February 01, 2006

Designer of CATRI 24

I have just returned from a trip to Latvia where I met with the Aldis Eglajs again.

What a great man!

This trip has confirmed my earlier opinion that there can be no other person in the world with a firmer grasp of the knowledge required to make high speed sailing boats. The years of meticulous study, the conception, the calculation, the design, the exprimentation, the research and the devlopment that have gone into the CATRI range are nothing short of astonishing. Probably nobody in the modern, commercial, western society could ever afford to do what Aldis was able to do under the communist system. I estimate that he is about 25 years ahead of the rest of the world in this field.

He was explaining details of how he broke the world sailing speed record in 1982. His understanding of the mathematics, the hydrodynamics, the mechanics, the aeronautics, the sailing requirements, the materials, the praticalities etc. etc. is just phenomenal. Nobody can hold a candle to him.

Every detail of the CATRI 24 that I sailed back from Latvia last summer has been carefully thought through. He was able to justify to me any aspect of the design that I chose to question him on. It is little wonder that this boat is so easy to sail, so incredibly stable and yet at the same time so fast.

One small example was the story of the number of rudders that he broke in testing (probably 30 years ago now) and how he tackled this challenge and overcame the problem. Another was the 40 knot limitation, which he presented as something like the sound barrier in flight. There are many more exciting boats to come from the CATRI stable. Watch this space.

I came away secure in the knowledge that I have backed a winner by choosing to import the CATRI trimarans from Latvia.

Why did I go there in the first place? Amongst other things I wanted to see my friends Inga and Ivars whose shipyard was responsible for the final assembly and to thank them for my safe return to Blighty in TARDIS. In particular I wished to thank and congratulate Oskars, who did such a sterling job making sure everything about the boat was ship-shape and Bristol fashion.

It is a great credit to the shipyard in Ventspils that we had no significant problems on the journey to England that could be laid at their door. Every expert on boats who has seen TARDIS has remarked how well made she is.

Ten minutes before I boarded the bus to Ventspils I rediscovered the boat chandlers "Regate", where I had bought my main anchor (not wishing to carry one with me on a Ryanair flight from Stanstead!) and nipped inside to thank Albert for it and for the advice he gave me. He said I was the first person ever to come back and thank him! I guess most cruisers only visit Riga once in their lives. There are so many other places to visit, aren't there?

On the flight back the young Latvian couple seated next to me asked if I knew what the land was that we could see below. Was it Denmark? And I immediately recognised it. It was the long, thin, Swedish island of Őland ahead and Gotland behind and to the right. These were the first places that we had visited on our epic journey across the Baltic to Kiel last summer. Then I could see the partly frozen Swedish archipelgo past which we had sailed in warmer times and then the very picturesque island of Hanő. I could even make out the rock to the NW of the island that we passed on our approach and I could clearly see its tiny harbour from the air. This was very special, seeing from the sky these places that we had sailed to. You can read about the CATRI 24 delivery trip here in the June/July 2005 archive.

Posted by Stephen Walker at 06:43 PM