speak of to add internal room. They feel and look very narrow.

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