May 23, 2007 Part of sailing's exclusive reputation is due to the considerable cost and inconvenience of owning, transporting and storing watercraft. A UK company has just made the sport far more accessible, with a range of small, sporty 2-person catamarans that fold up and fit into a convenient carry bag - so it's now possible to take your own boat on holiday with you, or become a weekend racer with your boat stored in a cupboard through the week.

You've got to applaud the sheer practicality of the MiniCat. It takes the sport of sailing into a new realm of accessibility. You don't need to worry about mooring or slippage fees, boat trailers, garages or even a roof rack. You can keep a sailing boat at your holiday home, or take it anywhere in a car.

The MiniCat weighs less than 40kg, and folds up into a 1380 x 280 x 280mm sports bag. It takes around 30 minutes to assemble, once you've got your head around it, and less than 20 to pack up again at the end of the day. Assembly and tear-down can be done completely by hand.

Three models are available, all sporting a 3.75 square metre mainsail. The Super model adds a 1.75 square metre jib, and the Sport a 1.4 square metre jib, a sandwich-design high-rigidity mast, and a rollfork. The 3.1 metre twin inflatable floats are made of abrasion resistant Valmex, which is used in the construction of white-water rafts and should hld up to plenty of abuse. Float-mounted keel fins should allow the MiniCat to be sailed in shallow water without too much risk of damage.

Pricing of the units is reasonably friendly, at UK£2,450 for the standard model up to UK£2,750 for the sports model.

The company are looking to start up a MiniCat racing series at some stage in the near future, and will "encourage, back and support" any individuals or clubs interested in setting up MiniCat race days.

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