Catamaran sailing has seen a resurgence in popularity in the last 10 years in a large part due to the changes to the America’s Cup and the introduction of multihulls.
The last two America’s Cup campaigns have standardised on large foiling catamarans and a spectator-friendly stadium racing format with relatively short courses close to viewing locations.
Foiling technology has fed down to smaller catamarans with boats as small as 15-foot now providing stable flight.
The latest generation of Olympic catamarans, the Nacra 17, is a semi-foiling boat and provided the most exciting sailing viewing at the recent Olympics in Rio.
Development classes such as the 18-foot ‘A Class’ now have large portions of the fleet foiling at national and world titles and as sailors we are witnessing one the largest development changes in catamaran sailing in several generations.
The speed and excitement around catamaran sailing is driving participation in other high performance catamarans and the Formula 18 (F18) Class is one of the beneficiaries.
The F18 is a successful International box rule class and in Australia we are privileged to have several world class F18 designers and builders (Goodall Design, Windrush, PSA) with several other manufacturers (Nacra, Hobie, Cirrus) well represented in the national fleet.
A box rule class is governed by a set of rules that specify maximum or minimum dimensions for various aspects of the design such as length, width, sail area and build materials, but leave other aspects of the design to the individual.
This allows for ongoing research and development producing various designs with the largest differences being in hull shape.
One of the greatest advantages to a box rule class is the continuous development, albeit minor, ensures there is a consistent stream of second-hand boats on the market allowing for cheaper entry into the fleet on boats that are still highly competitive.
The F18 class is strongly supported by manufacturers and world-class sailors with Olympians and America’s Cup sailors well represented at world titles.
The F18 fleet has been growing steadily in Australia over the last five years and more than 40 boats competed in January at the 2016 National Titles in Sydney.
The South Australian F18 fleet has maintained a consistent presence for many years and recent growth now sees a fleet of 8 to 10 boats most weekends at the Adelaide Sailing Club with several other metro and country clubs hosting smaller numbers.
The F18 fleet is now the largest, quickest and fastest growing catamaran fleet in South Australia and the level of competition is very high with former national champions from other catamaran classes now racing in the South Australian fleet.
An exciting season of F18 sailing is well underway in South Australia and the coming months offer a wealth of opportunity for current and prospective sailors.
The 2017 F18 National Titles will be held at the Port Melbourne Yacht Club from January 25-29 where more than 50 boats are expected from every state in Australia — the competition will be fierce on the water but friendly and social off the water.
The South Australian F18 State Titles will follow shortly after on the February 5th and 6th at Lacepede Bay Sailing Club, Kingston S.E. and many interstate visitors are expected to make the short journey over the border to experience the hospitality of a South Australian country sailing club.
Like many classes the F18 sailors are friendly and willing to share their experience with newcomers in the class to shortcut the learning curve and maximise the enjoyment.
Enquires are welcome and contacts for the national body and state representatives can be found via the website at ausf18.org.au