I had seen the then unnamed Time Machine at various stages of her evolution dating back to (I'm pretty sure) the late 1980's in Victoria, Australia, and then in later years on the Australian Gold Coast.
When she turned up on Julie Geldard's Vidpicpro gallery pages after the 2017 Australian Multihull Championships I was quite blown away and wanted to know more.
Fortuitously the next morning there was an email with some photos from the man who brought her to life, Matt von Bibra.
Matt thought I might be interested. Hell yeah! I immediately replied to Matt and asked him to tell me more.
I also made a brief post about the boat on our facebook page and it attracted more than twice as much interest, (according to the facebook stats), as anything else we've ever posted. That made me even more curious. What's going on here?
Matt has been very generous with information about the boat and it's an interesting story.
What follows here is a two part article about Time Machine.
Plain text is by Tony Grainger. The bold text by Matt von Bibra
Time Machine started on the long road to its present status in the late 1980's. She was purchased partially built and moved to Queensland where she went though a series of transformations and various states of completion under different owners before being purchased by the current owner Matt von Bibra and finally launched for the Australian Multihull Championships in 2009 (which by the way could be more elegantly named the "Australian Nationals" or Australian Multihull Nationals" as Matt refers to the bi annual event).
Matt reports; "We went into this regatta with no prior racing and with a lot of detail that we inherited with the boat. It had centreboards in each float that were 500mm chord and 1m. under the hull when fully down. The boat went one length forward and one length sideways and performed poorly. It was after this that I put the boat away in a makeshift shed in my in-laws back yard and just did what I wanted to do. This took a lot longer than I expected so the name ‘Time Machine’ is appropriate on many fronts".
The Time Machine Project brings new meaning to the term "Backyard Boat Building". Click on the pic's for a larger image.
With 2 kids under 4 years, family and work commitment’s I only just got the boat to a stage where I considered it race prepared a few days before the regatta.
Prior to the 2017 Nationals the boat had done just one race of the QCYC winter series at half throttle.
From that we had a list of items to develop and an inkling that in light air the boat was a serious weapon.
We had a nasty storm cell come through Brisbane the week leading up to the regatta so we waited for it to come through and gave the boat a test in 30 knots behind Green Island.
We hammered the boat and ourselves, prodder fully under water going upwind. It was a bit risky thinking back – but out of that we knew we had a tough little boat that we could push hard.
As the boys
called it “a wild
Now we just
need to learn
how to tame it!
The regatta started in a good 20 knots and we were well positioned prior to getting into irons through a tack caused by me standing on the wrong rig cant button!
That happened a few times during the race which was annoying as we were blowing the doors off the Diam 24’s on the beat from the Cleveland Yellow to the top of Peel Island. By the end of the regatta we got much better at tacking!
We won the second race and should have won the third race on OMR if it was not for some tactical and starting mistakes.
The long race was really pleasing. The boat was on fire upwind in the 8 knots and Ullman Sails, the Extreme 40 and ourselves had cleared out on the fleet. The 50 degree shift at the top of the beat which turned the VMG run into a reach all the way home put the fire out on our OMR chances with our downwind sails more VMG designs - but the boat showed its potential.
Overall it was a big ask entering the boat in this regatta as its first race but we are super happy with how it went. As the boys called it “a wild wild brumby”! Now we just need to learn how to tame it!
Plain text is by Tony Grainger. The bold text by Matt von Bibra
Time Machine was originally built from a modified set of plans for the 075, an 8m/26' LOA trimaran designed by Tony Grainger in 1985.
The prototype Born to Run was launched in January 1986.
The main modification to the design was to have the cabin cut down similar to Hard Yakka, also built on the 075 hulls and which was built and raced very successfully by Doug Trott.
The main hull was strip planked in foam and glass. At a later stage of completion Time Machine inherited a set of floats from the Essential Eight trimaran, built by Gordon Myers and Nathan Stanton. The boat has Kevlar decks, and custom beams in carbon and glass.
The floats are original Grainger Essential 8 floats. Both Bare Essentials and Purple Haze (an Essential Eight) have since cut their's down the centreline and added width / volume. We felt that with the addition of the curved foil the skinny floats were ok. They certainly don’t hurt in the light to medium airs.
We added 1100mm to the bow of the float purely to make the boat safer. With the original bows if you drove them in the boat would stop and want to pitchpole.
With this design you can drive through and out without stopping which is much much safer. I designed the shape of the new bow just by eye / thumb in the air / a fairing batten and a torture board. The old bows are still there by the way.
We guestimate there is also about 100 litres more bouyancy forward with the new shape. I might add that having the canting rig it unloads the float massively. This was the driver for coming up with an electrically powered system.
We originally had a 4:1 leading to a dedicated size 40 winch each side. This would be fine for passage / ocean racing – but we found it hopeless and scary when trying to throw the boat around a shorter course. Our system keeps both stays tensioned from full cant to full cant. (8 seconds from full cant to full cant – funnily enough about the same time as a canting keel…..)
