The power of three: Maserati's trimaran racer set for world record run

Published: 23 January 2018

► A look at Maserati’s super-yacht
► Multi70 trimaran capable of 50mph
► Bidding for Hong Kong to London record

Ever since the demise of the MC12 GT1 motorsport programme, you’d be forgiven for thinking Maserati had sold the farm and cut away its top-flight racing efforts.

The reality is far from it, however. The boys from Bologna still have a firm hand in top-flight competition – it just isn’t in cars, but rather boats.

The most recent project sees the Trident-sporting trimaran set to work to break the record for sailing from Hong Kong to London, and the boat is currently making great time. You can track it here.

Its five-strong crew, skippered by Giovani Soldini, is attempting to cover the 13,000 nautical mile route in under 41 days, 21 hours and 26 minutes – a record set by Frenchman Lionel Lemonchois back in 2008. The timing of the attempt means the Maserati team must cross the finish line, which is under the Queen Elizabeth II bridge on the Thames, by 1 March 2018.

Maserati trimaran front

It’s hardly unusual for car makers to turn their hands – and wallets – to the sea. There’s the Volvo Ocean Race (a round-the-world event for the very best sailors being contested right now – coming to Cardiff in May), Aston Martin and Mercedes-Benz have built luxury yachts (with the latter sponsoring Brit solo round-the-world sailing hero Alex Thomson’s efforts), and of course Land Rover is heavily invested in the UK’s next BAR America’s Cup effort with Ben Ainslee at the helm, both figuratively and literally.

And so while we were out in La Spezia to test the Quattroporte GTS back in 2016, we also met up with real-life hero Soldini, and got a tour of his latest office: the Maserati-backed Multi70 trimaran.

Here CAR explores what makes it so remarkable.

How quick is the Maserati Multi70 trimaran?

The Multi70’s top speed so far has been 43 knots, which is a whisker under 50mph over the ground, under wind power alone. Considering your common-or-garden cruising yacht can struggle to hit over 10 knots, it’s clear this means business.

But unlike many other boats using foiling technology, this one will work in the bigger swells you find further out to sea. Good job really, considering it’s just about to cross several oceans in its Hong Kong to UK challenge…

Is it a bird?

No, but this boat does fly. It’s one of a new generation of foiling yachts, which means it rises up out of the water on hydrodynamic legs when sailing at speed, cutting water drag dramatically.

It’s also the only boat currently using a ‘Manta’ foil just forward of the mast, which is an adjustable wing that keeps the boat horizontally stable when it’s up at speed out of the water.

This along with an aerodynamically honed above-water shape and a rotating mast make it possible to sail the Multi70 at speeds above the velocity of the wind.

But how does it steer?

As well as the L-shaped foils and Manta, the Multi70 rises up on rudders at the rear of each outer hull.

This was problematic during the journey back to La Spezia following the boat’s previous race in Malta when it’s suspected a tuna found itself in the rudder’s path. This dislodged the starboard rudder completely, which subsequently sank to the bottom of the Med.

Maserati trimaran side

Provision is being made to prevent this happening again – potentially installing airbags that self-inflate on the moment of immersion in water. Other systems such as radar have been mooted, but the power drain is simply too high for a boat relying almost entirely on solar-generated electricity.

Who’s doing the driving?

The skipper’s a charismatic Italian called Giovanni Soldini – a chap made famous when he rescued a fellow competitor after her boat capsized in a single-handed around-the-world race, before going on to win the race himself.

How’s it gone so far?

Very well. In the Rolex Middle Sea Race in Malta in October the Multi70 won outright against its fiercest competition – another trimaran called Phaedo3, which in 2015 took the record for quickest circumference of the Isle of Wight from our very own Ben Ainslie in his America’s Cup catamaran in 2013.

The Multi70 has also taken records in the ‘Gold Route’ (New York to San Francisco) and the ‘Tea Clipper Trade Route’ (between San Francisco and Shanghai), and has competed in a number of cross-ocean races since its launch in 2016.

Who built the boat?

A company called MultiOneDesign. The boat carries the technical designation MOD70 which, you guessed it, stands for MultiOneDesign – 70 feet (the length of the boat in metres). The company builds them for competitive use in the MOD70 class, where each boat is identical to ensure a level playing field.  

Multi70 trimaran specifications

Length overall 21.2m
Draft 4.5m
Height above waterline 29m to top of mast
Beam overall16.8m
Mast rake
Light displacement 6.3t
Downwind sail area 409 m²
Upwind sail area 310 m²

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By Gareth Evans

Contributor, historic racer and now running sister title Motor Cycle News's website