Copyright 2019 - 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

My boats have been designed for English Channel sailing. One thing that I have learnt from sailing all over the world (I have now sailed in over 40 countries) is that the average wind speed in other countries tends to be lower than in the UK.

For example, we have been sailing our Merlin in the Pacific NW nearly every weekend for the last 5 years. In all that time we have reefed it only once. Yet I remember a summer sailing a Strider in the UK where we had to reef EVERY time we went sailing. Not only that but the seas elsewhere tend to be less choppy, so boats pitch less. Conversely, boats designed outside northern Europe tend to pitch more. Thus my boats tend to be under-rigged, but sail smoother when compared to others. In 2010/11 we sailed a Transit 38 from Maryland (leaving Nov 8th) to the Bahamas where we cruised for several months and never had to reef.

So if you think your sailing conditions warrant a bigger rig then please let me know and I can draw a new sailplan for you. And furthermore, I design all my cabin boats - even the smallest ones - apart from the Strike that is - to be seaworthy enough to make long coastal passages, what in the UK we call "cross-Channel sailing".

I have personally sailed my own Wizard, for example, 120 miles from the UK to France more than once. That is twice the distance of Florida to the Bahamas, which is also a much easier crossing than across the English Channel - I sailed back from the Bahamas only recently so conditions in the Gulf Stream are fresh in my mind. And of course I have sailed a Strider Club singlehanded (in convoy with two others) from the UK 1400 miles to the USSR and back. And, over the years, dozens of trips from Plymouth to the Solent (about 120 miles of open sea) usually non stop and often singlehanded in Striders, Gwahir and Wizard.

I know there are many areas in the world where conditions are very benign (like much of the USA and Pacific NW for example) and there are other designs that would suit those conditions, but I don't design boats like that. I want to be confident that my designs are safe in bad weather. In Europe boats are divided into 4 categories, Category D boats are suitable for lakes, rivers and sheltered waters, Category C are "Coastal". All my cabin designs are considered at least Category C. Category B is "Offshore" and Category A is "Ocean".

I have updated my article on rigs, essentially to say that I (or any good sailmaker) would be happy to draw a new mainsail for your boat with a more modern "squaretop" shape if you want better performance. Also please note that, except on the smallest boats, flat battens (as typically used on monohull fully battened sails) are NOT recommended on my catamarans. You should use rod or tapered fibreglass battens.