From the following article on Sail Magazine by Paul Gelder:
Tucked away down a narrow alley in the picturesque town of Ashburton, on the edge of Dartmoor National Park in England, is a tiny building called the Tenter loft, a relic from the ancient wool industry when cloth was stretched on tenterhooks. It’s now the quirky office of British multihull designer Nigel Irens, the man behind some of the fastest sailing boats on the planet.
“The only things stretched in here are catamarans and trimarans,” says one of his team in a play on Irens’s maxim on multihull design that can be paraphrased as “design the longest boat you can possibly accept and then add a few feet.”
For 40 years, Irens has been at the cutting edge of multihull ocean racing. His name is on a string of record-setting catamarans and trimarans that are bywords among multihull aficionados everywhere, including ENZA, the 92-foot cat on which Peter Blake and Robin Knox-Johnston set the first Jules Verne sailing record in 1994; iDEC, on which Francis Joyon became the fastest man to circumnavigate solo; B&Q Castorama, on which Ellen Macarthur became not just the fastest woman around the world but, for a while, the fastest person, period. These and many other designs have long been celebrated as a kind of fusion of art and science. Irens’s designs, built for speed and endurance, have been called poems of flowing function, and for decades have been sought after by the hottest sailors on the race circuits.
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