Our introduction to the Dragonfly 32 is breathtaking! This boat is taking off: 17, 18, 19 and finally 20 knots are on the speedo, swooshing, bubbling and ripping off sheets of spray. Upright, the Dragonfly 32 stampedes over the flat waves beyond leaving its own wake far behind, trailing three foamy lines in the dark waters of the Baltic Sea. At Force 6 with a reefed main and gennaker there’s no holding back. In principle the speed is easy to unleash as long as the helmsman bears off in the gusts, thus turning wind into velocity. If the pressure increases too much, it’s possible to stall a trimaran, for instance when holding course as it accelerates, which moves the apparent wind farther forward. The increased pressure creates strong weather helm and might cause the boat to shoot into the sun.
There are two positive points in all this. First, the situation can be brought under control quickly by blowing the spin sheet and turning the rudder straight to re-attach the laminar flow. Second, the amas have a ton of buoyancy. A lot would have to happen to make them pitchpole. Company president and co-designer Jens Quorning says, “Yes, it’s a clear trend for us. We’re increasing buoyancy from model to model with more voluminous hulls, which increases safety."
The downwind blast is already coming to an end. The gennaker is snuffed with a cone and a sock and is eased directly into the ama. Cool: the bulky sail is out of the way and doesn’t ooze dampness in the living quarters. And on it goes, close to the breeze, beating into the lousy summer of Northern Europe, which is rich in variety on this day, because the size and the frequency of the rain drops changes as much as the strength and the direction of the wind.
Beating like a 60-foot monohull
Upwind on the Dragonfly 32, the crew can choose between sailing as close to the breeze as with a monohull or cracking off a bit and going really fast at 11 knots. That's a delight, because it helps cut down on tacking in oncoming traffic or narrow waterways. As fast as a tack is completed, it still feels slow because three hulls take their time to go through the breeze and the delta between tacking speed and top speed is quite high. But the manoeuvre itself is unproblematic and simple to execute and does not require back-winding the jib. As on most well designed trimarans, there’s hardly any weather helm, but the boat still can be steered with enough feeling.
In the standard version the Dragonfly 32 comes with tiller steering, which is sensible, given the size and the concept of the boat. The cockpit was designed with an optional wheel in mind, however with thwarts that are only 1.24 metres long there is no abundance of space, even though the workstations are well thought out. Traveler and mainsheet are within reach of the helmsman, the latter with a pulley-ratio of 1:4 as it is led to the winches on the cockpit coaming. Quorning chose Andersen stainless-steel units that bring pleasure and work well. To see the telltales in the jib, the helmsman has to crane his neck quite a bit, though. For direct reach, the jib winches are a bit too far forward of the tiller.
The gennaker sheets are handled with the well-positioned halyard winches on the cabin top. For the reaching sail a retractable bowsprit with bob- and sidestays can be ordered, which is a useful investment for more speed and faster gybes. Alas, that’s an option just as the smart 1:2 barber hauler system that is always rigged to move the jib leads outward on a reach or the two pulleys that regulate the height of the boom that doesn’t have a vang.
Too hot, too fast? The Dragonfly 32 is offered in two versions. The prototype was the so-called Supreme version with a rig that’s 1.5 metres taller, 14 square metres more upwind sail area and Elvstrom-Empex membrane sails with Technora Black fibres and eight battens in the main. This performance upgrade adds €16,700. The mast is an industrial carbon fibre tube that is finished by Quorning with two pairs of four stainless-steel diamond stays and low-stretch Dyform wires.
What a day. Up with the genny again, building pressure, carrying it to leeward, taking off, outrunning the waves. Then back upwind again. The voluptuous amas are getting a good workout. And they don’t go down, quite literally. It doesn’t escape notice how dry the boat sails and how gentle and harmonious it moves through the waves, a very pleasant sensation.
While the stress on the beams must be enormous, there’s hardly any creaking or cracking to be heard, which builds trust and is quite remarkable. Like all other Dragonflies, the Dragonfly 32 is not built as one rigid structure, but with hulls that that can be retracted toward the main hull in less than two minutes with the help of a pulley and a winch and an elaborate system of hinges, bolts and safety wires. A benefit of the so-called Swing-Wing system: The amas that are slightly canted in when in sailing mode are being pushed down into the water slightly when folded, which adds to the beam of the waterline and results in more stability in port. In folded state, the boat still requires a berth that is at least 3.70 metres wide, which also means that it is not trailerable behind a regular car or SUV.
The Dragonfly 32's draft can be varied with the 35kg centreboard with built-in buoyancy floating up by itself once the halyard is uncreated and there is no load.
The centreboard downhaul is cleated but upon hitting an obstacle releases automatically under excessive load to prevent damage. And that makes the hinged centreboard a much better solution than a daggerboard, which might take up less space in the interior, but also would be prone to more damage in a collision. The stern hung rudder is retractable and protected against damage from inadvertent grounding.
It nearly goes without saying that the motorisation has to be new, innovative and at least somewhat different. In the standard version there is a 4-stroke 25-hp Tohatsu outboard with long shaft that’s mounted on a lift system. Another option is a 14-hp inboard engine by Yanmar with Saildrive and folding prop, which costs an extra €8,000. On the test boat however there was an electric propulsion system by the Swedish manufacturer OZ marine, which was powered by 160 amp hour lithium-ion batteries. The motor is tiny and light and should be quite silent, at least in theory. In reality the maximum noise level of 62 dB(A) in the cockpit was low, but the long drive shaft vibrated audibly and unpleasantly.
