I try to add comments from owners on each design page. However the website is now so large, and news reports go back over 20 years, that I thought it best to also group them all together in one place. I started the page in Dec 2014, and will update it from time to time as new comments are received.
General Comments on the plans and Woods Designs customer service:
JS "I knew you were cruising, yes, so no problem with the delay in replying. That was a wonderfully detailed and informative reply, thanks. I really appreciate how you look after your customers!"
PK "Thanks for such a rapid response to my posting. You are very good the way you answer everyone’s questions so promptly. "
"Hi Richard, thanks for getting back so quickly, and providing such detailed technical support - you're a champion!"
AB "Thanks for the prompt reply. You are always so good about that. The plans sure were a bargain. I've gotten ten times the cost in consultation."
AM "You are amazingly fast on your replies. Your clients must love you for that."
Comments from a Florida builder "Mr. Woods’ plans are very easy to follow and it’s possible to build this boat (a Strike 16) in a side or backyard.
CR wrote "I am really impressed with your plans, how you thought about everything and how everything comes together relatively easily. I thought in the beginning it would be more difficult. Thanks a lot again!"
"Thank you for your quick reply. Your Skoota 28/30 plans are of excellent quality and easy to understand. Congratulations!"
JM Very flexible designer , Richard has gone out of his way to assist us with extra information , intelligent practical designs by someone who sails & cruises on same designs!
DF So far Richard Woods has been a dream weaver for me. Unbelievable support for your multihull wishes. Thanks Richard
TS One month in to building and I have had full support from Richard Woods. The plans have been easy to read. Thanks Richard
JT Best design for light weight and affordable! Plus easy to build with Richards very detailed plans.
VA The most practical, affordable and performance oriented multihull designs available for the home-built boat enthusiasts. Thanks for your constant online presence, Mr. Woods.
Individual design comments, listed according to boat size:
Canadian Ruth F wrote: "...I quickly built a cardboard model and drew up the boat full size. From then it was only a week until the dinghy was ready for sea trials. I found the instructions quite sufficient and had no problems in building it. The paint on the dinghy was barely dry when we were off on our 2 week cruise. The children enjoyed rowing round in nearby bays, after we had tied up or anchored. We never had to worry because the dinghy is very stable. We are really happy with this little tender."
BM "I built the sailing version, it came out at 50lbs so is easy to haul around and is very stable. My friend has a Walker Bay 8 sailing dinghy so naturally we had a race. I won by a large margin on all points of sail"
JvO "I've completed the build of your Crayfish Design. It really is a wonderful design and I enjoyed doing the build."
Al writes: "I wanted to thank you and share with you all the enjoyment that building Bee brought me. They were certainly some of the most enjoyable hours I have spent in a long time.
Unfortunately my time spent on Bee was quite unexpectedly cut short. The very day that I launched Bee, as I was about to recover her from the launching site at our local reservoir I was approached by a father and his young son. He complemented me on the boat and inquired where it was purchased.
Telling him that I had built myself was very satisfying indeed and I offered the use of the boat to them.
The sheer joy and excitement that young boy expressed took me back to my own youthful days, what a great reminder! After about an hour or so, they returned and the father asked if I would sell them the boat.
One glance at the son and I knew I could not refuse. Thank you for the opportunity to give another generation a lifetime of memories that like my own, richly provided me."
From London: "I thought you might like to see a picture of BEE at speed. I am pleased to report that our BEE successfully completed the Great River Race down the Thames from Richmond to Cutty Sark in 3hrs 24 mins. Result 111 out of 252. We had cox'n; 2 x scullers and a passenger. Interestingly on the day with four up she was less stable than in practice with only three up, nothing to worry about though."
"BEE is truly a delight to row and under sail it performed beyond all my expectations. Thanks for designing such a well thought out functional craft, with such handsome lines - eyes light up when they first see the craft. I'm going to enjoy rowing and sailing this leisure craft for many years to come.
Best wishes - thanks from one very happy customer in Australia"
"Thank you for the fantastic plans of the Linnet, they were straightforward and easy to follow. I had a lot of fun making the boat
It rows beautifully and is surprisingly maneuverable. I live in Finland where there seems to be almost as much water as land, building this boat has given me the opportunity to explore the lakes and has opened up a big part of what Finland is all about."
