Welcome to the New Multihull Sailor
I distinctly remember the first time I ever sailed a cruising multihull. It was a gray summer morning on England’s south coast, and a frigid 25-knot easterly was putting the boot into a fast-running east-going tide, kicking up walls of water that clashed and fell in all directions. We, of course, were also headed east, delivering a 1980s Snowgoose catamaran from Brighton to Dover, a run of about 65 miles. I mostly recall the incessant slamming as the water pummeled the solid foredeck and low bridgedeck, and the odd, twisting motion as the confused seas pushed and pulled at the hulls. You couldn’t have picked worse conditions for an introduction to multihulls. Smart guys would have turned back, but I was with a pair of Brits. We motorsailed into the wind and rain the whole way, munching bacon sandwiches and quaffing tea by the gallon. When I gratefully stepped off in Dover I would not have cared if I’d never again set foot on a catamaran. Nor a monohull, come to that.
Twenty-five years later, I stood at the helm of a friend’s new Outremer 5X, slaloming through fields of lobster pots off the southern shore of Cape Cod Bay as we reached lazily along at 10-12 knots, feeling the boat responding to slight changes in wind strength and direction, answering immediately to the helm, and in general behaving like a boat that’s a lot of fun to sail. What a difference a few generations of boat design makes!
In between times I’ve chartered a dozen catamarans, test-sailed a bunch more, enjoyed the hell out of all the beach cats and trailerable trimarans I could get my hands on, and watched multihulls in general emerge from the shadows to become accepted as mainstream sailing boats. The same goes for my colleagues at SAIL. From revolutionary America’s Cup boats to record-setting racers to fast, comfortable cruisers to adrenaline-fueled daysailers, the multihull scene has impressed us as it overflows with energy and innovation, diversity and excitement—which is why we’ve created the publication you now have in your hands, Multihull Sailor.
We’ll be back next year with issue #2. In the meantime, let us know what you think about this issue—what you want more of, what you want less of—by completing our reader survey at sailmagazine.com/mhs-survey. To purchase a copy of this issue click here.
Peter Nielsen is SAIL’s Editor in Chief.
He keeps his boat in Marblehead, MA
and sails wherever there are boats to