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When I moved to Cornwall in 1973, I wanted to get a fast, stable rowing boat that I could row safely on the sea, and transport easily. Somewhat to my surprise, it appeared that nobody was making such a thing. I could have got a nice fast sculling boat which, due to its absolute lack of stability, I would only be able to use on a very few flat calm days – or a tub of a boat that, while seaworthy, was heavy to row and even heavier to transport.

So, in the absence of a suitable available craft, I set about designing a boat that was both fast and stable and easy to transport – it seemed so obvious to me that this had to be a catamaran.

To prove the idea worked, I built the rough prototype pictured above in 1975 but, due to other committments and lack of resources, I couldn't take it further at that time.

In 2000, Laughton Design won a dti SMART Micro-Project Award to design, build and test a proper prototype. In finalising the design for the SMART application, I went back to the problem of how best to propel a boat with oars, and came up with a novel rowing mechanism which improved on the conventional sliding seat.

As soon as I had built the prototype (which is the navy blue-hulled boat you see in many of the photos), I took it out to sea in a wide variety of conditions. The boat was then developed, steadily, through a process of trial and modification. After a while, most of the design issues were sorted and the resultant boat worked even better than expected.

Knowing this, and encouraged by the enthusatic response at the 2003 London Boat Show, I decided to put the ROCAT (as it became known), into production.