From a report by Practical Boat Owner 1995 "I had a go in both the LINNET and BEE. I really enjoyed being out, taking turns aboard boats that rowed really well"
From Corfu: So we bought the plans, which were really excellent. They were laid out clearly with step-by-step sketches, cutting diagrams and measurement lists. Everything was clear, nothing was missed - we couldn't go wrong. It was our first attempt at stitch and glue construction, but we had no troubles at all. Really anyone should be able to build with this method. Probably patience is the key factor rather than skill.
What we hadn't expected was just how much pleasure we get from her. When rowing from the centre seat with no passengers she just skims along using the long oars and taking long strokes. With two rowing you can really feel the power and can keep going for hours without fatigue."
From an old Gavin Atkins report on the Beale Park show
... a Linnet designed by Woods Design and built by KN. I thought this a rather nice lightweight skiff....
The builder had this to say: "We enjoy our large family dayboat but she does take ages to get ready for sailing. We wanted a lightweight boat so we could sail more spontaneously, more often. This is the first boat I have ever built. I found it a really enjoyable project."
From Italy "After a 6 months pregnancy the Italian Pixie has reached the sea on July 12. The cat is wonderful and everyone on the beach stops to look at it."
David S wrote "Here is a photo of our Pixie close to finished (ha!) in Lima, Peru. As you can see space is at a premium, and the starboard bow is in the bathroom, which is the current workshop"Late he wrote "Despite the small workshop the boat looks good on the water!"
From JC "I've been meaning to tell you what a great success Pixie was. It's incredibly fast and stable, the kids love it, and my parents, who are not avid sailors, have a great time with it."
Then this from a student "I just thought you might like to see my completed Pixie catamaran, I finished it on the required date of the 25th of August, and it was marked a couple of days later. Thank you very much for all your help, the plans were excellent and I have recommended your designs to a number of friends who after seeing my completed cat are suddenly quite interested in doing a similar project for their HSC (Higher School Certificate). I love the shape and curvature of the hulls, especially their depth and sleekness."
and JS "I am almost finished with the Pixie. I've enjoyed every minute of it."
Cullison Small Craft "This brightly coloured catamaran (Pixie) was built by my daughter Sarah, when she was 16, having graduated up from a kayak and desirous of something that would be considerably faster than anything her Dad had.
The boat is the "Pixie" design by Richard Woods from England. It was designed to be a stitch and glue, home-built version of the Hobie 14, and is lighter and likely faster than the Hobie. The rig suits the boat well and she is a fine sailor. The two hulls disconnect from the cross-beams and the whole rig can becartopped fairly easily."
"A very easy to build, fast and successful racing catamaran" Boats and Yachting Magazine.
"High performance beach cat which is striking to look at and exciting to sail." Wooden Boat Magazine
"I finished a Quattro 16 last year and it's a very fast boat"
"I am very pleased with the Quattro 16 catamaran plans"
"The proof that not only is the design of this boat second to none, the plans are so simple and easy to follow that two Quattros have been built by inexperienced people here in Malta and succeeded in finishing first and second in last year's (1993) Malta National Sailing Championships"
A report from a French Strike 15 builder (a slightly modified boat)
"Newly launched Strike 15 Citronette had its first testsail on 06 and 07 May. She was very well balanced, light and responsive, a real pleasure to helm. The first day with very light wind she sailed consistently at 7 kt . The second day with more wind, she sailed consistently at 9 to 10 average speed, with maximum 10 s average speed of 11.5 kt (no anemometer record in the close vicinity, but my estimate is around 9 kt average wind).
My feeling to windward was very positive, with average speed comparable to A class cat. On a beam reach I had the feeling of a drag hump to go over 11 kt, compared to my A cat, but it is only a feeling as I had no opponents. The sailing school manager of the club, on the water, reported me he was puzzled by the boat speed with not much wind. Congratulations Richard, Strike 15 is a good vintage !"
and later he wrote "Some news about my Strike 15. Tuning of the boat for solo racing is in progress. I weighted the boat at 280 lbs ready to sail. Best speed to date is 13.5 kt.
