By Sean Mcneill posted Feb 28th, 2014 at 10:46am

WHAT’S LENGTH GOT TO DO WITH IT? In the case of Jim Clark’s new ocean racer under construction at Hodgson’s Boatyard in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, quite a lot, or so says skipper Ken Read. Ken Read’s eyes light up when talking about Jim Clark’s newest ocean-racer project like a child at Christmastime who’s just unwrapped a Red Rider BB gun. The guilty pleasure lies in the fact that this is no ordinary 100-footer (if one can be ordinary). This yacht is designed to be a full-on record-breaker. You name the race or passage—Transat, Transpac, Bermuda, Fastnet, Hobart, to name but five—and it’s likely a target on their project whiteboard.

“This boat is going to be so cool,” says Read, Clark’s skipper and the President of North Sails who has experienced all types of campaigns—from J/24 World championships, to the America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race—in his decades-long experience in the sport. “This type of project isn’t for everyone, but it has a cool presence that will hopefully do the sport good, whether you’re a cruiser or a racer.”

Building a 21st century record-breaker is no small feat. It requires a plethora of designers to tank test scale models and run computer simulations, and there’s the “swat team” of boatbuilders to cook the pre-preg carbon-fiber hull and deck structures. All told, upwards of 32 people have contributed some input to the design and build through active participation or consultation. What will set this boat apart, says Read, is power, and lots of it.


They explored a lifting keel but determined it added too much drag for the desired upwind performance. Water-ballast tanks will aid stability, and fore and aft trim.

That makes it nearly identical in length, slightly lighter, and significantly wider and deeper thanWild Oats XI, the Reichel/Pugh maxi that has won line honors in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race a record-equaling seven times. But with the mast stepped farther aft than Wild Oats XI, Read says Clarks’ yacht will look strikingly different.

“It’s going to be long, wide, and stable,” says Read. “With its power-to-weight ratio, there’s been nothing like it before. From a stability standpoint it’s a little stiffer, a little lighter, and with a little more sail area than Speedboat (the Juan Kouyoumdjian-designed 100-footer that’s now called Perpetual Loyal).”


Clark’s as-yet unnamed yacht is from two French design firms, the renowned duo of Marc Van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot-Prévost (VPLP), along with new star Guillaume Verdier. VPLP’s track record designing multihulls is second to none. Their designs include the giant multihullsGroupama 3 and Banque Populaire VGroupama 3 measured 103-foot LOA and shattered records such as the 24-hour, Transatlantic, and Trophée Jules Verne, only to see those records fall – in the case of the 24-hour record just one day later – to the 130-foot long Banque Populaire V. Verdier, meanwhile, had more concentration on shorthanded monohulls in the 40- to 60-foot range.

In 2007 the two firms joined forces to take on the highly competitive IMOCA racing circuit, for singlehanders in 50- and 60-footers, and they’ve had great success ever since, capped by stunning performances in the 2012-’13 Vendée Globe singlehanded non-stop race around the world. VPLP-Verdier designs placed 1-2 and took three of the top four overall. And they were fast: The race-winner, Macif, set a new, ratified 24-hour singlehanded distance record of 534 nautical miles at an average speed in excess of 22 knots, and the first two yachts completed the circumnavigation in less than 80 days.

“No doubt, this new boat is a development of Macif,” says Read. “The scale of a project like this, from an engineering and structural standpoint, is nothing like that boat. But the designers took shapes they liked from the IMOCA 60s and developed from there.”

Macif, however, was designed as a horse for the course. Racing around the world is more about close reaching or off-wind sailing. Clark’s new yacht will have upwind capabilities that could be necessary in short offshore races, those of 600 to 1,000 nautical miles. It will have two rudders, but the weather rudder won’t be lifted out of the water because rating rules prohibit such features. Clark’s yacht also won’t have the cut-back rail that Macif sported along its sheerline and which made the hull appear like an ellipsoid. The crew of around 20 (still being determined) requires a rail on which to hike.


The surprising part in all of this is that the yacht’s winches will be manually powered. Six pedestals will be mounted with custom bevel boxes to create specific gear ratios for the power necessary to trim the enormous sails. Read said the sail plan is still being finalized, but the A5 gennaker could measure in close to 1,000 square meters. The gennaker for Alinghi 5, the catamaran that contested the 33rd America’s Cup, was reportedly one of the three largest ever built at 1,100 square meters. And that cat had powered winches.

