Fast, fun sailing: the only words needed to describe this class of catamarans and trimarans established by the NZMYC in 2004. The long range, quick speeds, and comparatively low operating costs of Open 8.5 Multihulls makes them ideal boats for racing and cruising in a wide variety of environments.
The class follows a box rule: boats must fit within a box measuring 8.5 metres length overall, by 6.5 metres beam, by 12.6 metres air-draft (the distance from the waterline to the top of the mast). There is no minimum length requirement, though lower limits have been placed on weight and headroom to encourage robustness, eligibility for coastal races, and comfort for cruising.
Range and speeds
8.5s make distance racing more than manageable, easily completing the Coastal Classic in the daytime on any angle wider than a reach. They sail upwind at over 10kts, downwind at 15-18, and, on the edge of the envelope, can be pushed to over 24kts, flying hulls and spraying waves of white foam off their leeward bows.
Upon reaching their destinations, 8.5s can be easily converted to comfortably livable cruising setups with boom tents and bean bags. Their trampolines are well-suited for gatherings, offering ample space for lounging and enjoying the scenery.
8.5s can be found racing in mixed fleets and cruising around the country. In Auckland, a fleet participates fortnightly in club racing with crews of 3 or 4 people. There is also an active fleet for Hauraki Gulf distance races, including the Coastal, the Gold Cup, and the two-handed SSANZ Lewmar Triple Series.
If you would like to learn more about getting involved, you can contact our class representative Ed at email@example.com, or talk with owners and fans of the class in our Facebook group and the crew.org.nz Multihull forum.