Its rainy and cold today across much of the Northern Hemisphere, perfect weather to sip a bit of your favorite hot libation and read all about a couple of smoking hot trimarans. Today, lets take a look at the Airplay RAW 30 versus two models of the SeaCart.
Airplay Trimarans are manufactured in China under the direction of the transplanted Kiwis of Hudson Marine. The company has a tremendous pedigree manufacturing race boats (see Gunboat), and the Airplay RAW design was optimized by Tony Grainger from one that Corsair Marine decided not to pursue. Airplay produces three different versions of the boat – the RAW, Sport and Sport Plus – but will allow modifications (called Hybrid by Airplay) on any of them. The Farrier pedigree is unmistakable and the folding system is virtually identical to Farrier and Corsair boats. The RAW 30 is the flat out race model designed to fly the main hull, with a tall rig, spartan interior, huge cockpit and creature comfort sacrificed to weight. The Sport should keep her main hull wet, has a less agressive rig, and certain comforts below. The Sport Plus is a center cockpit version of the Sport, the most comfortable of the three while still maintaining spirited performance.
SeaCart trimarans have been around for a little while now, since 2005 in fact. Manufactured by OceanLake Marine in Sweden and designed by Marc Lombard, the all carbon 30 was their first entry into the trimaran market. Designed from the outset to fly the main hull, the 30 promises scintillating performance and is intended to be a flat out race machine. The 30 is not a folding trimaran however, taking several hours to assemble from road-worthy to sea-worthy. The 26 – smaller, lighter but with the same hull flying design brief – does fold however.
Lets crunch some numbers. Admittedly this is necessarily a bit crude, as the data comes from manufacturer publications and is not independently verified. Also these ratios are a bit obsolete in the case of planing sport trimarans, but if we use the same ideology for each boat we should get a rough idea of how they compare. We used only the dry weight for each boat – did not take things like fuel, water or crew into consideration figuring these things would be the same for all three boats. It could be argued that the 26 would only have three crew versus the RAW 30 and SeaCart 30 having 4 – but why complicate things? In order of expected performance:
SeaCart 26 – At 1764 lbs displacement, 26 ft length and upwind sail area of 438 sq ft she shows a SA/Disp ratio of 48.1 and a Disp/WL ratio of 44.8
RAW 30 – At 2965 lbs displacement, 30.2 ft length and upwind sail area of 636 sq ft she shows a SA/Disp ratio of 49.4 and a Disp/WL ratio of 48.05.
SeaCart 30 – at 2100 lbs displacement, 30 ft length and upwind sail area of 645 sq ft she shows a SA/Disp ratio of 63 and a Disp/WL ratio of 34.7.
From this crude comparison, as expected, we can see that all three boats are deep in the performance plus range. All three are fast, but the SeaCart 30 is scary fast! Perhaps OceanLake went a bit too far towards performance with the 30 and felt the need to tone it down a bit with the 26 – in any event – all thee boats will have you rolling monohulls for the sheer joy of it.
All three of these boats offer the experience of flying the main hull on a speeding trimaran. All three will have you hanging on as they accelerate with the gusts and you rise, bear off and blaze away. All three will have you dancing with the apparent wind, sure hand on the stick, lee bow smoking spray, wind in your face, big grin lighting up your weather-beaten face. All three will make you one of the fastest – if not THE fastest kid on the block.
Imagine rounding the top mark in a 20 knot breeze – grey skies and water, a bit of rain, whitecaps – BANG – deploy the Code Zed and hang on. Melges 30 ahead with her crew all huddled aft, big chute pulling hard, throwing lots of spray. Heat up your RAW/SeaCart and then roll down on the apparent – she hums – little talk among the crew – steering to the telltales on the big foresail – you’ve got him – his chute shivers in your bad air – hoot and holler as you roll him down. But you best be a bad-ass sailor – or know a few – because any one of these three ladies can bite you.
So all three provide thrills and spills. How to decide then? The SeaCart 30 is the fastest, but with virtually no interior and must be de-mounted to transport. The RAW 30 is middle of the three in performance, but can be folded and loaded on a trailer, and has the most interior volume. The RAW’s sisters also offer similar performance with serviceable interiors. The SeaCart 26 folds, and offers amazing performance (see #6 off St Barths here) – but has no room below.
Its a difficult market these boats play in and their survival is tenuous at best. The competition is fierce and the incentive to keep costs low is paramount hence Airplay’s factory location in China. There is some news that the SeaCart line could be purchased outright from OceanLake and a fiberglass SeaCart 30 produced, but all that is yet tentative. All this is a concern when you consider requiring factory support or warranty. With that in mind, lets continue on to pricing.
A quick review of todays internet listings –
2014 SeaCart 26 #6 – in St Barths – $67000
2015 Airplay Sport – in Australia – $178000
2006 SeaCart 30 – in Germany – $158000
At these prices, we would have to recommend the SeaCart 26 as the best value. The other two boats just don’t provide nearly $100K dollars worth of additional sizzle.
So, there you go, three tremendous performers, with price tags to match from companies desperate to make an impact in a crowded market. Their competition is not just other trimarans – for the pure speed thrill these boats offer, you could get a cheaper – and faster – catamaran. Its a hard sell for sure, but the athleticism required on the cat would put off an old codger like me. I want a trimaran for the smoother, more secure and stable ride, while still laughing out loud when the Code Zed goes BANG.
If only some visionary would gather one each of these speedsters together with a few Corsairs, Farriers, Astus, Multi’s and Dragonfly’s on a nice tropical beach, with a constant 10-20 knot warm breeze, in aquamarine water, with a palapa full of beer, music and beautiful girls – t’would be the perfect Tri-Mariner retirement home.