“Keep in mind that Banque Populaire V went around the world with no push buttons, about 50 percent more righting moment, and the same size rig as this boat, with one less pedestal,” said Read. “We did a study and found that we can produce as much or more power to the winches with 12 guys grinding than with push buttons. With manual winches, if we do a Transatlantic we can save up to a ton and a half of fuel and won’t have to keep the engine running all the time. Also, if we set a record it won’t have an asterisk next to it because of the powered winches. It’ll just be more fun to sail.”

It certainly will be fun to sail according to the VPPs. Upwind the boat is projected to sail at 13 knots, but at its sweet angle, about 120 degrees true wind-angle in 25 knots of wind, it’s predicted to average 30 knots.

One feature Verdier changed after testing five models at the Wolfson Unit in Southampton, England, was the bow profile. Macif has a very full bow, and initially that was the look for Clark’s new yacht. “Designers have poked around the concept of full bows for a while now. A boat like Macif or the VO70 Abu Dhabi were full bows,” says Read. “Verdier was much higher on the concept before the tank tests, and I think the bow got considerably narrower.

“It’s more specific to upwind performance than anything,” Read continues. “We think we’re coming up with ways to get the bow out of water when planing off the wind. Other concepts such as keel and daggerboard placement will help lift the bow, so we aren’t using as much volume forward to lift the bow. It’s not a narrow bow but not a full bow. It’s probably more conventional than any other boat.”


As of this writing the outer skin of the hull had just been laid up and the hand-selected work force at Hodgson’s Boatyard, led by Tim Hackett and Brandon Linton (the duo helped build Read’s two Puma-branded VO70s) was beginning to install the bulkheads. Read says that the yacht will be compliant with scantlings established by Germanischer Lloyd, the marine classification society based in Germany that strives to ensure safety at sea. There will be bulkheads every eight to 10 feet, and the boat is expected to pass the 135-degree vanishing stability test. While the sail plan is still in development, Read says there’ll be nine or 10 sails total. Aside from the mainsail and J2, the 100-percent headsail that will be hanked on, all other headsails will fly on roller-furlers and from custom stays. The headsails are all just different shapes of genoas or gennakers. There are no spinnakers on the boat because the apparent wind angle isn’t expected aft of 65 degrees. The material of choice is 3Di except the downwind sail, which is cuben-fiber.

“Sail area and mast height are all pretty darn similar to what Speedboat was,” said Read. “It’s fascinating how little horsepower you need. Once it starts building its own apparent wind, you almost can’t get the sail area off fast enough.”

With the mast so far aft in the boat, says Read, it’s quite possible the sail plan will extend beyond the transom.

“Where the sail plan sits over the platform is very different, almost more like *Banque Populaire V,” says Read. “There’s nothing that says the boom can’t hang off the back of the boat or that the traveler has to be in the middle of the cockpit. Nothing says the sail plan has to be forward in the yacht.”


Quick quiz: What monohull currently holds the crewed west-to-east transatlantic record and when was it set? This writer was amazed to see that Mari-Cha IV, Robert Miller’s powerful 140-foot ketch is still the record holder. In October 2003, a crew of 24 took Mari-Cha IVacross the Atlantic in 6d:17h:21m at an average speed of 18 knots. The maxi catamaranBanque Populaire V holds the outright record at just over three and a half days, an average speed just shy of 33 knots, but Mari-Cha’s mark still stands some 10 years later.

Ken Read pulled no punches when saying that the Transatlantic record is among the marks he hopes to slay with Jim Clark’s new 100-footer. “The goal of this boat is to break records and be first to finish in the classic offshore races,” says Read. “This boat isn’t for around the buoys. The deck layout isn’t set up for it and the draft is too deep. We want to tick off every major race.”

They’ll get their first crack at a record later this year when they enter the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race, where they’ll expect to encounter Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI, the seven-time line honors winner.

After the Hobart, other classic races on the radar include the Newport-Bermuda, Fastnet, Transpac, the Middle Sea Race, the Pineapple Cup (Miami to Montego Bay), and the Caribbean 600. Besides those and the Transat, they also plan a crack at the 24-hour record of 596 nautical miles set by Ericsson 4 in the 2008-’09 Volvo Ocean Race. And for the cherry on the cake, they might even attempt the non-stop, round the world mark. Banque Populaire V also holds that outright record, at 45-and-a-half days. The WSSRC doesn’t list a crewed monohull outright record (the round-the-world monohull records are singlehanded), but Read thinks they could do it in 55 days, give or take. “You don’t build a boat like this without throwing something like that on the table,” says Read. “We did a 42-day leg in the Volvo one year, so 55 days around the world isn’t too bad.”


