about commitment to a concept, back in 1983 and with some 30 or 40 Tanton 43's launched
and sailing all over the world, it was felt that the syndrome of "one foot more"
was creeping and winning. Not the only reason but one as good as the usual excuses of: the
molds are getting old: it would be nice to have a larger aft cabin; we can use the new
Nytex material, etc. Well briefly, all these reasons good bad and indifferent led to a new
design and a new boat. New from the ground up with many refinements over the 43 but not
entirely different to upset the delicate but successful characteristics of the previous
no consideration was given whether this new boat was going to sell better, be more
popular, and be faster than the 43'. Its sounds like we were totally ignorant or looking
after the Holy Grail all together. No. Simply we knew that: if we could spend more time,
more money, more technology, we would ultimately be the only on in the Cat-Ketch world to
survive and therefore win. Nobody could possibly, without going broke, mad or totally
demoralized, go through the effort again to produce a Cat Ketch of this magnitude. Well,
it looks like we have succeeded in all departments including being left alone. I do not
see any competition on the horizon. The public at large never followed, being more
interested in their Marina Cocktail Boats. That is fine we have nice boats and enthusiasts
owners. The reality of their boats is here.
Ok. Let's go
back to the boat. With a bit of advice-first to the potential client, student of
architecture, or simply to the onlooker-there is a key to yacht design, and this is
"keep the waterline long". This is a waterline design, a flat out cruising
You will be
amazed to see what it does to the numbers associated to the yacht calculations and,
therefore, to the performance of the boat. Let's have a look:
displacement is associated with the longest waterline of 40'-6 1/2" and gives a
displacement length ratio of 173.8. Not bad. Especially if one considers that this is
better than all except a few flat out racing boats with no interior, questionable
construction, and no comfort whatsoever. The result is a very fast sailboat if associated
with the other magical number: the sail area/displacement ratio. More on this later.
With a long
waterline for a given length, of course we end up with short overhangs. I will always
remember the remark of Joshua Slocum when asked about the lack of overhangs on his famous
Spray. "In the Gulf Stream with a strong Northeaster, you do not want long
overhangs." So be it.
stern configurations are very much part of the design concept of this Cat Ketch. You see,
with a mast so far forward, it is imperative to keep the hull volumes up. I mean really
up, to avoid hobby-horsing and going nowhere. Therefore, the bow is of what I call a"
modified spoon bow" design. Very sharp at the waterline but then flaring up to very
strong voluminous deck lines. Well by now you must understand that there is a reason for
everything on this boat. At least that's the way I see it. This is why I want to describe
her stern. Next.
double-enders. Reminiscent of my "Colin Archer" years when as a little kid, I
was designing the husky Norwegian rescue boat on every school book and piece of paper I
could lay my hands on. Obviously, this is not the only reason, but I feel strongly that
the stern is one of the nice features of this design. Much, much fuller and powerful than
usual, I term the stern as a "rounded transom". Some people have said it gives
the boat a pregnant look, but I defined this remark by stressing in any case the
purposeful aspect of the situation. One decision on this new Cat Ketch had to be to keep
the stern of the 43 because it is safe and powerful with lots of volume and fast. All hull
lines are wonderfully faired in above the rudder skeg and are the logical extension to the
shape of the midship section.
section is typical of my work for cruising boats. I believe that if you give me just under
two feet of hull depth, a beam waterline of eleven feet, and a high prismatic coefficient
(that stands for full ends) I can build, within this envelope, just about any
accommodation plan for boats from 35 to 105 feet. And I have done so.
plan shows a hull fitting the above description with full ends, flat midship section, deep
bow sections and very fair lines all together.
A point of
discussion is the rudder and the keel. Both are, as in any modern boat, clearly separated
from the main body. Their functions are totally dedicated to their different roles:
stability and resistance to leeway in the case of the keel and direction and control in
case of the rudder. Let's start with the rudder. It is a fact that the rudders with
frontal skeg work better. It is also a fact that on a racing boat, the extra wetted
surface is not tolerable. But why do we see so many cruising boats with a spade rudder
configuration? I believe it is because it costs a lot more money to properly build a
rudder with a skeg. First you have to increase the area of glass; you have to cast a heel
fitting; you have to place stainless steel reinforcement into the skeg and obviously
attach the whole thing to the hull. Of course the added skeg protection is a must for any
respectable cruising vessel. I do not know if you noticed yet, but the whole idea of this
sailboat is to be a real sea boat, not a pseudo cruiser, nor a Madison Ave. glossy
concoction. I hope I make my point clear.
the keel! A draft of less than five feet and no centerboard is sort of unique for a vessel
of this size. But this lack of depth is appreciated and rendered possible only because of
the Cat ketch rig built with very light carbon fiber masts. This is only a roundabout way
of saying that the rig in this case had tremendous importance in determining most of the
reasons why this boat is the way she is. The keel adopted is moderately long with a NACA
foil section faired into a flattish body in order to enhance the keel aspect ratio. The
back end of the keel and the rudder is "relieved" at the bottom to make the
trailing edge less vulnerable to grounding. A disgression to say that I have had a lot of
experience with wing keel and this configuration would have been the choice for stability
reasons, should the boat had been fitted with "old fashion" ketch masting and
rigging with spreaders and wires. Why, because the weight of this "normal rig"
would be three times the weight of its carbon fiber counterpart; therefore, we would be
scrambling to get this boat on her feet; and depth, draft, and wings are a good way to
control stiffness under sails. Nobody wants to sail heeled over.
