In discussing how to handle heavy weather in a catamaran we have to accept that there is no one solution that works for all catamarans as the strategy will be very different if sailing a standard, charter-type catamaran from sailing something more performance-orientated.
A racing boat that also has access to high-quality weather forecasting data should be able to steer clear of potentially dangerous weather by outrunning it. Performance cruisers with fine bows should be able to surf downwind in all but the most extreme weather, often travelling safely at speeds of 20 knots or more for periods of, say, 10-15 seconds.
But in the same conditions a stubbier, bluff-bowed charter catamaran would soon start feeling dangerous if the crew were pushing too hard under these conditions.
Obviously reducing sail is the first response, but as mentioned earlier in this series, shortening a mainsail in downwind conditions is not really possible without turning head to wind, and if the wind and sea-state are rising then the moment to do that safely may already have passed.
An experienced crew will have anticipated the rising wind and reefed the main a few hours back. Shortening sail forward of the mast is a piece of cake by comparison – especially if all it takes is to let the jib fly and roll up some of the area. Getting rid of an asymmetric might be challenging, but at least it won’t be dangerous.

 

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