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This New 148-Foot Hybrid Trimaran Concept Can Sail Silently and Emissions Free

Inspired by seagulls, the vessel has got two giant wings spanning 2,690 square feet each., rachel cormack.

Digital Editor

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VPLP ’s latest trimaran concept is ruffling feathers for all the right reasons.

The French studio’s disruptive new 148-footer, which goes by the name of Seaffinity , takes cues from “the world of seabirds” in terms of both propulsion and aesthetics.

Penned under the direction of noted yacht designer Patrick le Quément, the vessel’s monolithic shape was inspired by the lightness, fluidity and beauty of the seagull. There is almost a total fusion between the two hulls and the coachroof that results in a streamlined silhouette similar to a gull’s.

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The trimaran’s streamlined silhouette is inspired by a seagull.  VPLP

Seaffinity can also traverse the globe silently and sans emissions, just like our feathered friends above. It’s even equipped with a pair “Oceanwings,” or two sails spanning 2,690 square feet each, that harness the wind for clean and efficient cruising.

“We wanted to offer customers a new concept of a boat more in harmony with nature,” the studio said in a statement .

The sailing power is supplemented by a hybrid engine that runs on electricity produced by a hydrogen fuel cell. VPLP didn’t give any figures regarding speed or range, but did say the multihull would be partly autonomous.

Onboard, Seaffininty’s living quarters are suitably subdued. (Seagulls aren’t the most attention-grabbing birds, after all.) With a beam of 55 feet, the generous living area is characterized by a limited color palette and subtle furnishings that keep the focus on the exterior. To the aft, there is a sizable deck complete with sunbeds, a swim platform and diving facilities.


Seaffinity features two sails spanning 2,690 square feet each.  VPLP

“The ambiance is more important than the décor,” the studio adds. “Because what matters while sailing is the outdoors, to be able to marvel at the spectacle that unfolds before our eyes.”

Seaffininty joins a flock of new trimarans that have debuted in recent years. For example, McConaghy Boats unveiled the razor-bowed 153-footer Adastra in 2012, before following up with the 153-foot silver-bullet MC155 in 2017. And, that’s just one Aussie builder.

Although Seaffininty is just a concept at this stage, here’s hoping it eventually takes flight.

Check out more photos below:


Rachel Cormack is a digital editor at Robb Report. She cut her teeth writing for HuffPost, Concrete Playground, and several other online publications in Australia, before moving to New York at the…

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vplp trimaran

Seagull-inspired trimaran concept Seaffinity revealed

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A 45m super streamlined trimaran concept named Seaffinity inspired by "the world of sea birds" has been revealed by French studio VPLP Design .

The aluminium yacht, which is described by the studio as a “yacht of the future”, features a hybrid engine powered by electricity produced by a hydrogen fuel cell. However, Seaffinity’s main source of propulsion will be the wind captured by two Oceanwing sails.

  • Multihulls: The rise of a new generation of spacious, sleek superyachts

The yacht’s exterior is described as “monolithic” by the studio. This, combined with the sustainable propulsion, ensures a voyage on board the yacht is “a communion with its environment”, the studio said.

Seaffinity is aimed at “new customers” who are not interested in the “polluting” consequences of traditional yacht offerings.

“In addition, we wanted to offer them our vision of a new concept of boat, more in harmony with nature and the environment,” the studio said.

The pared-back interior features “intentionally reduced colours” to focus the sailing experience on the outside. “The ambience counts more than the elements of the décor,” the studio said. “We did not want to create a work that stands out between the spectacle of the sea and us.”

Other details include a beam of 16.8 metres and a two-metre draught.

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The Ultime Trimaran TRITIUM is a modified Orma 60 Trimaran - extended to 72 feet. Designed by the renowned VPLP Yacht designers and originally built for the legend of offshore ocean racing, Jean Le Cam, the boat was updated by Artemis Racing for testing of AC wing and dagger foils. The boat was modified - with floats lengthened to 72 feet - and cross beams reinforced, for the new loads. TRITIUM competed in the 2013 Transpac, where she was First-to-Finish and had the fastest elapsed time. It remains one of the fastest offshore vessels in the Pacific and is ready for new record attempts. She is exciting, extremely well built and seaworthy.

For further details, access to the image library or arrange a viewing contact:

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Marc van Peteghem interview: Up close and personal with the king of cats

Yachting World

  • May 21, 2020

Marc van Peteghem of French design leaders VPLP talks extreme foiling, cruising cats and sustainability with Sam Fortescue


VPLP co-founder Marc van Peteghem. Photo: VPLP Design

With Lagoon catamarans at one end of the spectrum and world-girdling Ultime class trimarans at the other, there’s not much in the multihull world that design studio VPLP has not turned its hand to. It is among the biggest of the French design offices, which seem to dominate this sector, and one of the best regarded.

Founded by the naval architects Vincent Lauriot-Prévost and Marc van Peteghem, who met during their studies at Southampton University in the late 1970s, the company has always carried the acronym of their two surnames.

“I called Vincent in February 1983 and said there’s maybe a first boat to design, do you want to partner with me?” recalls van Peteghem, who is now the cruising half of the VPLP duo. “We shared the same values and the same vision of the world and we’ve been partners ever since. When I was 12 or 13, I said I was going to be a yacht designer. Then it was only a question of patience.”


VPLP’s first ever design, the radical 50ft trimaran Gérard Lambert

And though I say ‘cruising’, I use the term somewhat loosely, as van Peteghem has designed everything from dinghies to superyachts . While these days he takes care of clients such as Lagoon, Excess and Outremer, he and co-founder Lauriot-Prévost actually began their careers designing a radical 50ft foiling trimaran called Gérard Lambert .