The Essential Eight Venom racing in the Australian Multihull Championships on Moreton Bay in 2008. Time Machine initially deployed the production floats from the Essential Eight but they were later modified with the longer bows with the assistance of Gordon Myers who was the driving force behind the Essential Eight design.
Gordon was one of the first people to recognise the importance of high buoyancy floats if you want good performance (and safety) and has been a strong advocate of them every since.
Born to Run at Hamilton Island Race Week in 1986. She created a lot of interest among the multihull sailors there but also in the mainstream yachting press (which was not generally very multihull friendly at the time) after demonstrating very impressive performance against the monohull fleet which included Windward Passage.
Time Machine's main hull is from the same lines as Born to Run.
Comparing the monohull type spinnaker pole here with the skiff style setup on Time Machine is just one indication of the evolution that has taken place in rig design over the 30 plus intervening years.
And the strongly rockered floats with the fine sterns quickly became outmoded as we realised that powerful buoyant floats got the main hull out of the water and delivered a lot more power.
Back to Matt:
The sails were built when we launched the boat originally. The main and jib are North 3DL and the downwind sails are North laminate sails (not nylon) with 2 other Kevlar screechers built by the Oracle Cup team that I acquired when sailing with them in the RC44 in 2010. North built a brand new jib for this regatta which was reefable and as big as we could fit on the boat (to the back of the cabin). Nothing on the boat has been done with OMR in mind and/or to lower the rating.
The downwind sails are set off a 4.8mt carbon prodder. The prodder has a custom Harken track mounted on it with 2 x Harken cars that the furlers attach. The system works really well in that we can bring the sails back when going upwind and we can swap and change the sails around on the 2 x cars whilst sailing upwind.
The length of the prodder gets our largest gennaker well away from the mainsail and we can use the jib as a staysail efficiently. We never really got a race with any light to medium VMG running that had any length in it to stretch our legs. We have not had the time and conditions to test this - but with the length of the prodder, we think we could fly the masthead runner with the hounds screecher off the mid pole and then the jib inside that. More time needed here.
When reaching the boat does develop lee helm on the masthead sail. The Screecher set off the mid pole offers better balance of helm when reaching.
The regatta showed real potential in the light to medium upwind. I put a new centreboard in that is a 450mm chord and 2.6mt under the hull set vertically 700mmm behind the mast.
The helm balance is perfect with just a small amount of windward helm.
We do not have an upwind screecher and were almost boat on boat with Ullman Sails who are the only guys that were using such a sail effectively (with enough luff tension). We are thinking about adding a similar sail to the boat which will really wick it up.
Overall I think the 075 hull shape with long skinny floats, high aspect C/Board and sail plan just worked and felt right in the light air.
The foils are not clear cut – but I can elaborate on my opinions ………. Canting rig much much more of a weapon. Much the same effect as a canting keel which I have had a lot to do with having sailed 4 x Hobarts on Black Jack.
Mark Mathews built the rudders to a Paul Bieker design (Oracle AC foil designer). They are 950mm under the transom and are quite fine in the entry and very low drag. Area wise they seem just right.
Time Machine's Crew; Rolf, Veolia and Musto. That's Matt on the left.
I asked Matt for a little bit of background information about himself and what drives him. He's clearly a modest character and didn't want to be too verbose on this topic but he did let on the following information:
7 years with Harken
2 years with Lewmar
4 x Syd Hobarts with Black Jack - Pitman
2010 world champion – RC44 Class – Pitman - Oracle BMW Team
What drives me?
I’m a competitive person with a keen interest in the technical side of our sport. This boat presented a few challenges and I enjoy figuring out solutions and building components almost more than actually sailing the boat……
• 075 centre hull
• Vertical board in centre hull (450 chord) 2.6 under hull…..
• No rudder in centre hull
• Extended original essential 8 floats (1100mm added and about 100 litres of more bouncy forward) (approx.)
• 7mt beam
• C Foils
• Marstrom wing mast 14.3mt custom engineered for the boat
• 4.8mt prodder with custom track / cars (x2) so we can bring the downwind sails back upwind and also change them out easy
• Electric mast cant (up to 15 degrees each way) – 2 x foot switches on floor.
• Electric traveller – wireless remote
• 1 x cabin top winch is electric for trimming downwind – wireless remote• 1285kg OMR weight with all sails
• All halyards / controls at back of mast and can be led to either winch. Used to be on the side of the mast which was hopeless
Major items we are thinking about after the regatta:
• Winglets on rudders. We think there is lots of merit in this for the boat.
• Sail area optimisation (mainly downwind sails)
• C - Foil angle optimisation
• OMR in general
Review of downwind sail inventory including areas (maybe to optimise for OMR a bit better)
Wings on the rudders
Making the C foil angle adjustable. We found the angle of attack we have is nice in the flat water, but feel we need more angle of attack / lift when the water is rough and the boat is pitching more
Many thanks to Matt for the photos and for being so generous with information about Time Machine.
The sailing photos are from Julie Geldard's Vidpicpro.