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The World’s Biggest On-water Multihull Show in La Grande Motte, France

Which species of multihull is best, a catamaran or a tri? Forget Dick Newick’s famous rule of three: performance, low cost and comfort. “You can have any two, but not all three,” he cautioned.

When legendary designer-builder Walter Greene was asked about a catamaran versus a trimaran by a new enthusiast, he unhesitatingly replied: “Trimaran, of course.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because when you get older you won’t forget which hull you left your glasses in!”

The enthusiast was American Craig Alexander, now living in France, who was just starting to need reading glasses. He went on to buy Phil Weld’s fabled tri Moxie, a Newick design built by Greene Marine in Maine. Craig now owns—or is owned—by another Newick tri, the 36ft Echo II Black Cap, which was the Golden Oldie retro star of this year’s sixth edition of France’s premiere multihull show, the Salon International Du Multicoques.

The world’s biggest on-the-water multihull show has heart and soul, as well as a passion and joie de vivre that celebrates both multihulls from the past and futuristic newcomers that incorporate sophisticated building materials and ignore the cost factor.

Alongside familiar French multihull brands, like Fountaine-Pajot, Lagoon and Outremer, newcomer O Yachts, from Latvia, was showing a stylish, eye-catching fast cruising cat built at their Baltic yard.

The “O” stands for “owner,” since this company is dedicated to semi-custom builds from 26ft to 78ft. “You can have tiller or wheel steering, fixed keel or daggerboards and saildrive, direct drive or hybrid,” says boss Dan Levy.
Their 46ft Class 4 catamaran boasted plenty of streamlined curves as part of Erik Lerouge’s so-called “wave design.” The rotating carbon mast features an integrated winch pedestal for halyards and reefing lines, and structural elements are all carbon.

Another innovative cruising cat with a truly international pedigree was Slyder Catamarans’s sporty 47-footer. She’s designed by 28-year-old French naval architect Francois Perus, who studied engineering and worked with Tony Grainger. Her creative director and production manager, Christian Paulitsch, is a Swiss composite specialist who worked on Formula 1 cars, as well as with luxury boatbuilders Wally and Ferretti. The Slyder is built in Italy, and the sales and development team are in Germany. My translator was their irrepressible and enthusiastic American dealer, Don Buckles from Navigator Yacht Sales, Florida, who has sold three Slyder 47s to U.S. customers. At press time seven boats had been sold worldwide.

A second Italian-built performance cat that sailed to the show on a maiden voyage was the Comet 37, developed by long-established Comar Yachts in collaboration with designer Marc Lombard. Comar, well known for its monohulls, has been building boats since 1961, working with designers like Finot, Van de Stadt and Doug Petersen. But this is the company’s first venture into a new range of catamarans, with a 50 and 62 to follow.

Designed for cruising in comfort, the 37 offers a choice of daggerboards or fixed keels. Twin steering wheels aft provide good forward visibility, although the boat-show model included a long hard targa roof. The interior can be configured with two, three or four cabins, and the cockpit and dinette are separated by a sliding door. The cockpit can be completely enclosed by fabric or composite panels.

The Radikal T26, a French folding trimaran designed by Phil Roulin of Perspective Yacht Design, can be shipped or stored in a 40ft container and trailed behind a family car. She has wave-piercing axe bows, curved daggerboards in the amas, plus twin kick-up rudders and a bowsprit for flying a Code 0. Cruising equipment includes nav and interior lights, a 50-watt solar panel and a 70-amp gel-cell battery.

The carbon fiber prototype topped 17 knots in light winds, and Patrice Vivient, the French dealer at the show, who holds a 27.4-knot speed record for the Seacart 30, claimed to have seen 25 knots with more breeze. The standard version is $94,400, plus tax, or $127,700 with a high-spec carbon-fiber hull and mast.

The Radikal competes in the market with the more extreme Diam 24, a French tri designed by VPLP. Roulin is currently also working on the exciting foiling trimaran, the Exocet 19.

