Jan 9, 2014

Pandora 8.5 in Detail

Francois Perus sent some info of the Pandora 8,50 by www.pandora-marine.com and I took the chance to fire back some questions about this range of cats, that has a great interest for me as it is going to be the next down here after making beachcats popular. Next week I will publish also some details from Grainger new Trimaran line.

Francois Perus from Perus Yacht Design: I would like to present you an 8.5m day-catamaran I designed, called the Pandora 8.50. . Though she was not design to be a full racer, she was designed to unite speed, easiness and quality time with friends or family on the water. A modern version of cats like the KL 28 or Corneel 26 (French boats designed around 86).
We built a prototype last year and sailed her intensively all summer long. Now she's back in the yard for a last tiding up before the new year. //

- CSN: How a inexperienced monohull sailor can manage a boat like the Pandora 8,5? Newbies coming from dinghies to the F18 and small cats here in arg always have trouble managing the power for ie.
Pandora Marine: The aim of the Pandora 8.50 design was to use the main advantages of multihulls :
in two words, that would be speed & comfort. But then our other main criteria were easiness and "safety-feeling". We never tried to make the fastest cat possible, the Pandora 8.50 is not a full racer, though she's fast, but it's happening naturally, easily and without scaring people onboard. The power available is less greater than on a F18, but we go fast, we stay dry, we have fun and your bottles stay still on the bridge !

All the people we took onboard, among them many monohull sailors and non sailors at all, were really surprise by the feeling of easiness and comfort while sailing faster than the wind.
I think the promo video shows pretty well this feeling, this behavior of the boat. Then of course, she's still a multihull with more power than most monohulls of the same size, the user has to have a minimum care, but we tried to make her accessible to everyone. The cockpit design make all the controls easily reachable, without having to crawl on the trampolines. And we are incorporating some features to cut the power easily in case of problems or fear (this will be developed below to answer another of your question).

CSN - Did you took in mind the NZ 8,5 rule for the design?
PM: When we started designing the Pandora 8.50, we thought about this rule, but quickly it appeared that it didn't make sense in regards with the program and the features we wanted to implement on the design.. For example the maximum mast length is not very big, if you want to carry a normal amount of sails and be competitive, you will put your boom as low as possible to maximize the mainsail area.

However, we wanted to design a boat that's fast but also comfortable and enjoyable even by non-sailors. Consequently the boom is quite high, that offers a good visibility downwind and an easy passage from one side to the other. But if the air draft fitted into the rule, we would lost a few square meter of mainsail and change radically the behavior of the cat !

CSN - Does it has a inside cockpit? 
PM: The Pandora 8.50 offers accommodations inside the hulls and outside thanks to the half solid bridge. There are 4 single berth, a folding chart table with 2 seats, a small galley and a chemical toilet inside, to allow users to sail away for a few days. Outside, you can cover the cockpit with a sunshade, or fully close it with a tent, that's increasing greatly the amount of livable space on the mooring. We don't have all these features on the prototype yet, but they will be install during the winter, so more pictures will be available in a few weeks.

CSN - I read in your web that you are also having issues with marinas space, here the problem with bigger cats will be the cost of one, but of course you have alternative of using non dragged zones to moore cats like yours. Which is the situation in France / Europe with this?
PM: This is apparently a worldwide problem : the development of the sailing industry is directly linked with the development of the marinas and coastal infrastructures. In France like many other countries in Europe, marina space are getting harder and harder to find and new politics make difficult to obtain new mooring spots.

A new generation of dry harbour allowing to take boats in an out the water quickly are being developed right now. And finally many existing marinas are creating new spaces adapted to multihulls.
We took these problems into account and worked on solutions allowing to dismount and remount the Pandora 8.50 as quickly as possible in full autonomy.

CSN - Which are the main diff on Tris of similar sizes? Motive Trimarans owner wrote here about safety for instance.
PM: If we compare the Pandora 8.50 with same size trimarans, these multihulls can be very different : the main advantage of our catamaran would be the comfort. For such size boats, the cockpits and the bridgedeck of the Pandora 8.50 bring comfort and safety, while on a trimaran, the space onboard will be divided between the narrow central cockpit and the wet floats. Moreover the overall space inside the hulls of the Pandora is also bigger, though divided in the two hulls.

The choice of a trimaran or a catamaran, and among them the choice of a particular design solution, always come back to the use of the boat, to her sailing program. For our particular brief, day boat and short camping trips, the Pandora 8.50 feels like the right answer, and we tried to use all the space available onboard to offer a special time on the water.

CSN - Also Foldable Tris like Farrier's, don´t have a comparative advantage on Marina space?
PM: Being able to fold the boat on water and then occupy a normal space in the marina is an advantage.
Then it's not exactly the same kind of boat. Such trimarans are great for fast cruising with marinas stopover, but are also a bit more complex, heavy and expensive, while not offering the same space outside if they choose to make big and comfortable inside accommodations. Once again, it depends on your sailing program.

CSN- Daggers: The advantage of having fixed keel is a low draft, but with removable dagger you can have even less. And of course the hassle of too much drat when fully down. Which are the design/practical compromises on your choice for the Pandora.
PM: First I want to say that the Pandora 8.50 is available with both options. With daggers the performances will be better, less drag downwind, better angle upwind, etc. But mini keels also have advantages, and if they are well designed, they still offer good performance. We are very happy of the upwind angle of the prototype (equipped with mini keels) but of course we are very impatient to have a dagger version side by side to quantify the difference !

Anyway we believe the mini-keels are a great choice for less experienced sailors or for someone who will sail a lot single handed for example, and doesn't want to lift up and down the daggers all the time, it's the easy-cruising solution ! Also you can beach the cat without destroying your hull bottom, or hit the seabed without destroying the dagger case.

CSN - How the Pandora handles unexpected high wind situations beyond reef main options?
PM: We believe this is a very important question for a multihull builder. This is about reactivity in case of sudden gust.
The first answer is an efficient deck layout. On the Pandora 8.50 the ergonomic of the deck and hardware position allows the helmsman to act on the control lines very quickly. For example the mainsheet traveler control is continuous and comes back in the cockpit at the hand of the helmsman and can be release from port or starboard. The system works perfectly on the prototype. We are still trying to improve whatever we can with our hardware suppliers and sailors partners.
Then we’re also working on an anti-capsize system allowing the helmsman or a crew to release the sheets of the mainsail and gennaker in one movement. We will present you our solution when we put the prototype back on the water.

CSN - Current status of the project?
PM: We are working on three different levels.
First the finalization of the prototype with the highest level of quality : nothing else will start until we validate everything.
Meanwhile we are preparing all the development of the production. We decided to work in Brittany, part of France concentrating some of the top companies in the sailing industry. We will announce an important partnership very soon.

Finally we are also working on the sales. The past months and the fall boatshows in Europe allowed us to make many contacts with potential clients and distributors. This was very important to have a feeling of the interest of the market for our product. So far it’s very positive, we are preparing our price list and making final choices on the specs of the Pandora 8.50. We will attend the Dusseldorf boat show in January 2014, where we will officially present the Pandora 8.50.
In parallel we are keeping our designer busy with more models to complete the Pandora range.. Some very innovative designs are coming, stay tuned !

Thanks Martin for your questions.
Denis, President of Pandora Marine.


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