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Three Tris Try Again

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Three Tris Try Again

A pair of Caribbean anarchists visiting NYC couldn’t pass up a a visit to the three great French trimaran maxis. Sodeb’O, Groupama 3, and Banque Populaire V are all poised in Brooklyn waiting for a weather window to do a transatlantic record attempt.

They managed to snag an interview with Franck Cammas, multihull guru and skipper of Groupama 3, where he talks about the repairs to Groupama (after the incident last February when the boat broke apart in the Southern Ocean), the America’s Cup, working with the BMW Oracle team, his reactions to the new Alinghi boat, and racing competitively in the VX-40 circuit. We’ll run that tomorrow.

It’s a bit surreal driving through the hustle and bustle of downtown Brooklyn, down Flatbush Avenue, through Prospect Park, and then seeing three enormous carbon wing masts towering above the roadside. Gateway Marina, where the maxis are currently located, is just off of Flatbush at the Southern end of Brooklyn and is home to a dreary and assorted collection of boats. This purgatory of boating serves as the stepping off point for the most coveted and attempted ocean record in the world, the West to East trans-Atlantic. Since the mid-1800’s boats have been racing across the north Atlantic trying to best each other’s time. Two of the three boats here, Groupama 3 and Sodeb’O, are attempting to break their own record, whereas Banque Populaire V is still after its first ocean record.

As an avid multihull sailor and owner of a Formula 40, it was a great to see these monster multihulls up-close. The scale of these boats is immense. Looking from one float across the tramp to the other, it felt like the first time I stood agape and gazing at the expanse of the Grand Canyon. With that said, my first impression was how low to the water these trimarans are. The maxi cats that I have seen before like Playstation, Team Adventure, and Orange II all had massive freeboard (especially at the bows) to prevent pitchpoling and burying the forward beam in heavy seas. A trimaran on the other hand can dispense with the forward beam, and combined with wave piercing bows, the freeboard was more human in scale. Each boat was easily boarded from a low floating dock. While the America’s Cup may be continuing the cat vs. tri debate, the designers of ocean racing multihulls have moved away from cats and have seemingly decided that tris are the way to go.