Monday, September 23, 2013

Fast 42

SA Navy Entry "MTU Fascination of Power" under Chapman's Peak in Hout Bay.
Skipper was John Martin, Admirals Regatta about 2006.
Photograph by Brenton Geach.

Fast 42s have had a prominent place in the South African Racing circuit, both offshore and around the cans. In many ways they are quite remarkable boats - fast, nice to look at, and very well laid out for serious sailing...

Regrettably I don't have much technical data for these boats - but their principle dimensions show:
LOA: 41' 4" 
Beam: 12' 7"
Displacement: 6600 kilograms
Max Draft: 7' 10"
Ballast: 2400 kilograms

Designer Simonis-Voogd - they have done loads of work in SA and reside here quite a lot. Their stable is well known - including the famous "Broomstick", "Nicorette" and many others.

That's a pretty light boat at 42'. Note the ballast ratio is 36% - thanks to a very deep keel bulb. They are high-aspect boats in every sense - keel, rudder and huge rig. Yet they are as sensitive as dinghies as long as they keep moving. 

From the outside - the impression is thoroughbred racer. The sleek lines, neat cabin top, dual wheels, large racing cockpit, wide traveller etc all look the business, and one might be forgiven for expecting a bare-bones racing interior.

In fact its quite the opposite! The interior is functional quite plush, simple and well laid out. From inside you might forget you were in a racing boat. Nice galley, saloon, chart table, decent cabins, and even hot shower. This is a boat for the Cape-Rio! My friend James who owned one of these called it "Enigma" - I never asked him why... 

Well laid out and spacious cockpit. Not exactly sheltered but great for sailing!
Double-handing is easy, but single-handing is a bit tricky because the helmsman can't reach the traveller or mainsheet from behind the wheel, unless autopilot is engaged.

Fitting, quality and layout do vary somewhat from model to model. The very early ones were built by Robertson and Caine in Cape Town, before production rights were taken over by Fast Yachts in Durban, where the majority were subsequently built. I am aware of some controversy over one or two builds, but the majority are quite sound. Skebanga, in Hout Bay, was one of the the last off the line as I remember, and she is particularly well put together and in great condition.

How do they sail? These aren't called Fast boats for nothing. They move impressively well as long as there is some reasonable wind, say 10 kts plus. For some reason I don't really fathom they do seem a bit sluggish in lighter winds, but as the pressure picks up they really cook - on all points of sail. I had the pleasure of skippering one of these in a club race one Sunday - it was the first time I'd sailed one, and the expected crew didn't pitch. We went out double-handed and completely new to the boat. I must say it was setup as a sailing school boat and was amazingly easy to handle. Roller-reefed jib, main in a stack-pack, batcars on the mast, a simple autopilot, and nice engine controls - it was an absolute pleasure. I was very impressed with the setup of that boat - being so easy to handle made it possible to simply enjoy the sail, think about tactics and still push it quite hard. With just the two of us, we were able to tack fast and effectively in 15 knots or so, and no troubles to speak of. Only I wasn't used to helming on a wheel for racing round the cans, don't know if I'll ever get that worked out properly, I still like a tiller! But it is fantastic for long-distance sailing...

Can't imagine what this poor bloke on the bow was up to. 
Perhaps the heads were blocked...

One Wednesday evening the wind was too strong for racing in our bay - 35 kts +. We were just settled in the club bar when the hooligans went out - James and Rian - sorry chaps - the names just slipped out! - plus a few unsuspecting crew who should have known better. They fought their way up to Chappies, complete with wild katabatic twisters and plenty of spray, and then turned around. Next thing the bag went up! Crikey - the boat zig-zagged on its ear for about 30s before regaining some sort of composure, and then shot off towards the club at about 20 knots. As luck would have it, I had a camcorder with a decent zoom on hand - will see if I can dig it up soon and place it on youtube. What a spectacle. That's the kind of boat a Fast-42 is - wild as the wind and still quite manageable, but also a civilised boat when the occasion demands!

All in all - they are best suited for offshore racing. Certainly not what I would chose as a cruiser, but a good choice for Cape-Rio or Governors Cup! You can have a load of fun with one of these.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Proteus 106

First Proteus 106 off the beach in Thailand

I don't often write about boats I haven't seen in the flesh, or actually sailed. But this is one where the design strikes me as quite unique, has strong local connections, and really deserves to be known. It's attractive as a cruiser, a racer or a dayboat....and unique in the value it offers.

Certainly Angelo needs no introduction - he has drawn more good  boats than one can count, and I keep discovering new boats from his pen. They are all well thought out and very interesting.

