MOTION IS LIFE
Pictures: Heinz Stickl/www.stickl.com
The wind whips the water into the sailors’
faces. Secured by their belt system, they
hang almost horizontal in the trapeze, whilst
the slim hulls of the catamaran cut through
the water. You can find these fast boats with
two runners on the sea near the coast or
on inland waters. The Lesser Antilles in the
Caribbean are a much-loved sailing area. The
dreamy beaches and the clear blue water
make every cruise a fascinating experience.
But the tropical islands in the Indian Ocean,
for example Mauritius or the Seychelles, also
entice you with breathtaking scenery and
good sailing conditions. Other much-loved
areas are islands in the Mediterranean such
as Elba, Sardinia and Corsica. And many
catamaran sailors head for Lake Garda. This
has a pleasant Mediterranean climate and
ideal wind conditions. “The fascinating
thing about catamaran sailing is the speed,”
enthuses Heinz Stickl. The former world surf-
ing champion, and European sailing cham-
pion, offers catamaran sailing courses on
Italy’s largest lake. “With a catamaran even
beginners can achieve considerable speeds
relatively quickly.” Depending upon the
wind speed the boats travel over the water
at around 5 to 20 knots, i.e. 9 to 38 km/h.
But it gets even faster: racing catamarans
– sometimes made of superlight carbon
components – can reach over 55 km/h.
Traveling as a team
Sport or beach catamarans are up to seven
meters long, up to three meters wide and
have a sail area between 10 and 25 square
meters. The most commonly sailed catama-
ran class in the world is the Hobie Cat 16.
This boat is used by beginners, but also by
professionals in large sailing regattas such
as Kiel Week. The fastest international class
is the Tornado. It was included in the Olym-
pic program in 1976.
Sports catamarans are crewed by two people.
The helmsman is responsible for the large
sail and the rudder system. The foredeck
hand operates the small foresail and adjusts
the weight trim. He also hangs in the trapeze
– i.e. in a belt on the shrouds – with his feet
supported on the float. But the helmsman
can also steer the catamaran in the trapeze.
If so, the two sailors must unhook them-
selves for a turn and quickly change to the
other side using the trampoline.
With one runner out of the water
In light and medium winds, catamarans are
significantly faster than single-hulled boats.
This is due to the relatively large sail area in
relation to the mass of the catamaran and
the small contact area of the hulls with the
water. The friction is reduced still further
when the sailors manage to lift one runner
out of the water. In addition, the catamaran
can be equipped with a gennaker. This large
triangular foresail permits a considerable
increase in speed when running before the
wind. Anyone wanting to take up catamaran
sailing should be sporty and agile. Sailing
experience is an advantage, but Heinz Stickl
warns: “Two hulls often respond differently
to one.” But don’t worry: capsizing is part
of catamaran sailing. Catamarans quickly
tip over, particularly when sailed from the
trapeze. Beginners learn how to right the
boat before their first trip.
For further information please visit:
The ISAF (International Sailing
Federation) is the international
umbrella organization of the
national sailing associations.
The websites of the international
associations of the Tornado and
A-class provide lots of informa-
tion, photos and films relating to
this special class of catamaran.
The international association of
sailing schools lists other sailing
schools on the internet.
Depending upon the strength of the wind, catamarans can travel at up to 20 knots or 38 km/h.
The dreamy beaches of the Caribbean make every cruise a fascinating experience.