Compact Weta Trimaran Screeches Past the Big Boys on Biscayne Bay

When it comes to the pure love of sailing, its 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.

Island Packet 440

Light-wind performance aside, the IP 440 is built to go places.

Norseboat 17.5

This versatile daysailer combines traditional aesthetics with contemporary construction. The downside? A proper jib would make for better tacking.


The J/105 enjoys an immensely strong class association fueled by a group of owners who wouldn't sail any other way than fast and easily. Problems with the boat are few, and right out front.

S2 11.0

The biggest of the S2 series was offered in two layouts. The center-cockpit version is a bit ungainly looking, but offers a lot below, and like her sister is well-built.

Columbia 9.6

This late '70s coastal cruiser is somewhat plain but structurally sturdy.

Alerion Express Cat 19 and Marshall Sanderling 18

The new Alerion, by Garry Hoyt, is faster and more easily handled, but the elder Sanderling retains the catboat’s traditional appeal as well as a viable interior.

Too Many Layers of Bottom Paint?

So, a couple of years back, you acquired a good old boat at a pretty good price-thanks to the market-but now youre wondering how many coats of bottom paint it has. And what kind? Youve put on a few coats of ablative antifouling since youve owned the boat. It has adhered well and has done its job. But each year, the bottom looks rougher and rougher-with big recesses where paint has flaked off. You sweated out some extra prep-work this season, and thought you had a nice, durable subsurface for painting, but each pass of the roller pulls up more paint. Whats going on here?