How to sail a 60ft trimaran

Sergio Tacchini's Damian Foxall provides insight into this unique world of boats capable of sailing offshore at 37 knots.
It is hard not to be gob-smacked by the French fleet of 60ft trimarans, 14 of which have been racing in the two handed Transat Jacques Vabre. Yesterday saw the first arrivals in Salvador de Bahia, race winner Franck Cammas' Groupama taking just 11 days to sail 4,340 miles with almost all the boats racking up 500+ mile daily runs (and some 600+ miles) at some point during their swift voyages - not a bad show for boats sailed by just two people. Aside from being profoundly quick the 60ft trimarans are also multihulls and a development class, hence not only is their technology unique, so is the way they are sailed. To get some insight into this mostly French world we spoke to Irishman Damian Foxall who arrived in third place yesterday with Karen Fauconnier on board Sergio Tacchini. Launched in August 2001 Sergio Tacchini was the second of three Nigel Irens-designed sisterships to be built, the others being Fred le Peutrec's Bayer CropScience and Loick Peyron's Fujifilm which was destroyed in last year's Route du Rhum. Sergio Tacchini nearly suffered the same fate, her starboard float also catastrophically failing in that race ( read Karine Fauconnier's account of what happened here), but - unlike Fuji - her shore team were able to salvage the boat and spent the whole of last winter rebuilding her. The failure of her float was a disaster for the Sergio Tacchini team, especially so as the whole concept of their boat had been to err on the conservative. "From the very outset the concept of this project was to be reliable, not to push the development envelope at all," says Foxall, "first of all because of limited means, but most importantly they wanted to have a boat that was reliable." Following the Route du Rhum when