The america’s cup race course for San Francisco Bay is published.

The following update is from Sailing Anarchy.

the ‘blur story

Our friend Aaron Kuriloff from Bloomberg News sends in his story on the Rambler Fastnet capsize from the Bloomberg Pursuits magazine.

The 100-foot carbon-fiber yacht was doing what it was designed to do, surging down the waves, at moments actually sailing faster than the wind. The boat, Rambler 100, and skipper George David, the former chief executive officer of United Technologies Corp., were leading the fleet in
the U.K.’s famous Fastnet ocean race.  It was Aug. 15, 2011, and the giant sloop was beginning to act like the champion that hedge-fund manager Alex Jackson had in mind when he had it built, Bloomberg Pursuits magazine reports in its premier issue.

In July, Rambler 100 had been first to finish the Transatlantic Race from Newport, Rhode Island, to the Lizard, Great Britain’s southernmost point. In one 24-hour period during that passage, she logged 582 nautical miles, just 14 shy of the record for a monohull (catamarans and trimarans go faster). That’s an average speed of 24.25 nautical miles per hour, or knots, equal to about 28 miles per hour.

At 5:17 p.m. local time, Rambler 100 rounded Fastnet Rock in the Atlantic Ocean, 8 miles (13 kilometers) off the Irish coast, reaching the race’s halfway point on pace to claim a course record. At 5:40 p.m., everything went wrong.

The 29,000-pound (13,000-kilogram) stainless-steel-and-lead keel broke off without warning. The boat spun and stopped and within 15 seconds was on its side, sails flat on the water. Some
among the 21-person crew were thrown clear of the boat; others scrambled out of the cabin as the yacht’s roll continued. In 60 seconds, Rambler 100 was upside down, its mast pointing to the


Crew members who made it onto the overturned hull helped pull others from the water, while five people, including 69- year-old David, were swept by wind and current away from the boat. Winds were gusting to 30 knots, visibility was poor and the water was 57 degrees Fahrenheit (14 degrees Celsius). A person without protective gear might expect to lose consciousness in an hour or two and die from hypothermia in six. George David’s love of the water goes back to when he was a teenager sailing small boats. He moved up to 40-footers in the 1970s when he was manager of Otis Elevator’s Latin American operations, stationed in Florida. As he climbed the corporate ranks and grew wealthier (he was worth at least $250 million by the time he retired in 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg), his sailing grew more ambitious. In 1999, his state- of-the-art, 50-foot sloop Idler represented the U.S. in the Admiral’s Cup, a prestigious international regatta. In 2006, David acquired a 90-foot (27.5-meter) yacht secondhand, named it
Rambler and went on to set records in several ocean races.


Then David worked out an arrangement to take over Jackson’s vessel. The retired executive would run the racing campaign in 2011, serve as skipper, rename the boat Rambler 100 — and pay the bills. The costs at this level of competition, for crew, insurance, repairs, upgrades, travel and so on, can reach $6 million a year. For his money, David had his hands on a boat with an
ultralight hull, giant sails and a radical ballast system that involved water tanks and a keel that pivots — and the potential to finish first in almost any race.

Alex Jackson, 46, co-founder of Polygon Investment Partners LLP, a London hedge-fund firm that today has about $7 billion in assets, had less experience than David with the biggest boats.
He earned All-American honors sailing dinghies for Tufts University’s team and then grew to favor windsurfing. For much of the period from 1986 to 2008, the simple surfboard-with-a- sail was the fastest wind-powered watercraft, pushing the record for average speed on a straight 500-meter course to almost 50 knots. (Today, the title is held by a kiteboard.)

Volvo Boats

Jackson coveted windsurfing’s raw speed. Still, advances in large offshore yachts in the mid-2000s eventually got his attention. He took note, in particular, of the boats Juan Kouyoumdjian, a designer based in Valencia, Spain, was creating for the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race. These powerful and innovative yachts were pushing the speed record for 24 hours of ocean sailing ever higher.     “It was obvious that sailing had taken this huge jump,” Jackson says. “Juan K. had turned sailboats into windsurfers.” Jackson hired Kouyoumdjian with the brief of creating the fastest monohull in the world. He picked a name for his yacht: Speedboat.

Kouyoumdjian’s Design

The project pushed the boundaries of what had been done before, Kouyoumdjian says. He incorporated all of the innovations that made his 70-foot Volvo racers fast — the most radical of these being the canting keel. From the days of rocks piled in the bottom of wooden hulls, keel design has constantly evolved. A typical shape for a modern racing sailboat is a deep fin, like an airplane wing, with a bulb of lead at the bottom that carries most of the weight. The deeper this ballast, the more power it has to counter the force of the wind heeling the boat. Now imagine a system that swings the keel fin as much as 45 degrees to one side of the boat or the other. The leverage jumps dramatically. That’s a canting keel.

For Jackson, Kouyoumdjian wanted minimum weight and maximum sail area to make the boat fast, balanced against the need to build the yacht strong enough for the pounding of waves and
wind. “On the one side, you’re looking for performance; on the other side, safety,” Kouyoumdjian says. The hull was constructed by Cookson Boats in Auckland, which built New Zealand’s 2007 America’s Cup entrant. In April 2008, just three days after it was launched, Speedboat hit 28
knots in Auckland harbor — in just 18 knots of wind.

Laws of Physics

That doesn’t violate the laws of physics. A boat can’t exceed the wind speed when running dead downwind. With the wind from the side, however, many boats top the true wind speed. The
velocity of the wind and velocity of the boat combine to create an “apparent wind” across the sails that exceeds either component. Some catamarans sail twice as fast as the wind. In Kouyoumdjian’s design, adding 30 feet of length to a Volvo racer meant the sail area almost doubled. The carbon-fiber mast was 145 feet.

“Juan K. took the smaller boats’ tech and applied it to the Maxi realm, and in doing so created a boat that was much more powerful than a typical 100-footer,” says Peter Isler, a navigator on two winning America’s Cup boats. “It was pushing the limits.” Isler has been part of the boat’s brain trust since it was launched and was aboard when it capsized. Jackson gave up his hedge-fund duties in June 2008, when his boat arrived in Newport, and turned to racing. That month, in the Newport Bermuda Race, Speedboat was first to finish, ahead of about 200 competitors.

Transatlantic Attempts

At the end of that month, Jackson and his team set out to try for a transatlantic record. They quit after a day, having broken a key piece of equipment. Jackson tried again in October,
this time with Richard Branson among the crew and his Virgin Money as a sponsor. That attempt ended two days out of New York after a gale damaged sails.

Sailing fans were beginning to speculate on blogs that the boat was unseaworthy. “There were a lot of people talking smack,” Jackson says. “The people whose opinion I respect knew what was good, what was bad and what needed to be done.” Still, Jackson returned to managing money, and Speedboat spent most of 2009 at the dock. “I saw the boat basically sitting there, with Alex working 27 hours a day,” says David. They reached an agreement for David to sail the boat as a part owner in 2011. Speedboat became Rambler 100. David, in many ways, began to get it up to its potential — until the Fastnet.


It sounded like a cannon being fired when the keel failed, David says. Three people scrambled over the lifelines and up onto the bottom of the boat as it rolled — without even getting wet. Most of the crew ended up in the water but near enough that they could make it onto the overturned hull. David and four others were thrown farther from the boat. That group, including David’s girlfriend, Wendy Touton, 46 at the time, realized they were drifting away from the stricken yacht.
“There was absolute calm,” David says. “No panic. No anxiety. No flailing around. You’re fatalistic in that situation.” While they all had on flotation vests and foul weather gear, the main hazard they faced was hypothermia. As the hours ticked by, they got colder. The sun was dropping. The crew on the hull tried and failed to signal several sailboats that raced by. They didn’t have flares or a hand-held radio. Those items and other emergency gear, including life
rafts, turned out to be inaccessible once the boat was upside down.


What saved them were two emergency locator beacons they activated. These sent a satellite signal, and a lifeboat based in Baltimore, Ireland, in County Cork, was dispatched. It arrived on the scene at 7:45 p.m., and only then did the search begin for the group drifting out to sea.
Luck was with David and his crew. Around 8:30 p.m., the crew of the Wave Chieftain, a dive boat that had been on the water that day to photograph the racers rounding Fastnet Rock,
spotted a red blob in the ocean swells. The five sailors were found. Touton, suffering more than the others from the cold, was taken by helicopter to a hospital to be treated for hypothermia.
The rest of the crew were reunited in the town of Baltimore, where local residents provided dry clothes, warm food and beer.     The hull of Rambler 100 survived. It was towed to a bay on
the Irish coast, righted and pumped dry. The stub of the keel fin that remained after the break is being examined by a team of metallurgists and engineers.


