Trimarans are faster than monohuls and catamarans

At Kavas Yachting we charter a range of catamarans and monohulls. Catamarans have a lot more space below decks and if you’re as interested in socialising as you are in sailing, you may choose the cat for the luxury and comfort.

Catamarans vs Monohulls

From a performance perspective, as a general rule, monohulls are faster into the wind than catamarans yet cats will leave monohulls for dust on downwind legs. Generally, cats slide sideways (‘leeway’) a lot more when sailing into the wind than monohulls, meaning that you will travel further on an upwind leg in order to get where you are going than on a single hulled equivalent. You will travel in a lot more comfort as you do so however!

Froude numbers

In the 19th Century it was discovered that the longer the waterline length of a vessel, the faster it can go. A 40ft catamaran will have twice the waterline length of a monohull of the same length and can go considerably quicker as a result. What you pay for in leeway can be regained from the sheer speed. This is why experienced multihull sailors won’t even try to point as high as monohulls in a dinghy race but will do a ‘Voyage Made Good’ (VMG) calculation that enables them to sail further but much more quickly, and thereby to get to the next buoy more quickly than the monohull.

Flatter is faster

The reason that dinghy sailors have trapezes and ‘hike out’ as they sail is to keep the hull as flat as possible in the water. This increases the speed of the boat. If you went ‘hull out’ on a cruising catamaran you would be on the way to serious trouble! Generally, cats will hardly heel over and you will just accelerate in higher winds, where on a monohull you could be laid flat and broach. The flipside of this is that on a cat you don’t always know when you are going dangerously fast and are at risk of going over.

It really does pay to do a multihull sailing conversion course before taking a cat out as you can learn what to watch for. It will teach you to get the best out of the boat at all points of sail too.

Trimarans and performance

Based on the Froude numbers, and the idea that flatter is faster, trimarans are the performance sailor’s vessel of choice. They can sail as close to the wind as monohulls with similar leeway figures too. The chief sacrifice is space!

Being so much faster than monohulls, this is one of the reasons you will see top yacht racers such as Thomas Colville choosing trimarans for their long distance world record attempts. The furthest ever travelled under sail in 24 hours was 908 miles on the trimaran Banque Populaire V. By comparison the world record for a monohull was set by the 100ft Comanche at 618 nautical miles, or nearly 30% less than the trimaran.

You would also love to read this:

Monohulls vs Catamarans

Weta dinghies

There is a relatively new class of sailing dinghy that can be used for blasting around the buoys or for performance day sailing. The 14.5ft Weta dinghy is extremely light and fast, yet can be broken down very quickly to be stored in a similar space to a monohull. It can also be towed on a car trailer of a similar size to that of a Wayfarer.

Weta dinghies class

They are stable and no one needs to dash around the boat to set sails as the foresails are all roller furling. Unlike the Wayfarer, you can get some amazing speeds out of them too – the fastest speed recorded on a Weta is somewhere around 19kts, something that the Wayfarer would only do on a car trailer!

Trimaran dinghies have long been used for disabled sailing as you don’t have to shift about in the cockpit to maintain stability while enjoying blasting about the lake or bay. Weta took this idea and honed the concept into something everyone should consider if they want to enjoy the performance of a multihull yet the convenience of a monohull.

The downside</h

Most cruising trimarans both take up more space on the water (meaning you have to pay more for marina fees) and have similar space below to that of monohulls.

This is why it is unlikely you will ever see us at Kavas chartering out a trimaran.

For the performance junkie who likes a fix of speed, the trimaran is something to seriously consider – they really are the speed machine of choice for the discerning all out racer or someone who just likes a good blast on the water…