A beautiful thing

Paul Larsen, aka the world’s fastest sailor, finally consummates his affair with the foiling A-Class

I bought my first A-cat as a training boat for the upcoming International C-Class championships in Newport RI in 2008. I wanted to try a few ideas such as the new canting rig mechanisms as well as keep my own skills sharp ahead of the main event.

Truth is I always wanted one. I grew up sailing on Hobie cats in Victoria, Australia in the 1980s and on occasion our fleets would cross. I can still remember watching an A glide effortlessly through us upwind while we lay inboard on the tramps. A slight gust hit us both. We lifted a little while the A lifted gently onto one hull as the helm rolled out on the trapeze and then pointed the slender bows at an angle we could only dream of upwind, leaving only a very thin wake but a lasting impression.

I believe that all of us who sail, especially those who seek higher performance, have a natural affection for simple, elegant and efficient design. Long slender hulls and tall, high-aspect rigs have always been appealing to the eye. If your passion involves carving through air and water in an efficient manner then these are nice attributes to arm yourself with. The rules that define the A-Class have always led to pretty designs that tick all these boxes:

  • One-person catamaran
  • Length 18ft (5.49m)
  • Beam 7ft 6in (2.3m)
  • Sail area 150ft2 (13.94m2) inc mast
  • Minimum weight 165lb (75kg)

One sail, simple and effective controls and no crew hassles. You are just left alone to enjoy the grace of the efficient shapes working their magic through fluids. That was how it was… until foiling came along.


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