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Old 10-09-2012
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Re: Sailing characteristics ?

I may be the only person on this board who has actually sailed a Catalina 355. While I have never sailed on a Hunter, I have lots of experience sailing, cruising and racing on a wide variety of boats including ones designed by other contributors to this BB.

A couple years ago I had the opportunity to sail hull #1 on San Francisco Bay. The boat was being taken around to the various boat shows and my local Catalina broker wanted to sail it and asked me to come along and offer my opinion. Somewhere buried on this or another BB, I wrote up my impressions so I will try to summarize here. We sailed along the City front, beam reached across the “slot” did several tacks up to Harding Rock then a running reach back behind Treasure Island. The winds were in the mid teens. The vessel was in “boat show” condition, to say, static tuned, no water in the tanks, basic running rigging, 110 jib and a furling main (with vertical battens). It was standard mast and fin keel. It had a bow sprit but no spinnaker. Being a “show boat”, I couldn’t wring her completely out, but I was still able to push her a bit (hey, they wanted my opinion)

Working to windward, the tacking angle was somewhere in the 90 – 100 degree range and boat speeds in the six knot range. When we beam reached, we easily hit hull speed. Downwind, we were doing fours and fives. The boat felt more like a C36 than my C34. It definitely had a “smoother” ride in the Bay chop. I could not bury the lee rail on our reach (I really tried!). I think the higher freeboard inhibits this. I love the cockpit layout in the 355. The primaries are fairly well aft and easily reached from the helm. There isn’t a place for a set of secondary’s, but I think the target buyer is more prone to use an A-kite. The Selden extendable bow sprit is really cool and I will be buying one for my boat. I have had trouble trimming out the leech flutter of roller mains in the past, but the vertical battens seem to provide the right amount of roach. There are nice places to sit on the coamings for those of us who like to sit to the side of the wheel and steer. In sailing the light air behind Treasure Island and the Estuary, I got the impression that it’s performance would be unimpressive in winds under 5 kts (a trait unfortunately, shared with other Catalina’s).

I ran the C355 numbers through my calculator and the boat fits in nicely between the C34 and C36. The standard fin keel draft is 6˝ feet. The ballast to displacement ratio is lighter than my C34 and I suspect that they are using the deeper draft to achieve the same capsize risk numbers. From a performance standpoint, they could go with a taller mast and bigger sail area, improving the SA to Disp and Velocity ratios. That would give better light air performance but I suspect, sacrificing the Catalina “feel” in higher winds. The hardware is mostly Garhauer, winches are now Harkens. The engine was a Yanmar 30, which is probably a better match than the Universal 35 HP they had been installing in the C34 and C36. All in all, a pretty nice boat and a nice return to their more “classic” designs like the C30, 34, 36 and 42.

Last edited by GeorgeB; 10-10-2012 at 11:42 AM.
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