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- THE LYNX
MOST DESIGNERS HAVE a concept for their boats which is recognisable throughout the range. We have seen 63ft cats, the new 40-footer which John Shuttleworth has designed for his own use and sailed the micro multihull designs, the Cheetah and the Arrow, from his board. We therefore had a few pre-eonceived ideas as to what to expect when we approached the new Lynx, designed by Shuttleworth and built by Clyde Cats.
The Lynx has lean looking hulls which are extremely pretty. Gone are the heavily flared topsides to gain volume in the hulls: in their place are clean, uncluttered lines with a relatively small coachroof profile. On board, the layout is conventional except for the helmsman's cockpit. The narrow hulls should mean that the cockpit is small and cramped but to overcome this, small winglets have been added to the hulls at deck level - the inboard wing has the winches mounted on it and the outboard wing acts as extra deck area for the helmsman to sit on. The result is more than adequate for the helsman's needs. The rig is interesting. There is more mast rake on the Lynx than any other micro we have sailed although the mast itself is not over tall. Rotating masts are currently out of fashion in production micros in the UK - cost being the main factor against them. Z-spars appear to be the current favourite, both for masts and cross beams. "The main cross beam on the Lynx is a large section eliminating the need for any internal strengthening or the need of a dolphin striker under the mast. There is no cross beam forward of the mast and the one-piece bowsprit carries the forestay plus an upturned spreader to act as a compression strut for one of the two bridles running from either bow. One holds the tack of the jib and is connected directly to the pole, the second goes to the top of the strut and takes the forestay loads. The pole itself extends a foot beyond the stems for setting the asymmetric spinnaker. The control lines arc simple but efficient with a coarse and fine tune for the mainsheet - the fine tune plus the sheets for the self-tacking jib led back to both cockpits. The mainsheet traveller controls are a multi-purchase led to cleats close to hand for the helmsman - easy enough to release but impossible for the helmsman alone to pull in again when under load. On this particular Lynx there were four winches, all set on the inboard wings of the cockpits. The standard version, however, will more likely to only have two. which we suspect should be adequate for most crews. We cast off from Ocean Village Marina, Southampton, on a damp and grey afternoon with a light breeze which steadily built up to a steady Force 3 as we went out into the Solent. With the outboard located on a sliding track on the transom of the starboard hull, steerage was good although the controls were rather out of reach on the outboard we were using. A longer handle for the controls would probably eliminate most of the difficulties we experienced when undertaking confined manoeuvres. Once outside and in Southampton Water, the first move was to hoist the mainsail which is one of the largest we have seen on a micro. Sailing close-hauled under this sail alone for a short while, there was a distinct crabbing feeling but she remained under full control. As soon as the jib was hoisted, however, the feel on the helm was completely transformed. This has to be one of the best balanced cats we have sailed for a long time. The tillers are longer than usual on a micro and obviate the need for any tiller extensions although it does mean that the helmsman can only steer from the cockpit and cannot move forward at all. The Lynx is designed with shallow draft keels - an ti-vortex keels according to Shuttleworth but its manoeuvrability was such that you had to keep reminding yourself that the cat did not have daggerboards. The excellent feel must also be attributed to the rudder bearings which have been precisely bored, and the very positive linkages in the steering system. Our pre-conceived ideas about the Lynx were based upon our experiences on the Shuttleworth-designed Cheetah and the Arrow. Whereas the Cheetah was designed with space, comfort and the family in mind, the Arrow for 'space with pace', the Lynx makes no concessions in these respects. This cat is for sailing - and just how wet you get is neither here nor there. Gone are the flared out topsides and the solid bridgedeck. Gone too is a considerable amount of weight, critical to the performance of these cats. Sailing close-hauled and into a freshening breeze, the Lynx gained pace as we headet for the Solent.
