Coming in from the cold…

Round the world singlehanded to foiling round the cans, it’s easy to regard multihull racing as being fully established. But what about the increasingly fast boats that make up a growing fast-cruiser fraternity competing somewhere in the middle? Nigel Irens has a proposal…

Multihulls have traditionally had a slightly shadowy presence in the well-disciplined world of yacht racing. In the early days their owners came from anything but a yacht racing background and their competitive activity on the water was limited to creeping up on yachts engaged in serious racing and swooping past them – usually pretending not to notice their presence.

This gambit was of necessity only possible when sailing off the wind because owners of those multihulls generally had lean budgets and not much exposure to current developments in rig and sail design, the result being that upwind performance was dubious at best.

I was part of that nascent multihull world, and well remember the frisson of excitement as we (that’s the two of us) swept past Morning Cloud off St Catherine’s Point in a 31ft Val Class trimaran during the 1978 Round the Island Race.

Back in the Island Sailing Club after the race Edward Heath commented (in a kind of friendly way) that our pride and joy was ‘not a proper yacht’. The trouble is that with hindsight I think he might have had a point. While our little yellow plastic multihull was a hoot to sail it could have been more accurately listed under the heading of ‘Sporting Goods’ rather than as a ‘Yacht’.


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