Article on Sailing the Tri-Star 24

From Multihull International, August 1995 by Paul Constantine
(page 4 of 4) Page 1 Page 2 Page 3
Cover photo

Dear Mr Horstman,

I have read your book "Trimaran Sailing," bought your catalogue and best of all, sailed on the Tri-Star 24 that Pat Webb in Henwich built to your design.

I am terribly impressed with the sailing qualities of Pat Webb's boat and am currently contemplating to have a Tri-Star 29 built.

Designer Notes Windage is a function of the silhouette area and parasitic drag of the rigging. The side by side photo here ** shows that even if the ama chine is the deck line that this does not translate into excessive windage, just the contrary. Tri-Star interiors are spacious and usable with netting between to filter the spray. Tri-Stars are designed to sail at an enjoyable lower angle of heel than most trimarans, just note the published photos. Whatever is said, you want comfort, performance, strength and a design that may be enjoyed by everyone. Pat's 24 is all that and is typical of what I try to design into all Tri-Stars. I am pleased Pat is happy with the 24, I am too, so much so I would like one too.

       **See Trimaran Photos - Tri-Star 27-9 "Raft With Brown"

Tristar 24 Sail No. 3

After nearly three years of work the boat has been launched and put through its paces. I put her afloat on the 20th August and sailed her for about six weeks and then tucked her away for the winter. I must first congratulate you on producing a fine design. She looks good, handles well and is quite suprisingly fast . The latter comment may not surprise you but as she came together, I began to feel that the solid construction and spacious accomadation would be very detrimental to her performance, how wrong I was. I managed to race a few times finishing first in my club races but not getting a position as they were trials to establish a handicap figure.

Pat's Boat

WHEN PAT TELEPHONED to invite me to ride on his new boat, the Horstman-designed Tri-Star 24, I was curious to know how it performed. "Interesting", he said, "I think you'll find it interesting." Pretty non-commital for most people, but as Pat is the most undemonstrative man that one would ever meet, this bland mystery rated as a pretty punchy statement. I could tell that he was excited. Nice isn't it, when after all the launchings that he's seen, he can still get excited. Standing on his doorstep looking out across the harbour the little yellow craft could be seen bobbing on its distant mooring. He was describing to me the details of the launch but revealing nothing about the way it handled. The only certainty that he'd conflmled was that he had actually sailed it. Approaching it in an ancient, leaky dinghy I was concentrating on keeping my backside dry as it was my job to hold down and field the wave splash so that he could operate the old outboard in the dry. I didn't have much time to study the boat as we bumped through the waves towards it. I just gathered it was a plumb bowed and fairly upright at the back. No hint of an overhang and the most romantic descriptive word which I could conjure up was 'squat'.

The trimaram might be short but it had high topsides. The deckedge was at the limit of our reach from the tiny tender. As the deck was carried right across onto the float the freeboard was uniformly high right around the boat and the new, smoothly painted surfaces offered no convenient hand hold. Standing on my precarious platform secured only by the downward pressure of my hands on the gunwale wasn't the best introduction to my date for the day. She was a pretty gaudy number. 'Why bright yellow' I was wondering as I braced my feet to keep the two boats apart. Some multihulls are strange enough to the unpracticed eye without any further advertising. Following a couple of gymnastic manoeuvres I found myself over the stem and onto the deck. This multihull was stranger than most. There was enough surface area to comfortably land a jump jet and where were the hulls? The short square shape had dumpy bumps for bows and stems grafted onto the comers of the deck rectangle. Nothing long, elegant and slender here, just a square with a mast sticking up in the middle. There was scant evidence that this was either a cat or a tri, it was just a .. a ... Box!

