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  Jon Montgomery, designer of Catapult, described the background to the design, and its successful 1982 introduction---the story covers the development of British catamaran sailing, and his search for innovation to best capture the catamaran's advantages.

"My father lived in Lyme Regis and had an 18ft Jolly Boat, which in its day was the fastest thing afloat.       

catapult cat

(Above:1960: the Flying Cat 16ft -- the first production catamaran

Right: 1962: the Flying Kitten sold as a kit, with around 50 built in the 1960's

 "He turned his talents to building an 18ft catamaran. At that time he had no knowledge of any other catamarans. My father drafted me in to build a second 18ft catamaran

This time it was to be built in something quite revolutionary—fibreglass.

We moved to Sark in the Channel Islands and designed the “Flying” series of catamarans which competed in some of the first one-of- kind catamaran trials in the late 1950’s."

This was the first use of tortured ply construction, later widely used, including for the Tornado.

Things looked really quite promising, as we sold a number of these boats, and to improve communication we moved to Devon, Cornwall and built boats in Penryn."

flying kitten

  Below left: 18 ft Flying Streak, the first production catamaran to dismantle  Below right:  THE LITTLE AMERICA'S CUP
        25 ft Flying Rocket C class catamaran                        (see further below.)

   flying streak

   flying rocket

THE LITTLE AMERICA'S CUP: Jon Montgomery's defender bid.

   "In 1961, Rod MacAlpine Downie’s “Hellcat II” beat the Californian built “Wildcat” in the first Little America’s Cup in America.

“Hellcat II” had to be sold to the Americans to cover expenses. The Americans immediately launched a challenge to be held in Great Britain in September 1962.

In June that year we were asked to build a boat to meet that challenge, which we called “Flying Rocket”. Flying Rocket the first C class catamaran to be built to the full 14ft beam. (Hellcat was only 12' 9)

 “Hellcat I” was brought out of mothballs to sail an elimination race against “Flying Rocket” and although “Flying Rocket” won that race, “Hellcat I” was selected to defend against the Americans, who were again beaten"

There was already resistance to catamarans at sailing clubs and Flying Rocket's rejection was a serious setback in promoting the “Flying” series.

Jon changed from full-time design and moved to Kingston Upon Thames, near the river, where "I sailed a friend’s dinghy. I wanted a catamaran but had nowhere to store it. By then my thoughts were turning to the possibility of making an inflatable catamaran" --- the lead-up to Catapult

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