My new perspective on multi safety, opinions?

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by peterchech, Oct 16, 2012.

  1. peterchech
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    peterchech Senior Member

    I have badly wanted a trimaran since about 2009 when I daysailed on an f-28, but I can't afford one at the moment and besides that I am beginning to have some doubts about multihulls generally.

    I have been racing on monohulls all year, and have gotten some great experiences racing mostly on a friend's 26' evelyn keelboat but also on a j/105 and j/80, and I have been cruising/daysailing my father's c&c 32 and my own 30 year old Hunter 25.

    While racing, I have had a broach and a knockdown this year. Here's a video of the broach:



    The knockdown was far worse, as a front came through suddenly while doing a distance race (in coastal waters), we autotacked and were taken aback when an a >25 knot wind hit us with full genny and lightwind settings and the boat was knocked down to over 90 degrees. I could see the crew on the low side literally floating near the cabintop until the helm finally got the sheets released.

    While cruising, similar fronts and sudden squalls have often hit my boat, and although I have always been proactive and conservative in reefing, I can easily see how knockdowns happen even in the absence of wave action. If you go down below, or catch a nap, you may not be close enough to the sheet to blow it in time or else a rogue wave could catch you unaware. A properly designed keelboat (not a j/24 obviously :D) when knocked down simply rounds up into the wind.

    What happens in a trimaran, especially when racing, in a broaching situation? What about when short handed, or if taken by surprise, if you don't blow the sheet in time? Assuming non-storm conditions, will a typical trimaran round up? Or does a mistake often lead to a capsized boat? Would love to hear from your experiences here...
     
  2. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    Please try again to load the video. :)
     
  3. Corley
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    Corley epoxy coated

    The normal policy when singlehanding a multihull is to reef to gusts not mean wind strength. Most singlehanded racing multihulls these days run a sheet release system like upsideup they can also be programmed to interface with the autopilot etc. It seems like a huge problem but is not as bad in practice as most times the boat will simply accelerate with the gusts as the righting moment of the platform is far higher than an equivalent monohull. After spending more time on club boats while racing I've realised how wimpy I've been in the past and how hard you can push.

    http://www.ganovelli-concept.fr/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=90
     
  4. CT 249
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    FWIW, personal opinion and experience is that there are too many variables to give any general opinion.

    I have a significant number of friends and acquaintances who have been involved in capsized offshore multis. None of them have died but all have required rescue.

    I have had a significant number of friends and acquaintances who have been involved in the sinking of monos, and some of them have died. The lucky ones died easily, at least one died horribly. However, the number of offshore racing multis capsizing is vastly higher as a proportion of boats sailing, than the number of offshore racing monos sinking.

    Unless you are talking about small (35' or less) multis racing hard, capsizing is a very minor risk (although I do know of one large/medium cruiser/racer cat that capsized in fairly mild conditions in my area in the last few years) and the risk of sinking a mono is even smaller (but it may be more dangerous when it happens). Small (25-33') active performance racing multis around here have a disturbingly high number of capsizes in inshore racing, but they get towed upright with little damage.

    One thing to look out for is those who peddle fantasies and myths to bolster their own side of the case; there are a lot of them going around in this area.
     
  5. Corley
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    Corley epoxy coated

    The interesting thing I found when researching safety and boating fatalaties was that more deaths are caused by going overboard than any other cause and a surprising number of drownings occured in apparently safe areas like marinas when somebody slipped and fell into the water, food for thought.

    Here is an example of how easily things can go pear shaped while you are at sea. A woman lost overboard while apparently attempting to retrieve bean bags that had fallen overboard.

    http://www.news.com.au/travel/news/sea-mystery-as-australian-woman-goes-missing-off-thailands-phuket/story-e6frfq80-1226315920600

    So many things to think about, capsize and sinking are only two of them. As an example many solo sailors on monohulls appear to be lost when the boat as described gets knocked down and they are flung overboard, I say appear as there are generally no witnesses, using appropriate safety equipment such as tethers while offshore and wearing a life jacket when on deck is crucial, personal epirbs are good too but if you are far offshore you may still die of hypothermia before you can be rescued careful thinking and risk management are the only way to mitigate risks. There is no perfect solution either sometimes a tether might hold you under water or drag you next to the boat till you drown or you might get caught in the rig or sheets.
     
