One step beyond

James Boyd gets under the skin of the F18-HT class
This article continues from The Daily Sail's look at the Formula 18 class . Despite the success of Formula 18, they have competition. On the continent and in the States there is the newer and faster Formula 18 HT (High Tech) class. This is similar in concept to the F18 except that the rule allows carbon fibre and a minimum weight of 120kg (ex sails and battens) - roughly 50kg less than a standard F18. This presents an interesting conundrum. Formula 18 is considerably the more popular class, but cat sailors are by nature speed junkies and a boat that is almost one third the weight of a standard F18 with otherwise similar dimensions, will have to turn heads. Former Tornado sailor John Pierce, whose company Stealth Marine have just launched the first F18 HT in the UK, gives his view on why the 'HT' class is needed: "To be honest I see the F18 as a bit of a step backwards. It came out about 25 years later than the Tornado came on the scene. It is 2ft shorter, 2ft narrower and 15kg heavier. So it is not really moving things forwards." However he does admit that the Formula 18 has helped move people on from Hobie 16s and Dart 18s. "I think they could have done the rule at 140kg and the cost would not have been much more and the boat would be superb," he says of the F18 rule. The F18 HT rule was originally created in 1996 between the catamaran builders Bimare, Ventilo and Marstrand. In the event only Bimare and Ventilo have built boats and in the last two years Bimare have turned out to be the only major builder, at first selling their BIM F18 HT mainly in Italy, France, Switzerland and Germany. Early last