FAQs

  1. How would I choose between a Topaz 14 or a Spitfire?
  2. Why would I choose the multihull pathway over a more traditional route?
  3. Is it an RYA recognised pathway?
  4. Can you help me to find a crew to sail with?
  5. What happens when I complete the youth pathway?
  6. Who builds and sells the Spitfire?
  7. How much is it to buy a new Spitfire?
  8. How much will a second hand Spitfire cost and where can I find these?
  9. How does the price of spares compare with say the 29er?
  10. How much are sails and how long do they last?
  11. But I thought that catamaran sailing was by far the most expensive form of the sport?
  12. So what is the performance of a Spitfire like?
  13. But aren’t multihulls less technical than monohull classes?
  14. Who can sail the Spitfire?
  15. How long will the Spitfire be around for?
  16. So what training programme is available?
  17. Whats different about Catamaran Road Trailers?

The UK Catamaran Racing Association (UKCRA) operates, in conjunction with the RYA, both junior and youth programmes aimed at supporting all age groups and abilities into the multihull sailing scene – membership of UKCRA is £20 per annum / boat. The Junior pathway is designed to introduce young sailors early or to help transition smaller sailors to multihull and is based around the Topper Topaz 14 catamaran, which is a 14ft twin trapeze skeg boat of which UKCRA owns three that can be used by prospective new entrants to help them decide. The Youth pathway is based around the Spitfire catamaran, which is a 16 foot twin trapeze dagger board racing catamaran, of which UKCRA owns one that can be used by prospective new entrants to help them decide

There are several ways you can try out a Topper Topaz or a Spitfire before purchasing:

You can come to one of our taster days, there are several planned throughout 2016

The Association boat is available for trial sails can be booked via the Website.

There are also opportunities to try the Association boat at the various Open Cat event throughout the year

If you are not confident enough to try on your own or you do not have a crew then come to one of our training days and we will be able to pair you up with a coach or another sailor for the weekend. If you are confident of sailing a catamaran and have a crew then why not borrow a Class Association boat to try at one of our training weekends. If you get on with the boat at the training weekend, then you can book to borrow the boat to sail at a venue to be agreed (possibly your club) with the class coordinator on a short term basis – you could even enter a Spitfire Traveller Series event to see how you get on. Of course, if you have already decided to sail multihulls, but do not have a crew to sail with, then we can help you to locate a crew of a suitable standard and location – if you would like help with this then please indicate it on the attached form.

How would I choose between a Topaz 14 or a Spitfire?

This will depend on your size and ability at sailing a catamaran – the best approach is to come to a taster day or to contact UKCRA for some personal advice, which we are very happy to provide (see contact details below). Many of our younger new entrants start by chartering a Topaz to learn to sail a catamaran in a fast but fun and safe way before moving onto the Spitfire – we would advocate this for sailors up to around 15 years of age, although we have many 13 year olds who also move directly to the Spitfire. 

Why would I choose the multihull pathway over a more traditional route?

Contrary to public belief, multihull sailing is incredibly technical and requires all of the same skills to race as a monohull boat. With the reintroduction of the multihull to the Olympics, the continued focus on multihull in the Americas Cup, the well-publicised sponsorship of the F18 Phantom series by Red Bull and the now long running Extreme Sailing Series; the cream of the world’s elite sailors are all moving or have moved to multihull sailing. Look at Ben Ainslie, Jimmy Spithill, Dean Barker, Ray Davies, Lucy Macgregor, Ben Saxton, Hannah Diamond, John Gimson, Frank Cammas, Billy Besson, Ronan Hagara to name but a few. Multihull sailing also attracts the largest sponsors and the widest media coverage. With the pathway decided for the future, multihull sailing is the place to be and the area that is attracting the largest technical investment in our sport. 

Did you know that UK multihull sailors are the most successful UK youth class at the annual Youth ISAFs. We are usually on the podium and provide more successful entrants into the Olympic pathway than any other class.

This is a fantastic time to join the multihull pathway as we build towards the future. Numbers are increasing rapidly across the globe and, with the fantastic support and backing that the RYA provides, the top level coaching that we have in place, and the pedigree of success, you will be joining the multihull revolution at the right time.

Is it an RYA recognised pathway?

