An article written by Captain Ron
Stiletto 27 Catamaran
By Capt Ron
Cheap thrills! You bet. This is one sweet machine. There aren't many boats that sail as well as the Stiletto 27.
The boat we owned was number 479, if memory serves correctly. That means it was built in April of 1979 ... I think. We named ours Silver Bullet after it's Silver and Blue paint job. We bought it from the boys down at the Stiletto Ranch ... Ron & Andy Nicole...
They probably know more about Stilettos than anyone and they're in the business of refurbishing old boats and making them like new again. They do a pretty good job of it too...
If you don't know the Stiletto, there was never a boat like it before or since. It was designed to be a 27 foot 1000 lb trailerable high performance catamaran and it delivers. It delivers performance for sure but the 1000lbs is suspect. I've never seen one that weighed less than about 1500lbs and at the Stiletto Nationals one year, several tipped the scale around the 2000lb figure. It's hard to keep them light and light they must be to get the best performance. The trailerable part is a little suspect too. Yes it's possible but it's not something you want to do every weekend. Basically, the boat gets disassembled on the trailer.
The hulls are joined by telescoping tubes, very large and heavy tubes that allow the boat to go from 14ft beam to a trailer friendly 8 feet or so. To accomplish this, the mast must be removed, the trampoline foredeck removed, then the hard bridgedeck removed, and then the trailer is telescoped together. There's a lot more bits and pieces that have to happen and the trailer is set up to lower the mast using the winch but it's quite the process. Ron & Andy claim that with a crew of three people, they can launch in a hour of arriving at the boat ramp. I watched as they assembled Silver Bullet at the ramp near my house. It took 2.5 hours with four of us working on it. Of course this was the first time they'd done this boat. Once a particular boat is assembled a few times, you remember to have all the bits and pieces handy.
The boats are practically indestructable... almost bullet-proof in fact. The hulls are constructed of Nomex Epoxy prepreg honeycomb and vacuum bagged to get a strong lightweight monocoque structure. Because it's a honeycomb material, the finished boat is unsinkable even when filled with water. The air trapped in the honeycomb will keep it afloat. Except for where the tubes join the hulls, everything else bolts on. To rebuild one, just unbolt everything, sand it, fair it with epoxy and microballoons, paint it and bolt everything back on replacing the suspect hardware.
Silver Bullet was pretty basic. We had a battery, VHF radio, compass, mast rotator, running backstays, main, jib and screecher. We added small winches to the deck and changed the jib leads to use the winches instead of the 2:1 ratchet blocks that are standard; a small concession to my wife's upper body strength. We also had a set of interior cushions although we never camped out on it. We also replaced the outboard motor with a Yamaha 15 2 stroke which would almost plane the boat ... 7.5 knots under power.
Silver Bullet was a ton of fun. we day sailed and raced her over about 4 years in the Clearwater to Tampa bay area. While she was fun and fast, she was also a handful. By that I mean that you had better pay attention when sailing fast. There's no sense in rigging an autopilot on this baby. Only a human being can react fast enough. You must sail this boat ALL the time. Rudder in one hand, mainsheet in the other and crew ready to dump the jib or screecher.
Sailing in 15 knots of breeze downwind is like sailing upwind on a monohull. The apparent wind comes so far forward that you just keep bearing off and sheeting in and she just goes faster and faster until you chicken out. We have sailed light air races with the screecher up in no more than 5 knots of breeze and we were going 7.5 knots. The fastest we ever got her moving was 19 knots on the GPS and that was a fairly fleeting moment but that day we probably averaged 15 knots for hours. Other sailors have told me stories about hitting speeds up around 24 knots but then sailors are like fishermen when it comes to such things.
This is one of the great designs and her big sister the Stiletto 30 is even better in my opinion. The 30 has even more speed but with a decided gracefulness and controllability lacking in the 27. The 27 virtually scrambles through the water ... we should have named ours Flexible Flyer after the way the hulls work independent of each other.
Properly assembled and sailed these boats are pure fun ... the Wizard is right 'Fast is Fun' and the Stiletto 27 won't disappoint you there. Keep in mind also that boats like the F28R while better mannered, easier to sail and trailer and just about as fast, cost more than three or four times what a good used Stiletto 27 goes for. You can probably find a beat up used one for under $5000 and rebuild it yourself for under $10,000 or find a rebuilt one for about $20,000 ready to go. A clean used F28R will likely set you back $60,000.