c1960 Yachting World Catamaran

“Yachting World” magazine sponsored the design of a small, cheap, one-design catamaran in the early 1960s. The catamaran was designed by the prolific multi-hull designer James Roderick MacApline-Downie ( 1934 – 1986). Complete boats could be purchased from Sail Craft Ltd of Brightlingsea from 1964, prior to this home construction was the only option. Later boats were built of fibreglass but turned out to be a little heavier than the earlier built wooden boats.

Length: 15′ 6″ Beam: 7′ Draught: 3″-2′ 10″ Sail Area: 175sq ft

Venture was built in Kirkwall by Jim Taylor around 1960 and probably launched in 1961/2. Venture is one of the last surviving examples of an Orkney built YW Cat from a one-time fleet of around a dozen in Orkney. The YW Cat was purely used for racing and when introduced in Orkney caused a bit of a stir within the traditional mono-hull Yole racing community.

The YW Cat was designed to be towable and fit in a garage for storage. The hulls were constructed from 6″ strips of 2-ply glued to the keel then bent over a mould and held in position by stapling the end of the strips to the gunwale. A second layer of 2-ply was then glued over the top and stapled in position until the glue had dried. The temporary staples where then removed otherwise they would rusted and stained the wood. It is estimated that about 10,000 staples were required to construct two hulls.

Jim Taylor borrowed the mould for building his two hulls from Donald Thomson who had to build the moulds before he could build his own YW Cat. Jim Taylor is reputed to have complete and launch Venture the day before Donald Thomson launched his first boat.

To fair the outside of the hulls, a coat of Polyfilla was brushed on to the outside of the hulls and when set was sanded off by hand (electric sanders not being available at this time). The two hulls were joined together by two wood beams, one aft and one amid ships, the area between these two beams being filled with a wood sheet. The bows were joined with a length of 2″ alloy pipe. The dagger board boxes were made and fitted in position before the deck was attached to the hull.

The original masts were made of Oregon Pine 4×2.5″. The planking was sawn in half and end for ended. Two rebate were cut in each half which when the two halves were glued back together formed a slot for the halyards and luff of the mainsail. Later modern extruded aluminium masts replaced the original wooden masts.

All the YW cats had identical hulls and sails which kept the racing close and competitive. One YW Cat is reported to have recorded a speed of 24 knots on the radar of a Fishery Protection Vessel at a Stromness Regatta.

Venture had laid at Longhope for sometime before being recovered by OHBS in November 2019. Some restoration is required to the decking and paintwork but she is otherwise in a recoverable state.