The history and evolution of the RAW design is best heard from the designer, Tony Grainger. To many of us in the Southern Hemisphere, Tony Grainger's name conjurs up images of small trimarans flashing past much bigger craft. The wild grins on the faces on the skippers Grianger Designed multihulls normally said all that was needed.
Performance and Folding of the Airplay Raw 30
Is it possible to design and build a modern trimaran that incorporates performance dynamics and the hydrostatic parameters we expect from a modern multihull that at the same time folds?
That was the challenge and the question that we tackled when accepting the project to design the Airplay Trimaran! To keep secrecy it was code named the Rocket Factory Trimaran.
Over a period of some thirty years some thousands of boats have been constructed using the road legal and legendary Farrier Folding System. It has poven to be safe, functional, reasonably economical to produce and still offer good performance. But the real beauty was the way owners could simply fold their dreams up, hook it to the car and head off. It reduced hard stand space and saved on storage fee's.
It's functionality was never questioned but could we come up with a higher performance platform that offered the same ease of ownership but stretch the performance envelope?
The geometry of the folding system places some hard constraints on the overall geometry of the platform. To stay within the 2.5m folded width the critical parameters are the beam overall, beam clearance and float buoyancy. All three of these factors have a direct effect on safety and performance.
By working with an length overall of 9.2m/30', we were able to produce a new design that gave us the parameters we were looking for in ease of trailerability, dynamic performance, the same beam clearance as I achieved on my earlier performance designs with ample accomodation space for the cruising comforts.
There were many ways the current crop of folding boats could be improved and modernised. Better hull shapes, less rocker in the floats, more buoyancy lower down on the waterline and forward, extend the floats to the same length as the main hull. More streamlined beams that were raised higher from the water.
We also moved the beams aft and gave the main hull a much finer entry up forward. We were able to achieve all this without detracting from the accomodation space in the cabin. In fact by raising the beams and gunwhale height we were able to create more headroom in the cabin without it becoming unsightly and the result is class leading interior volumes!
Then works focuused on optimising the folding system so that the buoyancy could be maximised and the boat would fold without depressing the floats too deeply into the water.
The Airplay 30 floats have some 3000kg of buoyancy for a floats buoyancy ratio of well over 200%.
Add some contempoary styling clues, a new name and the basis of a good designed was formed!
How will the Airplay 30's compare in performance to non-folding designs?
Whenever the topic of hull shapes comes up in conversation, Gordon Myers (the driving force behind the Essential Eight project) will always hammer home the mantra of "there is no substitute for float buoyancy". He's absolutely right. If you can get the boat sailing on its floats you experience a whole new dynamic that lifts you into another performance arena.
Lower buoyancy floats will depress as the pressure comes on. The main hull is reluctant to lift. The boat loads up and heels. You have more down force and less driving force. The beams are closer to the water and start slapping excessively in any sort of seaway. You're left waiting for that sudden rush that you would get on a high performance multi when the hull lifts and the boat accelerates and suddenly you can point 10 degrees higher!
With the new hull shapes, lighter construction and the Centre of Balance moved aft, we believe the new Airplays will take the folding genre to new levels of performance without sacrificing the accomodation space, ease of mobility and general owner-friendly nature that has already inspired hunderds of people to sail and own these types of boats.
We believe we will have the pundits re-assessing the performance capabilities of folding trimarans.
So far, RAW One 'Bling' has undergone sea trials and all the early indications show us that we are on track and truly on target.
Many thanks to Tony Grainger for sharing his design ethos with us and creating such a delightful design.