Plan and side elevation.
Functional simplicity at its best...
(click to expand)

When I look at this design, it really strikes me as a modern "Wharram Cat" - in that its very functional, simple and seaworthy. Although that doesn't do it justice - its really quite a high-tech design using simple materials if you see what I mean. And very good looking. Besides the low-profile cabin top, here are two very sound seaworthy hulls with not much windage. It boasts an efficient modern rig with a full roach main and a manageable genoa, with standard back-swept shrouds. Dagger boards are a nice option on the "racing" version.  This is a boat that really can sail - it's light and is setup for real sailing. 8 kts round the course, and 15+ off the wind if you have the nerve! The daggerboards don't really impinge on space below.

Note the simple layout below. The cabin top is fully allocated to the saloon - this is the main reason for having a cat if you ask me - a nice saloon and living space from which you can see out - a feature not common on monohulls. One hull hosts the (large) galley, the other the (large) heads. This is a sensible arrangement as it allows decent facilities for these functions, while not crowding the bridge deck. So you get 85% of what big cats offer in a far smaller package.

The rudders are transom-hung - making for easy maintenance and repair if necessary. By the drawing - these are controlled with tillers rather than a wheel - you could have both or either I suppose. I quite like the tiller option as it means you could attach a simple tiller pilot rather than an elaborate auto-helm thing, plus there's nothing wrong with steering by tiller and its quite a bit cheaper.

Daggerboards will give her good sailing, but for cruising the fixed "keels" may be attractive - for beaching, and simplicity, and to protect the saildrives, which may be the preferred option for cruisers. Along with kickup rudders, this is a boat you could take right up to the beach on occasion, and clean the hulls without lifting out. 
"Before the Mast!" 
Note the clean decks and flat tops to walk on.
Nice motorcat too....

Engine comes in two options - a 20Hp 4-stroke - e.g. Honda - mounted midships on a nacelle, or two small inboards. I think this offers the best of both worlds - cruising or racing. For cruising purposes I think inboards would be the way to go - long distance motoring with diesel, manouverabilty in marinas, fuel-economy and no petrol onboard. For racing, and sailing from a home port, the outboard would be ideal - very light, no prop to drag, very quiet and out of the boat, while still reliable and effective... your dinghy engine could be a backup I suppose. And very good value...

Construction is from a plywood kit. Not very complicated, but it is a fair bit of work. The hull is sheathed in GRP - makes it scratch-resistant and strong. There are no expensive items here - everything is simple and can be achieved with low-tech kit and options. I would indulge in two nice self-tailers for the primaries, a stack pack for the main and a roller-furler for the headsail. Plus a traveller for the main. That's not a lot of money.

The boat is designed to be light. Keeping it light will keep it safe, buoyant, responsive and fast. However, you could load it if you need to, as long as you don't press too hard. Another rather nice thing about cats - most of 'em - is that they don't sink - certainly this one won't...

I think its an ideal design for local and offshore racing - Cape-Rio, Governors Cup and Mykonos, or a cruiser for a small family. It won't break the bank, but it offers very safe and comfortable sailing with impressive performance. And a nice live-aboard option. Did I mention parties and day sails?

Also a damn nice motor-cat if you look at it like that.....

See Angelo's notes below:

This project has been “gestating” on a personal level  for the last 10 years.  My aim is the smallest  family ocean cruising cat, that is to say with sufficient load carrying capacity to do an ocean crossing with a family, of minimum cost, and capable of amateur construction with the minimum of labour and skill. She is also aimed at being a fast, practical & enjoyable boat for local use. She is small enough for easy shorthanded use.  The hull structure is “pre cut” by a CNC cutter as a kitset, or can be cut to plotted templates as a cheaper option if preferred. The Kitset is available from CKD Boats in Cape Town. Their quality is A1 and different ply type options are available. Since wastage is minimised (much less than hand cutting), and CKD buy much more cheaply than private buyers, one generally finds that the kit costs hardly more than buying the raw material, and then you save hundreds of hours in labour. The boat is set up on ply bulkheads and stringers and the skin is glass taped with epoxy resin along the chines, inside and out, there are no chine logs. The hull & deck is mostly 9mm ply with 12mm in the forward wingdeck and hull bottom forward. The outside is GRP/epoxy sheathed. She is simple, strong, fast, comfortable, cheap and “unsinkable”. 
The interior consists of four berths (two doubles + 2 singles), a saloon  settee,  a practical galley with icebox, and a toilet compartment,  all with standing headroom (1820 under deckstringers) . She is totally functional, and all that is needed for comfort at sea. She is configured with two machinery and keel variations:  A 4 stroke 20HP outboard on a hinging nacelle is fitted for economy, as is tiller steering, with “kick up” rudders. If the motor starts to make trouble it is easily replaced.  I haven’t worked out how many times you can relace it to equal the cost of diesels. Other “choices” in the “gilded lily” approach stretch to installed water tank versus fitted 20 lit container storage. However with the outboard and daggerboard combination, and simplest accommodation gear, we have the fastest boat AND the shallowest draught for the smallest outlay. People lose sight of the fact that comfort at sea revolves round some very simple “basics”, a dry bunk with good ventilation, a place to prepare hot food, a place to sit out of the sun & elements, a private toilet, standing headroom. The rest is “bells & whistles” which all come at a price of increased cost, maintanance, and degrading performance. 

