To Sail A Trimaran

F-27 SailingTed taught me to sail a trimaran. We spent that summer trying to sink his Hobie 16. We put a 2×4 between the two bows to keep her from collapsing, but could feel the mushy deck and see her sides flex when we hiked. We never trapped out on that boat, afraid she would take us down when the inevitable implosion happened.

When my F-27 arrived, I sailed her all high, tight and mono-hully. But when I gave Ted the helm, the boat jumped. On a blue sky Texas day, he came up to the wind, bore off, the forestay curved, and she flew! We put the bows down on a big bear away and sent spray showering over the cockpit and leeward tramp. At the dam, we tacked and did it again. I’ve never been right since.

I remember racing on that lake one fine day trying to match a J-27 to windward. We trailed, caught up but couldn’t get high enough or fast enough to get over him. He was going to lead us into the mark, sure. I gave up on the chase and we eased off the wind and put the bow down – just a little – just enough. We rocketed under the J, were past them in a heartbeat, we and her crew astonished. We pulled three boat lengths ahead and to leeward, tacked for the mark and never looked back. I’ve been hunting mono-hulls ever since.

F-27 floatsAt a Corsair Nationals in Florida one year, Randy Smythe organized an exercise where we all sailed a figure 8 course between two buoys. There was no start line or finish line, this was an exercise in close quarters high speed boat handling. To complicate matters, we stopped every couple of laps and shifted crew positions. Helm became port trimmer became starboard trimmer became bow became helm again. It was terrifying! We had a newby aboard that day, never sailed a trimaran before and it was his turn to drive. As we crossed the mid point of the course, on a smoking screaming reach, an F28 came across our bow – Gunsmoke – with rights. Our newby froze, wiggled the tiller, closing at 25 knots – round mouths popped open on Gunsmoke – anticipating disaster. Go Up! Bow Up! Go RIGHT! NOW! Newby steered us up, just enough to slip past Gunsmoke’s stern. But there was no rest on that course, right behind Gunsmoke an F31 crossed our stern – flying a float over our transom – they could have reached down and stolen our ensign – fast and furious!

20110118-103538I went trimaran sailing yesterday – took little Maravilla out for a spin. Spoke to no one as I readied the boat, cantankerous and grumpy. I cast off and set sail quick – impatient. Tacked and gybed single handed across a lovely, cool sea breeze against a flood tide in brilliant sunshine. Down the channel between the islands to the wide glittering ocean. Maneuvered back into the Sound, to reach across the flood bows down, sheets eased, windward float high. Tacked back and did it again, out to the sea buoy this time. Pelicans dove on the fish stirred up in the flood, clumsy Northern Gannets struggled into the air to race ahead of the boat, wheel and dive. An Osprey hovered up-sun into the wind, stooped, splashed. Two powerful strokes and she was aloft, shivered the water off wicked wings and flew her catch to the littles in the nest.  Below them a grumpy old man in a red foul weather coat eased the helm, cracked the sheets just so, and flew a miraculous white trimaran upwind, one glorious float high, grey hair upswept by the playful breath of the sea – grumpy no more.

F27 beating

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