Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Local boats I like #2, the Classy A Class Cat

My first thought was the boat is on the trailer upside down, but the trampoline is on top. What is this boat? Like all shiny things I had to take a closer look. The other thing was the name on the boat, "Armington." I knew that name, but I had never seen it associated with a sailboat.

This is an "A Class" racing catamaran with a wave piercing bow designed by naval architect O. H. Rodgers who also provided the tooling. According to the IACA (International A Cat Assoc.) these are the "fastest single handed racing boats in the world." A Class racing catamarans are a "Box Rules" developmental sailboat. The basic configuration is simple. The boats must weigh at least 165 lbs (75kg) (which this one weighs), have a maximum length of 18' (5.49m), and width of 7.5' (2.3m). The sail area can't exceed 150 sq ft (13.94 sq m).

Like all things in life, the details of the rules impose some additional restrictions. Other than that, have at the design, and materials you make it out of. For the time being there are no hydrofoils allowed yet but some forms of lifting structures appear possible by modifying the rudders.

This is one of two nearly identical boats built by Sam Armington, and Jeremy Herrin with some technical help from their boat building dads. The dad's provided maybe a bit, or more likely a lot of their sweat also. Gary Armington was founder of Talon power boats, and Felix Herrin was Catman Cats, a builder of large custom power catamarans, Both provided the experience needed to build these custom composite vessels.

Carbon fiber and epoxy are the materials of choice for these rockets with sails. Gary (right) and Felix (left) are lending their expertise by laying the core into the hull.

These two boats were not a casual build project. It took a year to build the twin crafts, and working with carbon fiber is not a snap. Add to this the endless hours fairing, (meaning sanding) to get the desired perfection.

I would say this type of project is akin to scratch building a composite aircraft fuselage from molds, and the finished quality is at that standard. It's worth it. A new world class A Cat could easily cost $20,000 or more. That's about $1100 per foot. That's a lot of incentive to build it yourself, if you have the skills.

You can tell a lot about the quality of construction by looking at the interior, and to me this is as beautiful as the sleek exterior. Precisely fitted bulkheads and no excess gunk and blobs hang off the surfaces. This is professional work.

The mast weighs almost nothing. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but I could have picked it up with one hand if I knew where the center of gravity was. This is a critical part of the craft, and I didn't want to be the one who broke it. Sam Armington, holding the carbon fiber structure in the photo knows where that magic point is.

Sam's boat was at Gary's shop when I saw it to be fitted with a new trailer. The one you see it sitting on is not ideal, and there are concerns it will damage the very light weight hulls. The new was custom made by Sam's dad, will support the craft from the structural beams instead of the hulls.

If you look closely at the pictures on the Armington/Herrin blog, you can see there are some small individual differences between the way the two vessels were rigged, and equipped. I think the sailing team of Sam, and Jermey, in a friendly way want to beat each other on any given day. Exquisite work, gorgeous boats, and very talented young sailors, and dads.

The picture of Gary Armington, and Felix Herrin is from the Armington/Herrin blog site. 

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