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Raptor UK canoe sailing

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Sailing this boat is a bit different from anything else I have sailed before. For some reason, I kept thinking that pushing the right steering pedal should turn the boat to port, but it's the other way round. I will have to get used to that. The boat is well balanced and responds well to the rudder. There is not as much feel in the pedals as in a tiller, and I don't know yet whether that is because I am not yet used to foot steering, or whether the little extra friction in the rudder cables is responsible.

The more significant difference is the hand-controlled Bruce foil. On port tack, the ama alone keeps the boat upright, but on starboard tack with a bit of wind, the foil needs to pull down. I was a bit conservative, making sure the ama stayed in the water. When the foil was to lee, I tried making it lift. On my boat, the control lever is attached so that making the foil lift requires pushing the lever down beyond comfortable reach. When I did, I found there was a point when the foil seemed to flip a little. I think there is a bit of play in the linkage, but will have to check this a bit more next time. The foil is not supposed to be a major lifting element anyway, the ama is supposed to do that job.

While still unfamiliar with the boat, I wanted to be sure that when tacking onto starboard tack, the foil didn't lose its grip due to low speed, so I wore around, but I did tack from starboard to port. The boat tacks quite well. I can't really say anything about speed, as there was no other boat in sight anywhere on the fjord against which I could have compared the Raptor.

From my limited experience so far, the Raptor is a good boat, and excellent value for money. It is designed to be easily car topped, and seeing that even a rather lightweight weedy office worker like me can lift any part of the boat and even carry the whole thing when it's assembled, it meets that goal just fine.

 

Below is a reprint of an article RobertB wrote for "The Gossip", the OCSG monthly magazine, in February 2006.

 

Sailing Occam's Toothbrush

In 2004 I bought a Raptor 16 outrigger sailing and paddling canoe from Hydrovisions. I named it Occam's Toothbrush, on the grounds that the designer has not ruthlessly cut away all you don't need (then you'd end up with a kayak), but merely gently brushed away unnecessary complications. For lack of other boats anywhere near where I sail, comparisons involve some guesswork, but I think it paddles faster than a conventional canoe and it sails faster and is easier to handle than a Laser. The Raptor has a foil controlled by a lever, so that you make the foil pull down when to weather and push up when to lee.

The boat was damaged in transport, and the repairs took so long, I only got to sail five times in 2004. By the end of October, the days were getting a bit short and the weather a bit chilly in Norway. The first three times I had some trouble assembling and taking the boat apart, with the cross beams binding up in their sockets. It seems to have been a problem with uneven ground, because now that I pay attention to that, assembly and disassembly works like magic.

The weather forecast for Sunday 31st October was good, predicting a 15 kn westerly. Usually the forecast overestimates wind speed, but this time it was spot on, giving me the most wind this year (except for a day when I had to work). Eivind, one of the other proa aficionados in Trondheim, had asked me about the boat, so I invited him to come along and try for himself. Given the wind speed, and sailing out of a bay with lots of rocks and a narrow strip of what might generously be called shingle beach, if you think grapefruit sized stones qualify for that description, I thought I'd better first demonstrate the procedure of getting the boat out without damage. Basically, roll up the sail, wade in to about mid thigh, remove the fenders from under the hull and stow them, climb on, paddle out, go forward to unroll the sail, (the outhaul tends to make the mast bind on the mast foot, so it needs a bit of help, but the furling line can roll up the sail in about three seconds), then go.

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