Last Sunday during a three rounds regatta with 6 to 7 kts winds I was behind A class cat and Tornado with spinnaker, sometimes very close or before last A cats (despite my very bad starts !), but I consistently beat all the rest of the fleet including Darts (both 1 and 2 up). I achieved same course as A class cat upwind, slightly slower. Faster and closer than Darts upwind, faster and deeper downwind (main and jib only). I wait for comparison with more wind, next year, as it was the last regatta."
"Today on my Strike 15 I hit 14.2 kt broad reaching under main and jib, 13.5 kt for 10 s, 12.5 kt over 500 m and 12.1 over a nautical mile. Mean wind was around 14 kt, my lee outrigger near submarined sometimes under gusts, not slowing the boat. The boat looks very sound."
Launched Strike October 2013, have been sailing every weekend and after a few sails have started tuning things a bit. Am very impressed with the way she tacks and jibes and in a straight line have been easily getting 6 to 8 knots in about 8 to 10 of wind. Upwind she handles well This boat is unique up here and has many admirers. Anyway the boat is a joy to sail and I am thankful to Richard for the design.
From Australia This is an ideal boat on which to learn to sail as it is very stable. I have sailed it at 12 knots with no problem. I have recently done a 10 day trip in the Great Sandy Straits from Tin Can Bay to the top of Fraser Island and the boat handled all conditions very well.
What do I like about this boat? I like having the ability to just buy a derelict Prindle catamaran, half buried in the beach, for next to nothing, then being able to just cut the amas in half and use all the equipment, including the rudder, for this new trimaran.
The ride on this boat is very, very dry. The main reason I built this trimaran was to take my wife out, as she does not like the wet ride of my proa, or the small catamaran I have.
I think the best days on this boat are when we can take a bunch of people on board and it still sails decently. I have 3 kids, so although a little bit cramped, we have sailed with 5 people at a very decent speed.
Being a trailerable boat really opens up possibilities to explore all over Florida, on both coasts, and through all the Florida key chains and the Everglades Park."
From Peru "OK, here is a photo on our first sail with very light winds, but the boat still moved along well with three of us aboard under the original main and new larger genoa (Total area about 13 sq.m.). Steering is very light and Fernanda (10) had no trouble taking the helm. Tacking was effortless, and we are very pleased with the boat. We look forward to sailing when it is a bit windier."
Richard, thanks for such a fun design! Don't let anybody say a Wizard is slow - Saturday sailing in Southern California out of Marina del Rey, heading up the coast past Santa Monica.
Wind 12-15 (whitecaps just starting to form) upwind @ 10 kts downwind with masthead spinnaker @ 16 kts!!
Later: "raced yesterday in the Marina del Rey to Point Dume and back, 32 nm course. light winds at start, building to 20kts+ around Malibu with swells/waves to match. Beat an F24 boat for boat. Held off some of the PHRF A and B boats on the windward leg and of course downwind. Reefed at Malibu, so rounded the mark with jib and reefed main. Still plenty fast. Amazing surfing up to 15.2 knots under reefed main + jib only! Enough said."
"... we sailed overnight to Catalina Is about a month ago. motored over, sailed back (in 4 hrs with 10 kt breeze). beat almost all of the F 24, 27, and 31's including sailing through the lee of an F31 with our reaching jib up!
They kept taking us up to windward when we were going to sail over them, so I dove off to leeward and went through. Ha Ha Ha to F boats..."
Hahaha, today the perfect conditions to test sail. Flat water and 5 bft on lake IJsselmeer.
Up wind we went from Lelystad to Hoorn and steady sailed 10-12 knots close to the wind. Just under main and genoa and passing a monohull every five minutes.
When we arrived at the other side we gibed to turn around an unleashed the code zero. And what a power that one delivers! We went faster and faster. With each puff of wind we just accelerated. Have the first bit on video, my 79 year old father was the co-pilot and trying to film with the iphone.
It was a crazy ride but surprisingly easy ride. Feels a bit like a flying carpet. Not too much spray. Almost comfortable. Don't get me wrong, it really is no time for making a mistake as that would certainly end with lots of damage.
From Hoorn back to Lelystad in about one hour. Is about 15 miles. And we started slow so we must have hit about 20 knots in the end of the trip.