The boat was built for Vincent Levy’s 1984 OSTAR and showed real potential until its loss during the Route du Rhum in 1986 following a collision with a cargo ship.

Voiles et Voiliers magazine noted at the time that the boat ‘sowed terror’ among competitors at the 1984 Trophée des Multicoques off south Brittany, where it was overhauling maxi-multihulls. VPLP was off to a winning start. Commissions for racing multihulls began to pour in for a rollcall of skippers that sounds like the offshore racing hall of fame: Kersauson, Le Cam, Tabarly, Arthaud.

That commitment to race boats has never waned, although it is more the preserve of Vannes-based Lauriot-Prévost. Together, they have drawn winning MOD70s, IMOCAs, and even the triumphant Oracle USA17 , which swept all before it in the acrimonious 33rd America’s Cup held in Valencia in 2010. They were also the designers behind L ’ Hydroptère , the advanced foiling trimaran launched in 1994, which held the world speed record over one nautical mile from 2007 until 2012.

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Beam. Or beam and volume. Those are the dominant characteristics that spring to mind about cruising catamarans. You expect huge…

Nonetheless, in the midst of all this frothy racing work, van Peteghem recalls being approached to design a 55ft cruising catamaran in the mid-1980s: a one-off for a nascent builder called Lagoon, which was then part of the well-regarded Jeanneau Techniques Avancées, which also built ocean-racing multis. It was the start of a relationship that has endured to this day, down more than two dozen different models spanning lengths from 37ft to 77ft, and some 5,000 boats launched.

Success with racing would not have been possible without the cruising work, says van Peteghem. “All the money we got from cruising boats was invested into new software and engineers and technology and knowledge to be better. And it’s still the case.” VPLP now employs 32 people, a third pure engineers, and the remainder naval architects and designers.

Trademark look

The Lagoon tie-up has been good to VPLP, but it has also helped the catamaran brand to become the most recognisable multihull in the world, with its vertical trawler windows and cavernous interior. So much so that the term ‘lagoon’ has come to apply generically to all catamarans in some parts of the world. It’s clearly a source of pride to van Peteghem, although he protests that he is a “humble person” when I put it to him.


A VPLP-designed Lagoon 55 catamaran of 1987 vintage

“Lagoon has been a little bit forward of the market – offering more and more comfort and space, towards more of a floating home direction than it was at the start,” he says. “In the hull design, we’ve really made a lot of progress to make the comfort at sea as good as possible, and also to minimise the drag.”

Most recently with the launch of the new Excess brand, the owners of Lagoon have asked VPLP to take catamaran design in a slightly different direction. “We are drifting towards something that is lighter and trying to be a little bit faster,” says van Peteghem. With the simpler, curvier lines of its 11m, 12m and 15m models launched so far, it is also aiming to appeal to younger and sportier owners.

“We were very happy with the performance [of the first generation], but I think the next generation could be a bit more radical. It could be one step further in terms of an exciting sailing experience.”


Lagoon 560 is a leader in cruising cats. Photo: Nicholas Claris

At first, Groupe Beneteau wanted to find a different design office to underscore the different look and feel of the new range. But VPLP had a secret weapon, which enabled it to win the new business. And that weapon is, in fact, a man; a man called Patrick le Quément who ran Renault’s 350-strong design department for more than a decade before joining the team as a consultant.

“I convinced them that it was much better that we do [the design] ourselves because we had designed the Lagoons and we knew exactly how to move the dosage of the personality,” says le Quément. He shows me a mood board contrasting the two lines. While Lagoon is all ‘mineral’ – bold edges and manmade forms – Excess is ‘animal’, with flowing curves.

Le Quément brought a certain aesthetic flair with him, but he also introduced VPLP to a new way of working. The technique he’d developed at Renault was to break each new project down into just a few keywords, then produce various sketches that exaggerated one or other of those characteristics – in effect, turning each concept into an illustrated spectrum.


Tan 66 is a VPLP luxury catamaran proposal

Allied to Autodesk software, which allows users to create quick, attractive renderings, this approach suddenly made it possible to visualise hundreds of different possibilities for each brief.

Van Peteghem now sees this as a major strength for VPLP. “We’ve made a lot of progress in understanding the preliminary phase of the design and fully understanding the part about the aesthetic,” he says. “Working with Patrick [le Quément], we learn. Our designs are certainly better now: because he’s there, but also because the other half of the design company is evolving.”

The potential was spotted early on by Xavier Desmarest, the CEO of catamaran brand Outremer. When he was building a team to create the ‘ultimate’ catamaran, he chose VPLP and le Quément, among others. The result was the award-winning 5X, designed for family living, but with good light-airs performance. Despite a price tag of well over €1m, more than 20 hulls have been sold to date.


The souped-up lightweight Outremer 5X No Limit

VPLP also worked on a souped-up version, appropriately called No Limit . Built in carbon and with a foam-cored interior fit-out, the boat is 2.5 tonnes lighter than the typical production version.

Something completely different

With Lagoon as his biggest client, van Peteghem intrigues me by saying he thinks that simpler boats are the way of the future. On the face of it, the brand of “little houses on the water” is the exact opposite, with its growing equipment list and burgeoning interior volumes.

“The market is more or less like an ostrich that has swallowed a watermelon – over the years, it is talking to the same population,” explains van Peteghem. “In the 70s, people were sailing on simple boats. Over time, they got older and richer and wanted a bigger boat with more comfort – more, more, more – and we drift away from the pleasure of sailing.


L’Hydroptère slashed speed records. Photo: Celine Levy

“What about the younger generation? We’re asking ourselves how we will offer solutions that are closer to their aspirations and money. At the moment there’s no real offer of a really simple multihull inside in terms of space.”

