Isotope Catamaran Sailing for Fun. Racing to Win.


What Owners are Saying:

Spring did not arrive here until last week, so I did not get out on my Isotope until this weekend.  I am pleased to report that I now have dry hulls.  Last summer I was in such a rush to go sailing I cut some corners with 
What I wanted to share with you was my experience on the wire.  On Memorial Day there was a fresh breeze on Wellfleet and Cape Cod Bays, so I decided to see what the boat could really do.  (The previous day I just had a pleasant sail but did not push anything during the first sail of the season.)  With the wind at about 15 knots and an incoming tide with 1-2 foot seas, I trapped out and had the boat flying flat.  I stood more or less mid-way between the crossbeams.  As I have noted before the boat points very high. I use a telescoping tiller, and like all your ads say, I was steering with two fingers.
I then furled the jib to see what she would do with the main alone in the same conditions.  At first it was much as I would have expected.  I needed to fall off and found the boat a little less responsive overall, even a tad of weather helm.  By this time the waves were 2 feet about 12 feet apart.  I thought the bows looked low.  The water on the leeward hull was running above the stripe, so I stepped back placing my rear foot almost on the rear cross beam.  What a difference this made!  The boat took off.  I used to sail my Nacra 5.2 this way.  At first I thought that if I planted myself that far back I would be dragging the stern and creating a braking effect, but in fact I had reduced the wetted surface dramatically.  Best of all, nothing broke.
Thanks for the Pivmatics.  I am working now on the rudder lines which are quite frayed.  I will take your word for it that they can be drilled out without dammaging the rudders. 
Lastly, I jury rigged the rudder head I broke last season.  If you have a used one that needs a home I would appreciate having a spare. 

Wouter Hijink and JP AyersI bought and started sailing an Isotope in 1993. At first I had the same feelings that every new boat owner had, a basic thrill that I had a cool fast boat that could beat anything on the water. Here I am eight years later feeling the same way. I have gone to many different regattas and seen many of the latest and greatest boats but the performance of the boat has always challenged me and kept me on the edge. Telling you about the performance of the boat is only half the story, the outstanding support of Rhoda and Frank Meldau, and the great people I get to go sailing with keeps me looking forward to the next race. Every third weekend of the month from April to October for the rest of my life is booked, my family knows this and my boss knows this. It is amazing how only two days a month can transform your life.

J.P. Ayers

The Isotope is a very fast boat. Beware! Once you've sailed an Isotope, sailing anything else feels like some kind of slow motion time warp. And on those windless racing weekend in July and August, it is the only moving boat on the water.

Racing aside, my wife and I have mounted a tent, a cooler and some sleeping bags on the trampoline and sailed through the marshes of the Bogue Sound to Bear Island. The Isotope is very versatile boat.

Andrew Wooster

The Isotope is a boat to love. Beautiful to look at [a good friend who kayaks regularly could not help but comment on the beauty of the hull design when he first saw them...]; a manufacturer that is as pleasant as they are helpful to work with; signs of intelligence everywhere in the design; fast as the wind; a joy to sail...

Chuck Garrettson

I consider my purchase of the Isotope catamaran sailboat to be a great investment.

After shopping around and comparing used catamarans that were on the market, I chose the Isotope because it had the best features such as ease of trailering and set-up as well as great quality and design. What sold me on the Isotope when compared to other model catamarans was that it could be rigged and launched by one person.

The Isotope is also the only cat with a righting bar and storage compartments (very handy for holding gear and a cooler!) It is also well-balanced, fast, and very user-friendly.

After sailing the Isotope this year (my first sailing season), I have to admit that I'm addicted! I love it!

Walter Brier - purchased April 2001, sail #1214

Upon arriving back in North Carolina after spending a two week vacation sailing my 23 foot swing-keel sloop off Key West ( in heavy winds the whole time I might add), I was looking for a means to replace some broken equipment when I saw IFG listed in the phone book. I called and a welcoming voice said, "come on over".

IFG is not hard to find. Their boatyard usually contains an amazing assortment of sailboats but most amazing to me was this whole passel of racing catamarans. This was my first exposure to the great Isotope Catamaran. It was also my first exposure to Rhoda and Frank Meldau, which is a pretty exciting experience in itself.

While ordering the parts I inquired about the catamarans. Rhoda explained how Frank had designed this strictly one design catamaran back in 1962 and how he has built the boat and refined its running gear over the years. She also talked about the Carolina Sailing Club and the active fleet of Isotopes that races with the club. In a way that only Rhoda can challenge your imagination she commented, "maybe you would like to try out an Isotope Catamaran". Between the fond memories of sailing a cat off the beaches of Mexico and Rhoda stirring my curiosity about this boat, I could hardly say no.