This will keep a smile on my face for at least a week!
lesson learned: strider club has serious speed potential if you spoil her a bit...
Merlin and Javelin
From a MOCRA newsletter dating from December 1993 which included the following article written by David Kayll
"All monohull sailors should be forced to sail a multihull sometimes in their lives. My wife and I have been well and truly converted, hesitation has now turned to enthusiasm. All our lives our family has cruised and raced in monos, from ferro, wood, glass to strip cedar we built, sailed it and sold it. Each boat was going to fulfil the dream of the perfect boat, but as we approach 50 we realise that perfection is an illusion, and satisfaction is only reached with compromise.
So why did we build and sail a multihull? Our families last boat was a fast cruiser racer designed by Ron Holland to the IOR rule. We built her in strip cedar with a varnished finish - it took three years. Having campaigned on the UK's East Coast, completed a 2STAR and taken part in Cowes Week, we finally threw in the towel. The sheer pressure of organisation and high cost forced a re-think of sailing pleasure. On the 2STAR we watched helplessly as cheaper multihulls disappeared over the horizon ahead of us with far less effort, knocking almost a week off our transatlantic crossing. There had to be something in being level and fast. We had to try it.
We fitted out a strip plank Merlin. We were amazed how easy she was to sail, no furious sail changing, no hordes of crew clambering over the deck. My wife and I alone sped along at 8-15 knots with minimum effort. Soon we were thirsting for more speed, a taller mast and taking out surplus weight produced more power. We were hooked. Every monohull friend who came to sail was amazed at how easy it all was - all glued to the speedo - willing it to hit the stop at 20 knots.
We sold the Merlin and built a Javelin. Sailing her for the last three months has been wonderful. We have had the worst summer for years but nothing takes away the thrill of sailing and tuning a new boat you have built. Surprisingly nothing has broken, bent or groaned (maybe we built her too heavy?) In some heavy weather she powered to windward with little fuss at about 8-10 knots, making short work of steep seas."
Despite racing three up a Merlin has twice won the "fastest Multihull in Holland" prize
"We have sailed twice with good results. Today we maintained 10 to 12 knots for about 24 miles in 3 foot seas and the boat remained flat and true (and dry!). We get a lot of closely spaced "chop" here, so it was truly a good ride."
"Despite reaching across the sound at over 17 knots we (on a 38' Newick tri) did not gain at all on her (Gwahir). She is an exciting ultra-sensitive boat to sail and handles superbly under sail"
Multihull International, December 1983
"She also impressed with her ability to take to the beach and looked altogether a very civilised little boat"
Multihull International, November 1984
"Top speed so far is 20 knots (reaching in a F5 under main and genoa). I am very satisfied with the boat" Wigo, Sweden
Windsong - Hi just thought you might like some pics of Willow on her maiden voyage down the river Avon and then into the Bristol Channel for a day sail. The boat is not really properly tuned but she went really well ( about 11-12 knots on a reach and 7-8 knots to windward and coped with some very bumpy (Bristol Channel chop) seas on the way back. Very very pleased
Sagitta "I own a Sagitta. Its been with me between Kuwait and Oman for the last 13 years. Such a fantastic boat...(lots to thank you for) to the point Ive been unable to get rid of it even when financialy crippled!
Its has had some great adventures supporting marine conservation work on coral reef, turtle and whale and dolphin survey expeditions. Now on a second refit for acoustic surveys of sperm whales in the Arabian Sea."
"After launching our Romany and finishing up some important details, my 13 year old son and I left St. Paul, MN about two and a half weeks ago headed down the Mississppi river to Grafton, IL where we turned north toward Chicago on the Illinois river. We're sitting in Havana, IL which is about 750 miles into our 1000 mile trip.
Ultimately, we're heading for Muskegon, MI where we'll rig the boat for sailing. So far the trip has been a blast. We've had a nice extended summer weather and the scenery on the upper Mississippi river is incredible. In every way the Mississippi was exciting, the Illinois has been a little boring, but in some ways for the better. Every thing is smaller including the current, the river, the barges, frequency of locks, log jams, etc. Although, things my get more exciting as we get closer to and pass through downtown Chicago.