Van Peteghem seems particularly animated on this point, and it soon becomes clear why. He lives out the conviction himself, sailing a 6.2m Muscadet designed in the 1960s by Frenchman Philippe Harlé. “She is a monohull built in plywood with 1.12m headroom, and I was in Corsica with my parents in it 45 years ago. I still have it as a family boat. For me, I don’t need much: what I like is to be at sea and really be close to the sea.”

He says he’d love to sail a catamaran that follows the same simple logic as this boat, with four berths and an easy sailplan. “There’d be no compromise on the galley, because I like cooking,” he says with a laugh. But as he puts it, he doesn’t have four bathrooms at home, so why does he need four heads on the boat?


OceanWing concept has been proven and features fly-by-wire sail controls and a reefable wingsail. Photo: Thierry Martinez / Sea & Co

His thoughts are bending towards a Mediterranean cruise with the family. “What I really like is to sail for at least three days, then you get away from the perception of time. There are no more set hours to do things – it’s another rhythm: you wake up, you remember all your dreams, you have a few hours to take care of the boat, you socialise with the rest of the crew. I really love that.”

Despite his personal sailing tastes, van Peteghem believes that technology can make yachting more sustainable in the future. VPLP has just finished working on a desktop project with aircraft builder Airbus, which owes more to aerodynamics than traditional hull shape.

The foiling S-Jet took its form from VPLP, combined with state-of-the-art fly-by-wire controls from Airbus. Two different rigs were designed, including one with a pair of OceanWing sails from VPLP to create a real flying boat. VPLP’s OceanWing has developed out of the towering 68m sail that drove US17 to victory in Valencia ten years ago. “I had the impression that if we could make it stowable, reefable, it might be a good solution for yachts and the shipping industry too.”


A rendering of the AirSeas85 foiling trimaran concept

With French development money and other support, several prototypes have emerged, including that for 8m eco trimaran Gwalaz. “With a projected surface area of only 21m 2 , compared with 32m 2 or 46m 2 for standard rigs, the prototype OceanWing propels the boat to an equal or higher speed in every wind condition,” says van Peteghem.

A larger scale test is being carried out on the French hydrogen-powered boat Energy Observer , which uses two 12m wings. And the studio has also published renderings for a genre-defying 282-footer described as “a trimaran or stabilised monohull – with wings”. The concept explorer trimaran Komorebi’s towering OceanWings will get it up to 15 knots or allow it to burn 30% less fuel in hybrid mode.

Van Peteghem says there has been interest in the concept, but nothing serious. “Typically, it is an example of something a little too early. Timing is everything – you can have very good ideas, just not at the right time, when people are not ready to accept or to understand.”


Hemisphere is the world’s largest catamaran

Far from being disappointed by the lack of take-up to date, he is confident that the boat will lead to a concrete project, even if it metamorphosises along the way. After all when, it comes to size, VPLP has nothing to prove: the two largest sailing catamarans afloat came off its drawing boards.

They are the 145ft catamaran Hemisphere , which was delivered in 2011 by Pendennis of Falmouth, and 138ft Douce France from 1998. “A big multihull is the perfect platform because you have a huge range, and the sail and the power, plus the stability and the space. Owners keep their boats for decades.”

Van Peteghem believes that it is down to designers like him to push the industry in the right direction on sustainability, and on construction methods too. For glassfibre boats, for instance, he is thinking about how the constituent elements could be assembled without gluing, so they can be taken apart again.


Canopée is an OceanWinds-powered cargo vessel designed to carry the Ariane rocket launcher

“Changing is very difficult,” he observes. “You either change because you’re under pressure, or because you want to.” It’s all part of an approach that starts with making boats lighter and more efficient in light winds.

“Being light is being green,” he says. “When you sail in the Med and you have a boat which is able to sail in 6-7 knots of wind, then you are only going to use your engine 5% of the time. “If your boat needs 10-12 knots of wind, then you’re going to be using your engine 60-65% of the time.”

First published in the May 2020 edition of Yachting World.

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Lux Exposé

VPLP Design 282′ Komorebi

  • December 22, 2015

VPLP Design introduces a 86 m Superyacht Hybrid trimaran concept called Komorebi, that offers luxurious yachting experience with rather low running costs

French studio VPLP Design, comprised of naval architects and designers, develops advanced and original sail and power yachts projects. The company’s latest projection Komorebi, is a progressive trimaran concept that promises to provide comfort at sea, spacious decks, stability, low running costs as well as a big step towards a clean wake.

Named after the Japanese word komorebi, the 282-foot yacht concept is able to cruise under sail or motor power alone and features a hybrid mode for crossings that will offer at least a 30% more fuel efficient experience. Komorebi refers to a light curtain which is more visible after the rain because of the reflecting light from the water vapor. As the name implies, VPLP Design’s concept will be one of the most light-enhanced superyachts on the water. The main deck features floor-to-ceiling windows, to highlight the natural living spaces that connect the interior and exterior.

Komorebi can accommodate 18 guests throughout 9 cabins, consisting of a large owner’s suite, 6 guest staterooms and 2 children’s cabins. The multi levels of aft facing deck that have been split into smaller intimate social and dining areas, each offering a splendid view across the ocean as well as easy access to the interior and surrounding deck spaces. There is a small garden with a living tree and a swimming pool that creates an ideal beach ambiance and makes Komorebi yacht look like a small island. The beach deck features a large lounge and bar area surrounded by glass on either side that can be closed off when it rains. From here guests have access to her range of watersport toys as well as a 10m limousine tender and 7,8m fast tender, all of which can be launched in the forward part of the main hull at water level.

