As ever, the French tend to take their multihulls very seriously. This year’s Tour de Guadeloupe had an entry from French Guyana, built in Martinique and helmed by a Guadeloupian.
The owners are Sandrine and Fred Lachot, based in Kourou. When they contacted Multicap in Martinique, run by Christian Herlandez, who works in collaboration with the Architects Mortain and Mavrikoios from La Rochelle, France, the vessel desired was to carry up to 16 people, with comfort and speed on a sea and river environment. They were interested in the West Epoxy Strip Planking system used by Multicap, as they saw this as a means of building a strong, stiff and long lasting craft whilst remaining light.
The boat was launched in August 2008 and relatively quickly set off on a 12,000 mile trip. Back in the Caribbean, a few adjustments were made by the yard, and this 17m Catamaran was ready to race in the Tour de Guadeloupe. Fred and Sandrine invited Claude Thelier, owner of the Trimaran Region Guadeloupe, to join them as a skipper experienced with local knowledge. Over the five days of racing all sorts of conditions were experienced, from relatively light airs to a good breeze. The small out-and-out racers might have preferred even lighter airs, but the Punch 1700 finished first overall.
Claude concluded that “The Punch 1700 sails well in big seas due to its high freeboard. The sail plan is well designed. The sails were built by North Sails Caribbean with a large roached fullbatten mainsail, a furling blade and an impressive versatile Code 0 in nylon. The hulls have a fine entry and together the boat sails reasonably good angles. Over the race, the wind varied from six to 28kts and the boat speed remained permanently above 8 kts, and hit 17 kts at one point.”
The hulls are very interesting and mark a real progress in this range of Catamarans. Few in the Caribbean realize that with the boats currently on order with Multicap, the yard in 2010 will launch its one hundredth boat. The 1700, as mentioned, has a very fine entry into the water. The hulls remain relatively fine but have a flair above the waterline that gives an impressive interior volume. Each hull has three large cabins and two bathrooms. Most 17m Catamarans have an important living space but this craft seems really impressive. Even the galley is equipped with two refrigerators and a 120-litre Freezer to chill the champagne and more.
When needed, this catamaran is motorized by two Volvo Penta S Drive 75 CV with folding props. At 2500T/min, the boat will comfortably do eight kts into a normal sea. The 750 lt fuel capacity gives 90 hrs of autonomy or 700 to 800 miles motoring range. Before the race, this craft that weighs in at 18 tons was able to be beached, thanks to its feeble draft, for a final hull “brush down” before racing.
All aboard obvious enjoyed winning. But all, even the competitors, were impressed by the sailing capabilities of this catamaran. Before a start under Code 0 alone set up on a simple enmagasiner to be furled away in seconds, this catamaran was sailing at over nine kts.
Sandrine and Fred Lachlot left Guadeloupe for Kourou with the knowledge that they choose well. A catamaran, comfortable, good looking, well-built and rapid. A real winner—built in the Caribbean.
Andrew Dove is Area Manager for North Sails Caraibes, based in Guadeloupe.