The SC 48 is a bulletproof long-distance cruising cat built in aluminum by France’s Garcia Yachting, which also built Jimmy Cornell’s Exploration 45.

Designed for safe and comfortable bluewater cruising and suitable for high latitude expeditions, she incorporates four crash boxes in each hull, plus watertight bulkheads with keels welded on so that watertight integrity is not compromised in the event of a grounding.

This is a boat with backups for the backups, as Thomas Wibberenz, project manager for the owner, was proud to demonstrate. For example, she has two separate anchor windlasses and a third anchor on the transom. Similarly, two autopilots are each wired independently with their own fluxgate compasses and “brains.” Bilge pumps are also doubled up, and twin watermakers produce a total of 240 liters an hour. Four shore-power connections include two reserved exclusively for air conditioning, and the boat carries no fewer than 12 solar panels.

Hull #1 was built for a Swedish family with a disabled child that plans to do the next World ARC. She sailed 4,000 miles to La Grande Motte from her builder’s yard in Cherbourg, via the Azores. The starting price for this custom-built yacht is a little more than $870,000.

Among upgrades on view at the show was the former Nautitech Open 40, which has undergone an evolution rather than a revolution under the yard’s new owners, Bavaria, who are marketing the boat in the United States as the Bavaria Open 40. The MK 2 version, with furniture modules built by Bavaria, offers a more sophisticated galley and a wider choice of interior finishes in woods and laminates.

Similarly, a newly configured Neel 45 sported a new custom layout with an owner’s cabin to port, a large galley and head to starboard, plus the usual guest cabin forward. Neel’s new 65ft tri launched at the end of May.

Lagoon’s Joël Jarrijon reported they would soon be offering unstayed wing-sail rigs with rotating masts on several of their catamarans. The patent for the rig, originally designed by Guy Beaup for his schooner during a 60,000-mile circumnavigation, was bought by Beneteau with Beaup partnering in its development.

Catana’s Bali 4.3 Loft showed off its hydraulic “portcullis,” as one viewer called it—a crazy “flying” bulkhead, complete with sliding door that divides the cockpit and saloon and retracts into the deck head at the press of a button. In case of power failure—it takes 30 seconds to open—it has an emergency manual backup.

Among the designers visiting the show was none other than Nigel Irens, who was making his first visit to LGM with some of his team. “The gloves are off,” Irens said intriguingly, after having a look around.

Black Cap

Black Cap, a Dick Newick Echo II 36, was built in France in 2007 by Xavier Sergent of ABC Marine and was on show thanks to a band of enthusiasts dedicated to preserving offshore multihulls from the 1960s: the Golden Oldies Multihulls. They have a website and a Facebook page.

American Craig Alexander, 62, currently living in Bessier, France, has had an ongoing love affair with trimarans since sailing with Phil Weld in 1980 at the St. Barth’s Regatta aboard Moxie. Twenty-two years later, in 2002, he bought the tri that cast a spell on him and gave her a major refit at Walter Greene’s Maine boatyard. After four years he reluctantly sold Moxie. “I was never her owner, only her caretaker, and she needed a big budget to maintain her.”
He now owns Black Cap. The “big yellow bird” was a “gift” from her builder, Xavier.

Why is she called Black Cap? Newick told Xavier when the latter flew to America to discuss the build plans: “I’ll be the tall guy in a black baseball cap at the airport.”

But when Xavier arrived he recognized Newick, minus the black cap, but standing with four women. “He must have forgotten the cap!”

Resources

Bavaria bavariayachts.com

Catana catana.com

Comar Yachts comaryacht.com

Garcia Yachting garcia-yachting.com

Lagoon cata-lagoon.com

Neel Trimarans neel-trimarans.com

O Yachts o-yachts.com

Radikal Boats radikal-boats.com

Slyder Catamarans slyder-yachts.com

MHS Fall 2015

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