The Stramba presented at the Venice Boat Show, the sail boat without a mast and boom
We went on board the “strangest” sail boat in the world, where every manoeuvre is done using an upside down U-shaped track
Stramba in name and fact. Indeed, the first thing that sailing enthusiasts visiting the Venice Boat Show thought when they found themselves in front of Futura was “How strange!”. Actually, that’s not true. This was the second thing they thought. The first was: “Is that thing really a sail boat?” Yes and yes. It has no boom and no central mast, these have been substituted by an upside down U-shaped structure, and the cockpit looks like a dinette, but it is truly a sail boat.
One of the kinds that won’t move forward unless the wind pushes it. And this is what Daniele Mingucci, creator of the design and of the start-up that launched it, “Stramba”, is hoping to do as soon as possible. “The boat has yet to be refined – explains Mignucci – we burned the candle at both ends in order to be able to present her at the Venice Boat Show, but we are continuing to work on the sails and are planning to do a test run at sea as soon as possible. There are still a number of details to finish, but I would say we are almost there.”
Daniele, kind and friendly like all good people from Romagna, allowed me to come into the cockpit of the prototype, built by the Zuanelli shipyard in Padenghe sul Garda and explained to me in detail how it manoeuvres. “Everyone comments how Futura has no boom – he tells me – but in fact it has two, only that you can’t see them, and you won’t hit them with your head.” The mainsail is triangular but symmetrical and the booms are there, two of the same size: one at the top and one at the bottom of the sail.
And it also isn’t true that the boat doesn’t have a mast. It has two, each one located on each of the gunwales, at the starboard and port sides, a little over 20 metres in height, and joined together by an arch. When the boat gets wind straight on, the sail, which looks like a bird’s wing, goes to the port mast, all outboard. When you jibe, the sail does not go over the cockpit (watch your heads, sailors!) but, thanks to an electric winch, it runs along an upside down U-shaped track, and catches the wind on the opposite side. The lower boom becomes the upper boom and vice versa.
It all takes between 8 to 10 seconds, which isn’t a short time, but, explains Daniele, you get the speed back quickly thanks to the high performance of the sails which – and this is new – will always catch the wind from the same side. This characteristic allows them to design sails with higher performance. Regarding the jib, its function remains mostly the same, but the pen is attached to the head of the U and will automatically change with every jibe.
In my opinion, Futura is targeting undecided buyers, torn between the comfort of an engine and the charm of silent sailing pushed only by the wind, rather than sailing enthusiasts An undisputed advantage of this “strange” system is indeed the exceptional recovery of more space. Futura is 15 metres long, built in aluminium, 4.63 metres wide and with a draught of 2.40 metres plus 1.60 of the keel, but it has a covered living space of 70 square metres! It really is like a terrace overlooking the sea with no obstacles for manoeuvres or sails. In other words, on Futura, passengers can have breakfast or lie down and relax in the sun, even if they are close-hauled, considering that the boat only tilts slightly.
I know that sailing purists will stick their noses up and will tell me that they don’t go sailing in order to drink a coffee in comfort or to sun bathe Daniele also knows this well, and explains: “I have never thought of Stramba as an alternative to sailing, but as an opportunity. We are at the very beginning of an exciting story, a blank page waiting to be written. This summer we will begin testing at sea. There are still a number of things to finish and we want to do it because we want to demonstrate that this system works. What do I hope for for the future? To take a few clients away from motorboats, because sailing is far too beautiful!” And in this, not even sailing purists can claim he is wrong!