Komorebi’s estimated top speed of 20 knots is calculated for and a cruising speed of 16 knots. In combined sail and power mode she will offer a range of 6,000nm. VPLP claims that, in hybrid engine mode, the yacht will save 30 percent in fuel consumption during a transatlantic crossing. Solar panels across the yacht regularly recharge its batteries.


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Marine Insight

VELA Unveils Unique 100% Wind Powered Sailing Cargo Trimaran

VELA, committed to the decarbonization of the maritime freight industry, has proudly unveiled the design of its first-of-its-kind trimaran cargo ship that will allow the company to transport goods across the Atlantic Ocean using 100% wind power. The visionary team of François Gabart (renowned solo navigator and world-class ocean racer), Michael Fernandez-Ferri, Pierre-Arnaud Vallon, Thibault Charles and Pascal Galacteros unveiled the design, which had been in development since September 2022 and for which production is set to start early 2024.

Departing from the conventional single-hulled approach, and inspired by the modern technologies used for ocean racing, VELA’s sailing cargo vessel will have three hulls and is anticipated to be launched in 2025.

Wind Powered Sailing Cargo Trimaran

Reducing the environmental footprint of Maritime Transport

By adopting the innovative trimaran concept for its cargo ship, VELA meets several criteria for reducing the environmental impact of maritime transport, which currently accounts for 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions (a figure projected to rise to 17% by 2050 if no action is taken). Extensive analysis by the VELA team led to the impressive claim of a 99% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in propulsion compared to conventional container ships .

The choice of a trimaran design also enhances stability and ensures the safety of the cargo, while providing a comfortable experience for the sailors on board. Additionally, by harnessing the abundant wind resources of the ocean and not having to take fuel costs into account, VELA is able to provide high transportation capacity at a fixed and fair price, accommodating up to 450 U.S. pallets (equivalent to 51 TEU containers or 560 EU pallets).

Beyond the elimination of greenhouse gasses during the voyage, VELA also has a lesser environmental impact than other cargo ships by being built with recycled aluminum with interiors made from bio-sourced and geo-sourced materials. All components of the ship have also been designed to be dismantled for reuse on other VELA ships or for other purposes.

Fleet ambitions: 30 boats by 2035

The first VELA trimaran cargo vessel is expected to make its maiden voyage mid-2025, sailing the transatlantic route between Europe and the United States. VELA guarantees fast, reliable and secure transportation, with a warehouse-to-warehouse timeframe of 10-15 days, including loading, transit and unloading, which places it in between conventional air and sea freight. Furthermore, VELA’s efficient routing system ensures that the most optimized route is selected based on weather conditions, with an estimated time of arrival by the hour provided up to four days in advance.

While the choice of propulsion plays a critical role in decarbonizing maritime transport, VELA recognizes that sustainability also depends on pre- and post-transport logistics. The exceptional maneuverability of the VELA Trimaran Cargo vessel allows access to secondary ports, facilitating closer proximity to customers’ factories and warehouses.

“Choosing the France-USA seaway was a no-brainer. The United States is the second largest export destination for French luxury products. Moreover, the wind is plentiful and predictable in the North Atlantic. We are very happy to be able to continue facilitating American and French culture exchange, but in a way that prioritizes the decarbonization of Franco-American trade as well,” said Michael Fernandez-Ferri, Cofounder of VELA.

Looking ahead, VELA aims to have a departure from France to the USA and vice versa every nine days by 2028, further solidifying its commitment to sustainable and efficient shipping practices.

Press Release

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Multihull of the year

This racy catamaran designed for fast blue water cruising was initially intended for series production by one of the well-known shipyards, but ultimately, the project has been taken on by Trimarine, based on the Tagus River near Lisbon, Portugal. 

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Published 14/02/2023

By Kim Wellington

Published: mar. / apr. 2023

Multihulls World #188

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Multihulls World #188

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The GP70, built with 80% carbon sandwich, manages to limit its displacement to 17.5 t. This large multihull was designed to offer a very high level of self-sufficiency thanks to low consumption of onboard equipment, a large surface area of solar panels (3 kWp), an efficient watermaker and two imposing 264 US-gallon (1,000 liter) fuel tanks. The concern for simplicity and reliability has also formed part of the development of the GP70, designed for the “very long range” with the choice of quality materials, easy access to safety equipment, redundant vital systems and efficient alarms. High-tech gear is present everywhere (vacuum insulation systems, intelligent energy generators, latest generation remote controls, maneuvering cameras, etc.), leading to high levels of comfort on board. Under sail, the GP 70 promises exceptional performance and the bridgedeck clearance guarantees excellent seakeeping behavior in big seas. The interior of the first example in this small high-tech series consists of an owner's hull with a double cabin and possibly two additional berths, two double guest cabins and a crew cabin in the other hull. The launch is scheduled for next spring.  Builder: Trimarine Naval Architect: VPLP Interior design: Jean Yves Carteret Material: Corecell epoxy and carbon sandwich Overall length: 68’11” (21 m) Beam: 32’ (9.75 m) Draft: 5’3” (1.6 m) Air draft: 90’ (27.45 m) Light displacement: 38,580 lbs (17.5 t) Laden displacement: 50,700 lbs (23 t) Upwind sail area: 2,380 sq ft (221 m²) Downwind sail area: 4,950 sq ft (460 m²) Engines: 2 x 80 kW Yanmar JH4 Fuel: 2 x 264 US gal (2 x 1 000 l) Water: 290 US gal (1,100 l)

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Wow, that was fast! Why trimarans are SO much fun to sail – and how to do it

  • Theo Stocker
  • February 13, 2024

For their size, trimarans can punch well above their weight in speed, cruising potential and fun. Monohull sailor Theo Stocker gets to grips with how to handle one

Humans tend to gravitate into tribes of like-minded enthusiasts, enjoying the encouragement, support and sense of identity, while often looking askance at others; sailors at motorboaters, cruising sailors at racers, monohull sailors at raft, I mean, multihull sailors, and everyone looks askance at jet-skiers.

