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Owner's comments.

Comments by:

Mark and Suze Hicks on Shuttle 31 they built themselves.
Mark and Suze Hicks on their transatlantic voyage on their home build Shuttle 31.
Francesco Chiarini and Sara Benassi ...... 42 ft Tri "Damiana"
Jeff van Peski ....... on the Tek 35
Joe Rentz ....... on the Tektron 35
Ted Grossbart ....... on the Tektron 35 "Rosebud"
Mel and Valerie Rowe-Clarke ....... on the 63ft Cruising cat "Bandaloop"
Alex Durrant ....... on why he built the Shuttle 40
Gary Pearce ....... on his voyage on "Zazen" to Australia

Mark and Suze Hicks report after their first major voyage in August 2011.

Shuttle31_2
thumbnailClick on thumbnail for larger picture

Recently a 40 miles day hop from Barbate to La Linea - really cemented our confidence in the seaworthiness of the design. Aware of the reputation for strong winds and tidal eddies in that area we waited for a good forecast and tried to work the tides. On the day though, the forecast fifteen knot winds were in excess of thirty. For a good ten miles approaching Tarifa we experienced really horrible wind against tide conditions - and with my home waters the Bristol Channel, I'm a wind-against-tide connoisseur! Carrying just the third reef in the main the boat was fantastic. These were the worst conditions we'd experienced and I couldn't believe how comfortable we felt. Despite frequent breaking seas and the odd interesting surf into deep watery holes we actually shipped hardly any water. The 40 miles to Gibraltar took three and a half hours.

As far as the boat goes there is actually nothing negative I can think of to say. We've had some problems with engine cavitation but the engine mount is my design and I wish I'd stuck to the plans as I can see the problem would be mitigated with your sled-type mount. If I can ever face laminating again I'll probably build your engine mount. I'm also planning to install a couple of hard-points to more effectively trim the jib off the wind as the track only really works close hauled.

On a positive note it's hard to know where to start. The boat handles well under power - against my expectations with a light cat and a single centrally mounted outboard - and we're yet to crash into anything, even in tight marinas. Under sail we seem to out-perform a surprising range of multi-hulls and mono's. Just last week we had an informal race with a 45 foot racy monohull. Off the wind there was no contest but I was surprised to also outpace them close-hauled - especially as during the upwind leg I was reeling in a tuna and Suze was reading a book on the nets whilst the crew of the other yacht trimmed sails and rail-dangled fruitlessly...

In heavier weather the boat rewards early reefing with a huge benefit to handling and a negligable speed penalty. The rule: 'as soon as you think about reefing - reef' is our golden rule.

We expected a wet boat - having watched the Fossailing video of the Heineken regatta! - but have found the contrary. The reserve bouyancy afforded by the flared hulls obviously does it's job. I've only managed to stuff the forward beam a handfull of times and green water has reached the cockpit only once at the end of a surf into the back of a Gib Straight breaker, just before we reduced to 3rd reef only...

Living aboard is great for two and perfectly doable with four or more aboard - even if they are are our messy friends. Visitors are always amazed by the space we have (a fellow sailor assumed we slept one-per-hull in coffin berths and was shocked by our queen-sized bed). In contrast to most other yachts - monohulls or multis - our boat is light and airy down in the hulls.

Here in warm climes the open bridgedeck is fantastic, we tend to rig up a tarp for shade on hot days and the lack of the 'wall' that other cats have forward of the cockpit means we enjoy a cooling breeze, several bridgedeck cabin cat owners have commented on this. Obviously there are lonely night watches and rainy days when a bridgedeck saloon would be a bonus but on balance, with a cat of this size, we think open bridgedecks edge it.

I'm glad we built the aft beam rectangular in section (similar to the Shuttlecat 32, Skye) and included an aft-deck. This has been great for easy storage of the deflated dinghy and the outboard, amongst other things - and for cleaning fish, somewhere else to sit etc.

