Needles to St Cats in 35 minutes


James Boyd recounts his experience sailing on board Maiden II in the Round the Island Race
While a majority of the fleet were bashing their way around the Isle of Wight today on monohulls, madfor sailing was fortunate enough to be on board Tracy Edwards' maxi-catamaran Maiden II, the fastest boat in the world over a 24 hour period (awaiting ratification). One of the biggest problems with boats like this is where to put them. We joined the yacht in Southampton's Ocean Village Marina at 0615 where she was in a berth designed to take two mega-sailing yachts. This beast remember measures 110ft long by 60ft wide. Her dimensions also make her a handful to move. With no keel to keep her pinned in the water and with a large amount of boat above the water, the slightest gust can send her hurtling in the wrong direction. Fortunately on board we have the coolest yachtsman in the world - the unflappable Brian Thompson - for whom such matters are all in a day's work. They evaporate into insignificance compared to issues such as - how does one steer a boat such as this when its travelling at 40 knots, is it dangerous to be sailing the boat at 40 knots, is the boat being pushed too hard? Motoring up Southampton Water we had a chance to crawl around the boat and for those of you who have not stepped foot on a 110ft catamaran here is a brief guided tour. The boat has two hulls joined by three crossbeams with netting stretched in between. The only extra member is a beam which extends forward from the mast step to beyond the forward crossbeam. This is designed to take the forestay and extends into a bowsprit for gennikers and spinnakers. Towering above all this is a 40m high wingmast which on its own has the equivalent area to

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