As a motor boat, everything seems to be going well. The 20hp Tohatsu 4 stroke powers the boat easily. I can't say much about our speed through the water are as there is almost always a current running. However, in an especially wide spot in the river known as "the lake" by the tow drivers, 7.5kts on GPS was our top speed at half throttle. Any more power just made a bigger wake and more noise from the engine with no extra speed. The biggest surprise for me is how maneuverable the boat is with a single outboard that doesn't rotate. It is much easier to handle than my last mono-hull at 4' longer and 2x the width."
"Last week I sailed a Leopard 45 and was shocked to find out very poor performance in speed and upwind. Romany is a pleasure to sail any day"
"I flew my spinnaker for the first time with great success. I kept it from a former boat, so it's not the ideal size, but it was great fun. I blew past a J-24 (with what looked like racing sails) as if it were anchored. Yeah, I'm 10ft longer, but it's still fun.
I don't think the wind was ever over 12 and I hit 8 a few times. I sailed without the main and I didn't even need the auto pilot. I could go 5 minutes without touching the wheel."
"Back in '95 we started building a round bilge Mira in Saskatchewan, Canada. We completed the boat and moved it to B.C. where we lived on-board for a couple of years while getting used to the boat.
We then sailed down to Mexico and then made the jump to the Marquesas. We now find ourselves in New Zealand and plan to be here for two or three years while we work and decide what to do next.
We have been so happy with your design. Despite being loaded down with all the cruising gear she performed well and we always felt safe. Structurally there have been absolutely no problems and we look forward to many more miles cruising in her."
From the Philippines: Just an up date on Alona Blue, she is 99% finished and we sail her at least once a week. We have been doing some Island hopping and sunsets and she sails great! I am so happy with her performance and handling. I have 6ft head room and a beautiful Cat............. I could not be happier........!
As you know I stretched her to 36 feet and to compensate I had the jib cut to 140%, she is very balanced on all points of sail. We will continue to finish the details that we want then sail the southern island of the Philippines.
You must feel good that you have helped to create yacht deigns to give so many people their dreams to live...........
From the USA: "Sunday was the annual St Augustine Father's Day race. It was quite odd to be literally wobbling along between vertical and maybe a few degrees heel in the light winds of around 6-8 knots to windward and overtaking boats.
We rounded the windward mark just behind two 38' monohulls. On the beam reach we immediately passed the Hunter 386 and closed with the Hinckley at the gybe mark. The wind strengthened on the final leg which was almost a run under jib and mains and we had gained almost 2 minutes on the Hinckley on the final leg.
Overall, I was quite happy with how we matched up especially the ability to hold lanes upwind in the light winds. I would imagine in a strong breeze we would have been relatively much faster upwind. (Note this was with smaller than standard sails)
Later: Had the Vardo out today for a great sail. Put the spinnaker up for the first time even thought I was singlehanded. A bit odd with the sheeting base so wide looks over trimmed all the time with the clew tacked to the windward bow and the sheet led to the leeward chain plate. Is a spinnaker off a Catalina 30.
It breezed up a bit on the way in and I was certainly on the edge of overpowered. Hit 9 knots on the GPS sailing around 45 deg apparent. Eased off a bit toward the channel and hit 11.5 knots with the tiller pilot steering!
The St Augustine Vardo is now out cruising (two adults and two young children) the builder reported in Jan 2015
"I can now report the Vardo will do 13 knots in full cruising trim with mainsail and small furling jib. We did this a few days back between Stuart and Pompano Beach Fl. While we were steadily surfing in the 9-10 knot range dead down in 20-25 knots a good puff would actually see us break thru the wave ahead into the 12-13 knot range. When loaded the sterns drag slightly at around 8 knots but when above 10 knots the rig seems to push the bows down and the rudders unload quite a bit with more speed.
Quite good all around. I have a GPS pic of 12.4 but did not have the camera ready for the 13.
On the sail from Ft Lauderdale a Broadblue 345 left about 20 minutes ahead of us. We overtook them within an hour and arrived at the same anchorage an hour or more ahead. I doubt they sailed up the channel the 3 or so miles close hauled either. No doubt they fancied themselves sailing well at 7 or 8 knots. It was also striking how much more motion their boat appeared to have."
