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Old 30-06-2017, 04:21   #1
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No love for trimarans - why?

There are literally hundreds of mono-manufacturers, some islands are full of cat's (not the four legged ones...) - but I feel trimarans are very underrepresented in the boat world. Only a handful of manufacturers exist, competition is very limited. Why?

I see, that costs are high - but I assign that to the lack of competition and the small scale production.

I especially like the folding type, which offers huge deck space compared to a mono while you can fold the amas in the marina that you don't pay a cat's rate.

So far I concluded:
+deck space
+speed
+trailerability

-accommodation/storage
-self-righting
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Old 30-06-2017, 04:37   #2
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Re: No love for trimarans - why?

Trimarans have to be kept small--the main hull is of necessity very skinny, and the amas MUST be very lightweight, or else all the advantages of speed are lost. While cats are very sensitive to weight, trimarans are even more. It's a serious challenge to make something light enough that's still stiff enough, and once you try to make super-stiff members to hold the amas out, that also have to fold, you're adding weight for strength and stiffness, or or losing the last two to save on the first. In the end, you have a very wide boat, unwieldy to dock, with very little interior space for the length and breadth, and about zero cargo capacity.
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Old 30-06-2017, 04:44   #3
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Re: No love for trimarans - why?

Folding tris are niche market boats. Relatively expensive with very limited interior volume, they only appeal to a much more limited market segment than monos or cats.

The limited interior volume makes it much more like camping under sail than cruising comfortably.

I used to crew on a Corsair F-31. Great fun to sail, but I grew to hate trailer sailing.

While I would be willing to do longer trips on a folding tri as an adventure, it would not be viable for us as a cruising boat because my wife would not go for it.
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Old 30-06-2017, 07:29   #4
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Re: No love for trimarans - why?

Once you get into cruising boats, accommodations sell and to get the same accommodations, you need a much larger boat with a tri.

I know you can come up with exceptions and it's hard to compare but a 35' Catamaran might have the interior of a 40-45' monohull. To get the same accommodations in a tri, you are looking at probably a 50' tri unless you give it a standard mono central hull in which case, you aren't going to have a speed demon. Plus the tri accomodations are awkward with a narrow hull stretched out over a long distance.

Tris really fit a small niche and in the new market, they don't sell well.
- The smaller folding tris are best suited to weekending. More camping than living aboard. Not a big market for a 6 figure weekend boat.
- The large tris are even harder to find a home for in a marina, so that means living at anchor...most new boat owners are not anchoring out full time (that's more for 2nd and 3rd owners). As you get really big, cats can compete on performance while having better accommodations.

Now I'm sure someone will come on and say they full time on a sub 30 foot tri and it can be done but they are the exception not the rule.
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Old 30-06-2017, 08:06   #5
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Re: No love for trimarans - why?

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
Once you get into cruising boats, accommodations sell and to get the same accommodations, you need a much larger boat with a tri.

I know you can come up with exceptions and it's hard to compare but a 35' Catamaran might have the interior of a 40-45' monohull. To get the same accommodations in a tri, you are looking at probably a 50' tri unless you give it a standard mono central hull in which case, you aren't going to have a speed demon. Plus the tri accomodations are awkward with a narrow hull stretched out over a long distance.

Tris really fit a small niche and in the new market, they don't sell well.
- The smaller folding tris are best suited to weekending. More camping than living aboard. Not a big market for a 6 figure weekend boat.
- The large tris are even harder to find a home for in a marina, so that means living at anchor...most new boat owners are not anchoring out full time (that's more for 2nd and 3rd owners). As you get really big, cats can compete on performance while having better accommodations.

Now I'm sure someone will come on and say they full time on a sub 30 foot tri and it can be done but they are the exception not the rule.
Awkward, that these are not reflected in pricing, probably they try to capitalize in that niche...
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Old 30-06-2017, 08:14   #6
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Re: No love for trimarans - why?

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Originally Posted by GTom View Post
Awkward, that these are not reflected in pricing, probably they try to capitalize in that niche...
Ferrari lives in a niche market...doesn't mean they are cheap or make good cars for commuting or road trips.
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Old 30-06-2017, 08:19   #7
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Re: No love for trimarans - why?

The Neel 45 is an attempt at a mass market trimaran. I really like the layout. There were early reports of serious manufacturing and/or design problems, I don't know if they got it worked out or what. They seem to be reasonably priced for the amount of space you get, and the word is they could reach almost 20 knots without breaking a sweat.

