Craig Leweck: Going From One Hull to Two

Published on March 17th, 2016

After the multihull event was absent at the 2012 Olympics, the 2016 Games will once again include multihull competition. But when teams from Canada and USA line up this summer at the Rio Games, they will be considered cat converts – sailors who made the switch for 2016 from monohulls to multihulls.

This, however, is nothing new. As documented in this 1991 USYRU report by Todd Smith, the reasons to make the switch 25 years ago remain valid today. In Todd’s four part series, the final profile is of Craig Leweck:

Well known among dinghy sailors, Craig Leweck is one of the latest to add another hull to his sailing program. Craig has enjoyed a successful career in many dinghy classes, including two back-to-back National and North American titles in the hghly competitive Snipe class, two National titles in the Lido 14, and a National title in the Capri 14.22016-03-09_16-25-13

Craig earns his living making one-design sails at the San Diego Sobstad loft and is mounting an Olympic campaign.

One would think that with such a strong background in dinghy sailing that Craig would opt to campaign an Olympic dinghy. But Craig elected to go for speed and race the Tornado. And, if Craig continues on his present learning curve on multihulls, combining his proven tactical prowess and potential warp drive multihull speed, other Tornado Olympic hopefuls, including Pease Glaser, Pete Melvin and Randy Smyth, had better watch out.

Craig first started sailing multihulls in mid-1990. With some expert coaching from Pete Melvin, Craig caught on very quickly. Early accomplishments included a first at the 1990 ABYC Labor Day Regatta on a Tornado and a first at the USYRU Championship of Champions on a Hobie 18-SX.

Craig has since been racing his Tornado and sailing Prindle 19s on the popular Southern California circuit. His hardwork has paid off as he placed fifth (despite some equipment breakdowns) at the Tornado Olympic Pre-Trials held at California YC last April. Craig shares some thoughts on what it has been like to go from one hull to two.

As one of the most recent converts to multihull sailing, could you describe the biggest differences between dinghy and multihull sailing?

The speed that the multihulls generate affects a few areas. More communication with my crew is needed as there is less time for me to look around. I must keep the boat going fast, so I need constant chatter about mark location, laylines, fleet position, etc. Initially, I had trouble planning for new course legs since so much would happen so quickly in approaching marks. Another problem is the adrenaline increase in a big breeze (due to the high speed), which can be fatiguing.

Mast rotation was another new concept, wherein we learned to basically control the mast to keep its leading edge into the wind on all points of sail. As for boat preparation. there were now two hulls to fair, two sets22060409113_98c9990ea2_h of centerboard gaskets to install, and two sets of blades to align, shim and fair – definitely more time consuming.

You still race your Snipe in addition to your Tornado; do you think that other sailors would enjoy sailing both monohulls and multihulls?

Definitely! I have found that there are a number of multihull sailors who are very fast, but not strong tactically (boat positioning and windshifts). While boatspeed is top priority in cats, you still have to know when and where to turn. Sailing low-to-medium-performance, small, monohull one designs will help in this area.

As for the monohull sailor who is confident tactically, cat racing will force him to study the elements that contribute to speed. When superior speed and tactics meet, success is the result. The problem is not the concept; it’s the commitment.

Cat sailors sail cats because they like the speed thrill, and the thought of committing time to a slow boat to understand its tactical virtues may be tough. Dinghy sailors may also get frustrated with cats by the stifling few tactical options that exist. The important point to realize is that the fun will come from gaining new knowledge.

Update: Despite the exhilaration of multihull sailing, Craig has mostly returned to the monohull world, though he is occasionally seen renting beach cats on Mission Bay in San Diego.

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