Large cruising catamarans (40ft now counts as a small one) are a world apart from monohull sailing, but there’s a sub-tribe of sailors dedicated to life on three hulls and builders such as Dragonfly, Corsair, Farrier, and Astus give them plenty of choice.

I’ve been sailing a 22ft (7m) Astus 22.5 this season, with just enough space for a family of four and a minimum of creature comforts. Thanks to her VPLP-designed hulls and 650kg all-up weight, we can sail upwind at 7-plus knots and downwind at over 10 knots with ease, all on a roughly even keel, while the kids play Duplo down below. It can also be beached and is towable behind a car.

Having, it seems, caught the trimaran bug, I wanted to get better at sailing and handling the boat, but my monohull sailing experience and habits were proving something of a hindrance, so we sought advice from some existing trimaran owners, and well as the UK’s top multihull sailors.

Much of the advice will apply to all multihulls , whether two or three-hulled, while other parts are just for small trimarans. I also found that brushing-up some of my rusty dinghy sailing skills helped get my head around what we were trying to do.

To try out our expert tips we went out sailing to see what difference they made. On the day, we got a solid Force 4-5 southwesterly, averaging 16 knots, but fluctuating between 12 and 20 knots true.

vplp trimaran

Blasting about on a sporty trimaran is a whole world of fun, but is much calmer than it looks

Trimaran sail trim

One of the biggest differences between a cruising monohull and a multihull is how the mainsail is trimmed. Leech tension on a yacht is often largely controlled by the kicker and the backstay, while the mainsheet sheets the mainsail in and out, predominantly controlling the angle of the boom to the centreline, and there may be a short traveller.

On a mulithull, however, there’s more than enough space for a good, wide traveller. Those who sail on performance monohulls will also be used to this. The sail shape is mainly controlled by the mainsheet, and the traveller then moves the boom towards or away from the centreline.

This is exaggerated on a multihull which has wide shrouds, swept well aft with no backstay, making space for a powerful square-top mainsail with full-length battens. There’s no backstay to bend the mast and flatten what is anyway a pretty rigid mainsail.

vplp trimaran

The mainsheet purchase creates enough power to control the leech of the square-top mainsail

Depowering a trimaran

Sailing on a monohull, heel and weatherhelm and eventually a broach give loads of warning that you’re pushing too hard. With straight hulls and little heel, those warning signs don’t really apply to multihulls.

In reality, however, there are a host of warning signals that it’s time to back-off; they’re just a bit different. Even then, there’s still a large safety margin before you get close to danger.

By way of reassurance, with the boat powered up on a beat, Hein, from Boats on Wheels, the boat’s owner, stood on the leeward hull and lent on the shrouds. Even as his feet got wet and the wind gusted at the top of Force 4, the boat didn’t bat an eyelid, thanks to the huge buoyancy of the floats.

vplp trimaran

Even with a person on the leeward float the boat was extremely stable

On the water – sail trim

My first inclination was to point the boat as high upwind as possible, pin the sails in and go for height. Doing that resulted in a not-terrible boat speed of 5-6 knots and a good pointing angle.

Free off by a handful of degrees however, and ease the sails just a smidge, and the speed leapt up to 8-9 knots – over 50% more; a huge increase. So, don’t pinch. If you had a decent chartplotter on board, you could find your optimum speed to angle using velocity made good (VMG).

I was also tempted to pinch in the gusts, but it’s better to hold your course and let the speed increase until the main needs easing.

vplp trimaran

On the wind, it’s time to get the boat fully powered up

If that’s the case, drop the main down the traveller an inch or two or ease some twist into the mainsail and it makes all the difference in the world, but not so far that the top battens fall away and invert – that really isn’t fast. Push too hard and the boat will slow down, largely from the drag of submerging the leeward float and crossbeams. If you’re still overpowered and the main is luffing, it’s time to reef. Downwind is different, but we’ll get onto that later.

After we put a reef in the main, our boat speeds upwind remained largely the same, and the boat was much happier. I came away feeling reassured that even a little trimaran like this would be pretty difficult to capsize, and there were always plenty of warning signs telling me to take my foot off the pedal a little.

Article continues below…

vplp trimaran

Catamaran sailing skills: Mooring and anchoring a multihull

How do you make an average passage speed of 7 knots, fit in three double cabins and a huge saloon…

Monohull multihull

Monohull or multihull: which is best for blue water?

As former editor of Yachting World, David Glenn has plenty of experience of both monohull and multihull cruising. Here he…

Tacking and gybing a trimaran

Everyone knows that multihulls don’t tack as well as monohulls. Straight hulls and wide beam don’t lend themselves to turning, especially when coupled with the displacement and fixed keels of big cats. Trimarans are a little easier, with a single central daggerboard to act as a pivot, and one or other of the floats will generally be clear of the water. On the downside, light displacement means that there isn’t much momentum to keep you going through the turn and plenty of windage to stop you.

vplp trimaran

On a trimaran the central daggerboard helps the boat to turn by providing a central pivot point that catamarans lack

Speed is your friend. Build speed up before the tack to give you as much momentum as possible. The helm needs to steer positively into and through the turn, and if necessary, keep the jib backed on the new windward side to help the bow through the wind. Don’t worry about scrubbing speed off, but you don’t want to get stuck in irons.

