Jaffar,My name is Mich, I have found you through your blog at the Albatros boat forum. I decided contact you as you likely are the person who could help me with my little dilemma.Lately, I decided to buy my first boat. A friend of mine has Weta trimaran, and I had a few opportunities to try it out o the sea – I must admit, it’s lots of fun. I almost decided to purchase my own Weta until I saw the Albatros 4.30 at boat show in Poland. I looks great and seems to be a great boat, fast, reliable and well designed.You are the person who experiences sailing on both boats, so could you let me know what is your opinion on Weta VS Albatros problem? I hope it’ll put some new light onto my decision.
On Sun, Aug 2, 2015, Jaffar Voile Légère wrote:
I admit a few errors in my boating life and buying the Albatros before fully testing it on the water is one of them. On what basis do you say « a great boat, fast, reliable and well designed »? All I have read on this boat is biased stuff. I have yet to find on the web or in the media, one single piece that is not biased (by not mentioning its deficiencies) or signed by a person without any vested interest in the production of the boat. If you have any reference of an independent review I could check on the web, please share it with me.
The choice between the Weta and the Albatros depends first on your sailing program. Both boats are for one to three people on the paper but one to two people in practice (unless the third one is a child). If you sail mostly solo, as I do, the Weta is better because you can use its gennaker in almost all wind and sea conditions solo, except heavy winds and seas where having a crew on the windward side trampoline is a must before unrolling the gennaker. You cannot use the spinnaker solo on the Albatros in any wind conditions except very light air, that is as simple as that.
The Albatros is quite slow with the mast in the forward catboat position (without any forward sail). It is slower that its official French rating that put it on a par with the Finn mainly because the way the main is attached to the mast is quite inefficient aerodynamically, particularly for a « catboat ». With the mast in its rearward position and with the jib in front of it, the aerodynamic inefficiency of the mast is lessened for aerodynamic reasons in the bottom part where the jib overlaps. Also the hull under the catboat mast is quite soft and lack the necessary rigidity for lasting long years. Try to put some pressure on the stays and see by yourself the floor of the cockpit near the mast base moves and rotates. All pros to whom I have shown this behavior have been alarmed by it!
The Weta is faster than the Albatros in all points of sail and all wind and sea conditions, solo or double. The Weta is also easier for a beginner.
In all phases of handling the boat from land to water and back, the Weta is superior. The boat can easily be disassembled or reassembled from its three hull parts and two mast parts. The Albatros is about the same weight but feels heavier. Its launch trolley is much heavier than the Weta’s trolley and is quite awkward to use. Lifting the keel to return is quite an exercise and just yesterday I hurt my back due to a pulley system that is too weak for a static lifting of the keel (with some forward speed it goes much better). Lifting the dagger board on the Weta is easy and fast.
In terms of ergonomics, it is night and day. The Weta has the sheets and deck hardware where you expect them to be when sailing. Most of the time you sit on the trampoline with your feet in the central hull, which is quite comfortable. In stronger winds you move your body outside and in heavy air you should sit on the outside windward hull with your feet under the foot straps. That last position is a bit acrobatic and it is a bit difficult to move out of it . Downwind you sit well back in the main hull cockpit. Just do not let yourself be trapped upwind in that position because then the boat can stall in a tack and overturn with the front end rotating over the rear end. It happened to me twice. The Weta is unfortunately missing a boom or a traveler system to keep the mainsail flat upwind in heavy conditions when you have to ease the mainsheet to keep the boat upright. That is the primary missing feature that made me sell my Weta and that prevented me to returning to the boat. The other feature I did not like being that the gennaker is much too flat for attaining good downwind speed in all but heavy air.
The Albatros has its hardware set in places that are inconvenient most of the time. The space between the tiller and the mainsheet hardware in the center of the boat is too small to properly move your body for an easy tack. The row of hardware at the bottom of the cockpit look nice on pictures but is quite inconvenient as in many cases you need to sit on top of it for proper boat balance! The boat is badly missing a spinnaker launching and retrieving system. The ergonomics of the Albatros is terrible. You have to do a lot of tweaking to make it acceptable.
One last thing. You have tried a Weta and had fun with it. There is no big hidden behavior with the boat except the one I already mentioned. But the Albatros has some bad behavior in waves and irregular winds when the gybing centerboard misbehaves, shifts abruptly between two positions 20-25° apart and gives you bad kicks that are quite unpleasant. You have then to lift some of the keel to reduce that bad behavior but then you lose a bit of performance upwind. If you want to purchase an Albatros, I urge you to test it before and see by yourself if you can live with its behavior in short waves and irregular winds.
Do not hesitate to come back to me if is something is not clear to you.
Le 06/08/2015, Mich a écrit :
As you say, majority of the press releases or articles that I read about Albatros 4.30 come from either the designer (group Finot) or manufacturer — so it’s biased. One article in big Polish magazine for sailors (« Żagle », eng. « Sails ») gives the Albatros a high note but after re-read it’s also not clear whether it’s a sponsored or not. I spoke with the Polish manufacturer and he openly admitted that there were some quality issues with the boat that was being produced in France, and so the license owner have decided to move the entire production to Poland. They shipped first 10+ boats this month to France. Poland-produced boat shares the same design and all key parameters with the France-produced one but it also has a few improvements mostly in materials. Perhaps some of the quality quirks you mentioned have been fixed. But it still doesn’t improve the key failures such as spinnaker in solo sailing, sails inefficiency and ergonomics.
After your email it’s clear for me that Albatros is no go at this point. I’ll go with Weta (they just released v2) as I know what to expect, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be happy with it.
Jaffar, thank you for your email, you provided me lots of valuable data points that helped me to make my choice. I appreciate that very much.
All the best.
On Thu, Aug 6, 2015, Jaffar Voile Légère wrote:
You are welcome. I also appreciate your feedback; Thank you.
The Weta production has been moved to Indonesia and they say that several things have been improved, such as the precision of the fitting between the center hull and the carbon arms. I may myself buy one if I succeed in selling my Albatros 008 without losing too much. Unfortunately the new Weta is still underpowered in light air and still without any mean to properly flatten the mainsail in heavy air.
Finot and his Polish associate are quite secretive on what changes have been made to the Polish-produced boats. I would appreciate it if you happen to know any article or document on the subject in English or French. Finot has heavily invested in carving six production molds in aluminum. Unfortunately he did not revise his drawings to incorporate any lesson learned from the two prototypes or the first production boats. Making changes to such heavy molds is very costly and time consuming. He is stuck and the boat is unlikely to evolve as far as the hull is concerned. For my part, I am also stuck with a lemon! Lemon 008!
Good luck and good wind with your new boat