Small trimarans are ideal boats for coastal waters thanks to their shallow draught, large deck space and performance, so the Dragonfly 25 should feel right at home in New Zealand.
A folding trimaran that marries towing and stowing convenience with pulsating performance.
As record-breaking trimarans demonstrate, these craft have performance as their central premise, so adding some liveability as found here on the Dragonfly 25 creates a fast passage-maker with enough space for a small family. The downside can be mooring them – but this isn’t a problem with this Danish-made trailer- sailer that has a patented folding system which allows it to use a monohull berth. Or it can live on its break-back trailer. For launching, the rig can be stepped by leveraging a spinnaker pole against the mast, something I’ve done with similar boats including Corsairs and Farriers in the past.
By the way, it’s sad to note the sudden death late last year of the founder of both of these companies, Ian Farrier, at age 73.
New Zealand’s pre-eminent small trimaran designer, Farrier developed his own folding ama system that lives on in the thriving Farrier Marine in Christchurch as his legacy.
Among a trimaran’s other attractions is stability, as its wide beam and weight centred in the main hull means these smaller designs are more stable than similar catamarans; an important consideration for going offshore.
The trimaran concept of the deep central hull with swing keel gives the sensation and performance that monohull sailors will relate to while also having the enhanced stability that the generously-proportioned amas create, to reduce the chances of the dreaded pitch-poling that can afflict multihulls.
The Dragonfly 25 – launched in 2016 – comes in two versions: Touring and Sport, which has a 1.3m taller carbon rig. Our review boat was the latter, imported by The Multihull Group (TMG) for cruising sailors and those keen on the silverware. As I found out (offshore from Sydney), it’s a lively performer with a three-berth accommodation and the feel of a big dinghy – ideal for newbie multihullers.
These Dragonfly trimarans command a fairly hefty price but what you get is a well-made boat that will last and shouldn’t break down on remote voyages along the Bay of Islands and coasts. The range also has a 28, 32 and, for 2019, a 40 model. These have succeeded a 35 model that TMG also has in stock and I found to be a sturdy offshore cruiser, ideal for fast off-thewind passage-making. FIRST IMPRESSIONS Approaching the mooring, the first thing I noticed was the elongated amas in relation to the hull, which give both good
lateral and forward stability on the Dragonfly 25. Large curved composite beams connect the structure while elevating the amas to reduce drag.
These also retract backwards via lines and jammers to fold the boat into a monohull shape that is stable enough to sit at a marina berth with the mast stepped. This proved a solid structure when deployed in the lumpy seas off Sydney, with no groans or shudders as our three crew pushed the boat hard to windward.
Hull finish also looked good, with a large lip over the deck join. The build is hand-laid biaxial glass cloth set in polyester resin around a Divinycell closed-cell foam core (this gives positive buoyancy) while the hull is heavily rockered to promote manoeuvrability. The ama wings and structural bulkheads are set in vinylester and heatcured in an oven to stiffen them.
The deck layout on the Sport version has all sail controls running via jammers to the cabin top with the main track bisecting the cockpit which allows the
steerer to sit behind; or in race mode outboard on the trampolines with twin tiller extensions. A hefty 8:1 block setup ensures there’s plenty purchase on the main sheet and the track uses the full beam of the hull to create enough scope for useful trimming. A very similar arrangement to Corsairs I’ve raced in regattas in the past.
The rudder is in a sleeve for easy deployment while alongside, on the transom, is enough space for the 6hp outboard. Sensibly, there are sturdy stainless guard rails on the pushpit and the pulpit of the Dragonfly. Hatch space is also good with man-sized ones in each ama (for storage and in case of problems) while the cabin has a rounded one ahead of the mast.
The Sport’s rotating mast creates a smooth luff profile while the carbon build reduces weight aloft and improves stiffness. This is greatly aided by side-stays running to the aft quarters of each ama. The sailplan used Elvstrom EPEX laminate sails with slab reefing in
the main, while up front the Code 0 flew from the bowsprit with self-tacking jib inside it. These are controlled by sizeable Andersen winches and all lines are of a good diameter for handling.
Trailer-sailers give you the freedom of both the open sea and the open road – I’ve lived in mine while travelling around Europe in the past. Similarly, with the Dragonfly 25, on your way to the Bay of Islands you can climb aboard to use its three berths.
Up front the porta potty is not the most savoury item in the small cabin but in an emergency will do. Near the companionway is a single-burner metho stove and, remarkably, there is no intruding keel box under the foldable table. Danish designer and company owner Jens Quorning has cleverly offset it into the bench seating so there is floor space and even headroom if you perch below the main hatch.
The Touring version can have a boom tent to increase the living space and provide sun protection. I didn’t see any instruments or lights on our review boat but a couple of solar panels with a small battery can run a myriad of LEDS and would not be onerous to fit. Also, for simplicity there are clamp-on LED navigation lights that are standalone as well. Victuals storage is available under the cockpit for one of those new iceboxes that stays frozen for a few days.
OFFSHORE AT SYDNEY
Along with my crew of Jack and Rowan, we sped past North Head in a lovely 12-knot northerly breeze which suited the Dragonfly perfectly. Lacking the twin tiller extensions I had to perch in the cockpit but this proved fine enough to enjoy the Dragonfly, with main sheet at hand
The self-tacking jib took care of itself so it was easy sailing, which is good for both cruisers and racers on the Dragonfly. Hard on the wind at about 40o the windward hull flew a couple of feet off the water while the sharp bow and chines of the hull kept us tracking safely.
Switching on my phone Navionics showed us moving at 10 knots and the tiller felt balanced and responsive, just like a skiff or racing dinghy. This gave us the confidence for a kite run back to the harbour so we hoisted the asymmetric from its bag, pulled up the lifting keel and skipped along at 13 knots across the sparkling seas to inside the Heads where it was easily floated and gybed round the forestay before we did a letterbox drop.
Alternatively, in the past I’ve simply dropped them down the forehatch of similar trimarans for quick deployment on the next run. Under power on the way home, I found operating the 6hp outboard was fairly easy and it’s well clear of the water when tilted up.
Clearly the fun factor was apparent in spades on the Dragonfly 25 and the ease with which this is achieved should give this 25-foot trailer-sailer wide appeal.
LEFT All powered up and raring to go. The Dragonfly is an exhilarating performer. RIGHT Nicely-configured, with all lines leading back to the cockpit. BELOW Sail controls fall easy to hand – a simple, functional layout.