First Ride on an A-Cat

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And I do mean ride, these things are more fun than the roller coaster at the fair. Between crazy work schedules and crewing commitments at regattas this was the first weekend I was able to make it down to my parents and try out the A-Cat. We had good wind, blowing 10-15 out of the West with pretty flat seas. We got the cats (a 2002 and a 2001 BIM) out on the beach and rigged them up. My brother-in-law and I got familiar with the rigging before we went out. This was my first time on a uni-rig since I sailed Lasers when I was a kid.
I went out first with my Dad so he could give me tips and I could get comfortable with the controls and confident going out on the wire. After about 15 minutes I swung back by the beach and dropped him off. A friend of my Dad’s was out on the other A-Cat. I was just screaming back and forth getting used to the rocket I was riding, the responsiveness to sail trim and tiller adjustments and the way that you just take off and need to get out on the wire right away amazed me. I played around for about an hour, then headed back in for my brother-in-law to make his maiden voyage.
Shortly after, my Dad’s friend came in on the other A-Cat. So I jumped on and headed out again. There were a couple big cruising monohulls sailing through the channel between the mainland (where my parents live) and an island about a mile offshore. I went out close hauled, hiked out on the wire at about 12 kts. I was headed straight at this mono, so I kept on course and passed about 10 meteres behind them, they were cheering appreciatively. I went about 100 yards and decided to tack onto there course to see the boat for boat speed. I came in off the wire and started scrambling across as I pushed the tiller over hard. Too hard actually, I just got to the other hull when the sail filled and I was sliding back down the tramp and into the water. Talk about embarassing. Well I’m a big boy (220+), I had no problem righting this lightweight cat and was back up and going in about 2 minutes.
Well it was a fantastic day, I had about 6 hours in total out there. I think the fastest I hit was about 15ish. My Dad though was easily over 20 on a broad reach. He had my 7 year old nephew on the boat who was sitting on the front beam, while my Dad was on the wire with his feet back at the rear beam. I’m hoping to get out to some regattas and club racing with the A-Cat this summer. I want to get some exposure for this fantastic cat and maybe drum up some other local interest. I don’t see travelling down to California in my near future so I’m going to have to find my own competition.
Thanks for listening,
Shane Alfreds, A Cat convert
Vancouver, BC

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