After some hands-on instruction on how to rig and sail the Isotope off I went to launch it on Falls Lake. I put in at Rock Ledge Cove and hit the main lake in an eight Knot breeze. The wind picked up to twelve Knots and with the air whistling through the rigging and the boat flying across the lake I quickly realized that this was no ordinary sailboat. The boat had an incredible feel of balance and excitement about it and offered challenges not encountered in ordinary catamarans or monohulls. I could tell that this boat was definitely a thoroughbred and that sailing and racing it would be an awesome experience. I have now been sailing and racing this boat for six years and have never for one moment swayed from my original opinion of the fantastic Isotope Catamaran.

Alan Wolf - Isotope 007

The Isotope is a very well balanced racing catamaran. It has the ability to be so well tuned that the tiller actually feels like it has power steering on it. Weight placement of skipper (and crew) can make this boat take off and leave others far behind.

She can be setup for sailing by one person, and taken apart by one person. She is easily sailed by one person, or she can readily take on crew for 2-up sailing/racing.

A reasonably good skipper can easily sail her to her portsmonth number, and this usually results on some nice trophies at regattas.

I've sailed and raced on a number of other sailboats, and I always come right back to the Isotope. Must be something special if the same thing keeps happening after sailing and racing the same class of boat after 20+ years isn't it?

Rick Smith - Isotope 1953

I'm a new owner of an experienced boat. An experienced sailor is teaching me the ropes. I love the boat, especially its relentless will to fly! It's an exhilirating time, a wonderful boat - more like a partner than property.

Kathy Lambeth

Well ballanced boat, easy to sail and fast! Great safety features puts it in a class of it's own.

Michael Dillon

I've had my Isotope for three years and it's a great boat. Although the boat will easily handle two people, I normally sail/race it by myself and it handles really well. It's very fast and stable and steers with a very light touch. I like the various features of the boat -- center boards that rotate up out of the way, kick-up rudders, barber haulers, a righting bar that makes it possible for one person to right the boat after capsizing, and many other niceties. I've thoroughly enjoyed sailing the boat, mostly in the Potomac River but also at a few other locations, and feel that the Isotope was the perfect choice for me.

Bob Etheridge

I have been around boats for most of my life, beginning with Frank and Rhoda Meldau's Cheshire cat back in the mid 60's. Back then the boats were built our of wood and glass and were real things of magnificent beauty.

Later as I traveled far from Durham, raising a family and sailing cats, I owned a Hobie 18, two Hobie 16's, and a Prindle 16, a proa, and a few older one design daysailers.

Whilst on a soccer tournament several years ago in Durham, my son, Evan and I chanced upon IFG Fiberglass, and I recognized the Isotope fleet. After 30 odd years, our friendship was reborn. I traded my skills as a advertising photographer for a used boat for my son and I to sail. It sure was a eye opener to the dogs that we had spent so much time rebuilding and sailing. (Dogs listed above). Not that they were bad designs, just they were junk by the time we got them and sailed like worn out beach cats they were compared to our older Isotope. (JP's older boat) I have a picture of Evan beating the fleet on a start at the Nationals and the Grey Shark was in bad wind. Or was it we were slow and the fleet was catching up? I will never tell.

After 2 years of banging around in our Isotope cat, trailering 180 miles each way for fleet sailing each month, getting caught in storms on the Chesapeake Bay (you do sail to weather for more wind, right?), racing freighters across channels, crusing with the Hobie fleet and amazing those kind sailors with the cavernous space in each hull when we need a: cooler of beer, set of paddles, coolers, water bottles, beer, foul weather gear, anchor and rode, radio, beer, USCG safety gear, beer. You get the picture. A couple of enterprising souls can CRUISE on a Isotope, with a tent, sleeping gear, and all that you can need for a few days of just getting away! Together as a 2 up team, father and 16 yr old son, with different view points, different racing tactics, we did alright at the 2001 Nationals, only argueing just a little bit, with the minimum of fuss, no yelling (yeah, right), and even beat a few sailors who were single handed not by seconds, but nearly a 1/2 hour on the course. And that was with two leaky hulls, now repaired. Thanks Frankie! We learned a lot about fluke air when it kicks up and the fleet is hull over using their righting bars! We hit 19 knots (Magellan GPS recorded) with our combined weight of 415 pounds, on a ama flying, with no problems at all! This is one fast boat! The response is unbelievable. We are totally into our cat. Now if I can find a motor mount, I make it a USCG Auxiliary facility for spring, summer patrols on the James River and Chesapeake Bay in Virginina where we live!

Thanks Frank and Rhoda for a fine yacht! We sent IFG a picture of a 17 foot cat with a radical design on a wing sail that is reported at 40 knots! Ummm, maybe a experimental Isotope could be built?

Bill and Evan Setzer, Virginia Beach,Virginia

Are you an Isotope sailor? Please send us your comments!

Custom Fiberglass International    P.O. Box 1976    Wake Forest, NC 27588

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