Sailing on Sodeb'O with Coville

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by Chris Ostlind, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    I can let the cat out of the bag now.

    Next week I'm going to France to sail with Thomas Coville on his record setting, all carbon fiber Maxi Trimaran, Sodeb'O.

    I'll be spending several days in Brest with sailing sessions on the Atlantic.

    When I get back, I'll be able to supply a pile of photos, video clips and my impressions of what it is like to sail on board one of the fastest vessels on the water today with one of the most talented skippers on the planet.

    If anyone has any suggestions as to what they'd like to know from the trip, please leave your suggestions as posts on this thread.

    I'll be posting video clips and photos on my blog when I return, as well as selected clips on Youtube, so there will be plenty of stuff to see.


    Attached Files:

  2. Gary Baigent
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    Gary Baigent Senior Member


    No I'm not envious Chris, no way - anyway congratulations.
    I would like to know how the boat heels in stronger wind and whether Thomas Coville is considering foil assistance.
  3. catsketcher
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    catsketcher Senior Member

    Who did you have to kill?

    Good on you Chris

    I was on the boat just after it was launched. I offered my first born to get a ride but the crew list was overflowing. Well done and hang on. I would love to hear a well reasoned view on general overview, special high speed sailing techniques, how the crew think about the boat - do they punish or nurture it, interesting bits of bosunry, your opinion on the wave piercing bows and other design features. If you could do a Bob Perry on the design I would be very happy.


    Phil Thompson
  4. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest

    what he said......
  5. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    Well, I nailed down a new camera rig for the trip to France. The kind folks at Bonica have set me up with one of their handheld HD video cameras with the capability to shoot mid res stills as well. The whole package is water shielded with a silicone jacket for shooting on board and there's a watertight o-ringed case for in the water shooting that is rated to 180 ft. depth.

    Looking to get some incredible footage and still images on board Sodeb'O so you guys can all share in the adventure.


    Attached Files:

  6. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    That Big French Boat in La Trinite sur Mer

    Just rolled in from France and I'm beat from the non-stop, as well as the shuffle at Charles deGaulle after shuttling in from Nantes early this morning.

    Sodeb'O is an incredible boat and Thomas Coville is one heck of a nice guy to talk to... let's just leave it at that until I can get a good sleep in me.

  7. catsketcher
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    catsketcher Senior Member

    You can sleep when you're dead Chris!

    I gotta know and I want to know soon. Get the fingers blurring and let me know what she feels like - I have stood on her and talked to Coville but didn't get a sail. Fill in the blank in my experience!

  8. Manie B
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    Manie B Senior Member

  9. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    OK, I've managed to pull myself together to some extent and I can start to write my reports on the Sodeb'O trip.

    I suppose it would be appropriate to show a couple of photos from the afternoon's sailing, so I've attached them below.

    The first image is what it looks like to approach the leeward ama of Sodeb'O when she's luffed-up. We pulled up to the ama and a huge foam pad was lowered that we climbed over to get to the nets. A nice sea of about 5-6 feet was running, so it made for a fun time while holding a video camera in one hand.

    The second image is pretty obvious. This is what the leeward ama bow looks like when the boat is loafing along at 26 knots and two reefs tucked in the main.

    The third frame is Thomas Coville and myself out on the forward aka and tramp. I got to talk to Coville during this session for about 15-20 minutes before we had a minor scramble when the boat was hit with a gust well up into the mid thirties. Sodeb'O took the burst in stride, stuffed the leeward ama under water up to the forward beam and then gathered up and pushed all that power into forward thrust.

    It never felt like anything ugly was happening at all. The crew just tended the sheets, watched the ama and cruised right through it. Such a wonderful boat with so many forgiving qualities.

    The last frame shows the guest crew getting principal instructions from Thomas when we were all first aboard. I'm the one with the waterpoof dive camera shooting video of Coville as he gave us the lay of the craft and what he expected.

    This guy, Thomas Coville, is simply, a real nice man. I'm not saying that because he's one of the reigning Kings in the business. Generally, I'm just not that much in awe of famous people as I'm mostly looking to see just how much humanity they display and with what level of arrogance. I'm happy to say that Coville is a very regular guy with a full package of extraordinary talents. No artifice, no posing, just a straight forward person with an abundance of charm and easy going manners. In fact, every single one of Coville's crew members share these traits; they are really happy people with a genuine willingness to share their knowledge. They are deeply rich in the experience of sailing large scale multihulls at speed. Ask them a question about the boat, or multihull sailing in general and you not only get an answer, but they offer a personal embellishment that takes your simple question and turns it into a fountain of information. If you are taken technicaly and/or romantically by these amazing boats, you just naturally want to spend time around these guys.

