Sailing, motoring, and trailing

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The joy of sailing is what it is all about! So wonderful to experience and so hard to describe! The joy is to a large extent relative to speed potential, but also to control. One should be happy, not scared!

Acinonyx at Gran Prix 2005Gepard is a very fast boat. Speeds up to 20 knots can be achieved in the right conditions. The exact performance potential of the boat depends on major speed determinants like the final weight and sail areas, as well as on the amount and quality of equipment such as sails, winches etc.

Overall performance is more than maximum speed, it also involves the ability to point high to windward and to perform well in light air. Gepard's large and deep (190 cm!) daggerboard provides an unequalled ability to point high, which can be very beneficial at times.

TackingOne example of this was when we tacked out in a south-western direction from a narrow sound in Stora Nassa archipelago, wherefrom the enclosed GPS-plotter track was obtained. Conditions were as follows: Wind was SSW 7-9 m/s, one reef in the main, and five people aboard. Note the tacking angles that are well below 90 degrees. The scale bar at the chart bottom equals 80 m.

Light air performance is given by the small wetted surface area due to the round- bottom design. Down-wind, one can raise the daggerboard to reduce the wetted surface even more.

The narrow waterline width of Gepard allows for a smooth ride in a seaway, and the boat is very dry with only an occasional shower of sea spray when going to weather in high seas and wind. Admittedly, it should be clear that such a short boat as Gepard will pitch much quicker than a longer and heavier boat (extending the boat length like some have done, and reducing the weight of rig and sails can reduce the pitch).

But to enjoy speed, one has to have full control. On Gepard one sails fast in great comfort: the heeling is limited, making the life on deck or inside very easy. The rudder feel is like a dinghy i.e a very stable one! Contributing to the comfort is the self-tacking jib, and the protected cockpit with high coamings. The boat is small enough to allow easy hoising of the mainsail, and easily handled forces of the main sail sheet.

Gepard can be easily sailed by one person. When racing, two people is usually sufficient, even when handling assymetrical spinnakers and schreachers. For long races, a crew of three is recommended, one of which may stay off-duty.

Heavy weather sailing and safety

Safety is crucial. One should reef in time. On Gepard it is easy to feel when the boat is over-powered and needs to be reefed. It is quite amazing how reefing calmes down things aboard. Yes, the speed decreases but 6 knots is quite enough to get you were you intend to go!

Heavy wind jib at Kalo Race 2005In winds up to 18 m/s (36 knots) inshore, one can easily sail Gepard alone, with fingertip control of the tiller. The main is bottom-reefed during these conditions and very easy to handle. Tacking is done with ease due to the self-tacking hard-wind jib (about 6 m2). Tacking angles are about 90 degrees. One doesn't have to attend the sheets at all during tacking, just the tiller. The hard-wind jib is hoisted on hanks 75 cm above deck level, above the stoved and covered standard jib (still on its hanks), so that forward vision is undisturbed. This is a very important safety factor during these tougher conditions. It i true that the height of effort of the jib thereby is increased 65-70 cm, but this is of minor importance, because the overall height of effort is more affected by the reefed main sail than by the small heavy-wind jib. The lazy jacks, in combination with the long battens, facilitates reefing enormously. In our case (on Gepard no.1 Acinonyx), the hard-wind jib was recut from a standard dacron jib that had lost it's shape, and it doesn't contain any battens. The cockpit generally stayed dry with only an occasional shower of spray.

During inshore racing one may want to sail closer to the "limit". We have used full main and jib in winds up to 14 m/s. A photo of Acinonyx during these conditions (Lidingö Runt 2006) was taken by Seglingsbilder, or from aboard the boat during Gran Prix 2007. During such conditions, one has to attend the mainsail sheet, but we found that luffing up was sufficient in most gusts. For a lighter boat, or one with more sail area, reefing is required at this wind strength also when racing.

In coastal racing up to 16 m/s, we used one reef in the mainsail and the 6 m2 self-tacking heavy wind jib above the lowered standard jib, still on its hanks (see above). This sail setting allowed sufficient power to go windward against the waves. Two adults and a child sailed in these conditions on Acinonyx during Gullviveracet 2007). Nice photos by Seglingsbilder shows views from the bow, side (notice the happy waving to the photographer!), and stern angle (my favourite photo). We never had to release the main sheet. For cruising, it would be recommended to bottom-reef the main sail.

A safety hatch can be installed, as has been done on Gepard no. 1 Acinonyx.

No Gepard has capzised due to wind or waves so far, and let us hope this safety record stands.


Gepard can powered by outboards of 5-10 hp, giving traveling speeds of about 6 knots at medium trottle. The easy access of the stern-mounted outboard allows free turning around of the outboard providing excellent manouverability. In fact, one can turn around the boat on its own axis!

Mooring and beaching

Gepard no.2 mooringThe shallow depth of Gepard with raised daggerboard and rudder (40 cm) allows enterance to moorings in very shallow water, or even embarq on a sandy beach! One can even motor in such shallow waters, but one has to be aware that the relative windage is large: there is not much in the water that can resist sideways drift! The light weight makes the boat generally more sensitive to the wind than a heavier boat. The flat deck design on the sidehulls make it possible to enter land even from their forward ends. Some puts fenders under one of the side-hulls and sets these firmly on the rock, sideways. And even without any anchor at all (this procedure is only recommended in protected localities when no on-shore winds or sea is possible)! Quite different from conventional mooring with the stem towards land!

Demounting and winter storage

Before taking up the boat for the winter, the mast will have to be removed. Two persons are usually required for this task using a conventional mast crane. The boat can be lifted with slings around the main hull just as a keelboat, the slings are safely fixed by the beams.

On land or on trailer, the boat can easily be demounted by one person. First, the nets are removed, then the waterstays and side hulls. With a little planning, even a single person can manage to demount or mount the sidehulls. Finally, the aluminum beams are withdrawn. The low profile of the boat, close to the ground, allows for easy covering and exterior maintenance. A clever way to assist in the hoisting and lowering the side hulls has been developed by Nils Gawell. It confers complete control and requires minimal effort by the use of a standard trailing winch mounted on the aluminum beam where the mount hooks into the track. With one winch on each beam it takes only a minute for a single person to hoist the sidehull into position, so that the bolts can be attached and tightened.


Due to the low weight and lack of extending keel, Gepard is easily trailable. This can be used for bringing the boat to new far-away waters when the time is too limited to sail to and from the destination. For others, the ability to just bring the main hull back to the backyard for nearby winter maintenance is greatly appreciated.

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page updated 2019-08-15

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