Raptor UK canoe sailing

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RobertB was a member of the OCSG from 1998 - 2000, while living in the UK. He imported his Raptor (believed to be the first in Europe) into Norway, where he is currently living. The following report, which he wrote, was first published on the Yahoo! Groups "Proa File International" web site on 29 August 2004.


Initial report on Raptor 16 Expedition

Having had to give away a proa last year because it turned out to be too heavy for me to pull out of the water alone, I came up with a number of criteria for my next boat:

- Light, ideally light enough that I could tow it behind a bicycle, if I can't find a suitable place for keeping the boat near a launch spot. Easy to propel by muscle power, ideally while using the sail at the same time, because there is often light or no wind here. That basically means a boat that doesn't need hiking out, and that is either steered with the feet, leaving the hands free for a paddle, or that has a pedal drive.

- Capable of sailing in a force 6 or so.

- Capable of carrying gear for a week's camping.

- Reasonable speed.

Among currently commercially available boats, the requirement for propulsion by human power narrows the choice down to the Raptor 16 by Hydrovisions, the Osprey by Solway Dory, the Windrider 16 and the Windrider 10 by Windrider (The Fulmar 19 is no longer in production, as far as I know). Weight excludes the Windrider 16. The Windrider 10 is likely to be slower than the Raptor and Osprey. Of those two, the Raptor is lighter, so that is the one I picked. I chose the Expedition model, which has roller furling, so that I can get rid of the sail while on the water. I also had the extra Kevlar strip laminated into the bottom of the hull.

My first impression when I got the boat was that a fair bit of thought and development has gone into the design. For example, the rig has a carbon boom that slots into a fixed tube at the rotating mast foot. That limits twist, though bending of the boom allows wind to spill when it gets stronger. A wishbone boom would control twist better and might make the boat faster in medium wind, but would take longer to set up and would prevent roller furling. Likewise a wing mast might be faster, but would be heavier, more expensive, and setting the sail would take longer.

I went sailing for the first time yesterday. Setup was slowed down by me having to be very careful about keeping some padding between the boat and the rocks (I think the nearest sand beach is in Sweden, and I would be grateful even for shingle). The crossbeams are held in place by Clevis pins. The first time round, I found it rather fiddly to get the holes lined up. Once that was done, the rest was rather quick, and I got onto the water at last.

Paddling was easy, and I could steer the boat with the paddle alone. Wetted surface area is probably less than on my conventional canoe (although there are two hulls in the water, neither of them is broad and flat), and wave making is definitely less. It is difficult to compare without having both boats available, but I think the Raptor paddles faster than a canoe. When I wanted the rudder, I first had to reach back to push it down a little. The rudder only has a downhaul, and relies on friction to stay up while the boat is being carted around. I supposed I tightened up the bolt a little much. Still, I would have preferred a separate uphaul.

I started with the sail furled. It was a bit reluctant to unfurl, so I leaned forward to turn the mast by hand. I had not lubricated the interface between mast and mast foot. I'll have to check the handbook whether that is supposed to be done. Seeing that the top of the mast slides into the bottom bit for transport, any lubrication on the inside would very quickly end up on the outside and on the sail. The furling, which is the rather more important bit, was fine.

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