When it comes to gybing, speed is again key. The turning bit isn’t going to be an issue as you’ll be scooting along, but the faster you’re going, the less load there will be on the sails. The more you slow down, the more the true wind will pile up.

Trimaran sailing skills

Tacks took a bit of practice. It felt plain wrong to jab the tiller across the boat, slamming a big break on in the water but I ended up putting us through the tacks far too slowly, losing a lot of speed. A more aggressive approach worked better. On the Astus, the traveller was between me and the tiller, so the tiller extension needed to be swung around the stern behind the mainsheet onto the new side.

Similarly, old habits of controlling a gybe needed to be modified. With the asymmetric set, we were planing at well over 10 knots, and the ideal is to stay on the plane. Heading dead downwind and centring the main lead to a more violent manoeuvre than flying into the gybe as fast as possible and, as the boom was never that far out thanks to the apparent wind angle, it didn’t need much extra controlling.

Coming up onto the wind after the gybe helped the asymmetric around the front of the jib and to fill on the new side. Stay too deep and it’ll get blanketed by the main. Once we had built up some apparent wind, we could bear away again.

vplp trimaran

You’ll be on a course deep downwind before you know it, hitting speeds in the double digits

Downwind in a trimaran

Upwind cruising may be fun in a multihull, but bearing away and going with the wind is what it’s all about. Easily-driven hulls, a generous sailplan and light weight mean you can be up and planing, leaving displacement boats wallowing in your wake.

The big difference comes from apparent wind. If you’re in a boat that can do 15 knots downwind in 20 knots of true wind, the resulting wind angles can really mess with your head.

To get going then, says Brian Thompson, ‘Use those leech tell-tales again when sailing downwind and reaching to set the correct twist through the mainsheet, and use the traveller to set the correct angle of the whole sail to the wind.’

As the wind and your speed builds, bear away and trim the main accordingly.

In theory, you shouldn’t need to ease the traveller at all, but you may need to if you want to sail deep downwind. As the gust fades, you’ll find the boat slows down, so you can come back up towards the wind a little to pick up some more breeze, and then bear away as you accelerate again.

vplp trimaran

Bear away as the boat accelerates. Your course will be something of a slalom as you look to keep a consistent wind angle

This results in something of a ‘slalom’ course, and will also be accentuated if you’re sailing down waves, but that’s all quite normal for apparent wind sailing. Ultimately, you’re looking for a consistent apparent wind angle, even if the resulting wake isn’t straight.

It’s worth remembering that apparent wind reduces the felt effect of the wind, so you need a sailplan to suit the true, not apparent wind speed.

I found that the boat was more sensitive to having a balanced sailplan and trim downwind than upwind, largely because you’ve got almost double the canvas up, with the bowsprit as an extra lever. When weather helm built, I needed to ease the mainsheet to increase twist to depower so that I could bear away. I must admit, getting the boat balanced, sailing fast and light on the helm at 15 knots was something I came away feeling I needed more practice at.

Reviewing the images, I suspect the asymmetric was sheeted in too hard, with too much twist in the main.

vplp trimaran

Getting a float fully submerged is when it’s time to back off

On the water

Unfurling the gennaker worked best on a beam reach, giving plenty of airflow over the sail to help it fully unfurl. This was also roughly the fastest point of sail, ideal for getting up some speed for apparent wind sailing. We mostly had the sails set for a close reach, even when we were beyond 120º off the true wind on a broad reach.

It was possible to soak deeper downwind, but lose the apparent wind benefit downwind and our speed dropped off dramatically, prompting us to point a bit higher to find some more speed.

As the boat powered up, it paid to hold a slightly higher angle than I would have done in a monohull for the boat to properly take off and get up into double digit speeds – topping out at 15 knots. Lymington to Cowes would have taken us just half an hour at that speed. It’s easy to give yourself a heck of a beat back!

We were sailing on a pretty flat day, so didn’t have to contend with any waves to speak of. On the recent RTI this is what caused the capsizes of at least two multis, a sobering reminder that you need to sail much more conservatively in lumpier conditions.

vplp trimaran

The bows want to point downwind, so a stern-first approach works with rather than against the boat

Coming alongside

A 650kg boat with no draught and plenty of windage feels dreadfully skittish when manoeuvring in confined spaces. Straight hulls with no forgiving curves and fragile-looking sharp bows make berthing tricky. You’ve got a couple of advantages on your side, however. In the Astus, the floats are at pontoon height making stepping off easy.

Whether you have an engine in each hull of a cat, or one in the central hull of a tri, there’s also a lot more leverage to play with to turn the boat and drive her on or off the pontoon. A steerable outboard gives you even more options.

If the boat has a lifting keel or daggerboards, put them down if there’s enough depth to give you a pivot and to resist drifting. Think about getting corners onto the pontoon, rather than putting the boat alongside. On tris, you won’t be able to get to the bow to fend off as it’s too narrow. You can rig a fender up forwards on a line, and two fenders are enough on the flat sides.

vplp trimaran

Steering with the outboard towards the pontoon will drive the stern in more; steer away to drive the bow in more

Offshore wind

Coming onto the pontoon with wind blowing off, it worked well coming in stern first. If there’s a tide running, you’ll want to be heading into the tide, so find a spot down wind and down tide to start your approach so you come in at an angle.

On our first attempt we had a bit of tide under us to start with so we came in at a much steeper angle, almost 90º, although this worked out OK in the end.

The crew could then step ashore, taking a line from the stern quarter round a cleat.