It's interesting given your function-led design principles how much attention we get. Whenever we arrive at a new anchorage we have a stream of dinghies, kayaks and swimmers doing circuits of the boat, we've had other vessels apparently come well out of their way to check us out and the other day here in Ibiza a very shiny superyacht approached us so the skipper could shout down "Nice boat!" We're generally pretty bemused by all this but sometimes when we've been ashore and are heading back aboard we realise that amongst an anchorage full of all kinds of craft from little yachts to multi-million pound designer giants our Shuttleworth stands out as the prettiest by far.

Mark and Suze Hicks report after their transatlantic voyage on their Shuttle 31 in January 2014.

I thought I'd let you know that Suze and I (with a friend crewing) have made it across the Atlantic in Aleph. We had a pretty gruelling crossing... After a perfect 'trade-wind' day at the start where we covered over 190 miles in 24 hours we rarely saw less than 25 knots of wind and for several days had 30+ with squalls in the 40s. We also enjoyed large confused seas as the easterly windswell from the strong trades mixed unpredictably with a pretty hefty swell from the north generated by the huge lows that pounded the UK over Christmas and NY. On occasion the cross swells were very large and we had to keep the speed down to stay safe which was frustrating. The asymmetric spinnaker I bought for the trip stayed in it's bag and instead a tiny storm jib I hoped to never deploy stayed up for almost half of the passage. I didn't even do any fishing!

The boat performed brilliantly as always, refusing to bury the bows even during some .. steep .. surfs and shipping very little water.

Incidentally we also encountered an unforecast F9 gale off the coast of Morocco in November where I towed warps and chain to slow us down. We'd found ourselves surfing under bare poles but after deploying the warps the boat sat quietly, making 4-5 knots for the most part and happy under the tiller pilot.

Anyway we're very, very much enjoying the Caribbean now and don't plan any long passages any time soon! We plan to stay here until April and then return to the UK by air, leaving the boat in Antigua.

News From Francesco Chiarini and Sara Benassi aboard "Damiana", see Race Results

Damiana thumbnailClick on thumbnail for larger picture

Francesco and Sara write:

I am writing to let you know that we are the new and proud owners of Damiana. We have added an aft aluminum tower with a wind generator and a radar, doubled the battery capacity to over 400 amps, added flexible solar panels siting on new trampolines, replaced the propane stove with an alcohol one, got a water maker and an Engel freezer, widened the central cabin berth to queen size with a Tempurpedic mattress, added a manual windlass, and achieved many other improvements to make Damiana our new home. Damiana spent last hurricane season in Rio Dluce (Guatemala), and soon will sail to Panama to cross the canal.

Having sailed Damiana up to 50kn. winds while seeing her just having fun, without showing any sign of instability, we want to thank you for this superb design. The only "problem" we have sometimes is to slow her down... in a few occasions we had to heve to in order not to make landfall before sunrise. We receive so many compliments for the beauty of this vessel, but you are the real recipient!

Thanks again and best regards,

Francesco Chiarini and Sara Benassi

News From Jeff van Peski aboard "Socia", a Tek 35

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Click on thumbnail for larger picture of "Socia". For more pictures of the Tek 35 and the Tektron 35 see Images

Jeff writes:

Had an instance recently that I thought I would tell you about. We left Beaufort North Carolina on a forecast of 30 knot northerlies, gale warnings offshore. The wind was forecast to drop off pretty quickly in the next day or two and I wanted to make sure that we had enough wind to get where we were going, which was the Georgia/Florida border.

So off we go, and just before nightfall of course the wind starts building to its forecast strength, and by the time we are skating over frying pan shoals, a notoriously bad spot, it is blowing a solid 30, and we are carrying two reefs in the main. Finally we decided to slow down (we were hitting 16+ knots at times) and get a little rest around 11:30, and rather than just put in the third reef in the main, we just dropped it. With just the jib we were averaging around 8 or 9 and still surfing to 13, but I didn't feel like I had to be quite as on top of steering. The boat was great. I never once worried about the boat, even a few times! when we spun broadsides to a wave. I was hand steering mainly because our autopilot needs some work, and I had a lot of time to think about how glad I was to be sailing a Tek 35, and not any number of other multihulls. I think that in those winds, with the 10-12 foot waves, I would have been pretty scared in any other 35 foot cat.

