I want to break the Around the Island Race record on a budget, and I may now have the boat to do it. To be more exact, the record I want to break is the overall speed record, currently held by the Extreme 40 Aberdeen Asset Management, helmed by multi-record winning and professional sailor Nick Moloney. Moloney and crew broke the record in 2013 achieving a time of 2 hours 13 minutes and 11 seconds. That’s an average speed of around 12 knots over the 26 NM course, but significantly higher when one takes into account the upwind legs which cannot be sailed in a straight line. Read about the race here.
I want to break the Around the Island Race record on a budget, and I may now have the boat to do it
The Extreme 40 is a carbon fiber racing machine, a scaled up version of the Tornado Olympic class Catamaran but with the ability to hit 40 knots in the right winds. Things have moved on in the racing World though – in the era of foiling technology, the 2005 designed Extreme 40 is now old and you can pick them up now for less than Euro 100,000. But even Euros 100,000, bargain or not, is still way out of my league.
The budget I set for myself was a mere US$ 10,000 – including shipping! It became clear to me quite quickly, that at this budget, in order to compete with something as fast and as big as the Extreme 40, I was going to need to be foiling, and with Mach 2 Moths (foiling mono-hull dinghies) costing a cool US$ 15K+, I was going to need to be imaginative. So in late 2013 I started looking online at second hand foiling mutli-hulls to see what I could get that would be fast enough to break the record, forgiving enough for a mere amateur sailor such as myself, and affordable enough to acquire without breaking the bank.
the budget I set for myself was a mere US$ 10,000 – including shipping!
And that’s when I came across and subsequently bought a Windrider RAVE. RAVEs are 16 foot hydrofoiling trimarans built by Windrider in the USA between 1998 and 2003. 136 of them were produced in all. Built more than a decade before the America’s Cup AC72s foiled their way around San Francisco Bay in 2013, the RAVES in many ways were way ahead of their time.
RAVEs are 16 foot hydrofoiling trimarans built in the USA between 1998 and 2003…136 of them were produced in all
They are designed to accommodate the helmsman behind and a passenger in front in the central hull facing forwards, with all the controls within arms reach – in the position of a pilot. The rudder direction is controlled by the helm’s feet via foot-paddles enabling the hands to be kept free for the sails and foil trim. The RAVE has a mast length of 23 feet, some 44% longer than the hull length. It holds a main sail, a self-tacking jib and for lighter winds a furling reaching sail, referred to by RAVE sailors, as a Screecher. There is no boom on the mainsail. The RAVE has foils on the two outer float hulls and on the rudder. In all, this little trimaran is rather heavy weighing a fairly hefty 400 Ibs or 181 Kg in large part due to it’s aluminum foils, mast and polyethylene hulls. The RAVE is built to be durable as well as fast, although one can’t help wondering just how much faster it would be if made from lighter materials.
The RAVE’s optimal position of sailing is a broad reach where as much as 2 to 2.5 times the speed of the wind can be achieved
In terms of the sailing performance, from the extensive reviews I’ve read, the RAVE’s optimal position of sailing is a broad reach where as much as 2 to 2.5 times the speed of the wind can be achieved. That means potentially 30+ knots boat speed in as little as 12-15 knots of wind. I’ve seen reports of RAVE’s achieving speeds in excess of 40 knots on this angle to the wind, although the boat designers don’t recommend exceeding 30 knots for safety reasons. Either way, it’s clear that on a broad reach, this boat is an absolute weapon. If only the Around the Island Race was a straight forward reach!
Where the RAVE apparently can struggle is upwind. Now, it’s well known that multihulls find upwind sailing more challenging than across the wind, but apparently the RAVE finds this position of sailing more challenging than some other multihulls. I have been reliably informed by a Hobie sailor that on a normal windward-leeward race course, the Hobies are able to beat the RAVE. However I’ve also read reviews from RAVE sailors that poor performance upwind needn’t be the case. Many of them claim to foil upwind too and achieve an angle to the wind as close as many mono-hulls. So I guess the jury is out…
My other big concern is pitch-polling, that means flipping the boat over front ways. Whilst by no means exclusively, RAVEs are predominantly sailed inland on flat water. I am somewhat nervous about how the boat will perform heading downwind in a moderate swell. Of course, the foils will go a long way to enabling the hulls to sit above much of the swell, but at a speed of say 30 knots, there will be little room for error coming off the top of wave into the back of another. I suspect I will need to learn some techniques for slowing the boat down in stronger winds. As a regular sailor of a Ruffian 23′, that’s something I never thought I’d need to say!
The RAVE I’ve bought was built in the early 2000s and has been based in the Maryland USA for the past several years. My RAVE, currently in a container in the Atlantic Ocean arrives in mid-July, and it’ll need some minor maintenance to get it up and running. Hopefully by August though, I’ll be out on the water practicing and learning what it takes to fly a trimaran fast enough to break a record. More to come soon…