Yes absolutely, the RYA and UKCRA work hand-in-hand to ensure that the multihull pathway is fully supported at the entry and elite sailing levels. The RYA has invested heavily in creating a wide coaching programme for multihull endorsed dinghy, race and senior instructors taken from ex-multihull squad and existing Olympic Pathway sailors. We are also strongly supported, through the RYA ties, by ex-Olympic sailing and technical representatives. The RYA therefore funds the coaching and squad status for the international ISAF and EuroSAF events, at which it also provides charter of the SL16 catamaran which is raced internationally at these events (which is a sister boat to the Spitfire).

Can you help me to find a crew to sail with?

We will of course help you to find a suitable crew to sail with, it is our goal to ensure that sailors keen to join the multihull youth pathway can do so with the right backing and support. If you are interested but do not know where to start then please just complete the attached form (with your parent’s consent) and we will be in contact to see how we can assist you.

What happens when I complete the youth pathway?

The multihulls were the first class to extend the sailing age range to 21 at the RYA Youth Nationals, which is now being adopted elsewhere, and as the Spitfire is an established youth and adult class, there is no need to transition away from the Spitfire when you reach 18. Many of our youth pathway sailors continue to race on in the Spitfire in our National Traveller Series into their adult lives, and many top-level adult sailors come into the class as it offers a versatile way of continuing to race at the top level as they get older. If a move on from Spitfire is preferred, but you still wish to sail in multihulls, then there is the Olympic Pathway in the Nacra 17, the international RedBull F18 Flying Phantom Series for 16-20 year olds, the F18 world series, the Extreme 40 professional race series (one crew has to be female or under 23), the Americas Cup, single handed world A-Class series (now foiling) as well as the development foiling series boats that are leading the way in technical development of foiling (look up the Sunnucks development M20 Vampire reaching 46 knots – Will is Chairman of UKCRA and an strong advocate of the youth sailing scene).

If a move away from multihull is preferred then you take with you the squad status that helps you gain entry into University (UCAS points), we have sailors who have successfully moved directly into the British Keelboat Academy, we have squad sailors who the RYA has sponsored to coach at both youth and senior levels and we have a host of ex-multihull squad members who are now professionally sailing on yachts and charter boats across the world.

UKCRA is here to help all sailors of all abilities, we do not just pass the best sailors into the Olympic Pathway, our charter ensures that we continue to support everyone whether they are junior, youth or adult sailors and we have plans for the future that will only build on and expand on the current momentum.

 

But I thought that catamaran sailing was by far the most expensive form of the sport?

This is a common held misconception – competitive Spitfire sailing can be undertaken at very reasonable prices. As we have shown you, you can purchase boats readily on the open market at prices that are comparable to the other classes. Spares and sails are either comparable or cheaper, but more importantly, they last longer than the other classes. The boats are proven and robust and supported by a specialist manufacturer who will provide you with expert advice and guidance. It is not always the newest boats with the newest gear that wins – we have competition across the spread of the fleet age range. The class association is very active and will help you to ensure you operate at competitive pricing, as well as offer technical advice

So what is the performance of a Spitfire like?

If you like fast, fun sailing then the Spitfire is the boat for you. The 2015 RYA youth nationals statistics prove it is the fastest youth boat on the water and can actually outperform many of the Olympic boats let alone youth boats. It achieves this in a fun and safe manner – there is nothing to be afraid of – our comprehensive training programme and approach to safety is designed to ensure that youth sailors learn how to handle the boat characteristics in a safe environment.

But aren’t multihulls less technical than monohull classes?

Many of our sailors join due to the thrill of twin wiring at 20 knots, but there is so much more to the Spitfire than straight line sailing. Light wind prowess, managing the shifts and gusts and tactically out-manoeuvring your opponent, which are at the forefront of our training programme, are as relevant in a Spitfire as they are in a 420. Your skills are transferable regardless of whether you sail monhulls, multihulls, dinghy or big boat. Our squad already has in it today top sailors who have achieved national and international recognition in other classes such as; Optimist, Topper, RS Feva, Mirror, Cadet, 29er, 420, Cherub, Laser, 18foot Skiff, Musto Skiff.

Who can sail the Spitfire?