It was obvious from the feel oi the tiller and the response of the cat to th gusts coming through that we were a long wa; off that which the Lynx is capable o performing and there was an initial uncertainty on our part as to how quickly we were going to respond to the gusts. Was the wind ware hull going to lift suddenly ? Was the lee bow going to disappear ? After some five minutes of waiting for a dramatic reaction we shrugged our shoulders and settled down to enjoy the sail. Rod Stuart of Clyde Cats had a steady smile on his face and it was apparent that he had a lot of confidence in the design and was itching to get us to bear off slightly onto a close reac. Once there was adequate water we duly complied with his request and understood why he was smiling. The Lynx has a superb motion at speed, with absolutely no hint of burying a nose at all - certainly not in a Force 4. Rod was adamant that there is actually a tendency for the bows to rise at speed - we were uncertain about this but it certainly' fell fast and safe. We said earlier that you may get wet on the Lynx: in the Force 3 - 4 that we sailed in r we experienced very little water on board. The hulls cut easily through waves and there was no slamming at all. Obviously in heavy weather it is possible that the fine hulls will continue to cut through waves with very little effect on the boat speed and this is where the wet aspect of the cat may be more noticeable. Tacking the Lynx was easy. Leaving both sails cleated and keeping the helm down, the cat always sailed through to the new tack without ever stalling or requiring the mainsail to be eased. The jib is fully-battened and self-tacking and if the sheet was left under tension, the traveller car needed a kick to push it across. Rod later demonstrated that the helmsman could easily release the jib sheet himself from the new windward cockpit, permitting* the car to slide across, then pull the sheet in again before letting the crew get the correct windward tension using a winch for the last few inches. The sails were made by Technique Sails and the mainsail has been optimised by them for IMMCA rating: the six-battened sail has an interesting leech profile with a moderate roach. This was a clear sailing demonstration of how a designer can adapt his ideas to meet different requirements. Reduce the weight and the cat can accelerate faster to keep up with the forces on the rig. Reducing the weight also permitted Shuttleworth to draw finer hull lines, reducing the resistance of the hulls through the water. The extreme mast rake (by UK standards at least) keeps the weight of the mast further aft and also affects the aerodynamics of the rig. Many people believe that making the trailing edge of the mainsail vertical (or as close to it as practical) improves upwind and reaching performance in a breeze. It does not, however, improve downwind performance although this is not so critical in a cat, at least in a breeze. Having discussed these points at high speed and a shoreline rapidly approaching, we turned around for home. An internal control
line is rigged in the pole for pulling out the tack of the spinnaker to the end of the pole. On the Lynx we sailed, the cleat for this line was on the pole itself, but other owners may prefer this to be on the main cross beam so that it is more accessible. Once set there was a initial problem in that there was a very narrow corridor downwind where we could get all three sails to set effectively. The relatively short distance between the tack of the jib and the outboard end of the pole meant that the spinnaker was unable to project much of its area to the wind. After struggling somewhat unsuccessfully with this arrangement, we lowered the jib and immediately the eat came alive. Thereafter it was a fun sail home, gybing the spinnaker repeatedly us we ssig-zagged back up Southampton Water.
The two-speed winches were never required and we simply used the windward single-speed winch as a snubbing winch for the spinnaker sheet. We experienced some interference between the shrouds und the battens on the mainsail when sailing downwind but when racing, or in stronger winds, the mainsail would not have been eased out as far on the runs. It is understandable why the shrouds have been positioned here - the mast rake makes the hounds well aft of the mast base so the loads on the shrouds are reduced by moving the hull take-off points aft as well.
The Lynx is an extremely pretty cat and Clyde Cats have made a thoroughly professional job of building the prototype. Anyone who sails the Lynx will be impressed both with the speed and the finish even if the ride is a little wet for their taste. Clyde Cats would be only too happy to build a solid deck although obviously on such a beamy cut this will add significantly to the weight. Don't expect too much in the way of accommodation - and don't try to cram it with heavy items. In case you are wondering about the legality of the wings for the helmsman, they were ratified by the IMMCA technical committe in 1990 - so all is well. The basic Lynx will be available for around £20,1)00 (ex VAT) and excluding any spinnaker geur, so some £25,000 should be budgeted for to get to the start line. Delivery dates were quoted as being six weeks for a pair of hulls and a second Lynx has already been ordered for delivery to Austria in June.
by Ian Holt
Published Articles: May 1991 | MULTIHULL INTERNATIONAL