Paper Tiger

The Paper Tiger is a 14 foot (4.3 metre) catamaran, normally sailed by one person.  It is fast and easy to sail, and is widely sailed in New Zealand and Australia.

Paper Tigers can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $15-$20,000 new, but a competitive club boat will typically cost $2,000-$5,000.  You can buy a cheap one and gradually bring it up to competitive grade, provided the hulls are sound.

A road trailer is recommended.






The Paper Tiger was designed by Ron Given of New Zealand in 1968.Length is 4.3 metres, width 2.2 metres. Sail area is 9.2 m2.  The minimum hull weight is 50kg and most boats are 50kg to 55kg.

The rig features an aluminium mast with a fully battened sail. The mast rotates and is quite flexible, providing a lot of control over sail shape and power.  The main adjustments are made through stay tension, traveller, mainsheet tension, downhaul, outhaul and kicker.  This provides a wide sailing envelope over a range of wind and sea conditions. Body position and steering are critical to performance.

Optimium sailing conditions are 5-25 knots and normal speeds reached are 8-18 knots. The hulls have a chine shape and have retractable daggerboards, giving better pointing ability than most catamarans.

Class rules allow hull construction from plywood, kelvar, fibreglass or carbon fibre. The boat is suitable for home built construction, but there are some professional builders.


The boat is normally sailed single handed but you can sail socially two-up.  It is a good boat to take on holiday!

It is easy to sail once you get the hang of tacking.  The boat has hiking straps, no trapeze.

A wide range of sailors take part in the National Champs, from teenagers to grey beards, and both genders.  While racing is usually close, getting the extra bit of speed out of the boat to win requires a lot of technical skill. Competitive skipper weights vary from 60s to 120s.


The Club has a Division for Catamarans, which are mainly Paper Tigers, and several trophies.

Canterbury and South Island Championships are held every year and attract good fleets.  New Zealand National Championships are held every year and attract 40-50 boats.  Every fourth year they are held in the South Island.

The top 10 sailors from each country compete in the Trans Tasman Interdominion regatta, held alternately in New Zealand and Australia with one 'gap' year.  In 2009, Glen McKenzie (MPYC) and John Kennett (NPCL) were selected and performed well, John nearly taking out top spot.

The natural progression from a Paper Tiger is to an Olympic catamaran class, previously the Tornado but currently missing from the line-up - hopefully a temporary act of insanity.  Aaron McIntosh competed in the 2007/08 Paper Tiger Nationals as part of his build-up programme.


The NZ Paper Tiger Class is governed by the NZ Paper Tiger Owners Association ( and is affiliated to Yachting New Zealand.  Glen McKenzie (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) is the current area class representative for Central South Island.  The Canterbury Catamaran fleet has a website at

Other information

Boat builders include Chris Heywood in Picton (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), who also provides a variety of bits from tramps through to custom built carbon foils.

Peter Crofts from MPYC makes specially designed rudder stocks.

Sailmakers include Linton (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and Halsey Lidgard (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Masts are available through the Canterbury Cat Squadron.

Boats can be found in the NZPTOA's Tiger Rag or frequently through TradeMe.