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Less Expensive, Less Extreme, Almost as Fast

Thomas Siebel’s MOD70 Orion screaming across Banderas Bay.

© 2013 Robin Stout

"On May 10 I looked up from the cockpit of our Aleutian 51 Mermaid which was anchored at La Cruz, and saw this trimaran screaming across Banderas Bay," writes Robin Richardson Stout. "The wind was blowing 20 knots and there was pretty good-sized wind chop, but it was amazing to see how fast the tri scooted back and forth across the bay. What fun to watch! We later spoke with the tri’s crew, and they told us that they hit 36 knots of boat speed in 20 knots of wind."

The trimaran in question is the MOD70 trimaran Orion, hull #2, owned by Thomas Siebel. The tri was shipped from Europe to Banderas Bay for training a little more than a month ago. She’s expected to head north to San Francisco in the next few weeks.

The MOD70 is a one-design class that was created to replace the fast but fragile ORMA 60 trimarans. Last year seven of them raced across the Atlantic, and during the first 24 hours they all covered over 650 miles. It’s our understanding that the top speed has been just under 40 knots. There was also a MOD70 inshore circuit in Europe.

We’ve always thought — and continue to believe — that the MOD70s, or something similar, are what should be used for the America’s Cup. Unlike the AC72s, they are one-design and therefore much less expensive to build and maintain. Unlike the AC72s, they use soft sails instead of wings, and their masts are 100 feet rather than 131 feet. While nobody is going to claim that you can’t flip a MOD70, unlike the AC72s, they are ocean-proven and much less edgy. Indeed, even though they are 10 feet longer than the ORMA 60s, the sail area was reduced by 5% for greater safety. Thanks to the soft sails, we think it’s much easier for average sailors to identify with MOD70s.

True, MOD70s might be a couple of knots slower at max speed than the AC72s on the Bay, and they don’t foil. But at around 40 knots of maximum boat speed, is anyone going to notice?

The MOD70s were designed by Marc Van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot-Prévost, who have designed countless racing and cruising multihulls. Indeed, the America’s Cup has called Prévost to be part of the team investigating the destruction of the Artemis AC72 and the death of Bart Simpson.

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