Copyright 2021 - Woods Designs, 16 King St, Torpoint, Cornwall, PL11 2AT UK
  • production Strider 24

  • 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

Excerpted from Yachting Monthly, November 1986

On Board Banshee

A promising new 35ft production catamaran offering
voluminous accommodation and high speed

The Banshee has been designed by Richard Woods and is one of three versions that have been based on the same 35ft hull mouldings

The Banshee, reviewed here, is the cruiser-racer option which, whilst maintaining a lot of accommodation, has generous (but not excessive) sail area with fully battened main, a lower coachroof profile and daggerboards and is powered by an outboard engine (although a diesel can be fitted if required). She is intended as a fast cruiser with the capability to do well in races such as the Round Britain, Azores and Back or the Yachting Monthly Triangle.

One of the principal design features of the Banshee is her great beam; this has a number of advantages, not least of which is less wave interaction between the hulls, much improved stability and, of course, more spacious accommodation than other multihull designs which stick to the more traditional 1:2 beam/length ratio. The hull shape is broadly a soft V, with rounded underwater sections and a knuckle in the topsides a foot or so above the waterline intended to cut down spray as well as increase panel strength and internal volume. The slightly veed shape, combined with ample freeboard, an attractive sheerline and bow overhang, gives the Banshee good seakeeping qualities.

Whichever way you look at it, the accommodation of the Banshee is vast by 35ft standards. A large sliding hatch opens up the saloon (in much the same way as the Catalacs) which is a wide cabin and not particularly deep. The seating here is ample for the numbers likely to be aboard, although the saloon is smaller than other more conventional 35ft cats. The Banshee is intended as a cruiser-racer so, in order to keep the coachroof and windage low, there is only 1.37m (4ft 6in) headroom until you come down into the hulls, where it increases to 2.08m (6ft 6in). This headroom is ample for sitting around in the saloon and, whilst the large hatch opens up much of the bridgedeck area, it is nevertheless something of a crouch when you want to get from one hull to the other

To port, next to the saloon, is the navigation area, with ample space all round for stowing books, siting instruments and stowing a variety of equipment. The navigator is spoilt by a. 93m x 1.06m (35in X 40in) navigation table which has to be the largest ever fitted in a production 35ft cruiser.

In the port hull is a double quarterberth, .90mm (34in) wide with sitting headroom, five good-sized bins for stowing clothes, etc. and an opening hatch to provide light and ventilation. Forward of this is the spacious heads compartment which can easily convert to a shower if the owner wishes. It is unfortunate (and unavoidable) that access to the port double cabin is through the heads, but it’s a point you can forgive when you see the sheer size of this cabin with its 1.60m (5ft) wide double berth, full-length shelf/countertop, excellent hanging locker and six large cave bins that a couple using the cabin would be hard-pressed to fill. A cushioned seat runs the length of the cabin opposite the countertop, and there is an opening hatch over the berth.

In the starboard hull there is a double quarterberth the same as to port. The two 100 lit (22 gal) water tanks are fitted under these berths. The galley is wide enough for two people to pass and has a combination stainless sink/drainer/cooker on the outboard side. An oven is an optional extra and has to be installed independently. Forward of the galley is a further double cabin, identical to the port side.

The rig is quite interesting, being three-quarter fractional with no standing or running backstays (allowing a generous mainsail roach) but her shrouds swept quite some way aft to the corners of the coachroof giving support for the forestay which sets a medium sized roller-reefing jib. A drifter can be set in light airs from the masthead and an adjustable inner forestay is rigged to take the storm jib. The net result is a rig whose jib is an all-rounder used in most general conditions with sail area controlled by mainsail reefing. The spinnaker is set from the forestay hounds and needs no pole.

Under sail, first impressions were of great stability, even by multihull standards; her wide beam meant she heeled hardly at all and at no point did we feel pressed under full sail. In Force 3-4 she tacked unhesitatingly through 80 degrees making a steady 6-8 knots boat speed which increased quickly to 10-11 knots with the sheets cracked a touch. With her big daggerboards down, she showed no signs of any leeway. Beam reaching she was able to maintain a consistent 9-10 knots and our best speed of the day was 141/2 knots, powering up Southampton Water on a broad reach in gusty conditions.

Bridgedeck slamming is invariably a problem with most cruising catamarans but this was not the case on the Banshee. She sliced through the minimal seaway running without any fuss and, when we deliberately sailed close to a container ship dragging a good wash behind, the Banshee still didn’t slam going through it. Although the bridgedeck clearance is not exceptionally high, the combination of an open trampoline foredeck (with the bridgedeck commencing a fair way aft) with good reserve buoyancy forward and widely spaced hulls seems to have cured this curse.

When I first saw the 9.9hp Yamaha outboard auxiliary, I doubted that it would be anywhere near big enough for even the most basic needs. I don’t know where the power comes from, but the four stroke long shaft Yamaha had ample thrust to push the Banshee along at 6 knots at cruising revs. (going flat out only gave an extra knot speed. With a little bit of chop and a Force 3-4, the Banshee didn’t seem to slow down under power as I’d expected, and one has to say that the outboard is amply powerful enough. The outboard is situated in a central mini-nacelle under the cockpit which also provides near self draining stowage for the often messy fuel tank.

The Banshee's concept is not dissimilar to a bigger version of the Iroquois catamaran updated into the 80's but proportionally much wider, resulting in a capable and powerful offshore cruising yacht well suited for ocean cruising. Her sailing performance is really quite scintillating for an eight-berth cruising boat and this sort of speed potential is going to open up a wider radius of cruising grounds from one's home port.

She is a modern catamaran a lot of people have been waiting for and clearly has a very rosy future. GP

A complete copy of this article can be obtained from Yachting Monthly