Copyright 2020 - Woods Designs, Foss Quay, Millbrook, Torpoint, Cornwall, PL10 1EN, UK
  • home built Flica 37

  • plywood Romany 34

  • lightweight 14ft Zeta mainhull

  • Strike 15 trimaran at speed

  • 28ft Skoota in British Columbia

  • 10ft 2 sheet ply Duo dinghy

  • 24ft Strider sailing fast

  • 36ft Mirage open deck catamaran

Boats mentioned: Eclipse, Elf 26, Flica 34, Savannah 26, Stealth, Strider

This was a very busy year: Lots of sailing - in four continents, boatbuilding - the prototype of the new Eclipse 99, as well as several new designs on the drawing board - Eclipse 99, Romany and the Mirage


I was once again off on my travels. This time it was to the South Atlantic were I spent January racing from Capetown to Rio in a Simonis designed Norseman 43 catamaran. There were 3 Woods designs in the race, so you may wonder why I did not sail one of those. Well, for one thing I wasn't asked, for another, its always good to sail other people's boats so that you can get new ideas. Unfortunately, I found the Norseman to be a very disappointing design. It was slow and difficult to sail (10 knots in flat water, 120 degrees between tacks was not helped by a very poor deck layout). It was unstable (very narrow bows which were easy to pitchpole, we had the boat under water to the mast and the rudders out on one occasion). Finally, it was very uncomfortable (the low bridgedeck slammed a lot, there was only one comfortable seat in both the cockpit and the saloon while the bunks were very awkward to get into). To find out more about the race CLICK HERE

Approaching Rio and the finish Eclipse sail plan


On my return from Brazil I was immediately very busy in the office preparing the drawings for the new 32' Eclipse 99. We hope that this will become a new production boat, falling midway between the Sagitta and Banshee designs. It has 3 double cabins, standing headroom throughout and - we hope - performance similar to Banshee. It will be marketed by the Multihull Centre who should be contacted direct for details of the production boat.

Plans for home building will also be available, for building a boat with strip plank hulls and ply decks.


Its unusual for me to mention other boats on my web page, but the whole world knows about Pete Goss and Team Philips. Pete lives near me and we sail at the same club so I've been following progress on his boat with interest. Team Philips has "wave piercing" bows, which as you can see, are very fine indeed. I am not convinced of the logic of this approach. It certainly is not something the average owner who pays mooring fees, has to tie up alongside, etc would want to have on their boat. Launching boats is always a case of "Hurry up and wait", so we though it would be more interesting to see the boat go the 12 miles down the River Dart to the sea rather than see the launch itself. It was certainly a dramatic sight as the river is not very wide at Totnes!

A very fine bow! Team Phillips motoring down the Dart Later... As we all also know, Team Philips had major structural problems in relatively light winds on its first real sail. It's a vast boat so is hard to visualise. But try scaling it down. Say to 20' (1/6th the size). The hulls then become 18" high and 10" wide. So similar proportions to a Tornado. The beam of 70' becomes 12' (a Tornado is 10'). Now imagine a 20' mast set into each Tornado hull with no rigging wires to support it. Now imagine you are the hull. You're going to spend all your time trying to stop the mast from twisting the hull off the beams. You won't have time to think about what's happening at the bows. I suspect the bows snapped off because the mast twisting loads did not finish at the front beam, but continued to the bows, and the loadings from the waves hitting the unsupported bows were the final straw. From the TV pictures it looked as though the horizontal floor in the bow section finished short of the front beam. Also strange was the fact that there did not appear to be a strong watertight bulkhead at the back of the daggerboard case.


The last few weeks have been spent building the hull and deck plugs for the new Eclipse. The hull plug is now nearly finished, as can be seen from the photo. The deck and interior plugs are nearing completion and we hope to have the bulk of the work on these parts by mid June. The building drawings for home builders are under way, but won't be fully complete until September/October. However, by way of compensation, I will sell the building plans at a discounted price of £900 (plus VAT) - normal price £1200 - to all those who buy plans before they are completed.

Completed Eclipse hull plug Stealth built in Hungary Sailing my Stealth Sales of the Stealth are now going well. Sail numbers are now up to the 60 mark,.The photo shows a recently launched Hungarian built boat - makes my bright pink hull and fluorescent yellow sail look decidedly boring! When not working in the boatshed I have been sailing my Stealth. The photos show me at a very windy Easter regatta at Southampton where I finished 4th in my class.

