Clark Hatches A Record Slayer

Published on March 2nd, 2014

by Sean McNeill, Sailing World
What’s length got to do with it? In the case of Jim Clark’s new ocean racer under construction at Hodgdon Yachts 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 than Wild 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).” – Read on

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