Beach Cat Limit! What is it???

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Bill Roberts
Posts: 515
Joined: November 17th, 2003, 9:13 pm
Location: Stuart, Florida

Beach Cat Limit! What is it???

Post by Bill Roberts »

In the sea of many beach cats, we buy and sell boats of all sorts of sizes and shapes. We start out with shorter boats and buy longer boats. Sometimes we switch from boardless cats to cats with dagger boards and then sometimes switch back again. There is all kinds of buying and selling and trading and swapping and changing of minds etc. This all takes place below some limit. There is a barrier, an upper limit. What is it ????
To enjoy the sport of beach cat sailing we, usually two persons, all must have the physical ability to unload our boats from the trailer. Raise the mast. Put the boat on beach wheels. Carry the sails to the boat. Raise the sails. Roll the boat to the water and pull the beach wheels out from under the hulls. Put the beach wheels in a secure place. Head the boat out through the surf . Push the boat and run and jump on. Go sailing. Steer the boat and trim the sails. To stop sailing, we sail in through the surf and put the boat on beach wheels and do all of what we did to go sailing in reverse. Finally we drive home towing the boat behind us.


We, the people, are the limiting part of this picture.
If we can't unload our boat because it is too heavy, it is not a beach cat.
If we can't get the beach wheels under the hulls, it is not a beach cat. If it takes a crane to raise the mast, it is not a beach cat. If it takes two or three people to carry the mainsail from its storage place to the boat, it is not a beach cat. If two persons, a feeder and a puller, can not raise the mainsail, it is not a beach cat. If it takes several persons to push the boat into the water and into the surf, it is not a beach cat.

These are the thoughts that were in my mind in 1980 when I designed and built the first RC27. The weight of the hulls, 200 pounds max in fiberglass, set the hull length. Hull weight varies with hull length**3. It didn't take long to arrive at 27ft hull length. Then the sail area and mast height and righting moment and sheeting load and max mainsheet mechanical advantage all fell together with a few iterations. (Harken told me they did not make a 16:1 mainsheet system back in 1980 and they would not make me one and they told me not to make one because it would not work. They told me to use a winch. I knew that winches are too slow to respond with to sail a high performance beach cat.) The sail area came out to be 425ftft. Three hundred was in the mast and mainsail area and 125ftft in the jib. The sail area and mast height set the max overturning moment so that with a sail pressure goal, this determined the boat width and three on the wire. The aluminum mast weighed 150 pounds rigged so two people could carry it. No expensive crane, $100.00 per hour in 1980, required to raise the mast on the RC. With a 9ft jig pole and the 16 to 1 mainsheet system, one person could raise and lower the mast. The mainsail is carried to the boat by one person. The mainsail is raised with a puller and a feeder easily, 2 persons. Beach wheels are two tires per hull on a 4ft axel. Two persons can roll the boat all over the beach anywhere on beach wheels. So, what set the size and shape and width and sail area of the RC27------ "the strength of the average adult male beach cat sailor". They can do it all. They can put the boat together and they can take it apart. The sheet loads are light enough that the boat can easily be sailed for many hours at a time like all day. The Europeans tell me that the RC27 is "a big boat that sails like a small boat". They can also tow the boat and trailer with a normal size passanger car. I towed an RC27 20,000 miles with an Acura Legend. No four wheel drive 3/4 ton pick up trucks required.
So, What is the upper limit to beach cat size?? The RC27, 27ft by 16ft, with 425ftft sail area is the answer and no part of the boat requires that an adult male beach cat sailor lift more than 100 pounds for maybe 30 seconds.

