Sailing a Supernova Trimaran in New Zealand
Decades after its zenith, the Supernova trimaran is still around. Of course, we wish there were more of them. But the many challenges of developing and selling a beach tri production model, like the Supernova, are formidable.
It amazes me that a boat designer like Ib Pors Nielsen was able to do it for awhile. But I know small tri fan Graham Wheeler is glad he did. Not long ago, Graham purchased a Supernova … in excellent condition. He shares the following (along with a very short video clip and a few photos of his sailboat) with us here.
Take it away Graham (and thanks for the great info :-) …
I first heard about the Supernova while searching for a trimaran to buy. I was looking at a Weta but they were really out of my price range as I had never sailed a tri before. I owned a Hobie 14 for number of years but was mainly a keelboat person, apart from learning in centreboarders – Moths and Cherubs here in New Zealand. Then keelboats as I got older.
I did Ironman Triathlons for 17 years and got back sailing 3 years ago when I bought another Moth. Decided I wanted to go faster without hopefully tipping out. Searched the internet and learned a bit about tris and then saw an add for the Supernova. Price was right so I bought it sight unseen.
Traveled 4-hours North to collect it and then spent several days making trailer more suitable to get it on and off on my own etc. So I was now a proud trimaran owner. I had never heard off a Supernova so got some limited information off the net. (Even got the original manual for rigging and sailing it).
The best thing is owning a classic in that it was designed and built back in the 80′s in Europe. The thought and quality gone into this car top transportable trimaran is amazing. The build quality is excellent and I can rig and launch it on my own.
The keyhole method of attaching the amas to the tramp and vaka are very clever. I feel it would be difficult to put it on a car or van on your own but mine has a launching trailer as well. The amas are extremely light and I can easily lift the centre hull on my own.
Maybe the Weta is quicker to rig etc and lighter??? with carbon beams and mast, but the Supernova is around 80kgs fully rigged with Aluminium mast and tramp. It takes me about 35-40 minutes from arriving at sight to be sailing doing it all on my own.
The least thing I liked was maybe having all halyards etc., stopping at base of mast. Also, the jib was hanked onto the forestay. I fixed this by adding a roller furler on the forestay so doing away with the halyard. Some of the running rigging is old school (way to heavy for a small boat). Will replace these this Summer with thin ropes and sheets.
The Supernova sails extremely well in light airs,tacks easily, and is very responsive to the helm. It does not have a gennaker so is lacking against those with spinnakers or gennakers. May look at setting something up. But this is my foray into trimaran sailing so are not really worried about that yet.
In heavier airs it trucks along. Broad reaching, I like to balance it on its centre hull (vaka) and try and sail it like that without burying the amas to much (scarey). The amas are fairly low volume. If I was to change it I would have more bouyancy in them. But the Supernova plains easily. The mast on my boat rotates. Just a simple swivelling bracket with the mast bolted through it.
Must sail this Summer with crew in a big breeze and see how it goes. I kept up with a Hobie 16 easily on my last sail in fresh condition on my own and they were 2 up. I weight only 65 kg. It is still an easy and safe boat to sail.
I think the Supernova was excellent value for the money ($2000). I could not buy any boat of its type for so little money — I don’t think. The Weta is $16000.00 and the Windrider even more (imported ). I know they are much newer designs etc., but I feel my Supernova was good value for money.
It is in excellent condition considering its age. I guess new sails would cost more than the entire boat! The jib could be replaced but the main is fine.
I think there were a handful of these boats imported into N.Z, in the 80′s. I have only seen one other (up 4 sale). I believe the designer of the Supernova designed other tris as well so he came up with a good boat here (my opinion). Ahead of its time.
Would I like to see the Supernova design (or one like it) available to sailing families today? Yes, a Supernova with a 2 section carbon mast (unstayed) and longer more volume amas with a gennaker added. But one that is still a good bang for your bucks.
I am currently redoing a Farrier 18 trailer tri. Another oldie, as I learn more about tris. Would like a Farrier 22 one day but I’m happy pottering with my 2 boats at the moment.
– Cheers, Graham
Here is a short sailing video taken by Graham on his Supernova (click the screen to watch it) …