We called the coast guard after seeing a flare fired behind us. They seemed worried about us and I had to explain that we were not in distress, and that we had come out knowing what the conditions would be and prepared to deal with them

Joe Rentz on the Tektron 35.

Tektron 35 Thumbnails

Joe Rentz commissioned one of the first Tektron 35 cats from Multimar in Brazil. He has recently sold the boat after 9 years of cruising off the East coast of South America.

Joe Writes......
When I had a cat built I was looking for a light, fast, comfortable and seaworthy boat. I got it all in the Shuttle 35!
In light air, sailing at wind speed is easy. In heavy weather the boat gives such a sense of security that it's easy to forget a life jacket and harness!
Going to windward with 35 knots wind and 12 to 15 foot seas really tortures a cat, but this boat is so rigid there is never a twist, a noise or telltale crack in the paint. After 9 years I believe the structure is as sound as the day it was launched. And she is such a beauty to behold! A local weekend tour boat changed their route to sail into my club mooring area to show the tourists "the American on his multimillion dollar catamaran"!

What would I have done different? Perhaps install inboard engines. The outboards gave a fare share of problems, mostly due to the poor local gasoline, and in Brazil the outboards lower resale value of the boat.

Ted Grossbart

Ted Grossbart , who owned the Tektron 35 "Rosebud" for several years, writes

Yes Rosebud was the prototype of the Tek 35. She is a fantastic boat, one of the rare true performance cruisers. I'd be happy to talk with anyone who has a serious interest.

Someone asked if the hull flare on the Tektron 35 "Rosebud" was a performance killer like some of the bumps and bulges critiqued in the last Multihulls Mag. Short answer: No. The boat is very fast for a super roomy cruiser (5 doubles, 2 heads, huge galley, etc.) doing about 2/3 wind speed in most conditions. We saw 17-18 kts routinely with a top of 19-20 and I believe later boats have exceeded this. This shape maintains a sleek footprint with the room and safety of flares that you typically do not have to push through the water.

These are fantastic boats, John is a real genius.

Mel and Valerie Rowe-Clarke

Shuttleworth 63 "Bandaloop" sails around hurricane Luis.

Hurricane Luis thumbnail

Click on thumbnail for larger picture of Hurricane Luis and the area of the Caribbean it hit. For pictures of "Bandaloop" see Images

After setting sail from Saint Maarten ahead of approaching hurricane Luis. Mel and Valerie Rowe-Clarke decided the safest option was to put to sea with their two children, and use the boats speed potential to sail around the hurricane in the southern quarter where the winds are usually lower.

Mel wrote after the hurricane had passed through....

"The picture shows Luis at 1400 on the Monday. We were just off the Isle Des Saints at that time, and surfing south at 16.8 knots. The sea was not yet huge. We got as far south as the bottom of Martinique before being forced back North by the Southerly winds. Then we sailed through the Dominica channel (rough) and up the East side of Dominica, Guadeloupe and Antigua. We anchored in St. John's on Wednesday evening, all safe and sound. Valerie and I got tired but the kids slept all night every night. St. Maarten lagoon is a disaster, 1000 + boats beached or sunk. Thank you for designing a boat that we could confidently take to sea".


First Comment from "Alex Durrant - Shuttle 40"

Click on thumbnail for larger picture of Alex's boat just launched. For more pictures of the Shuttle 40 see Images

Alex Durrne's Cat thumbnail

Replying to questions from Kenneth Heinrichs, Alex Durrant had this to say about the Shuttle 40 he built in Indonesia which is currently in the water awaiting its rig:

"First, the plans John provides to build from. Yes, compared to other plans that I have seen, John's are extremely complete and detailed. He does charge more than some of the Australian designers, but his boats are in much more limited production. And the purchase of the plans is not a good place to be trying to save money. He is very interested in his boats, and will answer any questions you might have while building."

"Now let's look at the performance of these Shuttleworth boats. Mine is not yet sailing, so I can only pass on to you things from others who have sailed them. The Shuttleworth design concept results in cruising boats which have performance like racers. They are close winded in the extreme, outpointing anything other than top racing boats. Before starting to build mine I commissioned a report from a sailor who delivered a 35ft boat almost identical Tektron 35 in design from Toronto to France, in 1992."


