Copyright 2017 - Woods Designs, Foss Quay, Millbrook, Torpoint, Cornwall, PL10 1EN, UK
  • home built Flica 37

  • plywood Romany 34

  • lightweight 14ft Zeta mainhull

  • Strike 15 trimaran at speed

  • 28ft Skoota in British Columbia

  • 10ft 2 sheet ply Duo dinghy

  • 24ft Strider sailing fast

  • 36ft Mirage open deck catamaran

I copy this from the Strike 18 page but am posting it here as I think it is relevant to all sizes of small trimaran
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Many small trimarans are basically kayaks with outriggers and have the crew sitting in front of the helmsman. Production versions include the various Hobie and Windrider trimarans (disclaimer, I have sailed a Windrider but not a Hobie trimaran. So please read this unsolicited email from an ex Windrider owner for more detailed comments).

This "sailing kayak" concept has several major disadvantages.

When you drive a car your passenger sits next to you, not behind you. It's more sociable that way and makes it easier to talk. Compare it to riding pillion on a motorbike which means all you really see is someones head, not the view. Often the passenger sits in front of helmsman, not only does that block his view but also it is the passenger who gets hit by spray, it's hard to duck out of the way when sitting in a fixed position. It is usually the passenger who is the reluctant sailor - very off putting, even for me, to be hit in the face by cold water! Again check the owners comments about how dry the Strike 16 and 18 are to sail.

And that is another thing I don't like. I find it nice to walk round the boat, and with a bad back I cannot sit still for hours. Sitting in the hull gives you a great impression of speed, because you are so close to the water (but its also very wet, as I just said). Sitting high on the trampoline feels like flying and you get a good view of approaching waves and wind gusts.

But boats are not just for sailing! You also have to get on and off it. That may well mean coming into a dock or pontoon. Doing this on a small trimaran is tricky at the best of times, because you cannot get to the outrigger bow to fend off or jump ashore. So, on a boat where you are trapped in the central hull, you will have to be very skilled to avoid bumping the dock especially if you come alongside under sail..

It's not much better if you have an engine, for it will be very difficult to start and control when you are sitting facing forwards and the engine is behind you.

Many of those boats are steered with your feet. One argument for that approach is that you have both hands free to drink or smoke. That doesn't stop anyone I know from doing that when driving a car! and has never stopped me when holding a tiller.

My hands are much more sensitive than my feet. People don't usually play a piano or paint with their feet! Furthermore the more joints/wires between rudder and tiller the more friction and slackness. So the steering feels heavy and sloppy. Check out the video below for what it should be like to steer a small trimaran.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOYhtdFwTpU

Boats like this are not necessarily any faster. The video on the Strike 18 page

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4iFXdFuihw

shows us overtaking (rather easily!) a Windrider 17 in our Strike 18. Both boats had two people on board and as you can see we were not using our screecher.