reprinted from Sails Magazine
no pics included
Life in the fast lane
With the race boat scene enjoying a purple patch, we gather together some of the more interesting grand prix yachts doing the rounds, with several of them set to be on the start line of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race this year, writes Kevin Green.
Images Daniel Forster / Rolex / Courtesy Beau Geste Team / McConaghy Boats / Botin Partners / Carkeek Associates / Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi / Ker Yacht Design / McConaghy / Clipper Ventures / Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015
The demise of the MedCup circuit for theTP52 has spurred on a wave of new designs from the previously TP-engaged architects, with the forty footers and 60-70 footers particularly exciting LOAs at the moment.
New Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race hopefuls this year range in size from Tony Kirby’s Ker 46 and Matt Allen’s exciting new Carkeek 60 (that I enjoyed peeking at while in Dubai recently) to new maxis, so going south will be an even more exciting spectacle this year. The Hobart will also see interesting foreign entrants such as Karl Kwok’s powerful new Botin 80 that Mick Cookson is feverishly busy working on in New Zealand as I write. Chatting with project manager Gavin Brady about Kwok’s new Beau Geste, he said to expect some real excitement if it’s a northerly wind for the Rolex Sydney Hobart. Pushing it all the way south will be the brand new mini-maxi Alegre with accomplished owner-driver Andy Soriano calling the shots. The Mark Mills design is primarily built for the smoother waters of the Mediterranean but will excel if conditions get behind her ample beam. Then there’s the hot 60s, with Max Klink’s Botin IRC 65 Caro sure to test Shaun Carkeek’s 60, Ichi Ban. Designer Harry Dunning has also been busy with a new 60-footer that McConaghy’s are keeping under wraps right now.
40 FEET OF GRUNT
Elsewhere in the grand prix world the magic number is forty. “It seems like every designer has a 40-footer out there,” laughed Tania Cookson while I was chatting to her the other day. Head of the 40 pack is Botin Partners, the design team who dominated the last five Med Cups and have now applied their TP52 design expertise to a “no compromise” 40- foot High Performance racing yacht. The first of these new super light weight racers is under construction for an Asian owner and will rate in both HPR and IRC while also being suitable for both inshore and offshore racing.
Probably the fastest growing fleet is the Class40 with numbers that are approaching the 150-boat Farr 40 fleet. I watched some of these exciting offshore boats in Marseilles a few months ago and they appeal to my singled-handed senses; with a toughness that reminded me of the Sydney 38 but with a box rule that rewards development, most of the major designers have one on the shelf. Class40 yachts have their big race next year, the 30,000-mile round-the-world Global Ocean Race 2014-15 with single-handed, double-handed and fully-crewed (four crew) teams competing in September.
The immediate test for these tough 40s will be the the Fastnet Race on August 11 and the good news is that entries have been extended to 380 boats this year, I noted Geoff Boettcher’s Secret Men’s Business 3.5 RP 51 on the list, so good luck Geoff.
Adding yet further excitement and perhaps controversy is the next Volvo Ocean Race, but of course only one design office feels the thrill, Farr, who got the gig for all of these new 65-foot canting keelers, much to the chagrin of the former race-winning designer Juan Kouyoumdjian.
As the Volvos shrink, in contrast the amateurs aboard the new Clipper yachts get more room to stretch their fee-paying butts on, with the launch of the Tony Castro 70-footers, which look remarkably like the old V70s, funnily enough. There’s big Australian involvement in the Clipper 2013 race with an impressive 66 Aussies taking part and plenty of women, plus two skippers (Chris Hollis and Damien Parnham). They will perhaps take inspiration from winning Gold Coast skipper Richard Hewson, who has gone on to run his own Mini-Transat campaign this year.
Chatting to AC campaigner, match racer and offshore sailor Gavin Brady brought up the subject of safety. He reflected how two highly campaigned offshore teams found themselves in dire straits recently with George David’s Rambler capsizing after losing the keel during the Fastnet Race and Carl Kwok’s Farr 80 Beau Geste cracking during last year’s Royal Akarana Yacht Club Auckland to Noumea race. Aboard Beau Geste Brady confessed to being very scared for his and the crew’s lives. “Safety must come first, over everything else [when designing] yet both teams found themselves in life-threatening situations; the problem is that I don’t think these lessons are filtering back down through our sport.”
The new Beau Geste will have a lot more structure than the old boat seen here.
BOTIN 80 BEAU GESTE
Karl Kwok is one of the most active offshore racing owners, and his team are currently in the shed with Mick Cookson building the new Botin 80 Beau Geste, a replacement for the ill-fated Farr 80 that cracked through the middle in the Pacific last year, causing even experienced skipper Gavin Brady some serious alarm, as the told me on the phone from the Cookson yard in New Zealand. “We found out the hard way that structurally she wasn’t an offshore boat,” he said. The rescued boat’s fittings are being cannibalised for the new one, which has made the design process a lot easier, with completion expected in time for the Rolex Sydney Hobart.
The new 80-footer is a lot different to the previous Farr design, said Brady, with a lot more structure in the boat, especially in the deck and some other engineering back aft. The AC veteran believes sailors should take a more active part in the design process.
“The offshore part of our sport is where designers need to stand up and take more notice, as people’s lives are at stake,” he says.
“The new boat is more of a coastal boat – for the Fastnet, Rolex Sydney Hobart, Bermuda and so on, with a similar beam because with a coastal race you’ve got to sail to VMG, both up and downwind, so a coastal boat is more of a Mediterranean style, maxi-worlds type of boat than say a Volvo 70.”
The new carbon rocketship will have similar foils to a Volvo with daggerboards and a canting keel, yet with much more emphasis on all points of sail, so there is a relatively lighter keel.
“Right now the biggest gain in our sport is leeway which you reduce with dagger boards – like the Volvos,” explains Brady,
With the new designs creating so much righting moment with the chines, beam, flat bottoms and volume forward, less power is required from the keel. (Recall the Vendee Globe this year when one of the water ballasted yachts made it home without a keel).
Solving the equation of displacement versus sail area versus righting moment is the main challenge for current design, says Brady.
“With these big hull chines we’re finding that these big boats just don’t heel as much – about 22 degrees of heel. So you don’t need bulbs as big as when we sailed the old AC boats at 33 degrees of heel.”
The McConaghy- built Botin 40 is an optimised grand prix boat designed to excel in coastal racing.
McConaghy Boats and Botin Partners have joined forces to launch the next generation of Grand Prix 40 racers. Moving away from the heavier IRC-oriented design, the HPR40 is optimised for the emerging race rule whilst still being competitive under IRC. Built using a female hull and deck moulds in pre-preg carbon with Nomex core – just like the TP52s – which minimises weight, the first of these boats has just gone to Japan. The deck layout includes a pedestal connected to the primaries, unusual for this size of race boat and there’s a retractable drive arm to minimise drag.
The result is very high sail area to displacement and sail area to wetted area ratios, ensuring fast and exciting sailing, with an IRC 2012 TCC = 1.258.
Harken winches and deck hardware are complemented by a clean and simple deck layout, designed for efficient handling by the crew. To keep windage low all the lines run underneath the deck, while deck cavities are minimised to improve the water-tightness and weight reduction on the race course. A high modulus Hall Spar HPR optimised rig is standard.
The Botin Class40 Custom has been designed to regain the world championship for Gonzalo Botin.
BOTIN CUSTOM CLASS40
Former world Class40 champion Gonzalo Botin is building this highly customised version, within the Class40 box rule, at Spanish builder Longitud Cero. The strongly supported Class40 has its Global Race (circumnavigation) next year and these boats also do shorthanded transatlantics, so the design has to be strong with plenty of righting moment while also minimising drag. Mods include a highly optimised keel bulb to achieve just that. The boat is designed to be a good all-round performer in varying offshore conditions, and the hull is designed to reflect this. The hull has a full bow with chines running most of the waterline and the rig is far aft to allow for larger headsails to maximise off-wind performance.
Destined for Hobart this year, the Botin IRC65 Caro.
BOTIN 65 GENTLEMAN RACER
This 65-foot advanced German-built design, named Caro, from the pen of Botin just launched and is destined to compete in many international events, including this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart. The owner of this racer-cruiser, Max Klink, wants to race with friends as well as top sailors, so automated and electrical systems are a major part of the Spanish design house’s brief. The powerful hull has plenty of form stability, a lifting keel to reduce the enormous 4.8-metre draft and twin rudders for managing the ample beam. A righting moment of 15 per cent has been quoted. Sails are understood to be from Doyle’s in New Zealand and the professionals on board come from the same. Caro’s crew for Cowes Week includes Volvo ocean veterans Stuart Bannatyne, Tom Addis, Michi Müller, Richard Bouzaid and Mark Bartlett along with owner Klink. A few days after Cowes the real test will come with the Fastnet Rock in Ireland.
Derived from the successful TP52s, the Carkeek 60 is designed for offshore, especially when the name reads Ichi Ban.
Shaun Carkeek is aiming to replicate his design success in the TP52 circuit with this new commission from Sydney’s Matt Allen. The Hobart veteran expects builders, Dubai’s Premier Composites, to have his new boat ready just in time for the great race south. The new boat has a rounded hull shape derived from TP52s such as Hooligan and Team New Zealand, so this new 60 comes from the same family but the extra length should allow him to sail away from the TPs, especially upwind. Allen chose 60 feet as the optimum size because of his predominant passion, offshore racing, and the average wave patterns he would encounter on the 628-nautical-mile Rolex Sydney Hobart.
“Off the wind I’d hope to be faster than the V70 but we have to make sure there’s enough righting moment to offset the fact that it’s not a canting keel boat,” said Allen.
So crew weight will be crucial to the new boat with 17 anticipated on the rail for this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart. Many of the crew come from the retired Loki campaign and will include sailing master Gordon Maguire while Volvo sailor Will Oxley will navigate. The 10.5-tonne hull is being built using unidirectional carbon pre-preg and honeycomb sandwich core materials laid in female moulds. The project is being managed by former Camper project manager Neil Cox. Cox is overseeing the six-month build with delivery expected in November to Sydney where the Southern Spars rig will be installed. Spars are the latest TPT (thin ply technology), lighter and stiffer than previous carbon masts. Final commissioning will also be done by Central Coast Hydraulics – hydraulic power will be used for winches so the engine will be on all the time. For smarts, B&G gear from Guy Oliver at Olectric is being installed. The new Ichi Ban is designed to win primarily under IRC but should be competitive under HPR as well, Allen says, and if successful will spur Premier Composites to build more of these pocket maxis.
The Carkeek GP45 is designed to win under both IRC and HPR while having a higher SAD (sail area/displacement) ratio than the latest TP52s.
The 47-foot Carkeek 45 is a bigger version of the South African designer’s initial 40 model but at only 5,250 kilograms, displacement claims a higher SAD than the last of the TP52s, so will excel in light airs especially. Similar to the 40, the 45 is available in Race (carbon/epoxy infused) or the higher specified Grand Prix model using unidirectional carbon construction. Both come with high modulus Southern Spars carbon masts with running backstays and a bowsprit for large assymetrics. Deck gear is from Harken, including a pedestal winch. While visiting Premier Composites I looked around the latest one (destined for the USA) after a five-month build and was impressed by the high standard of CNC tooling and build quality which should ensure good weight integrity between hull numbers.
The Carkeek 40 is an inshore and offshore boat available in pre-preg and infused carbon/epoxy versions from Premier Composites in Dubai.
CARKEEK IRC 40
Carkeek IRC 40 was initially built by McConaghy, but the latest ones come from Premier Composites in Dubai. Described by Shaun Carkeek as “all-round boats, equally at home around the cans and offshore”, these hot 40-footers are intended to keep the costs down but adrenalin up. Available in two carbon-built configurations (Race or the more expensive GP) prices start at $456,500 ex-factory. With Carkeek’s involvement in the predominately US-based HPR committee, these boats have achieved podium finishes over there, including winning the 2012 Newport-Bermuda Race under IRC and the Onion Patch Race. Built from carbon pre-preg with Nomex core, a high-modulus two-part carbon rig and rigging holds a square-top mainsail and the whole lot fits into a 40-foot shipping container thanks to a lifting cassette keel system. Displacement is 3,850 kilograms while handicap figures are IRC TCC 1.235 (in IRC trim) and TCC 1.265 (in HPR trim).Alegre, the new mini-maxi from Mark Mills, is aiming to win the Rolex Sydney Hobart this year.
MARK MILLS 72 ALEGRE
The Mark Mills 72-footer Alegre is the first new mini-maxi in a while, and is being keenly watched in the wake of its launch from the Longitud Cero in Spain. Local big boat skippers will also be keenly watching it on the Rolex Sydney Hobart start line this year. Owner Andy Soriano is an accomplished owner-driver in the IMA Mini-Maxi fleet that formed in 2009 to encourage non-pros at the wheel. Mills said the design brief was to build a racer specifically for the weather and waters of the IMA race venues – Palma, Porto Cervo for the Maxi Worlds and the French coast.
“With a steady flow of new designs since the class took off in 2009, finding the right balance of stability, sail area, and displacement on racecourses which combine windward-leeward racing with challenging coastal legs in a range of wind speeds, has been a complex solution to find,” Mills told Seahorse magazine.
Working with computational data from several big boat campaigns, including Wild Oats XI, led Mills to pen a rounded hull – instead of chines that caused drag upwind when inshore racing – that was built to the maximum size allowed for IMA. Topsides are unusual with what Mills describes as ‘ramp deck’, a continuous surface from cockpit floor to foredeck. On deck a T-layout for winches was chosen with a pair of primary pedestals forwards, a single mainsheet pedestal midships, and a runner pedestal aft, all interlinked and driving a rotary hydraulic pump and the underdeck spinnaker take down system using Cariboni hydraulics. The rig comes from Southern Spars, while North Sails designer Kevin George was part of the extensive design team.
The new Ker 46 is expected on the Hobart start line.
A development of the previous 2009 Ker 46, Tonnerre that has won in Europe and America. Jason Ker’s latest race boat is yet another new yacht that is expected on the Rolex Sydney Hobart start line this year. This light displacement carbon- hulled racer has been designed and optimised for IRC and ORCi racing. With an expected better SAD than sister ship the Ker 40 – which has several Rolex Sydney Hobarts under its GRP hull – the 46 is designed for a wider range of conditions. Hull shape is rounded with plenty of flat sections aft for planning quickly with slim keel shaft and optimised bulb. Deck gear is by Harken and the topsides have minimum shear with long bowsprit for large downwind sails. The highly specified carbon hull has been built to ISO Category A standards by Germanischer Lloyd at McConaghy’s China yard. Last year the first Ker 46 was shipped to South Africa after a four-month build.
The Class40 are an exciting development of forty-footers that are designed to be crewed or sailed short handed.
KER CLASS 40 OD McCONAGHY
The Class40 is one of the fastest growing fleets in Europe and has spurred on development within the box rule of the class. One of the crews pushing the boundaries is Tony Lawson’s Team Concise. In conjunction with Ker design and McConaghy boats they are developing the next generation Class40 capable of outperforming the newest big budget Class40s, but for a production boat price. The design concept has been refined by Jason Ker and Simon Schofield of Ker design in close association with experienced Class40 yachtsman and Team Concise project manager Ned Collier Wakefield. The first Class40 One Design arrived in the UK in mid-July with the aim of competing in the Rolex Fastnet Race, before Wakefield teams up with Sam Goodchild for the Transat Jacques Vabre, then later sailing single-handed by Wakefield in the Global Ocean Race; that calls at Auckland, should you want to check it out.
The Class40 One Design was conceived in 2005 to promote a new breed of offshore performance monohulls designed around a simple box rule, aimed at affordability yet using the latest technology.
Exotic materials such as carbon fibre are limited to mast and booms while underwater appendages such as fixed keels are also limited. The sail wardrobe is also strictly controlled. Hull numbers this year are set to exceed 130 in a mixed fleet of crewed and shorthanded sailors. As a box rule, rather than one design, Class40 encourages development so plenty of designers are involved including Botin, Humphreys, Ker, Finot, Lomard, Farr and many others. Traditionally the Route du Rhum is the big event for the class and next year it runs the Global Race. The first Class 40 One Design from McConaghy is due to arrive for the Rolex Fastnet Race.
A new design Clipper 70 allows crew numbers to increase from 20 to 22, and there’s a comprehensive galley with pipecots for off-watch crew.
