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Launching: 2020

My W17 Building Experience —by Billy Feeney (C72) Australia

I have been a surfer for most of my life but now in my early sixties am finding it’s taking me longer to find the sweet spot on the board so I’m turning more to sailing. My local Port Curtis Sailing club is in Queensland Australia, and there I often crew on a Malcolm Tennant catamaran.

I have already built a couple of boats and the last one was a 26 ft cat ketch.  After that boat I said I wouldn’t build another boat, but then, I saw the W17.  With my wife being Filipino and the lines of the W17 somewhat resembling their outrigger boats, I thought this would be a great boat for her, being both stable and fast. Having caught the bug of sailing a multihull, I really liked the look of this boat and as it will be so much fun to teach my young son, I’ll just have to convince her to come sailing with us sometimes  ;)

Compared to the other boats I have built, the journey of building this boat has been very rewarding.  Being a trimaran, it’s important to keep it as light as possible and know what areas come under stress. I have learned so much already, finding most answers on Mike’s remarkable website and getting a quick reply to any questions that I felt the need to ask.

One bit of advice I have learned in my trade as a house builder that can apply to building boats too, is to break the whole project up into smaller tasks, something that Mike has already done in his detailed Build Manual.  Then one day, those small separate parts will all come together, and I already dream of the fun I’m going to have, and maybe even win a few races with my boy as crew, which to date have been few and far between.

As more sailors get to see and try out the W17, I am sure this design will continue to grow as it’s very well engineered and performs so well overall.  Yet it’s still versatile, comfortable and dry for its size.   Independent reviewers say ‘it’s a total pleasure to sail and just exudes efficiency’ …  so I am eager to get mine afloat and start the fun for myself!

Since the above photo where I am getting the amas properly aligned, I’ve now fully attached them and also installed the very neat fairing that looks really great.   This is one of many well engineered features that, to my mind at least, places this boat above any perceived competition.    

Another thing I enjoy is making the small but unique additions that Mike suggests to add on, such as the small tool locker in the front beam and the storage pocket in the aft bulkhead shown below. Sure, it’s optional, but I can just imagine how useful this is going to be on board, and from what Mike tells me, there’s almost no sea condition that will have solid water reaching it.    It also easily lifts out so that you can use it to bring essential things to and from the shore.

I’ve also purchased the Barton mainsheet track and had it bent locally so I am presently installing that.

With my young boy and wife, I’ve chosen to start with the cruising rig and already found an alloy mast from an 18ft Taipan catamaran that I will shorten to suit.  As Mike reminds us, masts on a trimaran do take a higher load but this section looks pretty good.   But because I see the advantage of a rotating wing mast, my plan is still to eventually build Mike’s wooden wing mast design and I’ve already ordered the large diameter halyard sheave that this mast will need.

Getting enough time to work on the boat is always hard with a home and family, but when I do, it’s really a relaxation therapy for me as I am thoroughly enjoying the process.

 As I often refer to the Manual, my son keeps asking me ‘how many more pages to go before the boat is finished? ’…. so if I ever need motivation, I can depend on him to give it ;)

I will add more when the boat is complete ... later this summer I hope.

Billy, February 2020

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