Sailing the Astus 20.2 Trimaran

Author:
Updated:
Original:
A smart, fast, versatile little tri

A smart, fast, versatile little tri

If there’s one thing more exhilarating than going fast in a small boat, it’s going fast in thin water, the way designer Jean-Hubert Pommois and I did aboard his nifty little Astus 20.2 trimaran this past winter. The channel into Miami’s Matheson Hammock Marina is flanked by those same shoal waters that circle much of Biscayne Bay, but sand and weeds are not half so terrifying when your 19-footer draws a mere 10in with the centerboard up.

Then it came time to hoist and unroll the boat’s gennaker, whose continuous-line furler was tacked out on the tip of a retractable bowsprit. A quarter mile from shore the wind was blowing in the mid-teens, and the hissing, arrow-straight wake would have made an F18 sailor proud. Almost immediately our boatspeed shot up from the 6-plus knots we’d been hitting on a close reach to 10 knots with the true wind aft of the beam.

Throughout it all, the boat remained remarkably stable. A development of the Astus 20.1, which splashed in 2005, the 20.2 combines a slightly wider beam with some additional volume in the amas to ensure the ride is steady and without surprises—so long as you don’t mind a little spray.

On the wind, the boat is also both easy and predictable to sail—at least in the relatively flat waters we experienced on Biscayne Bay—with plenty of room for our crew on the cockpit benches and tramps outboard. The owner of our test boat has since reported maxing out at 17 knots with the gennaker up in ideal conditions. Bottom line: this boat is a blast.

Of course, aboard a small boat the devil is often in the details—perhaps even more so than on a boat with a greater displacement and LOA—and the Astus 20.2 excels in this area as well.

In terms of launching and trailerability, the boat folds down into an even narrower width than its predecessor and doing so is simplicity itself, thanks to a simple but effective telescoping design in which the crossbeams slide in and out of a set of offset channels. The rig can also be easily stepped by two people, or even solo with the aid of a gin pole (and a little practice).

With respect to construction, the boat is absolutely rock solid. The standard, or “Leisure” version, is fabricated in polyester laid up by hand, while the “Sport” version is infused in the interest of saving weight—132lb to be specific. (The Sport version, which I sailed, also includes the gennaker, laminated sails as opposed to Dacron, and the aforementioned bowsprit.)

The deck is glued to the hull on an outward-turning flange and glassed over inside to ensure absolute watertight integrity: same thing with the amas. Along these same lines, in no place do either the crossbeams or bowsprit actually pierce the hull, again in the interest of keeping the water outside where it belongs. Hardware throughout aboard our test boat was by Harken. I found the angular lines of the hull and cuddy to be both very purposeful looking and very appealing.

Best of all, in the true French style, for all its zippy performance the Astus 20.2 is also a legitimate cruising boat. A third “Raid” version includes a slightly larger cuddy with seating for four, a small galley and plenty of shelter for beach cruising or camping. The cruising version also includes an offset centerboard to provide even easier access to the cabin, while a small storage bin forward of the mast makes an ideal place to keep a light anchor and rode. Whether you’re interested in racing, cruising or daysailing, it would be hard to find a better little boat.

Specifications

LOA 19ft 6in LWL 17ft 9in

BEAM 13ft 11in (amas out); 7ft 10in (amas folded)

DRAFT 10in (board up); 4ft 1in (board down)

DISPL 793lb (Sport); 925lb (Leisure); 992lb (Raid)

SAIL AREA 226ft² (Leisure & Raid); 286ft² (Sport)

SA/D RATIO 32 (Leisure, with 300lb of crew)

D/L RATIO 98 (Leisure, with 300lb of crew)

What do these ratios mean? Visit sailmagazine.com/ratios

DESIGNER Jean-Hubert Pommois

BUILDER Astus Boats, Brech, France, astusboats.com

U.S. DISTRIBUTOR WindRider, Minneapolis, MN, 612-338-2170, windrider.com

August 2015

Related

02-'17-Trans-Atlantic_Downwind-Schralpin

At The Helm: Man Overboard!

Imagine this simple scenario: the boat’s powered up, sailing close-hauled in a building breeze under full sail. I come on deck as the skipper during the watch change to make sure the new crew is comfortable and the boat is properly set up for both the current conditions and ...read more

Promo-01-LEAD-MGR00321

Contrasting X-Yachts & Moody Cruisers

One of the most fascinating things about sailboats is the different ways that sailors, naval architects and builders will approach a single design problem. The result has been a bewildering array of rigs and hull forms over the years, and in the case of the two boats we’ll be ...read more

04-Yacht-anchored-in-front-of-one-of-Lastovo's-gunboat-tunnels-(3)

Cruising Charter to Croatia

As is the case with so much of the Mediterranean, to sail in Croatia is to take a journey through time. Centuries before the birth of Christ, Greeks traded amphoras of oil, wine and grain across these waters. During the first millennium, the Romans built lavish palaces and ...read more

m123728_13_01_171012_PMA_02901_9999

Alicante Announced as an Ocean Race Europe Stop

The Ocean Race Europe, a new event in offshore sailing, will include Alicante as one of four stopover cities. This European offshoot of the former Volvo Ocean Race will include the biggest change to the racing rules under the new title—fully crewed IMOCA 60s will join the ...read more

01-LEAD-doublehanded2

Preparing for a Doublehanded Race

A few months ago we took a look at the development and attraction of doublehanded racing (Two to Tango, June/July 2020). Hopefully, that served to whet your appetite. If so, the question becomes: “How do I get started? The good news, as we explained in Part 1, is that if you are ...read more

01-LEAD-Day-three---dolphins.-300-dpi

A Key Approach to Passagemaking

How you approach offshore sailing is key to the success of each passage. In addition, some of the most valuable, even crucial attitudes and skills may not be either learned or valued in everyday life on shore and may even fly in the face of talents that are greatly admired and ...read more

OceanVoyagesInstitute-2048

Point of SAIL: Mary Crowley of the Ocean Voyages Institute

In this episode of Point of SAIL, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with Mary Crowley, founder and executive director of the Ocean Voyages Institute, a not-for-profit based in California that has been both educating sailors and working to preserve the health of the world’s ocean ...read more

01-Ocean-Voyages-Institute_PHOTO-READY_1_pg

Tracking and Catching Plastic Waste

Plastic waste—in the form of everything from plastic soda bottles to abandoned fishing nets—constitutes a major threat to the health of the world’s oceans. Giving the immense size of an ocean, though, actually finding all the plastic floating around out there in a time-efficient ...read more