By Gregor Tarjan CEO/founder
Aeroyacht Multihull Specialists
Let us say you are dreaming about a multihull – a boat that will take you and your family safely and swiftly to far horizons. She must be fast, comfortable, and well built. In your search you have eliminated monohulls and are focusing on catamarans. But have you considered the clever NEEL Trimaran range?
NEEL Company Background and DNA
NEEL trimarans have firmly established themselves on the multihull market. It is 10-year-old French company, located on the shores of La Rochelle, passionately run by its founder Eric Bruneel. To understand the NEEL trimaran philosophy, you must realize who Eric is, where he came from and what he wants to achieve.
Eric has tons of experience in the world of building multihulls as he has been one of the top managers and early partners at Fountaine Pajot. With the unmatched experience of thousands of cruising catamarans under his belt he certainly knows what sailors are looking for. Yet he is not simply a “corporate suit.” Eric is a die-hard competitor.
After designing and building “TRILOGIC” a trimaran ocean racer, he amazingly won the Singlehanded Transatlantic Race and the Rolex Fastnet Race, and came in second in the grueling Route de Rhum. I had the pleasure of sailing with him on “TRILOGIC” many times, and she represented a reliable, fast, and very strong trimaran that could sail circles around most any sailing craft. However, with a bucket as a toilet she was not something that cruisers and their families would aspire to.
Long story, short – his next design was the 50’ “JUST MAKES SENSE” and she represented the start of the true NEEL company and DNA. She was not only a fast and reliable ocean cruiser but also one of the most comfortable liveaboard yachts imaginable. She was so unique that she even had a standing headroom basement! Just imagine that – a basement in a boat!
I am proud to say that Aeroyacht was one of the first U.S. dealers for NEEL and we sold JUST MAKES SENSE more than a decade ago. Shortly thereafter NEEL announced the award-winning NEEL 45 and the current lineup of which more than 120 boats have been built. The present models are the brand-new NEEL 43, NEEL 47, NEEL 51 and the gigantic NEEL 65. The NEEL 43 will be a game changer. She is designed to compete with the largest market share and customers will compare her to catamarans in the 42-47’ range. The NEEL 43 has a huge advantage compared to even her larger sister, the NEEL 47. You will be able to access the hulls (amas) directly via the main salon without having to step outside as on the 47.
NEEL Trimaran advantages over catamarans
To understand the advantages of NEEL trimarans, let us analyze their safety, price, volume and speed.
Let us look at the aspect of SAFETY first – personally my number one consideration for any boat. Three hulls will have more watertight compartments than one or two hulls. That is the bottom line when it comes to minimizing the consequences of a collision. If you flood one main compartment on a monohull, you will sink. On a catamaran you will capsize and maybe sink, depending on where the flooding occurs and how the boat is constructed. If you breach a main compartment in any of the three hulls on a NEEL trimaran you will most probably sail home. This is a huge difference in safety and should be taken very seriously.
The trimaran platform will be the better sailboat and will also provide you with more “active safety.” This means that you will feel the wind and the gusts through the slight heel and via the mechanical helm. You will sense and know earlier when the boat is overburdened and the need to reduce sail.
A tri will also point much higher into the wind and be more weatherly than a monohull or catamaran. She will be a lot faster too. This means you reduce exposure time and can claw yourself off a lee shore. A NEEL trimaran will outsail foul weather in which slower cats or monohulls would be stuck in.
Lastly, the motion of a tri will be the gentlest of all types of sailboats. Because of the clever design of the varying hull rocker shapes of the main hull and amas a NEEL will also tack like a dinghy while some of the heavier wedding cake cats will turn on their engine to tack.
The motion of a tri is milder too. Not too fast – as some high buoyancy cats, nor too wallowing and slow as a heavier less stable monohull. This means that you and your crew will be more rested, and less prone to seasickness and seamanship errors. At the end of the day, a NEEL trimaran will provide you with much more active and passive safety aspects than any other sailing craft.
Let us now talk about the business end – the price. For the same price as a well-equipped production catamaran, you can buy a brand-new NEEL trimaran of the same length and volume. NEEL tris are extremely competitive when it comes to price, comfort, and speed. I know of no other yacht that can offer this ratio.
In terms of volume, they offer larger accommodations than a catamaran, yet have the added advantage of having the master suite on the main deck with perfect sea views. Neither a catamaran nor monohull can offer this. NEEL trimarans’ beam is just slightly larger than a cat which makes the common live-able platform on the main deck even bigger. This means if you can house fifteen people on a cat’s main deck, you can invite five more guests on a NEEL tri without tripping over them.
Ergonomically, three hulls instead of two give you more options on privacy by dividing the accommodations into self-contained suites. At the end of the day the NEEL range of tris provide the serious ocean voyager with a very viable alternative with few if any disadvantages.
Some will criticize the slightly wider beam of trimarans and the fact that they lack the redundancy of twin engines and rudders, while others will see this as an advantage in stability and simplicity. No matter which camp you belong to, the advantages of NEEL trimarans are real and cannot be ignored.
Take a look at the new NEEL 43. Size wise she is placed smack in the middle of the most competitive segment of the multihull market. Her success is undeniable as more than 30 units were ordered sight unseen, within 30 days of her introduction. So, if you would go about selecting a fast, reliable, and strong multihull solely by facts, I think that the NEEL makes one of the most intelligent and logical choices. ■
Gregor Tarjan is a yacht designer, passionate sailor and founder of Aeroyacht Multihull Specialists (www.Aeroyacht.com). Gregor’s industry three reference books on catamarans of which the latest is CATAMARANS: The Complete Guide for Cruising Sailors, is now in its third printing. His 22-part free masterclass “Catamarans, Art & Science” can be found on YouTube.