Scott Collie | New Atlas
With its unique twin-hull design, the Wave Chaser wants to deliver an intriguing blend of windsurfing and sailing-style fun to the masses. Having launched a prototype last year, the company has further refined its unique idea and created the Wave Chaser 390 ZF.
When the first Wave Chaser surfaced last year, the team said its twin hulls were designed for maximum hydrodynamic lift without sacrificing maneuvrability. The hulls on the newer 390 ZF, designed by Sam Tehan from Force 9 Surfboards, have been shaped with the same goal in mind. The new designs have very little rocker and a v-shaped nose, and transition from a single-concave to a double-concave shape towards the rear.
Like with the previous design, the twin hulls on the 390 ZF are connected with a raised central platform, capable of supporting two people weighing a combined 180 kg (397 lb). Propulsion comes from a pair of Barrcouta sails, both of which have a foot length to height ratio of 2.6:1 – described as “relatively narrow.” The company says this allows for maximum airflow to both rigs.
There are two different sail configurations on offer: an 8m2 (86 ft2) setup for light to moderate winds (up to 15 knots, 17 mph or 28 km/h) and a 6m2 (64.5 ft2) rig for stronger breezes up to 30 knots (34 mph or 56 km/h). When you’re tired of running around with the sails up, or if there isn’t any wind, the hulls can be removed and used as stand-up paddle boards. The whole thing should take between 15 and 20 minutes to assemble, and can be carried around with a regular van or pickup, rather than requiring a dedicated trailer.
All told, a fully-assembled Wave Chaser 390 ZF weighs a shade under 60 kg (132 lb). Of that weight, 46 kg (101 lb) is the hulls. The newer ZF is a useful 8 kg (18 lb) lighter than the prototype we covered last year, and the narrower (70 cm or 27.6 in) hulls should be easier to mount on a roof rack. In spite of the skinnier, lighter design, company founder Nigel McBride says the updated design is stronger than the prototype.
“What we’ve been able to do is maintain, and even improve the structural integrity and rigidity of the craft,” McBride tells New Atlas. “We have the strength in the right places now.”
“It powers up faster, and it’s easier to control,” he continues, comparing the 390 ZF to the first Wave Chaser prototype. “Directional and point-to-point control is much more precise. The hulls are far more buoyant – most of the weight saving is in the hulls. The buoyancy, and the feel on the water is far sleeker … it’s much lighter and much more nimble.”
If you’re anything like us, there’s probably one major sticking point when thinking about the Wave Chaser – why bother, when conventional catamarans already exist? According to McBride, his company’s design is faster and more stable.
“First of all, it’s the only planing hull catamaran of this size,” he explains. “There’s less water displacement with this craft. When it gets up to a planing speed is when it really comes into its own, because there is less surface friction, less water friction overall than you’d have with a conventional v-hull. Less drag overall means that it’s faster.”
McBride also says the low-profile twin-mast setup on the 390 ZF make for a more stable craft, one that’s less susceptible to tipping in high winds. The lower center of gravity and outboard-mounted sails help with overall rigidity, too, for a more responsive (and durable) ride. Down the track, the company is planning to offer a set of foils for the Wave Chaser as well, but they’re still in the development phase.
Because it’s still early in the production process, we don’t have a firm price figure for the Wave Chaser. We do know, however, it should be in a similar ballpark to foiling catamarans of a similar size – stay tuned for more information when it becomes available.
Check out the Wave Chaser 390 ZF in action below.