Copyright 2017 - Woods Designs, Foss Quay, Millbrook, Torpoint, Cornwall, PL10 1EN, UK
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Excerpted from Practical Boat Owner, August 1994

Under Sail

Wizard on Test

David Greenwell sails a Woods Design Trailer Sailer

When I first heard about the Wizard, it was the extravagant claims for high performance that caught my attention. According to her designers, Richard and Lilian Woods, she would be capable of 16 to 18 knots which, for-a twenty-two footer, means that based on speed-length ratio calculations, she could better the performance of Robin Knox-Johnston's record-breaking catamaran, Enza.

Nevertheless, of equal importance was the claim that the Wizard is a very practical trailer-sailer. But no amount of claims could have prepared me for what was to follow on the slipway at Foss Quay, from where we started our test sail.

The Wizard was firmly lashed to her trailer at the top of the slip and I couldn't help thinking to myself that she was a little bit of an ugly duckling, sat there with her bridgedeck cabin perched high above her two under-slung hulls. Very quickly the transformation began. Lashings were removed and the trailer was manoeuvred onto the slipway, some yards above the, by then, encroaching water's edge. First task was to lift the mast into its raising attitude and then winch out the hulls from their trailing position tucked under the bridgedeck. This involved no more than winding a winch mounted on a stout post on the trailer. A system of pulleys and lines gradually ease the beams towards the horizontal and in a matter of minutes she was transformed into what is recognizably an elegant little catamaran

Up until this point it had really only needed one person to do the work, with a second pair of eyes to ensure that everything was operating smoothly. But when it came to stepping the mast, a second pair of hands, though not vital, avoided an unnecessary balancing act. The mast was lifted back and located in its tabernacle. That was the only time direct muscle power was used - all went easily…The mast was raised by using a line attached at the hounds and brought back to the trailer winch. A guiding hand ensured that the mast stayed in line whilst all the strain was taken by the winch. The rigging was completed by attaching her roller reefing system to the bow yoke. The whole operation had taken around twenty minutes of easy work certainly putting her within the day-sailing trailer-sailer category - provided you get your tides right

Under power

Auxiliary power is provided by an outboard mounted on a bracket attached to the rear of the bridgedeck. instead of tilting the engine back, to clear the propeller from the water, the whole engine and bracket swings sideways. This worked very well and provided far less opportunity for ropes to become entangled with the leg when sailing. Being able to steer the engine in sympathy with the rudders gave extremely good manoeuvrability. Certainly, there was no difficulty getting in and out of the tightest corners. She motored ahead and astern equally well and could be made to stop quickly and in a straight line...

Under sail

I could feel that Richard Woods' claims for speed were well founded. In around 12 knots of apparent wind, we slipped along, close reaching at a good six-knots plus. She was close winded, had very good directional stability and on the whole, was well balanced. Close reaching, very slight lee helm could be induced by having a tightly sheeted jib in combination with a wind-spilling mainsail. With the mainsheet hardened in a touch, she has a completely neutral helm...I found her an extremely easy boat to sail - a nice balance between a sensitive helm and good directional stability. She tacked round positively without being too lively, and very quickly settled onto her new heading. Off the wind she was equally easy to handle and certainly gave the impression that she would be ideal for the newcomer to multihull sailing. If I were sailing her with small children aboard, I would, however, like to have seen some form of rail around the cockpit. But even without, I felt perfectly secure.

Accommodation

Each hull has space to accommodate two single berths.The area where a great deal of thought and clever design had been directed was in the bridgedeck cabin. For day-time use this has two settee berths with a table between, and a small, but very practical galley. A small amount of rearrangement converted the layout into a double berth. But what struck me most was the way in which the space within the deck-cabin was not divorced from the cockpit area. When sailing, it made a perfect extension of the cockpit, where people could sit and relax, away from the main business of sailing the boat, but in touch with what's going on around them. When in port or at anchor, the central area of the cabin sole can be lowered to create a foot-well. When I first learned of this, I envisage a rather flexible affair. But in reality, it was very firm and made all the difference to comfort when sitting around the table.

Overall impression

I liked the concept of a practical trailer-sailer catamaran that can be rigged on the beach of slipway without having to lift or heave hulls into position. Yet the design was not compromised to make her easy to trail or rig. And as with most trailer-sailers, she can be used en route as caravan accommodation - albeit for just two people.

For a twenty-two footer, she's spacious and has the feel of a larger craft, and with the cruising rig, she would make a very good family boat with sufficient space and shelter to cater for the somewhat fickle British summers.

As a building project, built in strip planking, she should be within the capabilities of anyone with reasonable woodworking skills. The designers advise that anyone new to boatbuilding should begin by making the bridgedeck and bridgedeck cabin. Depending on the results, the hulls can either be built, or bought from a specialist builder either constructed in glass-foam or strip planked. However, although the shape of Wizard's hulls looks sophisticated, cedar strip planking is very straightforward and should not present any problems.

A complete copy of this article can be obtained from Practical Boat Owner