The new MiniCat 460 Elite is the largest of the four MiniCat models, and it’s a souped up version of 460 Esprit. We had a chance to test it on the Gunpowder River on the Chesapeake, and the consensus was that this is one smart boat that’s also a kick in the pants to sail.
Designed for a maximum of four people, the 460 Elite can also be singlehanded, which is arguably the most fun. The MiniCat’s builder is based in Bolevice, which is between Prague and Bratislava in the Czech Republic. Construction includes a powder-coated aluminum frame attached to twin gray floats made of abrasion-resistant, reinforced Heytex. It’s the same kind of material many river rafts are made of. The single-chamber floats are just over 15ft 1in length and have a 19in diameter.
There’s a single rudder attached to the frame on centerline. In case of a grounding, it kicks up. It can also be locked in both the up or down position as needed. To minimize leeway, there are a pair of mini keels that attach to the bottom of the floats, which are in turn attached to the frame via a pocket/insert arrangement.
The four-piece, 20ft mast, which is aluminum on the Esprit, has been upgraded to carbon fiber on the Elite, making it lighter and therefore easier to step. It also adds less weight aloft, making the boat more stable in a blow. Total sail area between the jib and mainsail is 124ft2. You can more than double that by adding a gennaker (129ft2) that comes with its own snuffer. The mainsail material is polyester X-Ply. The jib is Dacron. Both sails have windows to enhance visibility, so you don’t have to duck and weave to see who’s coming. Upwind, expect to sail nearly true wind, making it a whole lot of fun in as little as 8 knots of breeze.
The entire boat weighs in at 128lb and stows in two large bags. Someone who’s done it before and knows what they’re doing, can assemble it in 40 minutes and be out sailing before the bigger boats in the harbor can even get their canvas off and stowed.
The price for the Esprit starts around $7,900, with the Elite taking that up a little more. That’s still under five figures for a boat that can take you sailing alone or with friends, will stow in your garage and keep you moving smartly while others are motoring. A great deal by any measure!
LOA 15ft 1in Beam 7ft 3in Weight 116lb Sail Area 124ft2 SA/D ratio 48 (with 150lb crew) D/L ratio 34 (with 150lb crew) Builder MiniCat, Czech Republic, minicatamaran.eu U.S. Distributor Red Beard Sailing, 410-705-5026, redbeardsailing.com Price $8,999 as tested