The latest one design, sport catamaran has been described as the sailing equivalent of instant coffee – ‘fast, compact, instant-gratification sailing.’
The description comes from Blokart inventor Paul Beckett, who earlier launched a conversion kit for his compact land sailer, called The Katalyst. This allowed a ‘pro’ model Blokart to be converted to a light-weight catamaran.
Paul Beckett and his Papamoa-based team have now poked another toe in the market for affordable sail boats, with the launch of a light-weight, sporty cat named the H2.
He is frank about delays that meant its launch missed the Christmas holiday period, but is pleased about the craft’s performance, and potential sales in New Zealand and overseas.
‘It’s never going to be a Hobie cat or a Tornado, or any of those bigger catamarans,’ says Beckett, ‘it is what it is.’
The H2 doesn’t rely on a Blokart frame bolted onto the hulls like the first Katalyst; the craft comes with a typical catamaran tramp. Safety features include a plastic paddle strapped to the tramp, and a clever ‘self-righting’ bungie rope which runs underneath, and makes to easy to pull the craft back to an upright position.
Performance-wise, he explains, ‘you’ve got Ferraris at one end, and minis at the other. This isn’t a Ferrari, a super high performance cat – this is a mini.’
But it’s very competitive as a small, one design sports multi-hull - especially when price is taken into account, he argues. The H2 is probably around $2000 cheaper than most equivalent models in the market. The entry level, standard model costs $6,900, while a cruising model is $7,900 – featuring a ‘cruise bar,’ a raised back rest for the sailors to lie back against. Extras available include a beach trailer and a roof rack specially designed for the twin hulls.
Like the Blokart, which breaks down into a handy carry bag, the H2 is easily transportable, with the key components in bags. The hulls weigh around 15 kgs each, really easy to ‘flick onto a roof rack,’ says Beckett. The spars and fittings go in one bag, and the sails and mast in another. The whole rig weighs just 69 kgs. It takes about 25 minutes to rig up the H2, from car top to water, he estimates, and the boat is pretty easily assembled by one person. The craft comes with a standard 8 metre sail, but smaller Blokart sails can also be fitted.
The target buyer could be anyone from a Blokart owner, to someone who is ‘over’ big boats, to those who don’t have storage space at home. And Paul Beckett has a firm eye on overseas markets, pointing to European countries like the Netherlands, where they love their boating but have little storage space.
The H2 provides them a boat with hulls that can be simply hoisted off the roof of their vehicle into the ceiling of their garage – to avoid taking up space on the floor of the garage, or the yard.
Katalyst Marine, the company formed to produce the cats, is geared up to produce 150 this year, says Beckett, who adds they are waiting on orders from the Middle East before finalising their production plans. The company will handle both production and distribution because the margins don’t allow for a ‘whole feeding chain’ including distributors and dealers.