When the RC27 sailed by Peter Muskins won the most prestigous unlimited sailboat race in Europe, the Bol De Or on Lake Geneva in 1989*, Many sailors there asked me what was my next boat going to be? Some were willing to put down a deposit on a boat undesigned yet. People were all over me asking about my next boat. Here I stood saying/thinking to myself, "there isn't going to be a next boat". The RC27 is built to the physical limits of the average beach cat sailor. I can't design/build anything any bigger because doing so breaks my own rules. I am not interested in stepping off that clift into the area where boat size is limited by money and in this arena people accomodations are as important as boat performance as far as selling a boat goes. This area of boat building is a big compromise, accomodations vs performance, and fancy accomodations are expensive and heavy. They make a boat slow. I'm not interested in going there.

Tom Haberman and Aquarius Sails build one design beach cats from 15ft to 30ft. Tom still builds the same boats today he did back in the 1980s, still One Design. New rigging that has changed is "bolt on" to update an old boat and Tom has Kits for any upgrade, spin etc, you might want. Tom is the only beach cat builder left in the US. The latest thing going in beach cats is Formula boats, F18 for example. Today a few F18 builders around the world have built and sold maybe 30 or 40 boats. The profit margin is so low that the molds haven't been paid for yet and One Design went to the wind. What good is all of this??? It is a slow painful way for a boat builder to go broke and go out of business. Some foreign F18 builders are building their first boat. They build boats in their garage at home. They know nothing about laminate thickness and strength and stiffness. They are producing hulls that the sides can be made to oil-can in with the palm of your hand. What good does this do the unsuspecting beach cat sailor??? What good does this do One Design Beach Cat Racing??? If you want to do One Design Beach Cat Racing, Tom builds the best! Tell Tom what you want and he will build it.

* There were several Formula 40 boats in the race that year on Lake Geneva and an RC27 beat them all first across the finish line. Today US Sailing says a RC30 has a lower PN than a F40. In the late 1980s Formula boats cost a million US Dollars and more. Today the RC 27/30 price is about one tenth of an 1980s F40. What is the sailing/racing public waiting on. Tom has boats from $10,000. to $100,000. and they are all the fastest beach cats for their size. What is the sailing public waiting on??? Tom/Aquarius can't hold his breath for ever.
Posts: 55
Joined: July 1st, 2013, 6:37 pm
Boat Make/Model: RC 27

Re: Beach Cat Limit! What is it???

Post by Bruiser »

Thanks for the information Bill. My partner and I have owned an RC27 for 10 years now and it feels like we are just beginning to learn how to push it. At first the boat seemed very scary just because of the sheer size when compared to what we had been sailing. However the boat has been very managible even in big air. When we first purchased the boat it had a taller mast than the boat was originally designed for and it was too tall for a race we wanted to sail the boat in because of bridge clearance. We purchase an second mast that was to the original design. Over time our expectation was that at some point we would go to the larger mast (once we figured out the "stock" mast) for added horsepower. After 10 years we came to love the boat just the way it is in stock set up. So we shortened the tall mast to stock and have no desire to even consider changing the design and messing up a good thing.

Now that I have read your little history of the boat, I must agree, you nailed it.

Thanks for all your support over the years. Looking forward to 10 more years of fun on this boat.

For the record for those that might consider a boat like this, ours was built in 1986. It is made out of carbon fiber and I believe it is as good as any new RC boat built today. I can not make that claim about my 1980's vintage Hobie 18.

Cheers and Happy New Year everyone.
Kevin Keller
Posts: 338
Joined: September 24th, 2006, 2:56 am
Boat Make/Model: SC-20, ARC22
Location: Honolulu

Re: Beach Cat Limit! What is it???

Post by Kevin Keller »

If I did not have to build a new house soon I would probably purchase a new ARC22 or preferably a 27. They are beautiful looking boats and look like they handle like a dream. I doubt I would ever get my moneys worth out of it compared to my SC20 I have fixed up.

I do wonder how long Tom will be in business prior to retiring. And if he does I hope the company will be purchased and continue making its great product line.

I don't know anyone else that puts the quality into there products like Tom does. His trampolines are TOP notch!

I think about a new 27 quite often. I would have to get my club to change the rules. 12' is the limit for width but I might be able to talk them into changing it.
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