When Mainsheet planned to feature the Capri 26 in this issue, I realized I did not know what Frank Butler and Gerry Douglas (Catalina Yachts) had in mind when they designed this particular boat. I talked with Gerry and sent out a mailing to all the association members. It rapidly became apparent that the reasons the owners are very happy with their choice of this boat are the same reasons that the boat was designed.
Gerry told me that he and Frank always listen to their boat dealers as to what the sailors want in a boat. If it is not available, they design it. This is how the birth of the Capri 26 came about. Many owners of smaller Capris wanted a little larger boat that had big boat comfort with enough space for their families and would still be fun to sail. As an added bonus being able to trailer this boat makes it unique. The Capri 26 is heavier than almost all other boats this size. If you want a boat that has big boat comfort and stability, that you can trailer to the coast and then sail to the Bahamas, you cannot find a better choice than the Capri 26. Just imagine how nice it would be to lounge in the nice big cockpit and when you are too warm, walk through the transom for easy access to go swimming in the beautiful waters of George Town in the Exumas.
The boat was designed during 1989 and 1990. The first Capri 26 (hull # 1) rolled out of the factory on November 30, 1990. Pete Budzynkiewcz reported that it is now located in Plymouth Harbor in Massachusetts. It was sold to Arthur and Elizabeth Gates and they still own it. It was sold by Cape Water Sports in Harwich Port, Massachusetts by Dave Nolan. Cape Water Sports began as a Capri and Laser dealer but when Catalina came out with the Capri 26 it led them into selling larger boats. They now sell boats up to 70 feet and still offer the Capri 26 for sale.
As of May 1998 there have been 320 boats built. Through the years there have been only minor changes. The biggest was the location of the traveler. This was located in the cockpit in the earlier models but it is now located on the top of the cabin. At this time Gerry does not anticipate any major changes in the design. Although a complete redesign is not being ruled out it, it will not happen in the near future The boat comes with an inboard diesel or without. Racers usually want it without so it is much lighter and therefore goes faster. Cruiser's prefer the reliability and the long range capability of the diesel. For a 26 foot boat, it has a very large cockpit. The interior is larger than one would expect as it is not divided into smaller spaces. It is one large main cabin. The table easily can accommodate six people for dinner. In the smaller v-berth space many of us have built in cabinets for additional storage. There is one large double berth athwart ship aft. The table can be lowered for another very large sleeping area for two adults or a few children. One welcome surprise is the head is as large as it is on the Catalina 30. The galley is small but very functional. Most small boat sailors prefer to use a tiller. This boat has a tiller. Another advantage is the shallow draft. With a wing keel the draft is only 3'5", enabling this comfortable boat to go into shallower water than many other boats of this size. This is a nice advantage in places like the North Channel.
The Capri 26 is classified as trailer able. With a diesel engine, fully loaded and the trailer, you would be trailering approximately 8000 pounds. Perhaps haulable would be a better description. If you have a vehicle capable of hauling 8000 pounds then it is trailer able. Many of our owners trailer their boats. Stepping the mast can be easily accomplished as well as launching from the proper boat ramp. If you are timid about these procedures, most marinas that have boat yards will be happy to step your mast and hoist your boat in or launch it from your trailer. The cost of this is not as great as you might think, remember they usually charge by the foot. Only 26 feet translates into fewer dollars than larger boats.
We have two fleets, one in Texas and another in San Diego. Unfortunately neither of them are very active. They are not racing fleets, but are for having fun with other Capri 26 owners. We do have several Capri 26 owners that race using a handicap system. They all would love to race against other Capri 26s. With only 320 boats spread out over the states there are very few areas that have more than a boat or two. According to the National Capri 26 Association, we have boats in 33 states with the largest concentration in California and close behind are Texas and Indiana. We all are hopeful that soon there will be a few more Capri 26 sailors in our area.
Based on the mail I receive the majority of the owners are cruisers or day sailors. This does not keep the cruiser/day sailor from challenging another Capri 26 or any other boat they think they can beat. I constantly hear is how great this little boat can handle big wind and waves. Regarding weather helm, properly trimmed sails are a must, especially in light air. Most of our members have discovered this. The Capri 26 can be a fun boat to sail.