There was a short chop coming in from the sea and the box ... er, boat was bobbing up and down in response to every ripple. The movement was like beating to windward on the mooring.* I was beginning to feel queasy. 'You kept her light, Pat' I said, hanging onto the the rigging and looking up at the mainsail whose halyard he was securing with a lorry sheeting hitch to a mast cleat. 'Slight teething trouble with the arrangement,' he said with a faint change-the-subject smile. 'Do you want to hold the tiller for me?' I slid back into the cockpit and looked at the bank of electronic information gatherers on the bulkhead facing me. 'Bit high tech for a little un!' 'Nah, it's all cheap stuff these days', he called back from the front right comer of the box where he was busy attaching the dinghy to the mooring. 'You got her, if I let this go?' he added. I hauled on a bit of brightly coloured string that snaked across the deck to the headroller which obligingly unrolled. 'Alright. Let her go.'

     *Observer's Note: Beating to downwind on what? Not a Tri-Star!

I pulled the tiller and fumbled the shiny new sheet onto the tiny toy winch. She was off and away. Instantly. Didn't gather momentum. Didn't wait just went. The rocking stopped. Steady as a rock but much more mobile. 'Interesting.' l said. 'I thought you'd find it so,' said Pat with that faint smile again.

Many other boats were beating out of the harbur. We were catching them. All of them. 'How long is this thing?' 'Twenty four feet.' 'Only 24ft? So why is it doing what it's doing?' With only 14 knots of windspeed all small cruisers sail at roughly comparable speeds, but we were two or three knots faster and ten degrees closer to the wind than anything else.

In the harbour entrance it was lumpy and should have been knocking the wind out of our sails but it didn't, we just kept right on. The boat was responsive, accurate in its steering and relentless in its motion. The windspeed went up to 19 knots and she set herself flrmly in the groove, virtually self~steering at 7-8 knots tight on the wind. The performance chacteristics were similar to a 35 footer. How could this little box do it? She tacked and was away without pause.

We were well out to sea, having left all other craft behind, meeting incoming craft rolling gently under their spinnakers. We turned to run and the feeling of progress and constant movement didn't diminish. Even with her little sails she continued to provide that same two or three knots of extra boatspeed on the running craft equipped as they were with their specialist downwind sails. This wasn't so much interesting as amazing: some of them were big boats. An outstanding feature of her handling became apparent, namely the certainty and docile nature of her steering on offwind courses.

We cut away onto a reach to say hello to a heavy cruising cat. It was as if he was standing still. Our motion was perpetual as we described a ring around him and returned towards the harbour with the wind steadying up at 20-22 knots. This was exciting. Every craft was now running at hull speed, including the 40 footers. All the crews were revelling in their maximum performance, some were even beginning to shorten sail, crawling forward along their narrow side decks to claw down headsails. We were overhauling them with 10-12-13 knots showing on our log. Interesting had become impressive and that was an understatemenL We showed our transoms to everything and we did it sailing flat and upright with a mug of tea in hand. They followed and wallowed with white knuckles on their tillers, close to broaching.

Running well upstream we ran out of boats to show off to, so we turned to beat back througb them, still Standing more upright than they. We picked up the mooring, doused the sails and went down into the shiny wooden interior to wonder at this deceptive little crate .. er, craft. Sitting in the modest spartan cabin, one looked right across to the windows in the float hulls and the boat was 17 It wide. Whoever heard of a 24ft boat with such a cabin width? Claustrophobia wasn't to be found aboard, but mobility on the mooring was. I was getting dizzy. I rolled over the bunk spoce on top of the wing, to squeeze into the float and press my face against lhe windows. Looking out seemed to reduce the movement and improved my concentration now that I wasn't rattling round likee a pea in a drum 'Is she the best perrformer you've built yet?' I asked, Pat gave me one of his enigmatic smiles and a gentle nod. Praise indeed! Maybe she'll calm down with a bit more internal fitting out.

Here was a craft with exceptional performance in every department, but with no explanation. The boat is square, the shapes are blunt; the topside high, the sailplan modest; all hulls are in the water at rest and the windage is great. It can't do what it does. The only performance feature it has is its yellow colour.

We packed up and left. making the precarious transition into the dinghy. Looking back I was still thinking that if this boat was to be a toy, it would be a Jack-in-the-Box or a pocket rocket, but maybe she's not a toy but a fairy story instead? This is the Ugly Duckling .... but to those who sail in her she's a very fine swan indeed.

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