On board the Irens-Cabaret maxi-trimarans

Photo: AFP
We play spot the difference between IDEC, Sodebo and Oman Air Majan
Shame on us, I know, but the Route du Rhum pre-start was the first occasion we have had the chance to crawl over the three Nigel Irens-Benoit Cabaret designed sisterships – Thomas Coville’s Sodebo, Francis Joyon’s IDEC and Sidney Gavignet’s Majan Oman Air. So today we bring you some severe maxi-trimaran anoraky with full photographic evidence at the bottom of this article. As we have written previously the concept for these boats was based on Irens’ thinking about the limitations of the ORMA 60 class, that effectively saw its demise begin in the Route du Rhum in 2002. “As soon as someone tears up the rule book I want to make a boat longer,” he says. Irens' solution to the ORMA self-destruction was that they should keep the 100ft tall wingmast rigs but elongate the hulls, so they would be better able to cope with the power. Irens and Cabaret got the chance to put their ideas into practice first with Ellen MacArthur’s 75ft long B&Q/Castorama trimaran, where the rig was effectively the same size as that of an ORMA 60, but then took their ideas a step further with the latest trio. The end result is a boat (in Sodebo’s case) that is 75% longer, with up to one third more sail area and is getting on for twice as heavy (around 11-13 knots) but with less beam than an ORMA 60. Oddly the latest trio also have shorter floats than the main hull, giving them a slightly retro 1970-80s look to them. Irens explains: “In some ways it doesn’t appear to be very logical on a trimaran, because the main hull you can make long, but the amas you can’t make them long because of structural constraints - if you have got two beams you can only have so much cantilever