    When Coville told us he would answer any questions; he meant it, as throughout the day of sailing, I managed to get several one on one sessions with him, typically lasting 15-20 minutes each time. I asked many potentially sensitive questions and each and every one was answered with a type of gentle kindness and self confident behavior that spoke of a guy who does not need to hide anything. We talked about family issues, Joyon, technical decisions about the boat... both now and in the future, his career, education... just all kinds of stuff.

    Oh, did I say that I got to drive the boat, as well? Yeah, the carbon wheel fell into my hands and I had an absolute friggin' blast. More on that later with the full report, but I will tell you this; It was nothing like any boat I've ever driven. Not trying to cast it in any pseudo, UFO kind of mystique at all, it just handled in a very special way which required a different type of sensory approach.

    So, that's the tease, boys. Ask any questions you would like and I'll do my best to answer them from what I learned during the entire day.

    Oh, one last thing. After the sailing, we got to drive over to the Sodeb'O compound and snoop around inside while waiting for Coville to join us for dinner. The shop setup is a big huge fenced yard with two monster warehouse buildings inside. Well, inside the Sodeb'O shop, sitting up on support cradles getting a "bring it up to snuff" session, was the ORMA 60 Sodeb'O all naked and homely, just asking to be explored. More on that as well.

    The images shown below were taken by Kjetil Simonsen and are copyrighted. I do not think that Kjetil will mind if you download them for your PERSONAL enjoyment, but please do not use them for commercial applications without his permission. I can put you in touch with him if you desire this type of use.

    Chris Ostlind
    Lunada Design

    Attached Files:

  10. catsketcher
    Joined: Mar 2006
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    catsketcher Senior Member

    Good teaser Chris

    Well done Chris

    I look forward to the next installment. I am very interested in whether the difference you felt in Sodebo was due to the scale of the tri or something more subtle - maybe the wave piercing nature of the design. I remember sailing Verbatim during my time as a Twiggy owner and it felt totally different - raw power easily translated into motion compared to my previous experience with the Twiggy even though both were reasonably high perormance tris with less than 8 years between their designs. In fact is that not what all good big performance boats do - perform greater speeds with less fuss than their smaller sisters?

    Thanks for thinking about us. I am less green now you have written some snippets but I eagerly await the rest.


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  11. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    For those of you who do not read the Forum material over at Sailing Anarchy, these two questions were recently asked with regards to the Sodeb'O experience and I thought that the info might be interesting here, as well.

    QUOTE (LeoV @ Sep 10 2008, 01:29 AM)
    Good point, what was his education ?

    When does Thomas get scared on the boat ?

    Nice report BTW.

    Thomas has been educated in Computer Engineering. This knowledge is expressed in the fact that he has created his own autopilot system for Sodeb'O. I asked him if it was where he wanted it and he said, "No, not yet perfect, but much better than the systems that are available to me" We talked about the issues for fast multihulls when it came to autopilot systems and he agreed that most of those on the market do not have the ability to respond to such fast craft.

    Thomas never did tell me what would make him scared, though he did relate that he has seen 41 knots on his boat when surfing very large waves in very big wind conditions. I don't know about you, but just guessing from his history in boating and the fact that Sodeb'O is one very fast boat, as it is... This 41 knot figure would be one hell of a ride for anyone and probably shove the pucker factor well into the stratosphere. Just my guess on this, of course.

    Thanks for the compliment, Leo.

    QUOTE (oioi @ Sep 10 2008, 07:18 AM)
    is there a safety trip on the traveller/main that auto dumps it if a big gust comes through whilst he is down below?

    I don't know the immediate answer to that question, but I can find out for you if you give me a day, or two, to interact with the Sodeb'O team in France.

    Thomas is really never down below much, as his cabin environment is immediately open to the boat control deck area (winches, grinders, wheels, etc.) and it is all on the same deck level. There is a very large hatch that allows him (or anyone) to go below into the main hull "carbon wilderness", as it were, and examine the structure of the boat from within, but not an area that is used with any frequency.

    I did go below into the carbon dungeon while out on the boat and it is one noisy environment with all the water rushing past the vaka hull when hooked-up at speed. I'd much rather be up one level, well within the protected cabin structure, plotting my next interactive move with the prevailing weather.
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