  6. SpiritWolf15x
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    SpiritWolf15x Senior Member

    Multihulls don't typically "broach" like monohulls, they fly one or more hulls and then cartwheel. At least, this has been my experience coming from a Tornado and my little 16' trimaran.
     
  7. DarthCluin
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    DarthCluin Senior Member

    Fun is inherently dangerous. You pays your nickel and you takes your chances.
     
  8. kim s
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    kim s Junior Member

    When you broach a mono, from the experiences I have had, has been when there is too much sail up for the conditions and experience of the crew.
    so if you push a mono hard, expect it to bite you. hopefully it will come back up right, occasionally it wont.
    push a mutl to hard in the wrong conditions, most times it will just accellerate and you will release in time, some times you dont , and she goes over.
    of hang on........ dont they call things like that SEAMANSHIP

    I am learning to sail mine, slowly then push a bit harder etc.
    nervous-------crapping myself occasionally.
    feel alive --------oh yes
    learning to sail again after 35 years on monos
    experience--------priceless

    Kim
     
  9. peterchech
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    peterchech Senior Member

    haha from thes posts it seems the key to multihull safety is "don't ever **** up"... unfortunately we are all only human... the skipper, pit crew and foredeck crew on the boat in the video from my op are extremely experienced sailors (several newport-bermuda's and several decades of phrf racing between them), we are sailing downwind in only about 15 knots of wind. Sh*t happens you know....
     
  10. cavalier mk2
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    cavalier mk2 Senior Member

    There is a pretty big difference between multihull racing and cruising in terms of safety margins for capsize. If you are comfortable sailing a small unballasted boat such as a dink where you hand hold the sheets to keep from capsizing, racing a hot multi should be even easier because of the large righting moment. Cruising we have found multihulls to be safer because of the larger deck working area and lack of sudden, steep heeling. It is nice not to have to cook on the cabin floor and the gusts that caused knock downs now cause acceleration. There are challenges that come with the speed but we have found our wild sea stories have tamed out and it is easier to cope with all conditions. Size wise the more under 30 feet you are the more careful you should be for a rule of thumb. These days when I sail on a monohull I feel like I'm riding on a barrel because of the heel and roll. Staying out of the water is the key to safety and I think you'll find more people have gotten wet from falling in than capsizing.
     
  11. Corley
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    Corley epoxy coated

    At Hastings Yacht Club the monohulls head off first normally five to 10 minutes ahead of the multihulls. This post was from the Winter series in July 2011 so you can see its not as dramatic as you think on multihulls in windy and gusty conditions just a bit of common sense required.

    http://mycv-news.blogspot.com.au/2011/07/hastings-yacht-club-race-2-of-winter.html

    Hastings Yacht Club - Race 2 of winter series
    This Saturday just past arrived with a forecast of 20 to 25 knots for race 2 of the Winter series which meant party time for the local multihull fleet...

    With the possibility of 30 knots arriving during the race a short repeating course not too far from base was wisely set by the race committee. The mono fleet went off first downwind...the first brave soul to fly his kite ended up with no mast ... a round of thanks must go to the mono fleet for keeping us entertainined with their frequent and dramatic broaches.

    Our start was rather tame...we were all late over the line...and most decided not to fly a kite with it gusting to about 30knots. Some still decided to play the angles downwind but somehow the gains were not high enough and the direct route seemed to be the way to go. Daylight Robbery and Skeedaddle soon retired with gear problems leaving Frassld, Chilli and Mustang Sally fighting for line honours. On the second time round Al on Sally decided to fly a hasty kite thinking he could sail through the finish line and sort out the mess in his leisure... Sadly for Al the race committee were also enjoying the carnage and sent us off on another lap thwarting Als plans...

