Ideas aplenty on our three-day test of 40ft cruising multihulls

It’s many years since Yachting World undertook
one of its once well-known ‘one of kind’ rallies. This used to be an annual
feature of boat test coverage going back to the 1960s: an annual three-day test
fest, involving a group of similar boats sailed together on passage somewhere
and involving (inevitably) late nights at anchor and conviviality into the wee

After a hiatus of more than a decade, we’re off
on a major jolly test rally this week. We – almost
the whole YW team, plus dealers and owners – started from the Solent yesterday
morning and headed west in three cruising catamarans, the Broadblue 435,
Fountaine Pajot Lipari 41 and the Lagoon 400.

Over the next few days we’ll be putting these
three boats through their paces, living on board, cooking, anchoring, no doubt
partying, and at the end will come one of the biggest single test features we
have ever done, a 20-pager in our December issue.

I’ve been angling for a test of multihulls for
some time. On the various cruising events I cover I’ve seen a steady rise in
their numbers. On the ARC this year there could be as many as 30 going
transatlantic and the percentage now is fairly steady at 10% of the fleet.
Around the world, catamarans are a growing component of bareboat charter

The reason is pretty obvious: there’s lots of
space for a given length, they stay reasonably steady at sea and all these
advantages make inviting along less experienced or even inexperienced friends
and families easier.

Yesterday, I was on the Lipari 41 with owners
Gerry and Wendy Addis. They are both very experienced sailors and have owned
racing and cruising monohulls and a motorboat and gone some long distances on
previous boats.

Gerry and Wendy have a number of clever ideas
on their boat, which they bought at the Southampton Boat Show last year. This
is just one, and I like it a lot.

This is their asymmetric spinnaker, which
attaches to a Facnor continuous furler on a flip-up sprit. The sail furls
around a luff rope. On the middle of the luff is a short Spectra line attached
to a foam sleeve on the luff rope (which you should be able to make out in one
of the photos below) which helps it furl neatly at the luff and prevents wraps.

When gybing, Gerry prefers to furl first and
unfurl on the new gybe. It avoids having the very long sheets needed for either
inside or outside gybing, a long prodder (and the rod you’d otherwise need to
stop the sheets getting snagged under the furled or stemhead fitting),
eliminates the risk of a wrap and is almost as quick.

Furling it in is easy, operating the furling
line from the starboard sidedeck. It’s so much simpler than dancing on the
foredeck with a snuffer dowsing line, cursing when the bucket gets jammed, or
struggling when the wind’s piped up and suddenly you’ve got a job on your hands
to get it down.

I can’t claim that this is an exhaustive test,
as we only got about 10 knots of true wind at the time, but I like the look of
this solution very much. I can’t see why it wouldn’t be a good (possibly
better) alternative to a cruising chute in a snuffer.

The photos below show how it works:

luff rope

luff rope
luff rope