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Here are a couple of DIY self-built sailboats referred to as — Tricote Trimarans — from France no less. The story behind these boats is a classic response to the question, “What happens when an ingeneous (and frugal) French monohuller gets bit by the small trimaran bug?”

He uses his ingenuity to build a low-cost one, of course!

I first heard about these boats from sailor Michel Le Bouquin, who purchased the first “Tricote” from Fabien Foucaud (the former monohuller), who built it. Fabien then went on to build another, slightly larger sailboat, for himself and his family to enjoy.

I got both of them to share a little (below) about their boats. Fabien shares first … and then Michel (thanks guys … it’s great contributions like this that make smalltrimarans.com fun :-)

Be sure to check out Fabien’s website — http://www.tricote.fr — where he shares a lot more photos, along with the story of his tris too (in French). And don’t miss the short video featuring this boat at the end.


The Newest Tricote Trimaran
by Fabien Foucaud

I’m from Arcachon, a beautiful lagoon on the west coast of France. I’ve sailed from time I was very young.

I build a 36ft sailboat in steel at the beginning in 2001 and traveled around to different countries for a few years.

The idea for building a small trimaran came as the result of seeing a Dragonfly 800 and Corsair 24 trimarans sailing. It was an eyeopener. I thought, “Why a lot of weight in the keel? It’s a lot of water to move and a lot of power is necessary in the sails. And I need a lot of sails to move a lot of weight in the keel. It’s a bad circle!

It was also boring to sail the monohull … with the low speed of my 10000Kg boat, and his 5 knots max. It was also difficult to find a place in harbours, with added cost too.

I saw that a trimaran could be a light boat, simple, but stable with its 3 hulls. This is THE solution. And with folding hulls, it could be easy to carry on the road.

So I came back to France and sold my heavy steel boat. In 2009, I built a small trimaran using a Maraudeur (16ft) hull, along with the hulls of a Hobie Cat 14 that I found at very low cost.

This “blitz” worked very well. It was easy to mount and put on the water. It was also easy to use and had relatively good performance.

I later sold this boat (to Michel) and then built a second trimaran last year. This one uses a monohull center … but with better quality and reflex. The hull I chose came from a Lanaverre 590 (20ft x 6ft8).

I cut out the keel and built a structure for the arms. Then I added 2 hulls from a Hobie Cat 16, a wing mast, new mainsail and jib.

It was big work fabricating the folding system … but finally, the Tricote 2 was born.

Fabien's Newer and Larger Tricote Trimaran Sailboat

I enjoyed sailing it this past winter (10 knots on average). New features include a tall fin, trampolines, and some other little modifications.

I’ve done some sailing this spring too and we’re very happy in this boat with our small trimaran.

It’s 20ft in length, weighs about 600 Kg, and cost less than 6000 euros (about $7000$).

The boat has good performance and it takes just 1 hour to prepare it from the road to the water. It features a bed for 2 persons, and 2 beds for 1 person each. And I can store it in my garden for Free. What else is needed???

My goal isn’t commercial, only pleasure … just sailing with my family.

My Tricote Trimaran website is an answer to all people who want to know more on this project … and how a small trimaran, based on a monohull, can be built at low cost.

— Fabien Foucaud

The First Tricote Trimaran
by Michel Le Bouquin

I’ve been sailing for 4 years (except for 15 days cruising on a 33 feet boat — in 1976!)

In 2008, I bought a second-hand (or even third or tenth-hand) Maraudeur. It was 15 feet long, trailerable, and had a little cabin and a pivoting keel. I trained myself to sail … mainly on a little lake near my place round Paris.

In the spring 2011 I discovered the website www.Tricote.fr showing a trimaran built out of a Maraudeur. It seemed to go well.

The First Tricote Trimaran -- Now Sailed by Michel

Fabien had built a 33 feet steel monohull and sailed for one year around the Mediterannean sea. When he came back, being short of money (he tells it on the site), he decided to build a small, very cheap trimaran (he lives near by the sea) starting from an old monohull.

He choose the Maraudeur for its rating between length and width. So he had a complete “habitable” tri for less than 2000 euros.

The Maraudeur is quite sporty. It leans easily … and even more ( I had to swim once in December!) I couldn’t imagine sailing on the sea with it, so I decided to contact Fabien in order to try his Tricote.

Tricote stands for TRImaran COTier … it also means knitting) on the “Bassin d’Arcachon” near Bordeaux.

I got enthusiastic with the boat, which I found to be safer, cooler, faster and really corresponded to my search for a stable, little habitable boat that could take me and my younger son for some coastal camping.

I decided to do the same with my Maraudeur, following Fabien’s prescriptions: take away the keel and the ballast, put two steel girders crossing the boat, add pieces of steel — articulated in order to fold — in order to attach two Hobie Cat 14 hulls.

I finshed it in the summer 2011, but made some mistakes … mainly in the articulation. It doesn’t fold as it should. That’s why I bought the prototype Tricote when Fabien sold it in November, as he wanted to build another tri with the same principles, except bigger.

My new boat is now called TRicotin (for Tricote 1).

Fabien doesn’t want to make a living building these boats; he works as a “maritime expert”. He just wants to have a boat of his own and he found the first one too little since he had a baby in 2011.

— Michel Le Bouquin