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Ken Read
Ken Read - Excited about multihulls

After skippering the past two Volvo Ocean Races, Kenny Read is looking forward to sleeping in his own bed, and getting connected with his local sailing scene in Newport, RI. However, despite all the existing boat options on Narragansett Bay, Kenny has organized something different...the Marstrom 32 catamaran. Here Ken explains:
My friend Hakan Svensson from Berg Propulsion, which had sponsored my last Volvo ride, got hooked on the Marstrom 32 about a year ago, and he wouldn't stop talking about them throughout the Volvo race. After the 2011-12 race was over, we had a pretty big party that Hakan threw for his company and the team. The "Berg 100th Anniversary and PUMA/Berg finish's a successful Volvo Ocean Race" party, near Gothenburg Sweden, was a week after the race ended and we even got the Volvo 70 there on time.

His plan was not only to have a party, but to have his Marstrom 32 and an additional Marstrom 32 owned by Goran Marstrom to be at the party. He would then have our Volvo team crew on the boats along with his party guests during an afternoon of match racing for fun.

Thank the lord that there was no wind because if there had been any breeze it would have become a "death match". We were talking about it for months. Creating strategies for pretty much ruining the two boats as well as the lives of all ten of the crew who had successfully navigated the world's five oceans. All fueled by just a bit of alcohol as you might imagine.

Anyway, I met Goran and the other guys from Marstrom the morning of the party and they asked if I wanted to go for a quick spin just to tune up one of the boats and amazingly I said yes. Imagine wanting to go sailing after just completing 50,000 miles? But not only did I go but I stayed out there for three hours just sailing around for fun. I had a blast. It brought me back to my old Formula 40 days, and to be honest, I couldn't remember the last time I just went sailing for fun.

So that is where it started. I came home, decided that if I was to go racing again for fun I just wasn't psyched to jump back into one of the current local one design classes. So I sent out an email to 20 or so local racers to see if there was interest in starting a new multihull class. And of course there was, based on the recent success of the America's Cup World Series event in Newport.

Multi's (as I am writing about for next month's Sailing World magazine) are becoming "in" finally because of the ACWS. I contacted Marstrom about the M-32 as well as the folks who sell the SL33 and the GC32 (the other new competing brand catamaran designs) and decided the simplicity, price and flat out excitement of the M-32 was for me. As it appears to be for a lot of people!

So we have five locals here in Newport who have already bought a boat, many others are interested, and there seems to be a buzz around North America to make this into a great new class. Are we out to disturb what is already out there? Absolutely not! This is really a new concept of one design racing that seems to appeal to a lot of people. A way to easily get kids on boats at a high level, and to get families out on the water sailing together. Only two sails - a mainsail and a downwind Code 0 on a furler. Extreme simplicity. Athletic to be sure, but certainly not so difficult to trim and so teamwork sensitive that reasonably new people to the sport can't handle it. I am very excited.

So, I agreed with Marstrom to purchase their demo boat but they still own it until after a demo sailing session in Miami on Feb 1-15. They have this session up on their website to get details on how to sign up. They want to get as many people out of the M-32 as possible so we can continue to grow this class quickly. They still have building slots left for this summer and really the goal is to get multiple locations with boats by the summer of 2013. I guess I started the ball rolling but they have run with it which is great. Their enthusiasm is very contagious.

Sail Newport (my brother's facility which also ran the ACWS) knows exactly what is coming and we are working together on a simple storage and launch program which will certainly have some growing pains. But our goal is to make this easy and turnkey so the boats get used a lot.

We are planning on Monday and Thursday night racing this summer and maybe a winter series in Florida kind of like either the low key Jaguar Series the Etchells Class does or the Lightning Southern Circuit. Fun, low key, no arms race, fast and fun for young kids. If we can pull this off we will be doing the sport and ourselves a lot of good I think.

January 16, 2013

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