A look into the cats of the WYC's past.
By JOHN COURTER
Sol cat 15
The Sol cat 15 and 18 were part of the club in 1976 when I joined. There were only Novice and Skipper ratings at the time, and you had to get a rating in each boat. You had to have your C-Lark skipper rating before you could even think about getting a rating in the mysterious, scary, fragile catamarans. Well that was over the top, but not much for some people. The 15 was cat rigged, (mainsail only) and was designed to be single-handed. The Sol Cat 15 had centerboards whereas the 18 had daggerboards.
Sol cat 18
The 18 was sloop rigged and designed to be double handed. Having the tiller crossbar in front of the mainsheet block was normal for me at the time since this is the catamaran that I first sailed, but it seems odd now since this is the only cat that I have seen this way since then. Most cats the tillers are behind the traveller, so you must throw the hiking stick behind the boat to tack or jibe. This frustrates many people that I teach. The 18 allows you to bring the hiking stick forward, but you must have an extendable stick as it would be too short to trapeze with or too long to pass through on the tramp. The Sol Cat poster in the sail locker at the time claimed that the Sol Cats didn't pitchpole like the Hobie 16s. I'd never sailed a 16, but either the advertising was wrong or it would have been scary to see me sail a 16 based on the number of times I pitchpoled the Sol Cat. More info about the Sol cat 18 here.
Sol cat 20
Sol Cat's high performance boat that was 10 feet wide. It's the only beach cat that I've sailed without a watertight sealed mast, which means not self rescuing. I was sailing this boat to Mercer Island on a club lake cruise when I noticed the lee bow was a foot or so above the water. This is not normal cat behavior, the bows normally go deeper and deeper as you apply more power. I started looking around and finally noticed the crease in the deck where it had folded in and let the hull bend up just in front of the crossbeam. I carefully nursed the boat back to the club with very little mainsheet tension. When I repaired it, I drilled a 5" hole in the deck, glassed in some stringers and put a port in. First time it went sailing the port popped up into the air and the hull bent again. This made me realize that the curved deck needed to be completely glassed back together for strength which the port did not supply. So back to square one, and no port this time. When the tramp shredded completely a spider's web of line to recreate a tramp was made. It was a bit interesting to maneuver across.
This 20 foot long, 10 foot wide wooden boat was designed in 62. There was no trampoline, there was solid wood where a trampoline would be found. The center of the tramp area had a piano hinge so the boat would fold up in the center to make it 8 feet wide to trailer. This boat was considered fragile and wood boats tend to not last a long time in the club, so this donation wasn't sailed except by a few chiefs just to test it to make sure there was nothing wrong with it. More info here.
The Supercat was 12 feet wide. Most cats are 8 feet wide so they can be trailered without dis-assembling them or buying an expensive tilt trailer. Each of he Supercat's crossbeams are of two different diameters such that one half slips inside the other to make the boat 8 feet wide to trailer. The hull and deck is an elliptical shape. This is to minimize drag when the front of the boat is underwater and reduce the chance of pitchpoling. It was 450 pounds with 275 ft² of sail area. There was a tall rig version made with 300 ft².