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Inflatable hull and plastic hull catamarans like the Red Beard Happy Cat  Bottom

  • I'm wondering what there is to know about the inflatable hull catamarrans like the Red Beard Happy Cat and the Xcat. I have owned a couple of Hobie 16's but I've been out of sailing for years. The Hobie's I owned were older models that I found in newspaper classified ads (remember those) and I had a lot of fun with them. I don't have a place to store a boat at my house and the prospect of renting storage space for it is expensive for me.

    I discovered the Red Beard product in the back of a Sail magazine and it seemed like an interesting product. It seems similar to the plastic "Lifetime" brand products where you can find: chairs, picnic tables, basketball hoops, and kayaks. This Red Beard product is clearly a higher end product than the Lifetime kayaks (and I think it's inflatable not injection molded plastic.) But I have been out of the sailing scene for 15 years. Are these type of hulls/catamarans sparking a technology revolution? Are they durable? They are attractive to me because it seems like I wouldn't need much space to store it. Does anyone have experience with theses types of products?
  • Well, that was an interesting website...What else was I going to do at lunch, right? Good videos and good "promotion" of product here and there... Certainly are ingenious buggers, but @ $8k - $11k, that's pretty steep for an inflatable. Looks like it could have a place for getting into/onto beaches that are otherwise inaccessible to trailered boats, but Dang! For that coin, I could get a nice fiberglass or poly boat, just barely used... I AM impressed they got an inflatable to not fold in half on every wave, though none of the videos showed them hitting anything significant. Funny, the use of "wave piercing bows"; it does make the boat look cooler... Not a fan of the centrally mounted rudder and keel, particularly - but hey looks like it works and gets past an engineering challenge. Really does look like they put a lot of thought into it. Never seen one in real life.

    Thanks for the break - if nothing else, that was neat to check out.

    --
    Chuck C.
    H21SE 408
    --
  • I was not aware of Red Beard brand specifically but I rented a MiniCat in Italy a few years ago and was pleasantly suprised https://www.sailingawaits.com/ No idea if it is the future but I do know something about their construction, durability and performance.

    First, this inflatable technology is not new. It is proven, robust and effective. I raced Thundercats https://www.thundercatracing.com/ for Gemini https://www.gemini-marine.com.au/zapcat in the late 1980's and early 1990's. It was bleeding edge technology at the time and we had some catastrophic hull failures in the beginning. By the mid 90s this style of construction was bulletproof and every iteration I have seen since has been stiffer (faster) and more durable. It is now common in kayaking, stand up paddleboards, rowboats, small powerboats, and small dinghy sailing.

    But....if I were to buy a performance catamaran right now that is value priced and small enough to not need a trailer I would have to give David Clarks UFO a very hard look. http://www.fulcrumspeedworks.com/UFO/overview/

    Just for the record I am not in any way affiliated with any of the websites I linked. Just a guy that likes high performance sailboats and tries to keep his finger on the pulse of the sport.

    Brad in Jax
    2x Stiletto 27's (one for sale after the Mug Race May 1, 2021)



    Edited by bradinjax on Feb 23, 2021 - 02:56 PM.
  • I have a UFO. Damn fun boat. A bit like a catamaran until it hits 7kt, then once it gets going not quite a catamaran (you can configure it not to fly, then it'll stay more like a small catamaran).

    We have a little socially-distanced get together this weekend - 4 UFOs in Miami. If you want to take mine for a spin, just PM me for details.
  • Decades ago in CA I saw an inflatable catamaran called a Catapult. I watched the owner set it up and when he sailed away it looked pretty fast. I looked them up and they're still around. With any of these inflatables they might be good for someone who goes on vacation and leaves the boat set up for a few days. The set up and take down time is probably a bit longer than what they quoted and the one rudder and one board will have to be really long to be efficient. Not so good where I sail where it's shallow everywhere. So unless you have to have a boat that fits in the back of an SUV, stick to a conventional design.

