A Sailor’s View of the Horstman 24 Trimaran

Photos and first-hand reports from Horstman 24 trimaran owners (online) are few and far between. How many have been built over the years? I don’t know. But this beauty (painted in sunshine yellow) comes to us from the U.K.

The Horstman 24 certainly isn’t trailerable … but how can we ignore a tri that was designed and built to be just 24 feet in length?

I can’t! :-)

Ed Horstman was often known for not just designing trimarans, but “roomerans.” This mantle was obviously placed upon them because of their spacious interiors. The important issue, however, is knowing, “How well do these boats sail?”

I first heard about this particular boat from sailor Adrian Ezard, who almost purchased it when it came up for sale. He kindly shared some photos with me, which he had received from the sailboat’s owner at the time. But then he went the extra step and actually put me in touch with this Horstman 24′s former sailor/owner — Jonathan Madinaveitia.

Jonathan offered to write about this sailboat (which he sold not long ago in order to buy another trimaran). So I’ll let him take it from here. And thanks to both Adrian and Jonathan for making this great post available to us!

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The Horstman 24 Trimaran
by Jonathan Madinaveitia

I first saw the Horstman, about a year after she was Launched (1995) in 1996. I went for a sail with Pat Webb, her builder, in Harwich harbour on a blustery day where I was very impressed with his building skills and her speed and smooth handling in the choppy sea. But never having owned a multihull I was just not confident enough to buy her. This turned out to be quite a mistake on my part as I spent the next eight or nine years looking for her to come up for sale again!…..I guess I fell in love with her lines as much as anything…

I eventually saw her come onto the market the morning of my children’s Christening, Summer 2004, ‘got to be a good omen,’ I thought and contacted the owner straight away, before heading off for the church. I believe I called him within two hours of placing the ad. I dragged my family to the far end of England (Falmouth) to see the boat the next weekend and bought her on the spot, after a quick look over her, to re-familiarise myself. It was like meeting a good friend after several years … definitely a very good feeling.

Horstman 24 Trimaran Layout Graphic

In fact, that just about summarises this boat, it makes you feel good about the sailing and time spent on board her. The accommodations are nothing short of amazing for such a compact vessel. We are a growing family of five and have had many a weekend and several family holidays aboard her, in comfort if not splendour! Not only does she manage to fit in two large double berths that are nearly seven feet long and over four feet wide, but there is another very generous single under the cockpit, even at a large 6’4” I fit in that one too.

A Look Inside the Horstman 24 Trimaran Port Ama

Most importantly for a family cruiser, she has a separate chemical heads, in the bows, which would be large enough for another berth at a push. We used a hammock occasionally, but found the space excellent for stowing the dinghy and sails and warps.

The headroom is about 5’6” throughout. Not bad at all, and really quite airy with the large bunks to look across to the windows outboard. Again, she gives a deceiving impression of size with the large internal volume convincing you that she is even longer and larger outside, a veritable Tardis.

Port Berth Inside the Horstman 24 Trimaran

The children (5 and 7 and 9) loved to be able to climb out of the forehatch and down into the bows and through the wings too, and moving about on the big, open flush deck. A favourite place being to sit on the windward wing and watch the hull lift to the breeze and the water whoosh by below. The clear uncluttered decks give a smooth racing look to her, almost like a 1930′s yacht … but allow a lot of lounging and rope and sail play whilst on the move — a very practical place even in a good sea.

Horstman 24 Trimaran Galley

She is a boat that you would describe as having ‘long legs’. Although not large, she handles well at sea. She is not a light weight trimaran … but the extra mass, her fine bows, vertical sheer and canoe stern, give her a very clean entry into the waves and a smooth and purposeful motion. She has excellent performance in light winds; she glides along really well. Once she is in the groove she really goes. And at all reasonable speeds she leaves very little wake at all … a sure sign of minimal drag.

Companionway Inside the Horstman 24

A most interesting feature of the boat are the daggerboards that are mounted in the amas and are offset to counteract the effects of leeway. They work, and work really well! In light winds the boat seems to creep to windward and in moderate winds she has almost no leeway at all. This allows us to point lower and to sail fuller, with more power a major plus. Especially since they can be simply raised for shallow or close quarters maneuvering.

Bow View of the Horstman 24 Trimaran

Its amazing how quickly the boat will spin round a single daggerboard when needed. Other than that, in marinas the hull shapes and depth of the boat mean that she helms well at low speeds, tracking very straight both ahead and astern. I often exit the marina from berth to entrance astern, no turns just driving backwards, very controllable.

