The Trimaran Sailor – A portrait

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He stands in the middle of the yacht club soiree tousle-headed, sun-tanned, laughing and wind-blown – frequently soaked, dripping on the carpet. He wears flip-flops, a rumpled tee-shirt, shorts and a jacket if its winter. He speaks of screachers, apparent wind and 20 knot blast reaches. He is a trimaran sailor.

Sports create their own cultures; accepted behaviors that can be used to identify their adherents. Surfing, skiing, sky-diving, cycling…even bowling…have characteristics and languages that make the group coherent, attract others and provide common ground. A trimaran sailing culture also exists. It is distinctive and can be readily defined.

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Tri-mariners are not worried about appearance. Disheveled, worn, yet functional describes their boating attire. Not many trimaran crews sport matching polo shirts and shorts, and none wear blazers aboard. The fire hosed net of a flying trimaran is no place for such niceties.

Tri-mariners are confident and friendly. They may be considered arrogant by some. But they are more audacious than arrogant. It takes vast confidence to fly hulls at over 20 knots.

Their language is studded with secret terms – floats, beams, amas, akas, screachers, sprits, asymmetrics, apparent wind are sprinkled through their conversation. Tri-mariners heat it up, put the bow down and scream both upwind and down. They dance on the “line of death” in ecstasy.

Caring not for convention, tri-mariners drive their boats – they do not helm them – and drive them hard.

Tri-mariners are like pilots or race car drivers – bold, but not reckless. They know the limitations of their vessels and try to approach that limit without going over. As with pilots and race car drivers, any misjudgement results in colossal and public disaster.

Tri-mariners are ocean flyers who love innovation and technology. New, stronger, lighter gear is sought, and if it doesn’t exist, many is the tri-mariner who can and will create it. The latest is installed, tested and criticized – sometimes harshly. They tinker. Their boats are their test beds. It is impossible to run a strict one-design class amongst tri-mariners, each boat has had some unique whiz bang gizmo added, weight trimmed, foil shaped.

Tri-mariners are quick to smile and laugh. They celebrate with rum, drink beer for hydration. Post regatta celebrations of grilled shrimp and oysters on the deck are frequent and mirthful occasions. Like pilots, they talk with their hands while describing their close encounters and hair-raising maneuvers. On land, tri-mariners are warm and generous, but on the water …..they are deadly serious competitors.

Tri-mariners are independent and solitary types. They forego convention in their quest to sail fast and it can be a lonely quest. But their reward comes when she bears away with the headsail powered up, rolls her lee bow down, accelerates – and flies.

 

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