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Want to see a “do-it-yourself” type of guy building his own super-fast, high performance trimaran? Then check out Mike Shappell’s The Man Shed. I’ve come across this website several times in recent months. Mike is building a Kurt Hughes 20-foot model … but with some modifications.


I emailed Mike and asked him if he’d share a little bit about his project with us. He very kindly obliged, and even let me post a few pics from his site (which has lots of very detailed photos). If you’re thinking about building a high-tech tri yourself then you definitely want to visit “The Man Shed” site.

Mike’s replies to the questions I sent him form the piece below. My first question had to do with his “renaming” of the 20′ trimaran model, which Kurt also refers to as the “Spitfire.” Many thanks for sharing about your trimaran project Mike!


The TMS 20 Trimaran
By Mike Shappell, aka “The Man Shed

The TMS-20 is a Kurt Hughes design. I looked at the stock plans and had Kurt redesign the stock plan with my requested changes. I had a flair designed in the main hull above the water line to add more room in the cockpit area without increasing the wetted surface, the deck was flattened also. I had more freeboard and beam added to the ama’s.


Since I had the boat re-designed from the stock plans I want to have the boat identified with my shop The Man Shed. I named it TMS-20 taking the first letter of each word in the shop’s name. Who knows perhaps limited production in the future if the boat is successful and well accepted.


One thing that had put me off on trimaran designs in general was the boxy look and the, “they all look the same aspect”. This design did not have that to begin with, then after the re-design this boat is a set of flowing curves from the bilge to deck, bow to stern. Being an old beach cat sailor I liked the idea of a beachable tri. Many tris are too large or try to be a small cruiser with mini accommodations, great if you are a very small person. Neither fit the idea of want I wanted; a light, fast, and comfortable speed machine. I liked the idea of sitting down low in the 20′ hull, 6 inches above the waterline, looking up at 31′ mast, and 17′ wide for a thrilling ride.


I was initially attracted to Kurt’s designs for his CM building method and was considering building a 38′ boat using this method. I decided to build the TMS-20 with foam and vacuum bagged carbon fiber, so I had Kurt design a lay-up schedule for this method as it was a complete deviation from the stock design.


Pricing things out has been a challenge I managed to get carbon cloth for $18/yard. I’m thinking of making my own carbon tubes instead of using aluminum mast sections. I’ve got to figure that out. Also, Kurt has a keen idea of a post rudder in a cassette instead of a transom hung rudder. Making that kick-up with the tiller connection will be a challenge, but that is also part of the fun.

The TMS-20 is a break-away from what is out there on the market today. Most small 20-foot range or less sized tris are more for putzing about on the water. I feel this will be a speed machine giving you real seat of the pants thrill. It does not follow the traditional boxy designs and will be an option for a sailor that wants to go out and mix thing up. Click here to visit “The Man Shed” site and view all of the pictures that Mike has posted for his project thus far.


Update: January 10, 2010 Mike wrote the the following …

“I’ve attached some pictures to update the story on the TMS-20.

The Starboard hull is fared out. Now I am beginning work on the Port Hull.
The mold stations have been flipped, aligned, and fared out. I will begin
the process again of ripping and routing strips to form the Port Hull. Once
the Port hull is formed and Carbon Fibered inside I will fare it out, add the
bulkheads and bow sprit, then join the hulls. I will match the hulls then
laminate the outside of the boat.”

Stations flipped

stern reach

bow and deck


bow reach