The Youth Multihull Pathway is open to all; we have all boy, all girl and mixed crews competing together at the same level. We actively encourage mixed crews. If the goal is to aim for the Olympic Pathway then the Nacra 17 is a mixed boy/girl combination, which is a point for consideration for the future, but is not a factor in selection for the RYA EuroSAF or ISAF teams that are selected to compete for the British Youth Sailing Team. The weight range for the Spitfire crew is ideally between 118-132Kg however many teams are competitive outside of this range. Our sailors come from all over the country and from all backgrounds; monhull, multihull or new to sailing entirely.

How long will the Spitfire be around for?

There are currently no plans for the RYA or UKCRA to change the youth multihull pathway boat away from the Spitfire. However there is speculation about the future of the ISAF youth multihull that we would like to inform you about. ISAF has issued an RFP to manufacturers for the specification of the next ISAF Youth Pathway multihull. A decision is likely to be made on this later this year but cannot come into effect until 2018 at the earliest. The speculation is that the new ISAF boat will become a Nacra to bring it in line with the Olympic pathway boat, which is the Nacra 17 – but this is pure speculation at the moment. As such Nacra have put forward two boats, the existing Nacra 16 and the new Nacra 15, which are being reviewed by the ISAF Technical Committee

If the ISAF youth pathway changes then the RYA and UKCRA will undertake a review of the Spitfire to determine if it is still an appropriate boat to continue with the UK multihull youth pathway (i.e. is it comparable in performance and experience, is it comparable in crew weight, is there a ready supply of boats and spares, is it affordable, etc). If a change is selected then there will be a managed transition from 2018 onwards. The Spitfire is not specifically a youth boat, and the British Spitfire Class Association (which works closely with UKCRA) ensures that a healthy adult fleet exists, which in turn will ensure that demand for second hand Spitfires continues regardless of the youth boat status. So the good news is that for the foreseeable future, the RYA and UKCRA supported youth multihull pathway boat will remain as the Spitfire and, any change in this situation, can be managed in a way that ensures consistency in sailing experience and ongoing retention in value of the existing boats.

So what training programme is available?

In the last year the RYA has put a huge amount of financial support and effort into the multihull pathway to ensure we have the best coaching support available. The RYA support the group by providing  a Coach Marcus Lynch who has most recently been coaching the para olympic sailors.  We also have at each training session a dedicated experienced catamaran coach/instructor to help new sailors transition into catamaran sailing.

There are generally two levels of training available to the youth pathway; RYA supported youth squad training and UKCRA open class training. 

RYA supported youth training focuses mainly on performance boat handling and elite training both on and off the water, which operates the winter/summer squads as per the well documented RYA squad system – this is led by the RYA lead multihull coach supported by RYA accredited race coaches. 

UKCRA open class training weekends are all year round, led by the same coaching team, and allows all Spitfires (adult and youth) to attend training sessions that combine some of the performance sailing of the RYA sessions with race craft situation and general boat handling skills. UKCRA open class training is open to all age ranges and abilities with training tailored for the ability of the teams attending each event, and is a great way to transition into the multihull scene. Usually UKCRA training events are also combined with class racing to ensure the skills learned are put into practice and run all year round. We try and stage RYA and UKCRA training sessions concurrently to ensure that boats can be towed to the event location and left there for the next training event a week later – we find this works well with parents

Locations tend to be either Datchet, Grafham, Brightlingsea, South Coast / Southampton area and Weymouth – however there is no reason with the right demand why we wouldn’t stage North, East, West and Southern region training sessions – flexibility is the key to our approach and we are happy to take on-board comments and suggestions at all times

Whats different about Catamaran Road Trailers?

It is true that a catamaran trailer is different to a conventional multihull. The Spitfire is transported with the hulls and beams still connected (no need to de-rig beams as with some of the larger catamaran classes). The best trailers are those with boxes that lay under the boat into which you pack all necessary gear – this means a small family car can tow a Spitfire quite easily without requiring any equipment to be carried inside the car. This has the added benefit that you get to keep your trailer and your gear with you at every event. They also tow very easily – the hull design means the trailers stay straight in all adverse weather conditions – which is good for parents. Most of the second-hand boats will come complete with a road-base – it is highly recommended to ensure you purchase one complete with the boat – otherwise all major dinghy trailer manufacturers supply catamaran trailers (including White Formula who own Speedline Trailers)

If you have any further questions please use the contact us.

 

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