According to the yard there is enough power for six hours of operation at cruising speed. Cruising speed is defined as 4.5 knots, which isn’t a whole lot for trimaran sailors who are spoiled by speed. At full throttle the top speed jumps to 6.5 knots, but the fun is limited to only one hour. From this follows that the electric propulsion is mainly meant to be used for docking in and out, since the Dragonfly trimarans all sail exceptionally well and fast in light air as all our tests have shown thus far.
Apropos docking. With a lot of windage above water and hardly any surface below, the Dragonfly 32 needs a bow thruster. Quorning offers a retractable one by max Power including a separate battery for €7,700.
Down below on the Dragonfly 32
Mr Quorning seems to love hinges. He demonstrates the features of the interior of his latest creation: Unfolding the table, latching the surface, remove a longitudinal strut, the folding it forward and backward, just as a camel is laying down, add cushions and voila, there is the double berth in the saloon, narrow as it might be. Or folding up a footstep and folding out some supporting boards and the legs won’t have to dangle in space when sitting on the starboard settee.
At 1.9 metres, the berths in the saloon are fairly short. More space and better rest can be found forward and aft, where the width also is better. The fore cabin, which is separated from the saloon by a sliding door, offers a queen size berth. To port is the lavatory and shower compartment, which offers 1.88 metres of headroom. The saloon is even higher at 1.90 to 2,00 metres and also offers plenty of storage space, even under the floorboards. A closer look at the hidden areas reveals a high standard of craftsmanship, both for wood and composite work. As an example for the attention to detail there are the wooden inserts that convert the sofas in the saloon to a double berth: The edges forward are protected and strengthened by aluminium profiles and fold up on hinges. Very cool!
At the aft end of the saloon on both sides of the companionway there is the pantry and the nav station. The kitchen has a two-flame fixed gas stove, a large stainless-steel sink a fridge that is tucked under the floorboards and an optional microwave. The nav station is a stand-up desk with an area of 59 x 120 centimeters, large enough to put two charts next to each other.
Unlocking and pushing aside the companionway steps opens the passage to the aft cabin under the cockpit. One has to crawl in and the space had to be quite low, but the berth measures 2 metres by 1.66 at shoulder height. So there are six berths on a Dragonfly 32, but that’s rather theoretical, first, because the saloon berths are rather small; second, because the available storage space would not suffice for all the passengers and third, because the cockpit might get too cramped for a longer trip with six. At least in poor weather, because on the credit side there are the large trampoline areas, which add to the living space in warmer climes. An inflatable dinghy would be easy to store there as well.
By and large pleasantly airy and clean characterises the interior, matching the borderline futuristic exterior of this boat. The standard veneer is light maple, but teak is available as an option. Each separate space can be aired out with an opening port. LED is used for direct and indirect lighting, which is hard to improve on.
Dragonfly 32 = the can-do-everything-boat
The Dragonfly 32 is super-fast, easy to handle even by a small crew, and also flexible and with a variable draft suitable for beaching or for falling dry in tidal waters. That’s all cool if it wasn’t for the cost: €261,700 euro is due to be the base price for the Supreme model, while the touring version commands €245,000. That’s the equivalent of four Bavarias of the same size!
On the other hand, if the ratio is euro per knot of boat speed, the Dragonfly emerges as the clear winner. A monohull of similar speed potential costs a million at least and would saddle the owner with higher costs for maintenance and operation. Seen in this light, the Dragonfly 32 might just be the fastest habitable boat for the money.
Then there’s the question about competition from other trimarans. In the same size ranger there’s only the Corsair 31, which is smaller and offers less space and does not have the high-end finish, but costs considerably less. New is the TNT 34 from Poland, which has aspirations that would put it between the Corsair and the Dragonfly.
Isn't sailing a trimaran difficult? And these machines can capsize? Well, sailing on three hulls is saddled with a fair amount prejudice. To counteract that the builder has a simple solution: try chartering one first. The Quorning yard offers a Dragonfly 28 for weekly charters in Skaerbaek near Federicia, Denmark. Included is a tutorial under sails that lasts for several hours. It certainly seems the best method to approach this exciting genre.
For more details on the boat, contact Multihull Solutions.
This story originally appeared in YACHT magazine, and is republished here by permission. Translated by Dieter Loibner.
|SPECIFICATIONS DRAGONFLY 32||TOURING||TALL RIG|
|Length overall centre hull||9.8m||9.8m|
|Length waterline centre hull||9.5m||9.5m|
|Draft incl. centerboard||1.9m||1.9m|
|Weight, basic boat|
incl. sails, standard batteries and outboard engine.
excl. fuel, water, anchor equipment, personal gear and other extra options
|3,100 kg||3,100 kg|
|Payload incl. crew||1,200 kg||1,200 kg|
|Max. total weight excl. crew||3,700 kg||3,700 kg|
|Watertank||120 litres||120 litres|
|Holdingtank||60 litres||60 litres|
|Fuel tank – gasoline (outboard)||25 litres||25 litres|
|Fuel tank – diesel (optional)||60 litres||60 litres|
|Max. outboard engine||30 Hp/22kw||30 Hp/22kw|
|Max. inboard engine||20 Hp/13.5kw||20 Hp/13.5kw|
|Mast section total excl. antennas||14.7sq m||16.2sq m|
|Mainsail||44sq m||55sq m|
|Standard genoa||27sq m||30sq m|
|Spinnaker asymmetric||80sq m||110sq m|
|Code-O furling||55sq m||66sq m|
|Max. persons CE category-A||5||5|
|Max. persons CE category-B||8|