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NEEL 43 - Two hulls good, three hulls better?

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For 10 years now, NEEL have been building their own vision of the cruising multihull, namely a trimaran topped by a large nacelle. The concept developed by Eric Bruneel has been well-received by performance-loving blue water cruisers and is now a permanent fixture in the world of multihulls. The latest model in their sailing range to be launched is the NEEL 43, replacing the 45. We had the opportunity to try one out in La Rochelle, in excellent weather conditions.

Test location: La Rochelle, France
Conditions: Wind, ENE 12 to 20 knots, sea state slight

Blue skies and a steady offshore breeze: what more could you ask for on a test sail? Aboard this trimaran, there is only one engine to fire up - a 50 HP Volvo. There’s a bowthruster in the central hull, but this wasn’t required for our maneuver leaving an empty dock. Note that the relatively low dihedral form of the floats means that the 43 does not wobble from one side to the other and will remain flat at anchor. The floats are significantly angled. They are narrow at the waterline, but their volume is increased by very rounded outer topsides. As for the appendages, there’s a monolithic keel below the central hull and a single rudder. Though the hulls and deck are made of traditional and largely reliable materials) foam/glass sandwich with quadriaxial cloth/polyester and vinylester and carbon reinforcements) many non-structural parts in the fittings, such as the counter-molds, are made of a sandwich that integrates a 9 oz (300 gsm) glass/flax cloth and a cork core. At NEEL, the heading is clearly one towards the use of environmentally friendly materials. The 43 displaces just 19,850 lbs...

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