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WindRider Rave

1998 September 7

Hydrofoil Trimaran

But just maybe the Laser Cat is too slow for you. What next? The folks that brought us the unusual WindRider trimaran have a new foil-borne speedster called the Rave, designed by Dr. Sam Bradfield. The Rave takes performance to the next level, literally and figuratively.

When I do a design review I seldom have the benefit of the actual boat on hand. My opinions have to be based solely upon the information I find in the brochures, specs and drawings. I get a real kick out of some brochures. A boat as unique as the Rave is difficult to review objectively because I have few relevant benchmarks for comparison. This is not your typical beach toy. This is a serious high-performance boat.

The Rave's polyethylene molded construction gives it durability, but the extruded foils preclude sailing the Rave up onto the beach. The weight of the Rave is listed as 390 pounds. You can trail the Rave on its custom trailer, but it's too big to fit on top of your car.

The center hull of the Rave features two cockpits. The skipper sits aft and steers with foot controls. There is a rumble seat forward for a passenger. There is a molded-in extension for the self-tacking jib traveler. It's not a wide traveler but at the speeds the Rave travels, you will always be close reaching or on the wind. But I'd still like to see more travel for the jib to accommodate appropriate trim for light air. The foils are on high-aspect-ratio struts that retract into the hulls. This means in light air you can reduce wetted surface and still achieve good boat speed without being foil-borne. Foil attitude when flying is controlled by a control wand that is trailed. The foils are raised and lowered from the cockpit.

The rig is similar to that of the Laser Cat with its fat-head main and tall and narrow jib. Again we see the designer has done away with the boom. The biggest difference in rigs between the Laser Cat and the Rave is the Laser Cat's ability to extend the mainsheet traveler the entire beam of the cat. This gives a lot of trim options. The ultranarrow center hull of the Rave means that mainsheet travel can't be much more than 24 inches.

This package came with a video. It showed the Rave reaching back and forth foil-borne at speeds I estimate to be in excess of 15 knots. The brochure says the boat will do 30 knots. When the video showed the boat cleanly foil-borne and flying, I think the wind was well in excess of 15 knots. There appeared to be whitecaps. I was told the Rave would get foil-borne with a 175-pound crew in 10 knots of true wind speed. That may be optimistic. I'm just going to have to sail this boat as well.

I have a question. How do you dock this boat when you are singlehanding? Docking any high-powered dinghy can be tricky. Tasars can capsize at the dock. Obviously, the Rave has the stability of a trimaran and that will help.

If you are tired of your Beetle Cat and looking for more thrills and boat speed, the Rave should be high on your list of options. It will expose you to an entirely different style of sailing. Swing by the office and take me for a ride.