Alex quotes from the report he commissioned:

"5.1 PERFORMANCE. There is no question that the performance of these boats is fantastic when compared to production 'performance' cruisers. This is especially marked in lighter airs, when the combination of light displacement and extremely low hydrodynamics drag coupled with the wide beam and large rig, produces superb speeds. In light airs, under main and full genoa, we were able to reach faster than a Dart 20 beach cat!"

"5.3 SEAWORTHINESS. Although it proved to be a wet boat in rough conditions (almost inevitable given the performance available), the T35 unquestionably proved its seaworthiness. In the extreme conditions of a force 12 storm near Bermuda, the exceptionable stability of the wide beam platform was a great comfort when we heaved to after running at over 15 knots under fully reefed jib in 60 knots of wind. One night in force 10 condition under bare poles, we were thrown around to the extent that we slid down waves forwards, sideways, and once even backwards. Waves broke over the decks, and we hit several 'stoppers'. That she endured this punishment totally undamaged is a tribute to John's design."

Alex Continues:

"All right, I am biased. But once you have read John's design philosophy, you will see why."


Gary Pearce answers questions about "Zazen", after his voyage from England to Australia

Zazen thumbnail click on thumbnail for larger picture.

For more photos see "Biscay trip photos.

Question

I'd also be curious to hear how you would rate Zazen's performance under sail to similar-sized cruisers you met on passage.

Gary Pearce answers....

Well that's a _really_ interesting question and hinges on how you define performance.

If I learned one thing on our little trip its that performance is a lot of different things apart from outright speed.

In terms of how fast Zazen went then we did not encounter anything I would consider faster, but we actually sailed far more within our limits than a lot of people. No spinnakers at night (except for a few amazing evenings), no spinnakers above 15 knots true (didn't need it anyway) and always stayed at least a reef ahead of the weather. And the boat still kept going quickly. Even under this regime we were doing 160-200 mile days.

Where we did really well was in the light stuff. That boat sails nicely down to 2-3 knots true (sluggish dead downwind in this) and in fact we probably used less than 200 litres of diesel in 16 months and 15000 NM. I still have a jug from the UK. That's important given that a lot of ocean crossing takes place in light conditions and one is limited by weight. Being able to sail in the very light stuff means less diesel to carry means less weight - its a virtuous circle.

We didn't go faster in the heavy stuff because mostly it was just Jane and I and 2 12 yr olds and we needed our sleep which was hard to get due to noise and motion and for an 18 day passage you need to _really_ look after the crew. Above 12 knots was too difficult for the crew.

In fact we hardly broke anything. Mashed a couple of Rutgerson blocks when the lines didn't pull fair, an undersized outhaul block fell to bits, the sheave box for the jib halyard fell to bits (must speak to Marstroms about that) , we stripped the case off the code 0 halyard (I'll never buy Liros again), and the leech of the code 0 suffered sun damage from being left up for 15 months.Outboard needed a new starter in Coffs Harbour at the end of the voyage due to salt ingress.

That's it for breakages. Just as well really as there were no spares available for anything anywhere.

There was zero damage to crew (although they were a bit stressed after the longer passages - 3hrs on 3 hrs off is tough). Access to the mast from the cockpit had a lot to do with that IMO.

Oh and in port performance was great. Our awning would catch 60 gallons in a couple of minutes - we were always the "party pontoon" which was nice, especially for the kids.

Oh top speed ? we often exceeded 20knots on a surf but you cant be pushing that hard in the middle of an ocean with your wife and kids unless you are a psychopath.

I hope that goes some way towards answering a very complex question.

Gary Pearce

******************

Next question..

Thank you it does most excellently, and sounds like you made a happy choice of vessel and gear. How would you rate Zazen's "performance" in the ARC, amongst an admittedly wildly varying fleet and crew abilities?