Drive forwards against the line and the bow will obediently drive up towards the pontoon, bringing you flat alongside. Getting off was simple, releasing the bowline, and allowing the bow to swing out the before slipping the stern line.

vplp trimaran

Coming in astern and stopping upwind of the berth meant the bows blew towards the pontoon far to quickly

Onshore wind

Getting onto and off a pontoon with onshore wind proved rather trickier. On our first attempt we came in stern first. The issue was that once we were just upwind of our desired berth and stopped, we lost steerage and the bow immediately blew off with alarming speed towards the pontoon.

Going ahead would only increase the force of the impact, while going astern only increased the bow’s sideways drift. I managed to back out without smashing the bow, but only just, and ended up awkwardly stern to the wind with the bows pointing at the pontoon.

On our second attempt we came in bows first but having aimed at the berth, I had to motor the stern to leeward to stop the bow hitting, making for a rather forceful coming alongside.

On take three, I came in forwards and began ferry gliding towards the berth early, keeping the bows to windward of the stern. Being able to steer with the outboard meant I could go ahead to keep the bow up, and go astern with the engine pulling the stern down toward the pontoon. In this way, it was possible to come in pretty well controlled and parallel to the berth.

vplp trimaran

To get out, motoring astern against a bow line pulled the entire boat clear before slipping the line

Leaving was a different proposition all together, as I didn’t want to drag the bow along the pontoon, or to drive hard onto it to spring off. Instead, we rigged a slip-line from the forward cross beam. Going astern against this, and then turning the engine towards the wind, I could pull the stern, and the rest of the boat, out and away from the pontoon.

Keeping power on astern, once we’d reached a decent angle, we slipped the line and went astern, finding steerage way almost at once, with the bow following obediently in our wake with more control than I had anticipated.

Whether the wind is blowing onto, or off the pontoon, you want the engine to be driving or pulling the boat off the pontoon with a line on the corner you are going away from. That way you avoid point-loading fine ends where it’s hard to fender.

vplp trimaran

You’ll want a bridle to reduce swinging, but keep the pick up lines on the bow as backup

Anchoring and mooring a trimaran

While mooring a catamaran is complicated by the lack of a central bow, things should be simpler on a trimaran, and they are, mostly. Picking up a mooring buoy from the main hull bow with a low freeboard and dropping the pick-up line onto a cleat is easier even than a monohull.

The bow may be narrow, but for any lines that pass through a ring on the buoy, you still need to take it back to the same cleat to avoid chafe. That should be it, but windage from the two extra bows and the lack of keel mean the boat can dance merrily around the mooring buoy in a breeze.

vplp trimaran

Rig the bridle so the buoy sits to one side to stabilise the boat

In practice, we found that a trimaran benefits from a mooring bridle in the same way that a catamaran does. It can’t be rigged from the floats’ bows, as there are no mooring cleats, so a line passed around the outboard ends of the forward beams gave a pretty good angle, again with long lines passed through the mooring and back to the same side. The main pick-up lines stay as a safety backup.

The other trick is to rig the bridle asymmetrically so that the buoy sits to one side or the other, just enough to not be dead head to wind, making it much more stable in the wind.

On the plus side, the lack of draught or keel means that you’ll nearly always be lying head to wind, so the cockpit remains nice and sheltered whatever the tide’s doing.

We ran out of time on the day to try anchoring, but rigging a bridle, effectively a long snubber to a point on the anchor chain in a similar way wouldn’t be tricky.

If you needed not to swing, or to behave more like deeper boats nearby, hanging a bucket over the stern can help, or there’s always anchoring with a kedge, either out ahead in a V, or in line astern.

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vplp trimaran

OceanWings by VPLP

“It all began in 2009 in San Diego, California, with the wingsail for the Oracle trimaran for the 2010 America’s Cup” says Marc Van Peteghem of the OceanWings’ backstory.

vplp trimaran

He heads the French studio VPLP with Vincent Lauriot Prévost that developed the latter radically innovative wind propulsion system which manages to retain the aerodynamic characteristics of a rigid wingsail but can also have the amount of sail surface exposed to the wind reduced because it is both furlable and reefable.

vplp trimaran

It is also automated and can be produced on an industrial scale. Most impressively of all, it is now moving from its experimental stage to concrete application.    

“Vincent and I asked ourselves how that type of wing could be used for maritime transport.  Whatever it was and technical problems aside, it needed to deliver economic results, a return on investment, and to pay for itself in terms of fuel savings in an economically reasonable timescale.  Only then would it be useful,” says the designer. 

vplp trimaran

VPLP developed its idea on paper for four long years and then with the financial backing of  France’s Energy and Energy Management Agency, ADEME, it finally got to build an OceanWings working prototype in 2013. The latter comprises two wingsails which together create a system with a 21 square metre sail surface.

vplp trimaran

They can be manoeuvred too to optimise their angle of incidence to the vessel’s point of sail and can also be reefed. They are self-supporting and completely automated.

vplp trimaran

More importantly still, they are almost twice as efficient as a traditional rig. The OceanWings prototype has been fitted to an 8-metre trimaran, itself highly innovative. In fact, it is built from eco-composites made from linen fibre and recycled thermoplastic resins. On August 28 2013, the first sea trials began while R&D continued.  

vplp trimaran

The big turning point came in December 2017. 

vplp trimaran

“Since then we have found an industrial partner, CNIM, a large French group that works in environmental, energy and high tech sectors. So we have transitioned from the final design phase to actually using OceanWings on big catamarans like our Komorebi 200 and on Evergreen Marine Corporation vessels,” continues Van Peteghem.

vplp trimaran

“The shipping world – container ships, oil tankers, freighters and passenger vessels – is the very reason by we developed OceanWings. 

