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How to Build a Trimaran Sailboat

When I interviewed the founder and publisher of Duckworks Magazine he shared some great tips for anyone who might consider building their own trimaran sailboat. This article is exclaimed from our conversation. One of the subjects he covered was what he thinks are the "biggest mistakes" new boat builders can make.

After building close to 20 boats (probably about 1 per year) for the last 18 years or so, this gentleman certainly knows something about this. And since he helps others do the same thing each business day, it makes his advice all the more compelling.

– He said the first mistake he often sees new boatbuilders make (and this would include someone who wants to build a trimaran) is not buying a good set of plans in the first place.

Trying to build a boat from scratch … especially without any prior experience … is not a good idea.

– The second mistake a new trimaran sailboat builder may make is changing a set of plans after they've gone ahead and purchased them. This is not good because so many things about the sailboat need to be exactly how the designer of that boat laid things out.

A small little change here or there can affect many other things because the whole design is meant to work together. Individual parts contribute to a whole entity. So changing the dynamics of one little part may affect other parts in ways you never envisioned.

– The biggest mistake a new trimaran builder may be tempted to make is to "overbuild" their craft. They assume if the plans only call for a quarter inch thick piece of plywood then it's okay to make things "sturdier" by substituting a half-inch instead. But doing such a thing is extremely unwisely.


A trimaran, especially a wooden one, can give you great performance when it's properly designed to be light in weight. If you overbuild the boat it'll become too heavy. It will not float along its designated lines, and then it will not perform very well.

Good boat designers generally create small trimarans to be light and fast. And this is how they should be. Boats that are lighter and faster are simply more fun to sail for us small tri speed addicts.

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