'Futuristic' is the only word to describe Maserati, a brand new Multi70 trimaran presented at the Yacht Club de Monaco by Italian sailor, Giovanni Soldini alongside her owner, John Elkan, Gianni Agnelli’s grandson, and Pierre Casiraghi. Both are regular members of the Maserati crew. With her tiny cabin and up-curved wings extending across 16.8m linking the three hulls, the 21m trimaran crouches in the YCM Marina looking as if she’s ready to take off - which she can!
For Maserati is equipped with latest generation foiling technology, designed to make sailboats literally fly above the water at eye-watering speeds (the French-built Hydroptere was the first to break the 50-knot barrier in 2008 on flat waters at Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône near Marseille).
The challenge for the Maserati-sponsored trimaran is to achieve high performance mid-ocean and complete the RORC Transatlantic Race in November. Although foiling has been around for decades and there is no shortage of foiling series out there - the America’s Cup’s latest catamarans being a supreme example - offshore foiling in heavy seas remains somewhat of a holy grail.
Tripping up on a wave or an object and keeping the boat intact when it lands is still a major cause of concern. For Soldini, who covered 7,000nm from San Francisco to Shanghai last year on the previous Maserati yacht (a mono-hull VOR70), the depressingly large amount of plastic rubbish in the Pacific lies behind his approach to offshore foiling.
Indeed, the Italian maestro was cautious about setting a record on the RORC Transatlantic: “We need to understand the reliability of all the new systems and what we can expect from them,” he said.
Ahead of them lies a crack at the Monaco-Porto Cervo (Sardinia) record in September (10 hours, 13 minutes and 42 seconds set by Esimit Europa 2 at an average speed of 19 knots), and the 608nm Middle Sea Race in October that starts and finishes in Malta having circumnavigated Sicily.
So why do they do it? Speed-addict Pierre Casiraghi, who is competing on his GC32 Malizia, a model described as a “fully foiling flying” catamaran, in the 2016 Racing Tour for the class, sums it up: “My first 15 minutes on her in a 26-28 knot wind was awesome. It was scary, not knowing the limits, an incredible adrenalin rush.”