Features May 2008 Issue

Compact Weta Trimaran Screeches Past the Big Boys on Biscayne Bay

Mini-multihull with aerospace-like attention to detail fills niche of high-performance day sailor

When it comes to the pure love of sailing, it’s hard to beat a small, light efficient boat whose sole mission is to harness the wind. Designed in New Zealand, built in China, imported to the U.S. by Nor’ Banks Sailing of Duck, N.C., the 14-foot-6-inch, 220-pound Weta 4.4 trimaran with 158 square feet of sail was conceived in New Zealand by father-and-son team Roger and Chris Kitchen, and designed with collaborative help from a handful of experienced sailors. The challenge was creating a cost-effective boat with the strength-to-weight ratio needed for performance sailing. The boat uses carbon fiber on the framework, and on the mast and sprit while the light, stiff hull structure, daggerboard and rudder are built using less costly E-glass and Divinycell foam. The boomless mainsail, made by windsurfer sailmaker Gaastra, incorporates five full tubular battens that control draft and allow the mainsheet to be attached to a well-reinforced clew rather than a conventional boom. The high-tech Gaastra sail package, like the Harken hardware and carbon sprit and mast are all standards. The success of this pocket-sized trimaran is due in part to its triple threat sailplan of main, jib, and easy-handling, furling screacher. The “screacher” can add a virtual turbo boost. This 60- square-foot gennaker deploys like any roller furler but is trimmed via a single sheet led through both port and starboard leads. The ride is both exhilarating and responsive.

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