Every year, the Diam 24 od drives new supporters. The trimarans Diam 24 od fleet, based on the Solent is quite visible amidst the keel boats. Phil Cotton, British pioneer on the other side of the Channel, is also the president of the British Diam Class. On an island still strongly attached to the monohull practice, he has already converted some to the Diam od.
How is the Diam 24 class getting on in England ?
We just have just 7 boats for the moment in the UK but it doesn’t really matter. During the National Diam 24 UK National Championshipsin the UK, we only had 4 boats but each of the four boats won a race and all the racings races were incredibly close. The first boat finished on 7 points, the second on 8 points the third on 8 points and the fourth on 12 points. Of course we want more but in terms of close boat racing, competing or fighting with two or three others, that’s enough really, and that’s good.
Are you all located in the same Area ?
We are seven boats all together in the UK which is pretty good, we are all based together which is a good and a bad thing. All are at Hamble Point near Southampton, and we race in the Solent. We can all have good racing together, that’s the good side. The bad side of course is that, if you live too far away from Southampton, it’s a long distance. So we need some help to develop in the South West or maybe in the East. So we can build up two or three boats over there. We need another fleet for the geographical spread. We are optimistic, and all the people show a lot of interest in the boats. I don’t understand why they are so slow to buy them !. But whenever we race in the Solent we do have many many admirers.(…)
What are the main qualities of the boat ?
The built quality is very good. It’s strength. It’s very good, I think it’s well thought out and well designed. I love the way it all works. The sliding system of the cradle and the trailer is really well thought through. I like the unfurling system. I previously owned a SeaCart 30 trimaran which is very high performance but everything was harder. It was much more physical to race the boat whereas with the Diam 24 is lighter and easier, I can still race with my wife, the winch is not too heavy and I like the simplicity of it. Especially the main sheet, the jib-sheet and the new downhaul… and there’s little else… and the just tension on the Diamonds and the shrouds.It’s all well manufactured, and of course it’s good value for money for what you get comparative to other boats. I think somebody has said in the UK « it’s the best bang for buck in the UK » that you can get. There’s no other boat for that price which comes close in terms of performance. I think it’s pretty forgiving as well.. only when you’ve sailed a Diam for a little while, you can realise that you can push it a little further and a little further and it will still forgive and keep going.
What image has it got in Great Britain ?
It’s unfortunate, but perhaps inevitable that there’s always much publicity on social media and in the printed press whenever the Diam capsiszes. We’ve only ever had one capsize in the UK and it was a team that had never sailed the boat previously. They went straight into their first regatta and perhaps they were pushing too hard. Sadly, all the photographs and the publicity of that event was on this boat upside down. The main concern of potential buyers of the boat is «how do you get it up ?». Our main challenge in the UK is persuading new people to come and have a go and to demonstrate that it is forgiving if handlled correctly and if a capsize does occur there is a tried and tested methodology to right the boat. When we are racing there are always RIBs on hand to pull you up again.. If you are sensible it’s a very forgiving boat.
Do the British find multihulls appealing ?
People see us from their J70, J80, Fast 40+, whatever… monohulls, and a lot of people admire the boat but I still think in England there is a perception about multihulls, catamarans, trimarans that they are profoundly not serious racing. Despite the America’s Cup, the GC32 Circuit, Extreme 40’s M32’s and NACRA 17, there is still a resistance in multihulls. I think it’s cultural. Unlike in France where people love the multihull, in England it’s just a historic thing. Traditionally people seem to prefer slow monohull boats.(…) It’s persuading people out of monohulls to come and have a go on a Diam, come and try it… because as you know, upwind it’s just like a monohull but faster and more interesting. And downwind now so many monohulls have asymmetric sails they are familar to the driving angles so we just need to sway a few more of them to come over to see how it goes.
Will things evolve ?
I think it will. The younger sailors are a good source. (…) for example at the UK Nationals recently, we had three young guys who were all very good 49er, Formula 18 and Nacra sailors. One of the guys did the Tour de Voile in 2017 … but they had never sailed together before and they won the event. They loved it. And we keep trying to get younger guys from the multihull or the monohull world, but for them it’s a lot of money so they need sponsorship or very generous parents to buy it. The other problem is that most younger sailors of this calibre are often into the Olympic process for which there are established pathways… There isn’t currently an equivalent to the Diam on the Olympic programme (…)
When do the British fleet come sailing in France ?
One team came to the Tour voile last year. What would really work well is a 5 day regatta somewhere in the south of France or maybe on the Lac de Garde or on Swiss lakes, somewhere attractive where we would travel to from the UK for that event. (…). It would not be at the levels of sponsored/professional teams necessarily, but to accomodate what we call « week-end sailors ».