Merlin – Pure Magic Racing at the Caribbean Multihull Challenge
A fast craft with a wizard’s name plus epic crew work is what it takes for a podium finish at the Caribbean Multihull Challenge (CMC). Just ask Alexis de Boucaud, the St. Martin-based owner of the Diam 24, Merlin. de Boucaud bought the swift sailing trimaran, formerly owned by legendary Swiss Vendee Globe skipper, Bernard Stamm, in late 2021. It was perfect timing to enter the 2022 CMC since two other Diam 24s were registered. Like the wave of a wand, the Merlin team rounded out the top three with a trophy.
“I like the CMC’s short courses that emphasize tactics and crew work,” says de Boucaud, who kept the Diam’s former name out of superstition. “Merlin is very fast and very forgiving. We have planted the bows numerous times and have never flipped her. In one CMC race, where we led, a strong gust pushed us to the brink of capsizing while we were sailing under gennaker. Our helmsman, convinced that we were going over, dove into the water rather than risk falling on one of the amas. The boat eventually stabilized and leveled off. I looked back to see our helmsman 10 yards behind the boat swimming ferociously to get back on. He was agile enough to do so and we won that race!”
de Boucaud brings his own magic to the Merlin team. He started sailing Optimists at age 5 in the Gulf of Tunis, near Carthage, Tunisia, where his geophysicist father was stationed. In the 1990s, his sailing life took a two-hull path when he delivered a Fountaine Pajot Marquises 56 from La Rochelle to Tahiti. More recently, de Boucaud worked on a custom 61-foot catamaran project for a client with renowned naval architects VPLP (Van Peteghem Lauriot-Prévost). The four-year project culminated in delivery from Cape Town to Bahia, Brazil. The all-carbon cat was so light and fast that it used only 40 liters of diesel to recharge the batteries.
“I watched two successive CMCs from shore and decided I needed to jump in myself,” says Boucaud. “The Diam 24 story came along at the right time. The CMC’s three days of racing, with the combination of short courses and longer 20- to 30-mile runs, is the perfect format for the amateur that allows for stiff competition while keeping it all fun.”