Gary Pearce replies

Ahh,

You are indeed a cruel man, the ARC was one of the lowpoints of my life but a (longish) tale worth telling. You can make your own assessment of performance at the end :-)

We started from Gran Canaria and I was told "don't go near all those boats" - but thats the start line "I don't care". OK so we started near the back, put up the code zero and were near the front by the South end of the Island when the few boats ahead were laid flat. Ahh that will be the front that they said would come nowhere near us in order that everyone would start and provide a nice spectacle. Sadly didnšt get the code zero away in time and shredded it.

That didn't matter much as it blew like stink all night but in the morning we looked around and could see the Kevlar sails of the big racing monošs on various horizons. Then it went light - no light sail no longer.

I had been advised to go South. I took the rhumb line as I fancied something more on the beam than from dead behind. Wrong move big time. 2 days later and suddenly the seas were huge and during the afternoon radio schedule this guy about 45 miles North of us calls in to say his brother has gone off the back, is being dragged along and and its his brother who is the sailor. Zazen is surfing nicely down these huge waves hitting 20 knots at time but the autopilot it too hot to touch (no really, too hot to touch), the crew are all pretty shaken by news of the guys death and fear worse weather might be heading our way and suggest we might slow down and let it pass. So out with the drogue and the world is a different (though still eerie) place. We did a day and a half averaging about 2 knots with drogue and wingmast alone. Not good for the average but safe and comfortable. (Oh yes 2 drogues actually, we lost the first one when the rode parted and I had to make a second)

Then we have a few more light days with no light sails except this huge spinnaker which is a bit big to carry at night.

Then we get in the trades and discover that our 70 something crewman's cataracts are a bit worse than we thought and he cannot see the squalls coming, Good as we are getting 3 or 4 big ones a day. Decide it might be best to be a tad more conservative and be alive at the end.

We arrived around a day behind the TRT1200 Sister Skrit (there was _nothing_ inside that boat just a few nets on the bulkheads) crewed by 4 young Scandanavians so in the end I wasnšt unduly upset but was still pretty cross with myself. On the other hand we were fairly well rested for a crew of 3 (not counting the kids) after 18 days (I think it was). Oh and we did not use a drop of diesel. Oh and the only breakage was the code 0 from day 1.

Of course the nice ARC people unpolitely snipped off the overall placings of the multihulls with scissors so we never knew where we ended up overall and if that was their attitude could not be bothered anyway. I would probably not bother with the ARC a second time.

The correct thing to have done was forget the main, use wing and wing jibs of varying sizes according to conditions. We tried this later on and it was easy and fast. Not maximally fast but overall you do more miles as you can keep up a more optimal sailplan without fear. Brigand did this and went South and caught some _huge_ fish and still came in days ahead of us despite being on paper a "slower" boat.

It was a different story across the Pacific. It was lighter, we knew the boat better and had a plan, but there were few directly comparable "times"

Hope this shed a little light.

Gary Pearce

***************

Some more notes from Gary on sail combinations for long downwind legs across the ocean.

Just to be clear we can of course achieve a wing and wing setup with our rig .... provided you don't shred one of the jibs first day out.

This is also only useful for fairly dead downwind in conditions where the boat is not pulling the wind forward too much (e.g. 9-10 knots boat speed in 25 knots from dead behind) This just happened to be the conditions we experienced across the Atlantic. The Pacific was _very_ different as was Biscay.

I would not change a thing about the rig, the rotating wing mast, the self tacking jib, the big roach main, the code zero rolling on a spectra luff and hanked on jibs. Nope the combination was spot on.

Gary

*************

Another Question..

I don't have a problem with the self-tacking jib, the code zero on spectra, hanked on jibs. And I can REALLY respect a rotating mast. I love what they do for a mainsail. BUT have you had the rotating mast in a REAL BLOW, and particularly downwind. And have you had a fat-headed, roachy main in a real blow, even reefed, and particularly downwind.

Gary Pearce replies..

Depends on your definition of BIG. In the Atlantic we were running off in 30 + knots and big seas doing about 2-3 knots with the drogue. We had the mast locked central there for a while. The autopilot kept us sailing dead downwind (and downsea).

Off Portugal we hit some sort of white squall thing but had no functioning wind guage at the time. We dropped sail and were making 7-8 knots just slightly cracked off on just the mast. The sea conditions were relatively calm however.

