Saturday, February 13, 2016
Text Size

What is a Trimaran?

A trimaran is a multihulled boat consisting of a main hull (vaka) and two smaller outrigger hulls (amas), attached to the main hull with lateral struts (akas). The design and names for the trimaran components are derived from the original proa constructed by native Pacific Islanders.

Folding Trimarans

Several manufacturers build trimarans in which the floats can be folded near to the main hull. This allow them to be trailerable and/or to fit in a normal monohull space in a marina. At least 5 technologies are in use:

  • Trimax trimarans use a hightech folding mechanism
  • Astusboats use telescopic tubes to connect the floats to the main hull.
  • Farrier Marine use a vertical folding mechanism, first used on the Trailertri and subsequently on most of his designs. All Farrier designed boats are known as Fboats (F22, F24, F27 etc).
  • Whisper also uses a vertical folding mechanism
  • Corsair Marine uses a vertical articulation. This system was designed by Ian Farrier and first used by corsair on the "sailing hall of fame" design the F27. All Corsair boats post Farrier designs are known as "Cboats" (C24,C28 etc)
  • Dragonfly Trimarans use a nearly horizontal articulation called SwingWing. The slightly angle makes the floats fold into the narrower, lower part of the central hull and also increases stability when in the folded position. A similar horizontal articulation design is also used in the Seaon 96CRB. This kind of system was first used in Ocean Bird trimarans designed by John Westell and built by Honnor Marine Ltd of Totnes.
  • Telstar 28 uses a unique horizontal folding design along with a simple mast raising system to facilitate trailer sailing. It can be powered easily with the amas folded in or extended.


Multihulls are quite popular for racing, especially in Europe and Australia, and are somewhat popular for cruising in the Caribbean and South Pacific. They appear less frequently in the United States, although they are gradually becoming more popular, in Florida and the Caribbean. Until the 1980s most multihull sailboats (except for beach cats) were built either by their owners or by boat builders on a semi-custom basis. Since then several companies have been successful selling mass-produced (by boat industry standards) boats.

Popular multihulls

There are many types of multihulls in different categories. Among the small sailing catamarans, also called beach catamarans, the most recognized racing classes are the Hobie Cat 16, Formula 18 cats, A-cats and the Olympic multihull called Tornado.

Pure power catamarans are becoming a common sight in international charter fleets in the Caribbean and Mediterranean. A new breed of catamarans has also now started to take shape in the form of the mega or super catamaran. This definition is reserved for those catamarans over 60 feet in length. It usually takes one year to build these huge vessels and often a large amount of customization takes place at the request of the owner who commissions the vessel.

Larger boats include Corsair Marine (mid-sized trimarans), and Privilege (large, luxurious catamarans). The largest manufacturer of large multihulls is Fountaine Pajot in France. But also the much larger French trimarans of the ORMA racing circuit and round the world record attempts are included in this.

In the powerboat part of the multihull spectrum we find a range of boats from small single pilot Formula 1 power boat series to the large multi-engined or even gas turbined power boats that are used in the off-shore powerboat racing series and that are piloted by 2 to 4 pilots.

See also: