The first trimarans were built by indigenous Polynesians and other Pacific islanders almost 4,000 years ago, and some of the current US terminology is derived from them. Sailingcatamarans and trimarans gained popularity during the 1960s and 1970s.
In modern times, originally many catamarans and trimarans were homebuilt, but there are now many production models available. Some trimarans in the 19–36-foot lengths (5.8–11.0 m) are designed as “day-sailers” which can be transported on a road trailer. These include the original Farrier – Corsair folding trimarans – and original John Westell swing-wing folding trimaran (using the same folding system later adopted also on Quorning Dragonfly) and like trimarans. Some designers have penned “demountable trimarans” that are able to be trailered (like the SeaCart 30 by Oceanlake Marine ).
The trimaran concept has also been used for both passenger ferries and warships. For example, in 2005 the 127-metre trimaran (417 ft) Benchijigua Express was delivered by Austal to Spanish ferry operator Fred Olsen, S.A. for service in the Canary Islands. Capable of carrying 1,280 passengers and 340 cars, or equivalents, at speeds up to 40 knots, this boat was the longest aluminum ship in the world at the time of delivery. A modern warship, the RV Triton was commissioned by British defence contractor QinetiQ in 2000. In October 2005, the United States Navy commissioned for evaluation the construction of an General Dynamics LCS trimaran designed and built by Austal. The DARPA is experimenting with the trimaran design, and in 2012 awarded SAIC a contract to perform Phases 2 through 4 of the ACTUV Program. The contract is expected to be completed by August 2015.