We manage to make about 7 to 7.5 Kts on passage. Very good for a boat of 23′ waterline. We expect to keep up with the 40′ yachts, but those 45′ up just seem to be able to creep away — maybe their engines are running! :-)

Horstman 24 Trimaran - Port View

To date, the maximum speed I have achieved is 16.7 Kts, which has been really quite exciting. The sheer bow, although four foot above the water, sure puts up some spray when the boat thinks it is a sledge! In less exceptional conditions, about 12 Kts in a Beaufort 4.

Horstman 24 Trimaran in the UK

Although she will heel quite a lot if over pressed, I think the psychological fear of the boat overturning is overstated, we have only ever had a couple of waves hit the bottom of the wing decks, and never really felt that we were likely to ‘blow over’ with wind under the decks. Sea state has been less of a consideration than on some of the lighter multihulls I have sailed and owned. Again, the fine entry, weight of the boat and height of the decks have made a real difference in any kind of “chop.” We always get home comfortably, and always near the front of the fleet!

As if you couldn’t tell, I am a huge fan of the little Tristar. I have never owned a boat that provided such an elegant ability to make to windward, slicing through Solent and North Sea chop with amazing efficiency. She is no lightweight flyer but a fully fledged sea boat with a performance edge in light winds and huge accommodation for her small size. An excellent sailing boat and proper little cruiser racer … (thank-you Ed Horstman, well done!).

I am a believer in the adage that ‘all boats are a compromise. And so, in the ideas that while one can have accommodation or performance or price — one can never have all three. This boat is excellent as a pocket cruiser, but is not a daysailer or weekend racer.

I have been having a recent hankering for more performance to day sail shorthanded, and have moved on to buy a Dragonfly 25, to renovate. Thus I have lost a lot of accommodation, and arguably some sea-kindliness, but I am now looking for a few short hours of higher performance and am accepting the compromises involved.

I guess I will be back to that part of the curve when the children don’t have parties and clubs at weekends and we want to go on family adventures to the islands again. But I suspect next time it will cost us a larger boat to live up to the Horstman.

Along with the photos, here are a couple of videos of my former Horstman 24 Trimaran posted on YouTube …

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3 Responses to “A Sailor’s View of the Horstman 24 Trimaran”

  1. Fred Goldfarb Says:

    I have known Ed a little for many years, and have been on several TriStar 27-9′s, a 38, and a 48 the owner/builder lived aboard. Critics have said Ed’s boats have too much windage, don’t sail well, tack well, and so on.

    I sailed on a 27-9 from Staten Island, NY with about 6 others. In shallow water and very light air, it tacked under mainsail alone with both daggerboards up. Underway in the outter bay heading towards the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, under perhaps 12 +/- Knots of wind, using a full main and around a 130% jib, close hauled, we did around 7 knots or so. A 34′ monohull tried but couldn’t catch us.

    Ed’s boats are very streamlined, the huge decks are great for kids and dogs to move about on (lifelines and netting are needed for safety as on most boats), and everything can be rigged for operation from the cockpit. Motion is generally very gentle, even in stronger winds and waves.

    Ed’s designs have been sailed in every ocean, went around Cape Horn, have one of the most enviable safety records around, and are amongst the best multihull cruising designs in any size by any designer.

    They are as pointed out, more cruising boats, though I’d say you could day sail one easily, especially in the smaller sizes. I found them pretty dry to sail on, though a dodger and bimini come in handy as on most boats.

    While some trimaran designs come up for sale fairly often, I’ve rarely seen any TriStars up for sale. Since Ed sold a great many plans, Tristar builders and owners seem to like them a lot and keep them a long time. If you can, go sail on one and see for yourself what a terrific cruising oriented TriStar is all about.

  2. Deon Smith Says:

    I have bought a Tristar 18″ and am busy refurbishing her. I am looking for a diagram of the rigging. I have sailed her a few times but there is something not right with the rigging. I need some help here please. Thanks

    Regards
    Deon

  3. Small Tri Guy Says:

    Hi Deon,
    Have you contacted Ed Horstman, the designer. His website is still up at http://www.edhorstmanmultihulldesigns.com and his email address is listed as edhorstman AT outlook.com
    If he cannot help you then you can contact John Marples using the contact info at http://www.searunner.com and he will be able to help you figure out the rigging.

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