published in Sailing
Wylie is one of the real individuals in the world of yacht design.
As far back as I can remember, back to the Animal Farm days, Tom
has always done it his own way and Tom's own way has always been
a good way.
No, Tom is not a fastidious draftsman. But Tom is a very good designer.
It's easy to get the notion, looking at Tom's hurried drafting,
that the end product for Tom is not the design but the boat. This
biggest of the Wyliecat series is built by Wyliecat on a hull built
by Westerly Marine. I've seen this boat, and I like it.
Tom knows how to draw a fast boat. This sparse 48-footer is slender
and light with a D/L of 110. The hull is beautifully fair and without
surprises. The sheer is not quite flat. Bow overhang, while not
faddishly plumb, is very sensible and not at all slow. The keel
is a welded steel fin with a bolted-on lead bulb. The hollow steel
fin does double duty as a 65-gallon fuel tank. Draft is 9 feet,
The interior is simple. There are two quarter berths that are on
the narrow side for legitimate doubles but wonderfully roomy for
singles. The galley is skimpy but adequate. The head is É
a head. The wraparound settees have narrow pilot berths outboard.
There is a wide double berth forward of the settees. This big double
is divided by the mast near the foot. There are far more berths
in this layout than there are places for people to sit while eating.
I think if a boat is going to sleep eight then it should be able
to dine eight. This layout needs some fine tuning.
I watched this boat sail up and down the Oakland estuary for three
days during the last Sail Expo show. I was very impressed. It's
the ultimate singlehander. I kept thinking, "That's the boat
This is a very good-looking boat that handles like a big dinghy.
I know this cockpit can easily hold a crowd. It's a long cockpit
with plenty of room for passengers to sit comfortably out of the
way of sail handling.
Sail handling? What sail handling? This big cat boat has a halyard
and a mainsheet. That's it. Okay, there's an outhaul, choker and
boom lift, but once up you can leave these lines alone. There is
no vang. There is no traveler. This is the epitome in self-tacking
Years ago I asked Lowell North what he thought the fastest rig was,
and he said "a giant Laser rig." Even on San Francisco
Bay there has been no need to reef the big cat, as the carbon-fiber
mast falls off as the wind builds, easing pressure up top. The 48
can beat a Santa Cruz 50 upwind in 25 knots. The PHRF rating is
15. This boat moves and is very close winded.
I'm sure there are drawbacks to this rig, but I don't know what
they are. Maybe downwind in light air you'd feel the lack of a chute.
Perhaps you'd like to keep your crew busier with more strings to
pull. If going the fastest for the leastest amount of effort is
the key then we have to carefully consider this approach.
The SA/D is 26.28 without roach or luff round. Adding roach and
luff round raises this number to 35! There is 1,300 actual square
feet of sail in this big mainsail. I've seen this sail come down,
and it comes down fast and falls neatly, self flaking into the web
between the carbon fiber wishbone legs. You do not need sail ties.
If Tom is right with this boat, the rest of us should consider jumping
on the Wylie wagon.