Trimarans v 70 knot winds

British multihull skipper describes his Route du Rhum ordeal
One of the sadder stories to come out of the recent Route du Rhum was that of Ross Hobson who's 40ft trimaran Ideal Stelrad pitchpoled in storm force winds to the north west of the Azores. The boat was originally designed by Nic Bailey who sailed her to a class win in the 1988 C-Star (OSTAR). She was eventually sold to Richard Tolkien who sailed her at FPC Greenaway with Robert Wingate to a line honours victory in the Royal Western YC's two handed Round Britain and Ireland race in 1998, a feat which new owner Ross Hobson repeated in the race four years later with Andrew Newnam in her new guise as Mollymawk. Now safely back on dry land, Hobson, a senior lecturer/consultant in Orthodontics at Newcastle Dental School, explained to thedailysail what happened. Readers who followed this year's incredible Route du Rhum race will remember that after the boats had passed the Azores they were forced to contend with a front that had remained static for almost a week (see our report at the time). Getting to the west side of this and into strong but favourable northeasterlies was a tactic that proved a winning move for several of the boats that attempted it, but fatal for others - Steve Ravussin's ORMA 60 Orange Project, Pascal Quintin's Class 2 trimaran Jean Stalaven and ultimately Ideal Stelrad all of whom were capsized in terrible conditions. For weather routing Hobson was using Mike Broughton and he was fuly aware that he would encounter two fronts before reaching the favourable breeze and the latter cold front would bring strong winds. The problem was anticipating exactly how much. Hobson takes up the story: "We went through the first front that was okay. Then we sailed into the second front. We knew we were going