    --
    Bill Townsend
    G-Cat 5.7
    Sarasota
    --
  • What I can't seem to get past is the idea that these things are only good for relatively flat water. They would seem optimum for vacation travel, except if going to the beach... I have images of them folding in half trying to get through the surf. That may be (probably is) misplaced, but it's the experience I equate to when trying to get an inflatable raft out there...

    --
    Chuck C.
    H21SE 408
    --
  • charlescarlisWhat I can't seem to get past is the idea that these things are only good for relatively flat water. They would seem optimum for vacation travel, except if going to the beach... I have images of them folding in half trying to get through the surf. That may be (probably is) misplaced, but it's the experience I equate to when trying to get an inflatable raft out there...


    In the 90's we were launching Gemini Thundercats into 6 ft surf. Catching 10ft+ air and kept on trucking. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvI9F5Zrbxs

    If these were constructed like your pool raft It would fold like an envelope. Some have an internal baffle like structure that makes them super rigid. Others use multiple longitudinal tubes all heat welded together. Here is a vid on their construction. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wm4OkklLaco

    They are light, strong, and durable which equals fast. In performance boats you rarely get all 3 of those things. I would love to see a performance catamaran in the 25 to 30 ft range using this technology.
  • Just saw this on ebay:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Smartkat-High-Performance-Inflatable-Sailing-Catamaran/284194005359?hash=item422b48616f:g:L~sAAOSwiXpgM-Qp

    I know very little about these inflatables

    --
    Supercat 15
    Windrider 17
    Several Sunfish and Sunfish clones
    Ratboat built from Zuma and Sunfish parts
    Shallow water sailor in the Delaware Bay
    --
  • Funny - they're both designed out of Austria and seem to have similarities... Same company, or predecessor design? And what's about Austria that there'd be a demand for inflatables there? Space at a premium, maybe?

    Still, cute - kind of like the moped for beachcats; you know it's fun to ride one, but you don't want your friends catching you doing it...

    --
    Chuck C.
    H21SE 408
    --
  • wow nice thnx for sharing
  • I was not aware of the Red Beard brand specifically but I rented a MiniCat in Italy a few years ago. If these were constructed like your pool raft It would fold like an envelope Mazuzee marine equipment buy online. Some have an internal baffle-like structure that makes them super rigid. Others use multiple longitudinal tubes all heat welded together. Here is a vid of their construction.
  • A quick search on youtube for Thundercat will turn up plenty of vids confirming they are stiff and able to beat into waves. Inflatable boats are constantly getting better and better. Lets not forget the SEALs and SF teams use Zodiac inflatables and claim it can withstand a 5.56 AR15 round if the angle it is fired from is greater than 45 degrees. I have an inflatable SUP and a Takacat I use as a tender for my 35 ft catamaran. What they don't tell you is it will likely take more time to inflate the tubes than doing everything else to put it together; but once you do that I have found them very useable and the ability to store them on a cruising sailboat, inside a small condo, or in the back of a car is a huge advantage. I would also point out that a trap attached to the mast to hike out is a non starter. I also have a Prindle 18-2 and comparing that to an inflatable sailing cat is like comparing apples to orange petrified armadillos.

    I am not trying to make an argument for or against them; just saying they are very different from a conventional beach cat. Truth be told you need to spend money on a trailer and beach wheels and either have or pay for a place to store a conventional beach cat. Even then it can be a pain in the buttissmo to raise the mast and roll it into the water to launch. If you are launching it from a ramp that means dealing with water in the breaks and wheels and maintaining them; along with getting and keeping a trailer street legal along with needing a vehicle to tow the trailer being street legal. Raising the mast on some conventional beach cats can require much more efforts than an inflatable. On the plus side a top tier conventional beach cat will run circles around an inflatable beach cat.

    From what the OP says about his lack of storage space it sounds to me like an inflatable sailing cat might be a good fit for him.
  • I was not aware of the Red Beard brand specifically but I rented a MiniCat in Italy a few years ago. If these were constructed like your pool raft It would fold like an envelope Mazuzee marine equipment buy online. Some have an internal baffle-like structure that makes them super rigid. Others use multiple longitudinal tubes all heat welded together. Here is a vid of their construction.

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