What is WindRider?

Jim Brown WindRider Designer

She is a new type of vessel, one that combines the versatility and intimacy of the sea kayak with the power and security of the modern trimaran. A sea kayak is an outfit that you "wear" when going out on the water, even to donning a "skirt". It is a narrow, lightweight boat, decked over except for the cockpit. The paddler sits facing forward, steering with the feet and with the hands left free to paddle.

All right, if that's a sea kayak, what is a trimaran? It's the first type of vessel known to man capable of deep sea voyages. Pacific islanders used big canoes stabilized by two outrigger floats; today we call these craft trimarans. In those and other multihull craft the "Vikings of the Pacific" made planned voyages of thousands of miles, navigating out to distant islands and back, at about the same time the Phoenicians were just beginning to attempt coastwise voyages staying within sight of the land.

The most advanced of the ancient Pacific seacraft, like the camacau of Fiji, had "wave-piercing" hull forms. That is, they had long, sharp, low bows that would punch through a wave rather than climb over it. That made them fast, efficient, and smooth-riding. Captain Cook spoke of huge craft capable of carrying many men at high speeds in heavy seas. Modern multihulls, including WindRider, are increasingly utilizing that ancient wave-piercing wisdom. Today multihull vessels are the champions of ocean racing and are fast becoming the boats of choice for many cruising and commercial applications.

WindRider draws from these two ancient traditions. Like a kayak, it is "worn". the helmsperson sits in a comfortable cockpit facing forward, not sideways as in most sailboats. The main hull is slender and easily-driven, like a kayak, but the boad is propelled by the wind and not by muscle power. Steering is done with the feet, as in a sea kayak, and hands are left free for the mainsheet or a sandwich.

Tubular cross beams reach across to attach the outrigger floats that give windRider its outstanding stability. These beams are curved upward like an archer's bow. This configuration is seen in the jukung, a trimaran fishing canoe from Bali. It is ancient, but thousands of jukung are in service today throughout Indonesia. The arching curve keeps the cross beams from dragging in the water. As in WindRider, the jukung's down-wind outrigger float is often depressed by wind pressure on the sail and, when that depressed float pierces through a wave, the crossbeams remain clear of the wave's crest. Even in rough water, there's nothing much to cause a fuss or slow the vessel down.

Wind Rider has a fixed keel that allows it to pass through knee-deep water. Its under-the-hull rudder is robust and runs no deeper that the keel itself. If the wind quits, paddling home in this kayak-like craft is easy.

WindRider comes apart easily by unplugging the crossbeams and lifting out the light, unstayed mast. Because she is made of rugged polyethylene she can come to you without a mortgage and the only maintenance required is that, for the long-term, she should be stored out of the sun.

Windriding is easy to learn and you don't have to be an athlete. WindRider's stability lets you feel safe and confident. You get exhilaration and performance without apprehension. She is the Sailor's Personal Watercraft--but, unlike the jet ski, WindRider doesn't impact the environment. It moves silently and neither water nor air is polluted by its passage.

But don't take my word for all of this--get a WindRider and try windriding yourself.