The MOD Squad
The MOD Squad
The fabulously fast ORMA 60 trimarans were too dangerous, and expensive, for their own good. The one-design MOD70 hopes to capture that same excitement in a more controllable package. From our July/Aug 2011 issue.
The threat of capsize and carnage was part of the attraction for the sailors, sponsors, and fans that embraced the high-flying ORMA 60 trimaran during its heyday a decade ago. When the threat turned into reality—such as in the 2002 Route du Rhum, when 18 of the spindly speedsters started, but only three finished—it was the beginning of the end for offshore racing’s most exciting, groundbreaking class. Sponsor dissatisfaction, escalating costs, and the inability of the principles to agree on a solution all contributed to the class’s rapid demise. By 2007, it was dead.
But the phoenix has now risen from the ashes in the form of the new Multi One Design 70, or MOD70, a 70-foot trimaran that should deliver much of the excitement of the ORMA 60s, with significantly less risk. The primary difference is that this class is a strict one-design. Swiss businessman Marco Simeoni, owner of the company Veltigroup, staked the seed money for the ambitious project to build 12 identical trimarans. He became hooked on the concept after sailing aboard Lake Geneva’s one-design D35 catamarans with former ORMA 60 skipper Stève Ravussin.
Designed by the iconic French multihull firm of Van Peteghem Lauriot-Prévost, the MOD70 rectifies many of the ORMA 60’s shortcomings. It’s slightly less powerful, with a shorter rig, a smaller mainsail, and a narrower beam. Lengthening the bows, which has effectively moved the rig aft and increased forward buoyancy, should curb the ORMA 60’s tragic tendency to pitchpole. The structure has been beefed up by approximately 20 percent throughout the boat, with foam replacing Nomex core in key, high-impact areas.
“I said it is OK to build to the same loads throughout the boat,” said Ravussin, who is also the technical manager of the MOD70 project, “because we know what they are on a sixty and we don’t want to have any more problems. Reliability is very important with this project. So the beam is five feet less because that makes it better in a big sea.”
The new boat retains some of the ORMA 60’s most significant go-faster features, including a rotating wingmast, which can be canted 8 degrees to windward via shrouds that terminate in giant hydraulic rams. It also has retractable curved foils in both floats. Deploying the leeward foil, in conjunction with canting the rig to weather, helps prevent the leeward float from fully submerging, thereby reducing drag, in turn improving both performance and safety.
However, there is no trim tab on the daggerboard, nor rake adjustment for the rig.
And here and there, for example the tiller and rudder linkage, the builders have eschewed titanium and carbon fiber in favor of more mundane building materials like aluminum alloy.
The one-design aspect will help make the boats easier to maintain and safer to sail. “Before each grand prix [regatta with the ORMA 60s] we used to take off the hydraulics for the mainsheet,” says Ravussin. “But with the MOD70, we won’t because everyone has the same [set up].”
The first MOD70, Ravussin’s Race For Water, was launched in April following a monumental construction effort involving builders across Europe: crossbeams built in Switzerland by Décision, floats by Multiplast in France, foils in Italy by Eligio ReFraschini, and the 3DL sails from North Sails France, just to name a few. CDK Technologies, in Port la Forêt, France, handled the main hull and assembly.