Off Coffs we had just under 50 knots and ran off with just the mast and the heavy duty number 3 jib against the drogue. During the worst we reduced to just the mast and were happy with the result. Here we had large confused seas breaking over the boat.

I was always far more concerned by the sea state than the wind strength.

We never felt for a moment that we were or were likely to be overpowered by the wind on the mast. 28 foot beam on a 40 foot boat obviously helped. I guess we did not experience BIG enough winds.

Another Question about the wing mast.

I'm sure with a little research back thru various articles one could find a number of such real life stories. I seem to recall one involving a Tektron 50 racing cat a number of years ago.

Gary Pearce replies..

I know that story ! The boat was sailing downwind with full sail (full main and genoa) in 40 knots of wind .... averaged 27 knots over 2 hours. Was doing fine until he reached Shipwreck point and the notorious standing waves. After 3 standing waves the boat found itself stationary with full sail and a full gale from dead aft and - not surprisingly pitchpoled. Nothing to do with the wingmast.

A further question on the wing mast

On a relatively heavy cruising cat that is much more likely NOT to scamper forward with the sudden gust, presenting a rotating mast of any sizable dimension sideways to a storm should be a real concern.

Gary Pearce replies..

a) Even at around 6 tonnes fully loaded I would rate us as light so perhaps your comments do not apply.
b) I cannot think of any reason to present the beam of a boat of any kind to a _real_ storm. If you are even remotely likely to experience those sort of conditions you should have both a good drogue and a good parachute IMO.

Just my opinions of course.

Gary

Question....

Were you pleased you went on an open bridgedeck boat with the performance potential of "Zazen"

Gary replies

Way back at the beginning of our adventure I was reminded that its easy to slow a fast boat down but difficult to speed a slow boat up.....

Having said that then in our experience it was sea conditions that dictated speed. In most conditions 12-14 knots was acceptable in terms of noise and motion. Zazen can do that sort of speed effortlessly in most conditions. That gives you 200 mile plus days without trying which is a pretty good _cruising_ speed. We were more conservative than this initially.

When it gets very light we could sail down to 2 or 3 knots true wind provided it wasn't from dead astern. This keeps you ahead of some fairly large lush boats and requires no diesel. Noone would argue that this is Bad Thing. This is more important in the Pacific than the Atlantic.

Apart from the noise and the motion I was uncomfortable allowing my relatively inexperienced wife or 12 yr old kids from cruising above 14 knots. We always reefed early and were rarely disappointed with our choices in this regard.

I would not regard the extra windage of a wing mast as unacceptable and if you have spectra sails neither is the weight.

I do not think we ever turned the autopilot off :-) We have a HUGE motor that links into the bevel drive of the Whitlock Mamba system and yes the harder it worked the more power it consumed. This was from between 20 - approx 60 amps per day. The worst was dead downwind with a big following sea (of course). It was too hot to touch most of the way across the Atlantic. You underspecify this at your peril. A couple we cruised with hand steered for 5 days and the result was not pretty.

We met a number of people cruising in heavy multihull caravans and they were fairly universally unhappy. We owned a Prout ourselves before Zazen and would not have been happy.

Bottom line is I doubt we would do anything much differently in this regard.

Gary

Question.

Do you consider that you have a forward cockit and how would you compare that with sitting behind a bridgedeck cabin to steer the boat.

Gary Pearce replies..

Well I guess we have one. Its good because:

a) Its huge, we were always the "party pontoon".
b) You do not have to climb anywhere to get to the base of the mast which makes control lines easier, esp for a rotating mast.
c) When covered with an awning its a lovely place in the tropics and the awning catches huge amounts of water.
d) We have plenty of shelter under the spray hoods on either side (although a bit bigger would be better)
e) Excellent access to sheets and such.

Its bad because: a) Its a big area to fill with water -> need lots of drains b) Its cold in the UK in winter (but we have large warm areas elsewhere)

We had a bridgedeck saloon and now are undecided on what we would have next.

On balance we reckon its about even unless you to to very cold places but we have sworn off them :-)

Gary