Towards the end of each sailing season I always get letters from enthusiastic owners reporting on their sailing year. This year is no different and excerpts from three letters are printed below:

"Earlier this year I bought Strider sail # 57. I write this letter just to let you know that I have never had such fun with a boat. All boat designs are a compromise as with most things they have their stronger and weaker points. I plan to fit it out in a spartan manner for cruising, I can see that weight is a limiting factor. I am delighted to have joined the multi hull fraternity who all seem keen to discuss what makes their boats perform, much more so than mono hull owners it seems. It is almost true to say that I have a queue of sailing friends wanting to come for a sail! I was a long time coming to multi hulls because most of the ones you see are pretty ugly creations and it wasn't until I discovered your designs and those of James Wharram that I realised they could actually look good. I gave up the Wharram idea as most of them are just a bit too crude Enough rambling, just thought I would let you know that Striders have another fan. As someone who is coming up to retirement age I was a little worried by my choice of boat as I thought it might be just a bit too hairy, not so, it is well mannered and beautifully balanced and by my standards goes like hell, wonderful! "

Strider owners on Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe face different hazards from most of us. Dennis Lapham reports: "Got back from Kariba Tuesday 29 Aug. Took Cosmos out with two Ozzie's and had four nights on the lake. Palm Bay, Ume river, Terrys Bay, Sampas and back to yacht club. Lion were roaring at Terrys Bay in the upper reaches, what a super sound in the afternoon as we fished off the transom. (enough for a meal) After turning in for the night we were rudely awakened by an ear splitting, spine chilling ROAR!!!! Shining the torch we saw a pair of eyes 70 meters away. We woke our friends who slept through the roar!!?. Shining the torch again we saw three pairs of eyes!!!! We cast off to anchor out between two trees in the bay for the night !!! Brrrr... what an experience. Did two drawings, without the lion!" Sheltering from the sun under the cockpit awning The prototype Elf sailing in Plymouth The Elf is a 26' production boat, built in the UK by the Multihull Centre and also available in South Africa. We recently had a letter from a new owner in Canada "The ELF sails like a dream! We have had little cat experience so have not really pushed the boat yet, but have seen 11.4 knots reaching. It feels great to pass 40' monohulls in all winds and on all points of sail. The 9.9hp Nissan is more than adequate. Overall the design is well thought out. Thanks for building such a great boat!"


I was away for much of October as I was in the USA sailing the Savannah 26 about 1500 miles from S Carolina to the Annapolis boat show and back. It was an interesting trip, especially as I did it singlehanded. A full report will appear on the web site later. The Savannah is fitted with an Aerorig and I have made some more comments about this rig on the "Technical Comments" page

Sailing the Savannah 26 Romany sail plan Another project is the ROMANY, see sketch. This is a 34' (10.4m) version of the Gypsy. It shares the same basic concept of a three cabin layout and in fact uses the same cuddy as Gypsy. But the hulls are much bigger and longer. This means much improved load carrying potential and also more speed and seakindliness. It should be a good boat (if only I wasn't building an Eclipse...) More details will follow as the design progresses. A study plan has been drawn, available for £15 plus VAT if appropriate. Building plans will cost £900 plus VAT, but only £600 for the first customer Sister ship to Ron's Flica

Ron Holback built a Flica a few years ago, launched it in San Francisco and sailed it to Panama with his family. I had not heard from him for some years, but recently got this email: Hi Richard, "To refresh your memory I launched my Flica "Toucan" back in 1993. My family and I immediately moved aboard and left the San Francisco bay headed south. We cruised Central America, eventually ending up in Panama where I started a boat repair business. A year ago we moved back aboard and cruised up the east coast of Central America, recently arriving in Texas. Let me congratulate you on designing a very comfortable home, one our family of 4 could live on for years without any problem! Our situation is such that we'll be land based for awhile now and feel we should sell the boat to someone that will use her. It's too big and too nice a boat to be kept tied up in a marina for years. The boat is well built, has a new imron paint job, and looks good. Let me ask you a question that I know is difficult for you to answer, but I'd appreciate a ballpark figure- what do you think the boat is worth in U.S. dollars? It has solid glass hulls, hard chine, foam core deck, one 3 cylinder Yanmar on the port side which has been very well maintained and still looks brand new. I'd appreciate any help you can render, and if you know of anyone interested feel free to give them my e-mail address." Regards, Ron Holback

Review of 1999