above A Pahi 31, one of the many hundreds of James Wharram-designed catamarans sailing throughout the world.
want to be left behind. They invented their own ocean races, the best known being La Route du Rhum, Saint Malo to Guadeloupe. It is run every four years, alternating with the British races. Other major races are the Québec-to-Saint Malo race, and the La Boule-to-Dakar Race. These events attract hundreds of thousands of sailing fans at the starting and finish lines and millions of TV viewers. Sailors became national heroes and sport idols like baseball players in America and soccer-players everywhere else. The French boating industry stepped up to the plate and created its own multihull designs. Major boat builders such as Jeantot Marine (now Alliaura Marine), Jeanneau (now merged with Beneteau), Soubise, and others searched out the best of the naval architects and yacht designers. First individuals, such as Marc Lombard (Privilège), Gerard Danson (Outremer), Erik Lerouge (Brazapi, Soubise); then design teams such as Christophe Barreau & Marc Valdelievre (Catana), Michel Joubert & Bernard Nivelt, and J. Berett & Olivier Flahault (Fountaine Pajot), Marc Van Peteghem & Vincent Lauriot-Prevost (Lagoon) created a French superiority not just on the race courses, but on the cruising grounds of the world. There are more French-built catamarans on the water today than all other nations' productions combined. Perhaps the best-known design firm for ocean race winning boats is Gilles Ollier's Multiplast (Commodore Explorer, Club Med, Innovation Explorer, Team Adventure, Orange II et al).
The history of production multihulls, however, did not start in France. That distinction goes to the U.K. (we call it England). The British Marine Industry was proud of Prout Catamarans (now Broadblue Catamarans), the largest producer of cruising cats. They produced such age- and sea-proven designs as the Scamper and the Sirocco, both 26', Quest 31, Quest 33CS, Event 34, Snowgoose 35 & 37, Prout 38, Escale 39, Encore 43 & 45, and the Quasar 50. The Prout brothers, Roland and Francis, had a competitor in Reg White, an Olympic medal winner in Tornadoes, who managed Sailcraft (now defunct), builders of such classic catamarans as the Iroquois 30 and
30 Mk II, and the Cherokee 35. Another British catamaran builder, Tom Lack, was nearly as prolific with the Catalac 8m, 9m, 12m cruising boats. Smaller boats by smaller manufacturers were known as the Heavenly Twins 26 and the Hirondelle 23. Another entity was Sandwich Marine, which built a little folding trimaran, the Telstar 27, designed by Tony Smith. Two-hundred and fifty-five Telstars later, he packed up his young family and his business and moved to the United States in 1980 to seek greener pastures or bluer waters. That company became known as Performance Cruising, Inc. in Annapolis, Maryland. Tony switched to building catamarans and just launched (at this writing) Gemini Hull #955. The early success of his Telstar haunted him enough to revive and improve the design and he launched the first American-built tri in 2005. Forty-four have been sold as of this writing. Another great Great Britain-born designer is Derek Kelsall, whose earlier creations were built in England, Ireland, and even in France. Since then he has moved to New Zealand where he is designing new ways of building boats based on time and expense-saving principles.
From San Diego to Maine and from Alaska to Miami there are very few multihull builders and even fewer designers. Prolific San Diego naval architect and trimaran designer Norman Cross passed away at age 75 in August of 1990; Dick Newick, originally from St. Croix, successful designer of day-charter boats, first moved to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts where he designed his most successful trimarans such as Rogue Wave and Moxie, among others; that was followed by a move to Maine where he dabbled into small catamarans and power cats; then he moved again, to Sebastopol, northern California and at age 80 is semi-retired. Maine designer and builder Dick Vermeulen first built the Maine Cat 22, a daysailer, but soon realized that there is not much call for that size boat and re-tooled for a 30-foot cruiser. That was so successful that he created a name for himself, and a reputation for quality and very friendly service, and soon attracted more serious sailors who were looking for a bigger boat. Although he can still produce the Maine Cat 30, his factory is turning out Maine Cat 41s at regular intervals. On the opposite coast in the
Northwest is Seattle-based Kurt Hughes whose sensible designs are popular because they fill the need between the Spartan Newick designs and the posh French cats.
I must mention the Land Down Under -Australia - where Lock Crowther, perhaps the most talented and versatile multhull designer, was turning out plans for homebuilders and for semi-production. The untimely and sudden death at sea due to a massive heart attack during his sailing vacation left his legacy in his young son Brett's hands, who then parlayed it into a mega design firm catering to the ferry-building industry. Other multihull designers, like Richard Ward and his Seawind Catamarans (SW 1000 & SW 1160), produce cruising yachts on an assembly line and sell the boats worldwide. Other notable designers in Australia are Tony Grainger, Jeff Schionning, Robin Chamberlin, Russ Turner (Jarcat), James Gard (Fusion), Perry Catamarans, Lightwave and Mike Waller Designs.
Neighboring New Zealand, a mere 1,000 miles away, produced Malcolm Tennant, the renowned multihull designer who created the well-known Great Barrier Express 27, Turissimo 9m, and Vorpal Blade 36 and others.
Not to be outdone by the "Other Continent South of the Equator," South Africa jumped onto the bandwagon when the Rand was at a low exchange rate (R5.30=$1) and the celebration continued when it fell nearly to 12:1. Builders could offer 35- to 50-foot catamarans at 2/3 the price of the French boats, and The Moorings, one of the world's largest charter companies, bought the entire production line of Robertson & Caine, the largest shop in Cape Town. They are now building exclusively the Moorings brand and the Leopard brand of catamarans, which are essentially the same with the exception that the Leopard is aimed at private owners and the Moorings' boats have charter layouts.
Other South African builders are Admiral Yachts, African Cats, Dean Catamarans, Fortuna Catamarans, Maxim Yachts, Sky Blue Yachts, St Francis Marine, and Voyage Yachts. Principal multihull designers are the Simonis
left Every modern multihull -catamaran or trimaran - finds its origin in the ingeniously simple outrigger style canoes of the Micronesian and Polynesian people. Workhorses for fishermen and traders, they safely carried natives across thousands of miles of ocean and were responsible for the migration of cultures throughout the Pacific basin.
Voogd Design partnership with offices in Cape Town and in Enkhuizen, The Netherlands.
The list of designers and builders could go on, but by the time this book is printed, there may be others coming out of the woodwork (no pun intended) or from the layup shed, because the multihull industry is growing in leaps and bounds. Even during the most recent years, when the global boatbuilding industry experienced a lull in sales, multihull production was up 18%. It is not just the number of catamarans that are growing, it is also their size. What was a reasonable 30-footer just a decade ago is now a "pocket cruiser;" the luxury catamarans of yesteryear are the run-of-the mill cruisers; and the luxury boats are now reaching megayacht status both in volume and in fit-out, such as the Yapluka and Blubay line, based in France. The Derektor Shipyard in New York State is in the production stage of Gemini, a 148-foot Marc Van Peteghem/Vincent Lauriot-Prevost-designed mega-cat.
Even on rainy days, the sun is shining on multihulls!
Charles K. Chiodi
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