I keep watching for more information on the defects that were seen early, and don't know if it was a one-off issue or an ongoing problem.
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Old 30-06-2017, 08:35   #8
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Re: No love for trimarans - why?

All of the above. I've owned a Piver and Sunrunner. Speed,the ability to run shallow inlets and sea worthiness are the pluses. However, some common sense is required. Once over they don't come back.
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Old 30-06-2017, 08:41   #9
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Re: No love for trimarans - why?

Just curious. Nobody is mentioning Neel Trimarans. I have been following them for a few years. Why are they not popular. Lots of room and it appears they have the speed to match.
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Old 30-06-2017, 08:46   #10
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Re: No love for trimarans - why?

Trimarans have the beam of Cats, but without the space of cats ( Neel's excepted)
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Old 30-06-2017, 08:51   #11
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Re: No love for trimarans - why?

In larger lengths over somewhere around 30ft theyre less stable than a cat due to less buoyancy in the leeward hull. Which at the very least makes them more tender but also more likely to capsize. In particular in beam on sea where the righting moment is reduced to 1/2 that of a cat. And where the submerged leeward hull can push under the boat around the main hull axis and the weather sponson may be rising on a wave adding to rollover forces. But in shorter lengths, say less than 30ft they generally are kinda spartan in accommodation being rather long and narrow.

Their niche might be the boats not intended to sleep or shelter more than a suffering few, or for weekends. Also boats intended for more or less off the beach or trailer boats, where they just seem better able to cope with setting up rigging and by folding or collapsing sponsons.
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Old 30-06-2017, 09:01   #12
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Re: No love for trimarans - why?

Like Benz I have chosen to cruise on a heavy displacement monohull, but anchored and seemingly abandoned in La Laz is a 40 footish, most likely red under a layer of white guano, Dick Newick tri that makes me want to switch modes of transportation whenever I am near it. I think it probably has at least as much space as our Cape George. But we are old and don't need to go too fast anymore or need anymore long labors of love and hope. But a guy can dream you know.
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Old 30-06-2017, 09:08   #13
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Re: No love for trimarans - why?

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Originally Posted by ZULU40 View Post
In larger lengths over somewhere around 30ft theyre less stable than a cat due to less buoyancy in the leeward hull. Which at the very least makes them more tender but also more likely to capsize. In particular in beam on sea where the righting moment is reduced to 1/2 that of a cat. And where the submerged leeward hull can push under the boat around the main hull axis and the weather sponson may be rising on a wave adding to rollover forces. But in shorter lengths, say less than 30ft they generally are kinda spartan in accommodation being rather long and narrow.

Their niche might be the boats not intended to sleep or shelter more than a suffering few, or for weekends. Also boats intended for more or less off the beach or trailer boats, where they just seem better able to cope with setting up rigging and by folding or collapsing sponsons.
Don't wish to get into a discussion of cats verses tris. I think your analysis is wrong as far as going turtle. Keep in mind you not only have center of buoyancy but the center of gravity to consider.
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Old 30-06-2017, 10:31   #14
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Re: No love for trimarans - why?

Although we are planning to sell her and move to a cat, it's only due to advanced arthritis, and retirement in a handful of years, at which time we'll be in our 70s and 60s. I've owned a Condor 40, F-31 and now a folding C-36. Last year we cruised from the Annapolis area through NYC, over to Martha's Vineyard and back, and had a great time.

Yes, there were only two of us, and it's not like a condo on the water, but a queen berth aft, standing headroom galley with hot water, sink and two burner stove, head with sink, toilet and shower, and a v berth forward made it more comfy than camping with a tent!

As others have pointed out, it's all about what you need and want.
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Old 30-06-2017, 11:24   #15
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Re: No love for trimarans - why?

The OP's post indicated foldable, trailerable tris which are pretty small. As for the comparisons between cats and tris, most of the "advantages" of cats comes at the cost of windage and those same proponents conveniently omit the loud booming or slapping of waves on the underdeck in choppy seas which cannot happen on a tri. It is true that the main hull is less roomy than a mono of the same length but have you ever been in a mono that has queen size berths on either side of the main saloon, access to them from the pilothouse and a head in each ama? Oh, wait, the mono doesn't have amas. Back to cats: 2 engines instead of one. On and on, the arguments never end, sounds like a day in Congress. You go with what you like and throw the one finger salute to everyone else. The main thing is to get out there and cruise!
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