All past and present Catapult owners invited to 25th anniversary celebrations 13/2/07

The Catapult, the 5m inflatable catamaran, was launched in 1982 at the Southampton Boat Show is 25 years old. It attracted a lot of publicity and attention due to its innovative design and high performance, and Stuart Ede, the class chairman, comments: “Jon Montgomery’s design was ahead of its time then, and the boat still attracts questions and admiring looks wherever we go.”

Prior to its launch, Catapult had benefited from five years of development. Prototypes regularly competed at Weymouth Speed Week, and managed to set a best average speed of 17.01 knots across the 500m speed course. The boat still surprises people to this day with its speed.

Since 1982, several manufacturers have produced Catapult, and developed different sail plans. The original 10m2 sleeve sail had no battens, and could be easily folded. The whole boat could be quickly assembled and dismantled by one person, with car-top transport and easy storage. The inflatable hulls also make the boat fairly light and robust enough to take incredibly harsh punishment.

Close to 500 boats have been built of which some 150 boats have found their way to various parts of the world. Original boats are still sailing competitively today and the thriving class association has regular well supported events with enthusiastic supporters.

Catapulters are a jolly bunch and creative in their own right. Several owners have experimented with foils, one of which averaged 21.5 knots down the 500m speed course at West Kirby. Another owner fitted an extra set of launch wheels to demonstrate the land yachting potential. We don’t know if ice skates have been tried yet!

During the last 25 years quite a number of unusual sailing events have taken place at home and in Europe. A Thames charity race from Putney to the Thames Barrier was novel, only made possible as Catapults can heel their masts 45º whilst sailing, enough to sail under low bridges. The mast heal safety feature was designed to help the helmsman right the boat single-handed from a capsize, without the need for body weight.

Seventeen Catapults were flown out as regular luggage to Ibiza to compete in a staged race around the island. Incredible what you could get through Heathrow check in a few years back! The island locals gave everyone a warm welcome and also helped with safety cover and supported the event in many other ways. Catapult has also been sailed in a variety of European venues, with frequent events in France and beyond.

To mark the anniversary of the Catapult, a celebration is planned at Bala Cat Club in North Wales over the long weekend of Saturday 28 July to Monday 30 July. Nigel Harrison, who is organising it, says: “We would like to invite all Catapult owners – whether or not they are Association members – to join in the festival of fun that will include novelty races, a boat jumble and parties run alongside the 2007 national championship.” Interested? Contact Nigel Harrison at or telephone 0114 268 1205 (Mobile) 07730 200311.