First Choose a Design
I have enjoyed going through your website, and have pretty much read every page. You seem to have a very practical and thorough approach. There was some mention of the WindRider 17, and I thought I would send my comments along.
I have sailed and raced keelboats from a very early age. I never sailed on a multihull until a few years ago - a Hobie 18. What a rush! I like to ride motorcycles, and it struck me that multihulls were like that - fast and responsive.
I did a demo sail on a WR17 at a Denver area lake and was very impressed. Easy to sail, and it clearly had a good turn of speed, even in light airs. My Dad who had been a sailor for decades was getting too old and we had to sell his Precision 21, a very nice little boat. But he still had the itch, so I thought the WR17 would be a good way to get him on the water safely.
We ordered a brand new boat (2014) from the factory with virtually every option on the list. It was $14,500 plus another $1000 or so for delivery.
Setting the boat up was not without frustration. The factory instructions were not very good at the time, although they have now done several videos that help a lot. Raising the substantial mast is NOT as easy as they make it appear. The guy they use in their videos is young and tall, and he makes it look easy. It’s really a two person job.
The good - the boat's performance is good. Although I wonder if someone more familiar with multihulls would be as impressed? I saw 11.2 mph on my handheld GPS, and was frequently over 10. That feels really fast for an old keelboat sailor! The tramps are a great place for the kids, as long as they don't mind getting a little wet over 6 or 7 knots of wind. Cockpit lead controls are well laid out and super easy to operate.
Quality of the entire boat is very good, and quality hardware is used throughout. The roto molded plastic is extremely tough, if not very attractive. The sails themselves are quality, and the roller furling works well. A great deal of thought has been spent on maximizing storage, and their "storage system" offers a lot of little pockets and organization of the small cockpit.
The bad - they make a big deal of the forward facing and foot steering. I really didn’t care for either. The seat is not comfortable for more than about an hour, even after I tried a variety of different cushions. The seat back doesn't adjust, so it’s hard to find the right position.
The foot steering locks your legs and feet in place, and it is quite difficult to make small steering adjustments. I found that my feet and calves cramped after a fairly short period of time. I MUCH prefer a real cockpit and a tiller. Being able to move around and having precise control is far superior to their layout.
Getting out of the seat takes time and a bit of athleticism. If you need to get to something quickly, you can't. Like docking. You have to stay in your seat so you can steer, then wiggle out, dance across the tramps to the amas to come along a dock. And if you missed it, you’d have to get back in the seat to get going again. What a pain. I am not a large person at 5' 9" and 180lbs, but I can imagine that someone with a rounder profile could really get jammed in there.
The outboard motor mount sits to the drivers left. I used a Minn Kota 40 with a full size battery that fit nicely behind the seat. (Not the best place for it from a weight distribution standpoint.) But it was convenient and it moved the boast surprisingly well. I saw 4.5 knots in flat water at full speed. Problem was, on a starboard tack in breeze, the left ama would dip low enough to drag the motor mount in the water, bringing a bucket full in to the driver's lap!
The ama's slide in and out on tubes. There is an inherent sloppiness in this arrangement, with the side stays attaching to the ama's. The rig is not adjustable except by moving pins, so getting the rig tight was something that really needed to happen on shore. (But no suggestions from the factory about how tight.)
As it comes from the factory, the forestay is far too loose, and as the boat goes through waves, the mast moves all over the place. This destroys sail shape and everything bounces around. With a saggy forestay, it doesn't point worth a hoot. So reaching back and forth is fun, but going to weather isn't. It was kind of driving a fast car in 3rd gear and only being able to go in a straight line - no fun in the corners!
I ended up selling the WR17 last fall at a huge loss - over $5000 to a local guy. With new ones going for around $10K, it was hard to justify asking more than that, even with all the extras. Of course, part of the problem is that Denver just isn't a great place to sail. The little lakes around here are crowded with power boats, many of whom are complete idiots on the water. There are a couple of very expensive marinas, but it becomes a rich man's activity at that point.
Feel free to edit and include my notes about the WR17 on your site, if you see any use for it.
RW replies: That is pretty much what I thought after seeing them and having a brief sail in one. The Strike 18 is faster as you can see in the video. Never mind being more comfortable to sail