    At the back of the fleet With Teeth and Shuttle were having their usual fight for dominance... both boats favor the heavier conditions, one because of boat weight and the other because of crew weight... you decide...

    After two and a half hours racing the first 3 boats were seperated by 10 seconds on corrected time.... Shuttle squeezed into 1st place 4 seconds ahead of With Teeth who was 6 seconds ahead of Mustang Sally...

    Thanks to HYC for running a good race....
     
  12. Richard Woods
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    Richard Woods Woods Designs

    So is this monohull properly designed? many people would think so

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5vK074Ymlqw#!

    At 15sec in you can see it isn't really a HUGE wave, only about 3m high

    Are the multihulls that get into trouble as badly designed as the J24?

    I recall a few years ago that a trimaran capsized in a race in S California but was righted without drama. The major incident in that race was a MOB on a monohull that broached.

    Richard Woods of Woods Designs

    www.sailingcatamarans.com
     
  13. peterchech
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    peterchech Senior Member

    I always wondered what the deal was with that video, whether the skipper did it on purpose and whether he was alright.

    You must admit that, although it lost its mast, it did roll back upright within seconds. From racing monohulls I am seeing that the mono concept is really quite safe to push to the limits, because the absolute worst thing that can happen in heavy winds is a bad broach or knock down. Yes, you better hold on to the boat until it pops back up, but as long as you do you will pop back up and you keep racing.

    My question was regarding pushing multis, and it seems that a fair number do capsize in the racing scene. Not the end of the world I suppose, but certainly not safer than a broaching mono...

    I also wonder about cruising conditions, whether a sudden squall could capsize a smaller multi before you can come up from below (maybe from sleeping) and blow the sheet...

    PS j-24's don't count in this conversation, being an example of how not to design a keelboat safety-wise...
     
  14. CT 249
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    CT 249 Senior Member

    C'mon Richard, you're letting yourself down by using that vid as evidence of anything, surely. If anything is shows astounding seaworthiness.

    The mag I worked for obtained the clip and stills and used it in a cover story. If I recall correctly, it was shot in around 1982 at Southport Seaway or Breaksea Spit. The boat is a Spacesailer 27; either its sistership or the smaller 24 has circumnavigated. It's a voluminous semi-IOR cruiser/racer, much bulkier than most boats of its time.

    The full version, IIRC, featured the boat rolling on an earlier wave, which is why the jib is in the water when this shortened clip commences. I've forgotten how many times the boat rolled, but it was at least twice - and yet the family on board survived with few if any injuries, from memory, and the boat survived in good condition despite being rolled more than once on a sandbank. I think the mast snapped from hitting the bottom rather than from the roll per se- look at the way the wave broke and it is apparent that the water was very shallow.

    The film was taken in very light winds and rounding-up is completely irrelevant.

    This clip is merely evidence that you can use anything out of context. Hundreds of Spacesailers from 18 to 38 feet were built (there are about 4 one design fleets in one state alone) and I've never heard of any one of them being involved in a fatality or a sinking.

    If this vid was at Breaksea Spit, then I think it was near the scene of the loss of two crew of the trimaran Australian Maid in the '72 Brisbane - Gladstone. All of the monos in the race survived. At the next entrance south, a modern cruising cat pitchpoled under motor a couple of years back. So if you want to use old events around this area as evidence of one type being superior, then it may rebound on you.
     

  15. Richard Woods
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    Richard Woods Woods Designs

    Thank you for relating the history of that clip, which I didn't know

    I didn't search hard for a monohull roll over video, as all I wanted was to point out that just because a boat can self right it doesn't necessarily mean it is a "safe" boat

    Richard Woods
     
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