Video snapshot of Jon Montgomery's Quatrefoil, a design which he believes could become a record-breaking challenger 25/1/07

Bruno Peyron sailed Orange 2 into the record books and is the man to beat with his ‘no limit’ approach to maxi catamaran sailing. Modern catamarans owe more to sophisticated technology than just sweet hull lines. The early Polynesians would have been amazed at how far their original concept has developed.

Catamarans have always been a source of great interest to me, and after designing beach catamarans (such as the Catapult), my thoughts turned to the recent interest in maxi-multihulls, and from this Quatrefoil took shape in the form of a 1:50th scale model sporting four free-standing rigs.

The concept took some getting used to, and how would it behave on water? The only way to find out was to build a working model which proved more difficult than expected.

Joining the British Model Multihull Association was the first important step, as their members sail a variety of multihulls, some constructed from Kevlar and carbon fibre. My chosen method of construction was balsa wood, coated with 25 gsm glassfibre epoxy resin, and with help from Mike Dunkley (a leading BMMA member), the complexities of the radio controls gradually got sorted out.

The first sailing model, Quatrefoil RC1 had 1.6m hulls, and was sailed for the first time in May 2003. It showed definite promise although having the four rigs linked to one winch threw up a few problems. This model was entered for the AYRS John Hogg Prize in 2003, and with a fortunate win came a decent cheque which was immediately allocated to building a 2 metre version, Quatrefoil RC2, and this was launched in March 2005.

This model benefited from lessons learnt and a new sail control system made sailing far simpler. With a GPS strapped to the aft cross beam, she regularly managed 9-10 knots. By now the bug had really bitten, and with this new level of experience, Quatrefoil RC3, another 1:20th scale model was built and launched in June 2006. The main differences were more buoyant hulls, together with a number of refinements to the foils and cross beam profiles. Storm sails were added to the inventory, just in time for a meeting at Hampton Court Model Sailing Club in early August 2006, and with a gusty, northerly breeze, we pushed the peak speed up to 11.7 knots, which seemed to impress the local mono hull sailors.

During 2007, I plan to improve the sail inventory and learn a lot more about radio-controlled sailing.

Seeking proof of concept would mean building a 40m Quatrefoil which is far beyond my means so perhaps strapping a GPS to a 1:20th scale model of Orange 2 might give a comparison to judge the Quatrefoil concept. See video of the Quatrefoil in action. 

For original video footage of the Quatrefoil in action in September 2005 click here. 

To order a copy of the Quatrefoil feature which appeared on page 41 of the October 2005 issue of Yachting World magazine click here.