FIN-88 M “Pohjantähti” (“North Star”)
HISTORY. The boat was probably manufactured in Denmark in 1976 or 1977. The manufacturer was Spunkboat, the model Mk 1; the boat had a main and a drifter. The hull had OOH01 painted on it and the mainsail had number 8 on it. The boat was bought from Sweden in November 2000 where it stood next to a garage. As a buyer I went to see a fibreglass boat with my brother who was meant to hold me back with the sales. It turned out that he liked the Fleuret more than I did and he played an important role in me deciding to buy the boat. We were brothers who’d been racing all our lives, he was already thinking about races we could take part in with this boat. We knew Ib Pors Nielsen as a designer of other trimarans, such as Supernova and Pinta. The Fleuret resembled both. It was easy to sail with by yourself, and at races we were two or three persons. The boat was sold in 2011 because I grew tired of drinking my morning coffee in rain at overnight races and because the boat equipment was already on a good level.

The Fleuret is an ELASTIC boat which can be taken down to pieces and assembled. In the first years it took a lot of patience. You couldn’t know for sure if the thing would stay in one piece. I kept a constant eye on the fibreglass surfaces and aluminium cross booms. The leeward side hull (ama) cut directly through waves and the main hull bounced up and down. But it was also interesting to get to adjust the angle the side hulls had ploughing through waves. Every time you wanted to trim the boat you had to think carefully whether to tighten something up or loosen it. The Fleuret made one appreciate the designer.

The KEEL caused headache at first because we thought it wasn’t big enough for an optimal close hauled course. We thought you’d had to have a speed of at least 8 kn to have lifting power in the keel. Later we noticed that this was not something to worry about. We once took part in a race in Helsinki. Our guiding principle was to take the shortest possible route to the finishing line. After the start we looked back and wondered why the other boats weren’t following us. At that moment we noticed we were going above a salmon net which had been tied to a nearby islet with thick cables. Thump, thump… we managed to get across without damage. Thanks to a lifting keel and rudder we didn’t lose our placing and our ability to read the map couldn’t be doubted.

Another incident happened the next morning. There was a cottage where they offered to TOW boats to the race track. I told the driver of the speedboat who’d tow us that he could go as fast as he wanted. We tied a rope and I guess the driver wanted to teach us country boys a lesson. He hit the accelerator, pulling us at the speed of 30 kn. We had to lift the keel up so the boat could be steered without capsizing. Water gushed in from the KEELBOX as if it was an oil fountain. Being the helmsman was like taking a bath and shower. Once the towing was over, the water flowed back to the sea through the box. Afterwards we placed a rubber stopper in the keelbox on the bottom of side of the boat, which eliminated the problem. The keelbox was below the floor level. The waterline was about 10 cm lower. At an evening party at a regatta, when friends came over and on board “Pohjantähti” to talk and to have some drinks, the guests sitting in the cockpit had their feet up to their ankles in water because of our special keelbox. After all, 30 persons weigh a lot.

MAINSAIL. The winds are weaker inland on the lakes compared to sea. Because of this in the third summer we got a new format mainsail from a Tornado. This gave us the extra square metres we wanted and meant that the size and shape of the keel didn’t have to be changed. A rotating mast and a new sail – it took some time to figure these things out.

The JIBS and GENNAKERS (30m2 and 56m2) were from a Melges 24 and came from a second hand store. We had to be able to sheet the jib as much in as possible, for example, for us to be able to luff up at the starts. It was time for some metal work. When we passed other boats, we did it on the leeward side with a good speed.

Our BOATSPEED was 20 kn at its best. To anyone asking about speed we’ve told that Poul Elvström, a world-class sailor, has sailed a same kind of boat at the speed of 25 kn, Mk2 including a jib. We won our last PÄIJÄNNEPURJEHDUS, a 60 NM race, which was in 2011; our maximum boatspeed was 19 kn. It was enough since we could keep it up for several hours. We (A THREE-PERSON CREW) had a duel with a keelboat named “Auvo”, an Over 33 (which had a 12-person crew). There was a thunderstorm in the middle of the race which tore apart many of our competitors. We had a fast boat; the route we’d chosen allowed us to twist arms with the master of winds. Very often at some other times, the winds were not favourable to us, sometimes we had light headwinds. With the Fleuret which easily picks up speed, we sometimes even searched for winds by sailing backwards to get forward, to the finishing line.

SIDE HULLS (amas). You would’ve wished that they had been longer and more spacious but that would’ve made them heavier. We did our best with what we had. Päijännepurjehdus 2009, 60 NM, was a beam reach race, taking us 7.5 h. We sailed the race with a lightened boat, a small 30m2 gennaker; the waves weren’t too big; it was magical. You dream about this kind of conditions for decades, and sometimes you get exactly what you’ve been waiting for.

STEERING WITH ROPES. I’d never seen such a thing before. It was a brilliant idea which allowed you to steer the boat from the cockpit or sitting on one of the side hulls. Because of this, you couldn’t really feel tension when steering the boat, as you’d normally do; you just had to know where to go and how. A wind speed meter and a speedometer helped.

ACCELORATION. I had never before experienced, not even on a dinghy, the bow lifting up when the boat picks up more speed, as it happens on speedboats. Generally speaking, you had to try to gain speed by luffing up or bearing away. The boat reacted, you had to trim the sails, there was action; it was nice. On our home waters on Lake Päijänne we were the fastest six times out of ten, twice we didn’t race. You could hardly wish for better success.

The CREW consisted of Matti Paatola, Antti Kanninen and Tapani Paatola who was standby. The skipper was Pentti Paatola. The boat, the Fleuret, “Pohjantähti”, witnessed Antti growing up and becoming adult, and it turned Matti and Tapu into multihull men. I’m grateful for everything I’ve experienced, and I continue sailing multihulls, but more slowly.

Our HOMEPAGE/BLOG features stories about our racing experiences. Without a lively boat there’d be no stories to tell or pictures to show. Our pictures have been taken, for example, by Vesa Lilja, Kari Miettinen, Marjut Nättinen.