Well, it is
time to consider the real question. The cat ketch rig is the reason and the heart of this
boat in terms of stability, performance, and ease of handling. The spars are made of
unidirectional, individual composite carbon fiber filaments. What is unique is the fact
that with computers, we achieve complete control over the fiber direction angles, and with
a majority of 0 & 90 degrees, the strength of these poles is maximized. Literally
indestructible. I believe the boat would disintegrate before the mast would break. Well
this is quite a statement, but in reality our experience has shown that so far the results
have been above our expectations. The diameter is less than 10 inches at the base tapering
to 3 1/2" at something like 62 feet above the waterline. All fittings are stainless
steel and placed on bands to fulfill the different functions, controlling the halyards,
The wishbones are an ideal means to handle everything at once with a
minimum of effort. Simply said, take a windsurfer; replace the wishbone by a boom, and you
will see that it does not work because the amount of effort you would have to put in just
to keep the boom down is horrendous. The wishbone does it all naturally. All the forces
are working in the right direction. Besides, the sail shape is perfect from top to bottom
and unhindered by spreaders, shrouds, etc
This reason alone explains why these boats
are so fast downwind with no spinnaker. Everything would be perfect except for the fact
that the public has a tough time to understand, and get used to the idea of wishbone
instead of booms. You see, when you sell a cat ketch, you not only try to sell a boat
(hard enough), but you also have to sell a concept (and that is very difficult). Well, the
next step is to work on rotating carbon fiber masts and wishbones that look like booms but
are not. Which leads me up to talking about the sail plan and the sails.
come either soft or with battens or a combination. Clearly, the added horsepower of the
full battens is awesome, but so is the weight, (to hoist), the cost etc. Let's say that I
always try to give a high sail area displacement ratio to start with. In this case, the
number is 18.33 for soft sails, and I reckon 20 for fully battened sails. Something weird
is happening though. The Tanton 43 is the same. You know that you have to have a certain
amount of lead that is a certain spread between the center of lateral plan and the center
of the sail plan. Well on this design, both coincide, and the boat sails! I have to admit,
I was a little bit nervous when try this for the first time. Obviously, there is nobody to
talk to about such heresy, but it works. Not only that, but the boat goes up and down wind
with all kind of combinations and with perfect balance. Well there are still a few
mysteries in the world of sailing.
the deck now. It's funny, but I do not receive too many phone calls from winchmakers (nor
from sparmakers and sailmakers for that matter). I can only disappoint them. Suffice to
say the gallery show that three winches and a few stoppers control all the lines. Simple
enough. The only drawback of having so few winches is once in a while the need to have
extra help for handling dock lines, For instance, I would suggest getting a vertical
windlass with the boat. That's it for sail handling.
cockpit. It is the nerve center, the lounge area, the tanning salon, the Jacuzzi, and God
knows what else. The table can seat eight to ten people around a drop leaf table. Inside
the table you have added room for a gas bottle and also a liferaft. There is not much need
on this boat for sail storage. Therefore, the seat locker offers places for all the
impedimenta of cruising gear.
large steering wheel, we have access to a stern ladder. Hot and cold shower is available
in this aft part of the cockpit, for washing off the beach sand! A dodger protects the
forward part of the cockpit. There is plenty of room on deck to locate a dinghy,
windsurfer, etc. The two deck lockers forward are convenient for lines, fenders, anchor,
The roof is a bit voluminous, but obviously, we wanted a very nice
interior with plenty of light. This is where we are going next. Down below.
I guess it
is always difficult to be different, but I should say the dare was to do it. With the
boat, with the rig and why not the interior. Before speaking about the accommodation, I
would like to say a few words about the construction of this boat.
construction features a grid molding for the floor system. Sandwich core material is
molded in above the waterline for insulation and stiffness. This allows through hull
fittings to be placed in solid glass areas. The fiberglass is Nytex and set in isophtalic
resin for 50 % of the layers to avoid blisters. All bulkheads are structural, and added
beams in ways of the large deck panel sections and masts. This is in essence, the base of
I am going
to breeze through the interior, as I am running out of time and space, also because the
gallery I hope are self-explanatory. Suffice to say that what is not shown on the
gallery are locations, pre-set for most contingencies we are faced with to install into
today's boat: the extra batteries, the watermaker, the compressor, the hot water heater,
the extra tank et
Well, there is room for everything or just about. The companionway
is offset to port instead of the conventional starboard side. One reason I can think of is
to have more elbow room for turning winches on deck. Another reason is that the regular
maintenance points of the engine are on the starboard side. Coming down the ladder, you
will find quarter berth and navigation area to port. Owner's cabin to starboard. This
cabin is very large, roomy and contains a hanging locker and drawers, plus storage.
Further forward, you have direct access to a separate shower and toilet area. On the port
side again, the large galley features a gimbaled stove oven and drawers, very useful at
sea. Built-in buffet will fit a Norcold standing refrigerator if wanted, or a set of
drawers and a locker. Behind this buffet are batteries placed a short distance to the
electronic navigation area and also to the engine located in the middle of the boat. The
main salon presents the usual settee with table. Across the way are two built-in captain
chairs. By removing their bases, you can transform this area into a settee with a pilot
berth above. In turn, this pilot-berth can be switched to closet space, should the
customer want something different. Walking forward again, we have a toilet compartment
with separate shower. Access from the saloon or from the forward cabin is provided. The
emphasis is on privacy. I tried to match the forward cabin in comfort with the aft cabin.
I hope this interior will
appeal to the market and the boat as a whole to the sailor.