The rig is the simplest possible, with a pair of cap shrouds and headstay triangulated, single diamond.  The sail inventory is essentially a mainsail, a roller furler jib, and a storm jib. Optional:  Genneker.
A  first class builder estimates 1600 hours, professional hours in a set up boatshop, to unfaired and unpainted hull, deck, joinery stage.  CNC cut kits from CKD Boats in Cape Town, a very experienced company, is available at a really competitive price. Email Roy Mc Bride ( ) . Most likely you will find the cost of the CNC kit ( including shipping) is less than a private person is likely to buy  the raw materials, so that the huge labour saving is more or less “free”!
Wing deck clearance to DWL (@ displ 3800 kg) is 680mm amidships and 1100mm under the cockpit. The windeck does not extend forward which is most important. Top speed broad reaching in flat water and high wind can be around 18 knots (depending more on one's nerve than anything.) and can average 8 knots on an olympic triangle, powered up in 16-18 knots breeze.  Payload of crew, fuel, water, provisions in addition to the vessel complete (with sailing and safety gear, normal loose outfit and sails) is nominally about 900 kg. This figure could be increased by another 400 or so kg at the beginning of a long voyage if the boat is
consciously not "overpressed" when so loaded. The length/beam ratio at datum flotation is 9.07. This offers a good compromise between reasonably slim hulls and good load carrying ability. This is augmented by the additional "flare" developed in the topsides, whereby beam (and waterplane area) increases considerably with increasing immersion.
The daggerboard version is more efficient in terms of L/D on the foils. In addition the drag of the daggerboards retracted is zero, whereas the mini keels (both!) continue to offer resistance.  The prod and spars are intended to be aluminium extrusions, whose inertias are specified.  
The design license costs   $4500 New Zealand Dollars per boat  to build.  Drawings are supplied in PDF format.  The templates consist of all frames with shell deduction, stringer cutouts, access cutouts etc shown for hull, deck and superstructure, bow and stern profile, daggerboard, (or alternative keel), kick up rudder.  The design consists of: 18 drawings:  Lines, hydrostatics, full scale templates (+ 12 x A0 sheets), general construction drawing, CNC parts assembly drawings,  CNC parts nesting drawings, arrangement plan and sections, deck arrangement, sail & rigging plan, dagger board & case construction, rudder construction, chain plate details, sundry joint details, doghouse & hatch details, outboard motor hinging nacelle detail, alternative keel detail. Study plans consist of arrangement drawing, deck arrangement, sail & rigging plan. Note: study plans  have all section information omitted (other than one "typical" section.)  The design has been developed to minimise labour hours and high skill requirements and high costs. The only "exotics" involve the external skins of the ply rudders and daggerboards, which are carbon, since the excessive amounts of GRP needed would make control of the shape and avoiding excess weight problematical. 

LENGTH OVERALL                  10.600           Meters
BEAM                                           6.360            Meters
DRAUGHT                                   0.370/1.75    Meters   (dagger up/down)
DISPLACEMENT                       2600/3200    Kilogr  (light conditon, lght/hvy inst)
MAINSAIL                                    48                  Sq Meters
ROLLER FURL JIB                     24                  Sq Meters

GENNEKER                                58                  Sq Meters

FRESH WATER                         140                litres  (installed or 20 lit containers)

Lavranos Marine Design, Ph:  09 4802232,  Email:
At time of writing, the second one is nearing completion in Cape Town.

See also for details of the kit.

UPDATE: We have received some pics of "Sarita" under construction, and now recently floated at Port Alfred in South Africa. This was a home build on a farm - a good example of a D.I.Y. home-build. The interior is not fully fitted yet but gives a good idea of the accommodations and spaciousness this design offers. I understand the kit was a great success and fitted perfectly. This particular one is slightly unusual in that it has two outboards instead of one - two beautiful Honda 20 four-strokes at that. The rig is yet to be fitted, but the platform clearly offers a lot, in a very good-looking package.

Progress photos follow (click to expand each pic):

Helm station with wheel and engine instruments.
Note this is a deviation from the design (which shows tiller-steering),

 but is an example of a wheel mod.

Below, looking aft.
 A nice full galley space, below.
Galley. Simple and practical cutout storage.
Floating on the Kowie river! Unladen (besides engines), and without rig etc.
Engine in down position.
Engine down, aft view.
It started in a small shed. The truss design permits extra height!

Spacious heads area.
Nav table, with a clear view, and space for a small office!
Saloon area, awaiting table and backrest upholstery.
Plenty of stowage and surfaces.

Spacious aft berth behind the galley.