vplp trimaran

The reason is simple. Almost 80 per cent of world trade is by sea and International Maritime Organization projections suggest that will rise to 90 per cent by 2050.

vplp trimaran

While pollution and greenhouse gases produced by maritime transportation accounts for just three per cent of the overall world figure right now, it is estimated that without intervention that will rise to 17 per cent by 2050.

vplp trimaran

This is why the IMO has set itself the goal of halving emissions by 2050. To do that the ships of the future will have to green.”

vplp trimaran

He adds: “We are working on a design for a 120-130-metre mercantile vessel that will be fitted with an OceanWings systems with six elements of 250 square metres apiece. It will save 25% on fuel on a six-knot Atlantic crossing”.  

vplp trimaran

So it will be a sailing mercantile vessel? “It’s a mixed system with OceanWings combined with a conventional auxiliary engine. It would be better if it was thermo-electric though. In terms of performance we worked with meteorological experts on weather data from the last 10-15 years.

vplp trimaran

As an initial solution, we set a series of starting data for the ship and calculated its performance on the basis of historic wind data.

vplp trimaran

As a second solution, we considered routage proper, a weather research and consultancy service focused on identifying the best route, just as happens in ocean racing. 

vplp trimaran

This means that the ship went looking for the conditions most likely to make it faster, which meant it could do without its engine and save up to double the fuel. It’s a navigational philosophy very close to sailing”.  

vplp trimaran

So OceanWings is economically feasible… “The system works once you can tell the owner that they will break even on their OceanWings investment in five years. We ask for the characteristics of the ship, the route and the frequency of its voyages.

vplp trimaran

We do a simulation using past weather readings and then we can predict the savings. For instance, if a ship is following the routes from France to North Africa, it will save up to 40% of its fuel. But that figure can be even higher on longer distances”. 

vplp trimaran

OceanWings, which was installed on Energy Observer, the hydrogen-engined catamaran that sailed around the world, is also aboard your S-Jet foiling cat project in partnership with Airbus. So is it the future?  “It will take more time for sailing. Right now, automatic control of the foils still isn’t possible. You need manual control on a sailing boat.

vplp trimaran

It will take time. But on motor-powered vessels, by which I mean passenger ships, it is the future. Even though OceanWings is high performance and reliable but there is still a long way to go. But it also proves how much sailing has changed on a technological level”.  

vplp trimaran

And speaking of wingsails and foils, one last question to you as an America’s Cup winner, what do you think of the next one?  “I’m not wild about it. I think it is a pity they abandoned the multihulls. We had found something that allowed different countries to take part with the possibility of developing interesting technologies using accessible budgets. Now they have started with this reactionary solution.  I don’t like it though.

vplp trimaran

At the end of the day, because they involve so many people, skills and money, these boats will have to be interesting. To look at at least. But I don’t know if they will add anything new. I love competition and technology but not when they become inaccessible”. 

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Sails for Future

Sails for Future: the power of the wind

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The MOD 70 class is born in 2009 with the experience gained in the Orma 60 trimaran class, from an association between 3 passionate entrepreneurs & sailors: Marco Simeoni, Steve Ravussin and Franck David.

At the start of the 2008 Vendee Globe race, Steve Ravussin and Franck David, introduced the concept of the Multi One Design project, which was to set a class of offshore identical trimarans, to Marco Simeoni.

This concept to have international renown skippers with equal potential to race around the world, seduced the Swiss businessman Marco Simeoni who signed an order for 5 MOD 70; to start the Multi One Design story.

In 2009 the company Multi One Design is created in Lausanne (Switzerland) at the same time as the Race for Water foundation in order to inform, share views and act on water issues worldwide and oceans protection. Race for Water foundation associated with the first MOD 70 to be built.In total 7 teams of 3 different nationalities were engaged to race on the MOD 70 including Michel Desjoyeaux on Foncia, Roland Jourdain on Veolia Environnement, Sidney Gavignet on Oman Sails, Yann Guichard on Spindrift Racing and Jean-Pierre Dick on Paprec Virbac. Compared to the Orma 60, the MOD 70 have the following improvements:

- 5% reduced sail area for better safety - Main hull 10 feet longer for avowing pitch haul - Raised beams for better passage in the waves - Lifting main rudder - Curved foils for better performance and safety - Canting mast positioned further aft

Video of a race with MOD 70 trimarans competing showing the great performance of this trimaran model.

News & publications

RACE FOR WATER : Price Reduction

RACE FOR WATER : Price Reduction

Heirs to the 60-foot Orma trimarans, the MOD 70s were designed by the renowned French firm VPLP Design. In 2011 and 2012, three trimarans were launched. RACE FOR WATER was the first of the series. If we compare the MOD 70 model to the Orma 60 model, some improvements are noticeable:...

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vplp trimaran

VPLP’s Yachting Division focuses on two core activities: superyachts and production boats. It’s a very broad playing field. Regardless of the programme, size, number of hulls or propulsion system (sail, engine, wingsail, hybrid), our principal design strategy remains founded on the same key question: How does the customer intend to use their boat? That’s the key.

All our cruising projects

Outremer 52, electric foiling catamaran, outremer 55, lagoon sixty 7, lagoon sixty 5, lagoon 5th generation, komorebi 138, lagoon seventy 8, lagoon seventy 7, outremer 7x, komorebi 200 – wingsails exploration trimaran, w/y evidence, s-jet / air seas, komorebi 282, lagoon motor yacht, astus 16.5 – 20.5 – 22.5 – 26.5, vplp 170′ catamaran, lagoon 4th generation, noah 88 (kenzo), outremer 5x, lightspeed 32, lagoon 3rd generation, douce france, lagoon 2nd generation, lagoon 1st generation, each pole feed each other.

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