Things break all the time on racing yachts, but the keel is supposed to be indestructible. As David puts it: “It’s not the sort of thing you pay attention to, because it’s designed from
day one to be permanent, solid, secure and good.”  As befits the former head of an aerospace company, David is confident the scientists will figure out what went wrong. Until they do, he and Jackson won’t know whether it makes sense to restore Rambler 100 and sail her again.

David holds no grudge against the boat that almost got him killed. In an interview four months after the accident, he says he had “a lot of fun” racing Rambler 100 in 2011. He was back on
the water, racing his 90-footer from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Key West in January. The older boat is fast and agile, he says. “But it feels small.”     What’s the attraction of big-boat racing? The retired executive doesn’t invoke the beauty or power of the sea or even the thrill of a fast yacht.  I’ve often said racing is like a year of business compressed into a short time,” David explains. “There are all the same elements: design and technology, program management,
organization, staffing, teamwork, rules, tactics and luck.”     He still covets ocean racing records, even if in the cold Atlantic last August, his luck seemed to be running thin.


“Il Monstro” arrived back in Newport yesterday evening, with Ken’s brother Brad having completed his first transatlantic race; on a boat we would all love to have sailed. Docked at  Charlie Dana’s Newport Shipyard, next to “Leopard of London” and “Speedboat”. A sort of trinity of sailboat racing, formula ones of the water.
     “Il Monstro” will set up training here in Newport in preparation for the next Volvo Ocean Race.
   The bottom photo is a panorama of Shields racing last night on Narragansett Bay, comprised of 10 photos stitched together. Spring is coming to the Northeast.


I had trouble fitting “Mirabella V” in the frame. That is” Leopard of London” which is 100 feet long on the outside of “Mirabella” The dark mast through the rigging of “Mirabella” is “Speedboat” also 100 feet long. Both of the 100 foot boat have power assisted winches and canting keels, which means that the engine must be running pretty much all the time in order to sail the boat. They sail with 18-25 people as they are all needed to make sail changes or any other big changes, like a jibe.
   Both “Speedboat” and “Leopard” are in Newport waiting for a weather window to make an attempt on the monohull transatlantic record. Because they have power assisted winches they can never own the outright record held by “Maria Cha” set in 2003
   “Speedboat” is also entered in the Bermuda Race starting June 18th, where I am certain they would like to set a course record as well.
    “Mirabella V” is, I believe ,still the largest sloop in the world. Despite to fact that everything is done by a computer and power, I have trouble conceiving of managing anything aboard her. Just the sheer size of the gear and the loads generated are mind boggling. The photo of people standing next to the headstay turnbuckle should be proof enough. This photo is courtesy of Bill Coleman.
   I am thrilled to see these boats and glad of their existence I am anxious to get back to the thread of the 12 meters and the America’s Cup.


Speedboat left today from New York in an attempt to break the monohull powered winch trans-atlantic record. Aboard is an all star crew headed by Mike Sanderson.

I freely confess that I am envious. Six days across the Atlantic is exciting and not so hard. In my opinion the hard part on this boat, will be not breaking it. In other words press as hard as you can without reaching the limits of the boat.;ie. never redlining.Speedboat is much larger than a Volvo 70 used in the Round the World race, however she is more fragile, not built for the punishment the Volvo 70’s are.
I will be following their progress with interest and envy.


Speedboat aka Virgin Money is an exciting boat,an engineering marvel, elegant, extreme, powerful, fragile. Not particularly useful as its purpose can only really be to set or break distance records. Yet she requires a great deal of attention.

Below she reminds me of Windward Passage the 72 foot 1968 design by Alan Gurney, a practical sensible layout. Both were ahead of their time. Once again, if only today’s materials had been available to Alan; who knows what he might have created. the thought process was similar; go fast.
There is a difference in that Passage was built on the beach, There were limits to what someone would spend for a yacht. From that comparison the owners of Passage got a lot of bang for their buck. She was durable, still sailing, looking better than ever. In today’s world she is heavy and under canvased. I expect she will still be sailing after Speedboat is only a memory.
That said, Speedboat will soon leave to make an attempt on the Trans-atlantic record for a monohull. I would love to be part of that. After all it will only be six days; hardly time to establish a rhythm.