If anyone doubted that the ocean racing multihull scene was a hotbed of innovation, the new Sodebo Ultim 3 trimaran will lay those questions to rest. The demand from Sodebo, sponsor of veteran solo sailor and sometime Jules Verne record holder Thomas Coville, was for a boat that would not just be the fastest of this current generation of Ultime trimarans—each of which is more than 100ft long and designed to sailed by one person—but be the forerunner of a whole new design standard.
The collective gasp by onlookers as the massive tri emerged from the aircraft hangar-sized building shed at the Multiplast works in Vannes, France, said it all—the new Sodebo instantly made every other high-tech trimaran look like yesterday’s boat. Measuring 104ft long by 75ft wide, the boat covers the area of four tennis courts, but it’s the radical design elements that draw the eye.
The design team, including multihull specialists VPLP, drew inspiration from the world of aircraft for a boat that’s intended to spend more time flying above the water than sailing in it. The cockpit not only looks like it belongs in an aircraft, it’s been placed in front of the mast, above the “wing” attaching the floats to the central hull. This means the boom can be lowered so it just sweeps the aft deck, lowering the sailplan’s center of effort, one of the effects of which is to reduce the chances of the boat pitchpoling.
The foils are larger than seen before on an Ultime, an indication that this boat will indeed take to the air at low wind speeds. The polars show the boat will easily be able to hit speeds of 45-50 knots.
It’s the latest in a line of Sodebo-sponsored speedsters for the 50-year-old Coville, who took the Jules Verne trophy for the fastest solo circumnavigation two years ago, only to have it taken away by fellow Frenchman François Gabart. A new attempt on the record will be his first item of business once sea trials have been completed.
MHS Summer 2019