The A Class Catamaran is the fastest single handed small catamaran in the world. This highly responsive lightweight boat is a joy to sail. The powerful rig means that even the heaviest sailors are on the trapeze upwind in 6 knots of breeze and flying a hull downwind (wild thing). The top sailors in the class have now mastered the art of trapezing downwind, making the boat even faster and more exciting. The boat is very easy for an experienced sailor to sail, but very difficult to sail really fast.
The A Class is a boat built specifically for racing and has very strong fleets both in Australian and overseas. The National Championship in 2011 had a highly competitive fleet of 73 boats, the largest catamaran fleet in Australia. State Championships in Qld, Vic and NSW all had over 30 competitors. Australians consistently perform well at the world championships, in 2010 taking 5 of the top 10 places, including the top 3.
The high quality of racing in the A Class often surprises those new to the class. Regular competitors include Olympic medalists and world champions in several other classes. At recent Australian National Championships, several professional sailors from Americas Cup teams have been shocked to find themselves mid-fleet, although others like Dean Barker and James Spithill have shown their ability to perform at the top of any fleet.
The A Class catamaran is a development class with very simple rules defining the boat. The key rules are:
|Maximum Length:||5.49m (18ft)|
|Maximum Width:||2.3m (7ft 6.5in)|
|Maximum Sail Area:||13.94 sq m (150 sq ft)|
Several competitive designs of A-Class are commercially available, although which boat is the fastest changes as these products are constantly improved. 50 years of development have produced a very refined boat, so changes are typically incremental and boats usually remain competitive for several years.
One strong advantage of the development nature of the class is that it allows customization of a boat to suit a specific sailor. For example the weight of a sailor is much less critical on an A Class than any one design class. A heavier sailor will choose a more powerful sail and mast combination than a lighter sailor and a hull shape with more buoyancy. This usually ensures that sailing skill is the most important factor in winning races. It is common to see the top competitors using different hull shapes, mast manufacturers and sailmakers.
Come and give A Class sailing a try. There are a number of clubs where A Classes are sailed regularly and the sailors at these clubs will be happy to talk to you about getting started. Please contact your state representative (details on our contacts page) to find out which clubs are active in your area.