Then in early March "We won the Georgetown round the island race in the multihull class and would have won overall but were not scored against the monos this year. Beat all the cats under 46' on elapsed time except for a Crowther 42 with high performance rig and daggerboards. The race was 18 miles with 8 miles of beating in moderate tradewind conditions 16-18 knots 4-5' seas. Could have used more power as I have smallish sails on the boat, but had the boat averaging 7.5 knots tacking within 105 degrees course made good. The Crowther beat us by just 10 minutes over 18 miles and we of course corrected well ahead. Best speed to date is 16.5 knots.
Sailing outside in Exuma sound. Photo shows one of the two mid 40ish monos we passed on this 8 mile upwind leg. Someone told me a PDQ sailed the race a few years ago in these conditions and they "thought the boat might fall apart". We experienced a few slight slaps on the underwing, but nothing that disturbed our forward progress or Abbys test mug of water on the saloon table!"
"I did paint my waterline 18mm above designers spec but have never been within 50mm of that with 2 dinghies, 2 kids and full tanks."
Then in 2016 after crossing to the Bahamas he wrote "Had the Gulf Stream to ourselves Thursday as all others likely were heeding Chris Parkers warning of 20-30 knot S, SW winds. Perfect sailing weather!"
"My spinnaker is approx 700 sq ft and about 25 years old. The Vardo is faster than a Seawind 1190 with approx 1800 sq ft asymmetrical on a windward leeward course"
I don't think that people ever change back as such. There are pros and cons each way of course. Usually once people switch to Cat's they stay that way - however, plenty of people try one but don't buy one...
My experience has been on cats ever since I was about 4 years old. My father bought one by "accident" while setting out to buy a trimaran... We eventually traded up a few times and bought one of Richard Woods boats, a 35 foot Banshee. We had a lot of fun on that and took it down to Spain a few times. Your range and reach is expanded so much when you have a boat which is capable of "nipping down" to the north of Spain in under 5 days from the South coast (frequently under 3 days door to door actually).
We were a little irresponsible with it though (sorry Richard!), and occasionally had full sail up in force 8 or so.... As someone earlier pointed out, these things are so solid that it's sometimes very easy to just leave things up because they simply go faster and faster! We were doing in excess of 20 knots in the situation described above.
So I had my first chance to sail on a 65" ex Challenge race boat a few days back. They made us wear oil skins! Yeah I know! I mean I do own a set of my own, but on the cat I think I have worn the trousers only twice EVER in my life and the jacket perhaps a dozen times! Usually I just sail in a jumper and perhaps a waterproof over jacket! OK, so the 65" race boat was a shock because it seemed to need lots of people to handle the sails, it was quite slow (we only did around 7 knots down the solent), there was not a lot of space, and the darn thing tipped over!
In comparison my folks now have a 43 foot privilege cat which can easily be sailed by one person. You can tack it single handed in probably less time than a moderately experienced race crew can tack the monohull... It has 5 double cabins (but only 4 of them have on suite shower and toilet...). And to be fair you do know when the weather is getting rough - for example my folks gave me a ring a few days back as they sailed up from Indonesia to Singapore and said that they had been in a severe thunderstorm, strong winds and even (drum roll) one of the photos had fallen off the shelf around the main table... (Yep, when it gets really rough the washing up bottle jumps off the side into the sink as well!)
Possibly this is the easiest way to describe the difference between cats and monohulls...
The owners of the first Nimbus launched wrote "we are going to prepare ourselves to begin living on board and do some cruising. Twilight Zone has now sailed for more than 50.000 nm since launching in 1990. It is time to do even more sailing."
Jim from Malaysia sent photos of his recently launched round bilge Meander. He wrote " Thank you for your plans, help and advice that you have given me to successfully complete the boat in about 18 months
I know how Woods boats point into the wind so I do not have to take a trial - my Romany points far better than a Leopard 45 that I sailed last weekend. The Leopard was terribly slow and pointed poorly. They are great for charter and in the Marina.
Performance wise we have sailed past Catana 42s which are made down here in Canet. As with all Richards designs the windward performance is particularly good. (Note by Richard - when we sailed a Transit in the Bahamas we found we were faster to windward than a Norseman 43 and a Lipari 41)