In contrast to the Volvos growing smaller, the ocean race for amateurs is building bigger boats, with the new Tony Castro-designed Clipper 70-footers replacing the previous C68s. Weighing nearly three times that of the carbon-hulled Volvos (31,700 kilograms compared to the V65’s 10,750 kilograms), the Clippers come with heavier GRP hulls, an elongated fixed keel and deep rocker with a big hard chine to reduce heeling. Twin rudders are also used to give the best angle of attack when heeled over. Primarily a downwind race – as its name taken from the old Clipper ships suggests – there’s a long bowsprit for flying large spinnakers. Looking very like a V70, the Clipper 70s have flat decks and a fairly shallow cockpit. Here, two pedestals and a centralised mainsheet winch does the sail handling, along with a bank of winches on the coamings. Unlike the minimalist Volvos where there’s only freeze-dried food for the hardened pro sailors, the new Clippers have a sizeable galley, lounge seats and comfy pipecots (having rolled about Paul Cayard’s V70 during a race and being aboard earlier Clippers, the contrast is amazing!). Clipper Ventures has again chosen a Chinese yard for the build, Nauticstar Marine in Qingdao. Also larger with these new boats is your opportunity to sail on one if you have the money as crew numbers have increased from 20 to 22. In this year’s race (Clipper 13-14) there are 66 Australian crew taking part, 15 of which are female and there are two Australian skippers. Leg four of the race will see the fleet visit the west and eastern seaboards of Australia with a stop in Sydney.
HPR UPDATE FROM DOBBS DAVIS OF HPR SAILING ORG
In an HPR Committee meeting, ex-CYCA Commodore Matt Allen saw HPR as having great potential in Australia.
“I see HPR as having a great future, because the kinds of boats that it encourages matches our interests very well: fast, fun, and offshore-capable. The rule is also appealing because it is simple, transparent and fair, and the most recent generation of fast boats – like the Farr 400 and MC 38 – fit the intent of the rule very well.” Allen said it may be possible also to have HPR scoring in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race at some stage.
The rule is driving towards no-compromise designs that are fast yet still offshore-capable. In Australia we see these as being like Fred Barrett’s GP26 and new 35, the MC38s, Farr 400s, GP 42s, and TP 52s. McConaghy has built three Carkeek 40s (for the USA) and a new Botin 40 design (for JPN), while Hakes Marine’s new J/V 42 would also fit into HPR nicely.
Another important principle is transparency: there are no secret factors, the rule is freely available on a spreadsheet posted on the HPR website, and certificates get issued by local rating offices, such as YA, much like the ORC system. In fact, ORC is a partner with US Sailing on the development and administration of this rule.
Sporting dagger boards to minimise leeway, twin rudders and canting keel, the Farr-designed fleet of Volvo 65s have a lot of proven design features from the earlier V70s.
With the emphasis on a safer and cheaper race, the organisers of the Volvo Ocean Race announced that the 2014 event would be a one-design fleet. The goal, said CEO Knut Frostad, was to significantly reduce the cost of mounting a campaign and bring the size of the fleet up to eight to ten boats for future editions. Future campaigns are expected to cost 15 million euro, rather than 30-40 million euro as in the past. The new boat has been designed by Farr Yacht Design in the United States, and is being built by a consortium of four boatyards in Europe – Green Marine in the United Kingdom, Decision in Switzerland, Persico in Italy and Multiplast in France. The boats will be launched at a rate of one every seven to eight weeks from July 2013 to July 2014. These strict one-design boats arrive with a full sail inventory, electronics and all systems. Scaling back the size has been supported by some 2014 competitors including veteran Ian Walker, as the reduced LOA could prove safer in the Southern Ocean. Less physical than the V70, more diverse crews including an all women crew are expected with numbers reduced to eight aboard. In terms of design, there’s a lot of proven structures aboard – daggerboards to minimise leeway, twin rudders and canting keel – so the Farr-designed Volvo 65s have a lot of design features from the earlier V70s. Water ballast is also used for trim and the keel swings 40 degrees. An extra possible safety feature is a third transom hung rudder. For crew there’s twin main hatches to go below but not much else.
For the panorama to be complete we should also talk about the laboratory that is the mini class and about the new Figaro that should come soon (i hope).
Also about the Wallycento that had beaten some of the refereed top dogs and most of all about Esimit Europe, the old Alfa Romeu II, designed by "Reichel/Pugh in 2008, modified with a canting keel and certainly more upgrades. The boat has won practically all races that has made since the modifications. Sure it is an old design but it comes a bit against the current showing that a narrow boat (with half of its weight on the keel) can be and is a winner. I bet that some of the new maxi to appear on the race scene will be more narrow than the actual new boats, at least the ones that are not meant to race transats.
But the biggest hole on that article is the complete lack of reference to the fastest sailboats, the multihulls that have been on the rise with many new boats and some top monohull skippers passing to the multihulls. A very conservative look in what regards fast sailing I would say
as conservative as Sydney-Hobart race direction with their stubbornness in excluding multihulls. They exist, they sail, they are faster but they pretend they don't exist.