Multihull Restriction Flares Debate

Published on January 23rd, 2014

The sailing establishment had long kept the multihull community at arm’s length, but the tide has been turning. The 34th America’s Cup put catamarans on center-stage. The multihull event will return at the 2016 Olympics Games. Boat shows display new options. Most traditional monohull regattas are now including multihulls… but not all of them.

Two notable hold outs – Newport Bermuda Race and Sydney Hobart Race – are for monohulls only. As organizer of the Sydney Hobart Race, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia appears to be firm in their resistance to multihulls, as Roger McMillan of reports…

Sean Langman’s ongoing battle to have multihulls recognised as legitimate entrants in all regattas has met another obstacle. The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia has refused entry to multihulls in the 178th Australia Day Regatta this weekend, despite the Australia Day Council posting on its website “a cordial invitation to all yachts”.

Justifying the decision to exclude multihulls from this regatta and the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, the club cites clause 8.1 of the CYCA General Conditions of Racing with regard to eligibility of boats – “A boat shall be of monohull construction and comply with SR part 1 for the applicable Race Category”.

Following Langman’s attempt to enter his Orma 60 Team Australia in the 2012 Sydney-Hobart (which he followed up by setting a new record for the race distance in February 2013), the CYCA appointed a sub-committee to look at the question. However, when I asked the club for an update this week I was told by CEO, Mark Woolf, that acceptance of multihulls by the club was ‘not likely’.

“The CYCA has built a strong reputation and culture by specialising in monohull ocean racing. We do not currently have the experience, facilities or the mandate from members to consider the introduction of multihull boats into our racing program,” he wrote in an email response.

This is an issue that will not go away. Almost every regatta week in Australia embraces multihulls, as do most of the coastal races. Their safety record has been proved over and over – multihulls hold the round-world speed record and Langman’s Team Australia has set records for Sydney to Hobart and Sydney to Auckland in the past 12 months as well as winning New Zealand’s Coastal Classic

The America’s Cup is now raced in multihulls and that regatta and the Extreme Series, which is coming to Sydney in December, are living proof of the excitement and positive promotion of sailing which multihulls can engender.

Although I am a member of the CYCA and usually a strong supporter of the club’s management, on this issue I think they are wrong. I think they need to embrace multihulls, as other clubs and organisations are doing around the world.

Click here for full report.

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