Sailing the Astus 20.2 Trimaran

Author:
Publish date:
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

7261ab1f-6891-424f-a22f-14c946c08ba8

Gear: Fusion Panel-Stereo

Plug & Play StereoIt can be a real pain to install a marine stereo inside a boat, what with the tiresome business of running cables through cramped spaces and finding somewhere sensible to locate the speakers. The audiophiles at Fusion thought about this and came up with the ...read more

2019BestBoatsPromo-04

Best Boats 2019

Some years ago, the book Aak to Zumbra catalogued—and celebrated—the incredible diversity of watercraft that has evolved over the centuries, a diversity that remains evident to this day in the 11 winners comprising the “Class of 2019” in SAIL’s Best Boats contest. Indeed, it ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comGuaranteed result What you see on the end of this halyard isn’t a beautiful Flemish Eye worked by a rigger, but it will make a big difference when you have to “mouse” a line through the mast. If the ...read more

dometicadler-700x

How to: Upgrading Your Icebox

The time has come when the prospect of cold drinks and long-term food storage has you thinking about upgrading your icebox to DC-powered refrigeration. Duncan Kent has been there and done that, and has some adviceFresh food must be kept at a refrigerated temperature of 40 degrees ...read more

Jet-in-Belize

Cruising: Evolution of a Dream

There’s a time to go cruising and a time to stop. As Chris DiCroce found, you don’t always get to choose those timesAlbert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, ...read more

01a-rosemary-anchored-at-Qooqqut,-inland-from-Nuuk

Cruising: A Passage to Greenland

When a former winner of the Whitbread Round the World Race invites you to sail the Northwest Passage, there is only one sensible answer. No.More adventurous types might disagree, but they weren’t the ones facing frostbite of the lungs or the possibility of having the yacht’s hull ...read more