by Joe Hall
The Carkeek 60 is the first of a new breed of race boat built by Premier Composites that effectively combines speed with strength in a relatively simple hull form.
Matt Allen’s ICHI BAN charges down Sydney Harbour during the Rolex Sydney to Hobart 2013
The Carkeek 60 Ichi Ban has only been sailing for a few short weeks, however, initial showings suggest the hull number one will be successful for Sydney owner Matt Allen, with a podium divisional finish in a torturous Rolex Sydney-Hobart, a line honours win in the competitive CYCA Trophy Passage Series and a second place on handicap in the glamour race, the Solas Big Boat Challenge.
'The boat has shown it can do well on all points of sail,' commented investment banker and past commodore of the CYCA, Allen who declared himself very satisfied with both the results of the speedy five-month build that produced a replacement his Volvo 70, the trouble-free Hobart race.
The new boat has a rounded hull shape derived from the TP52's like Hooligan and Team New Zealand, so this C60 looks like it comes from the same family but the extra length should allow it to sail away from the TP52s. With tall and very upright topsides - especially compared to the 63 foot Reichel-Pugh designed Loki that sails from the same club - the Carkeek 60 has plenty volume inside her lightweight 10.9 ton carbon hull, right through to the full bows. Underwater, a slim and high aspect (nearly 15 foot deep) fixed bulb keel is used, along with an equally slim single spade rudder.
Ichi Ban crew
The Carkeek 60 is a relatively simple, yet very powerful boat, with minimum appendages, a powerful hull-form and high ballast/displacement ratio. Stepping aboard Ichi Ban at first glance reminds me of a TP52 deck layout with the large flat cockpit taking most of the aft section but there's a few items missing including a main pedestal coffee grinder central winch. Having chosen to go all hydraulic the deck is relatively uncluttered: a couple of button operated Harken 990 alloy/carbon primary winches, a set of smaller spinnaker winches and very little else; and all these Harkens can be manually operated should there be hydraulic failure. The twin binnacles are located relatively far forward in the cockpit and bristle with controls – a side panel facing outboard to the mainsheet trimmer, B&G WTP screen for the steerer and a small compass. For the mainsheet trimmer there's another H990 winch centralised in the cockpit sole with a WTP screen embedded in the bulkhead – so that the trimmer has wind/load data as he works. As on the TP the mainsheet track lies behind the twin wheels where the running backstays come in to another set of coaming winches to keep the tall Southern Spars rig upright.
The rig is the latest TPT design (thin ply technology) that is lighter and stiffer than previous carbon masts and is definitely the skinniest carbon spar I've ever seen at about the width of my fist; a real catwalk model of the rig world you might say. Its job is to reduce windage and weight aloft while being held up by ultra lightweight carbon EC6 shrouds. The EC6 is made up of many separate strands of carbon rod that is given the tensile strength required for each specific rig, so like everything on the Carkeek 60, there's nothing unnecessary.
The foretriangle is extended by a long carbon bowsprit to fly the big asymmetricals that give her a massive downwind sail area of 490m2 with an up-wind of 230m2 (compared with 353.5 m2 and 158.5m2 respectively for a seventh generation TP52 built in 2012 by Botin Partners). This also translates into a better Sail Area to Displacement ratio (SAD), making the C60 the more powerful yacht.
Looking around elsewhere, the foredeck is again a clean space to work on for the bowman as all lines are hidden in gutters – that are cleverly designed to drain to leeward – and the large pneumatically sealed hatch should swallow even the largest kite while the foredeckie's only comfort are rails running along both gunwales to place a foot or to clip a harness onto.
Having rolled around in the carbon blackness of a racing Volvo 70, the white painted sidewalls are an enlightened welcome after I make my way down below, under the arch that protects the main hatch. 'For the 16kg or so of extra weight, it makes a big difference to the light,' explained project manager Neil Cox when I talked to him later, 'although we sanded it down hard to minimize weight.'
Ichi Ban owner Matt Allen's exacting standards were surpassed by the Premier's five month project that delivered the Carkeek 60 in time for the Rolex Sydney-Hobart
Below decks is a Spartan place on the C60 with not even a protruding bulkhead forward while foot- deep longitudinal stringers run the full length for rigidity. Supporting the area around the keel- stepped Southern Spars rig is a small bulkhead-grid area that contains the toilet on starboard and galley opposite containing a two burner stove with sink.
For the off-watch there's four pipecots in the saloon section and eight aft; so a total of 12 berths. Aft, behind the engine box containing the 75HP motor is the navigation station with two seats but it shares this space with tankage and the propeller lifting mechanism strut so does impinge on navigator. Instrumentation is B&G WPT with a pair of Panasonic Toughbooks attached to the chartable plus a Windows Xplore rugged tablet. In addition there's a Czone system's control head allowing specific management of each device which can be operated separately in case of electrical failure. The B&G WTP computer is crucial for monitoring the heavy loads throughout the boat – the hydraulic system can put a staggering 11 tons on the forestay, alone. For communications, as mandated by the Category-1 race regulations, there's an HF radio and Thrane&Thrane Sailor dome satellite phone. With the engine continually running the noise and heat is something the navigator will have to contend with. Just behind the navigation station is the rudder shaft and quadrant down near the hull with cables running both sides to the twin helms, making for a simple layout that is easily adjusted underway. This section also houses the hydraulic system for running all the winches and rig controls, so a crucially important mechanism on Ichi Ban.
The carbon prepreg hull has been built to ISO standards with plenty structure inside says designer Shaun Carkeek who collaborated with leading engineers and technicians to maximise the power of the relatively simple hull form. For major composite and engineering supplier Gurit, it proved an interesting challenge, as senior engineer Dr Mark Hobbs, explained: 'Ichi Ban makes extensive use of hydraulics, and in order to optimise the weight of the structure the supports of the hydraulic systems were integrated into the internal structure, making dual use of parts of the structure wherever possible.' Managing the power-to-weight ratio was the other big challenge, explained Hobbs, which would allow the lightweight boat to retain plenty of rigidity for tough offshore beats, as she proved to her crew's satisfaction in a tempestuous Rolex-Sydney Hobart that hurled winds of 30 knots across Itchi Ban's deck.
'The boat sailed really well in all the conditions – as seen by how we kept up with the 100 foot Wild Thing and we saw boatspeeds of 25-28 knots,' said a pleased Allen from Hobart. 'She went especially well when we were reaching up Storm Bay – something we'd not done with the boat before – with a no.4 headsail and double reefed mainsail; and the boat steered really well in the strong winds.' Ichi Ban has full race program for 2014 which includes the east coast circuit and possibly Australia's other Category 1 race, the 400nm Lord Howe race.
Specifications: Carkeek 60
Price : POA
Beam: 5.0m (16’5')
Draft: 4.475m (14’7’’)
Crew: 10-16 (1,400kg)
Displacement (Light): 10,850kg
Total Upwind: 230m2 (2,476ft2)
Total Downwind: 490m2 (5,275ft2)
Material: Carbon Fibre
ISO Cat 'A' build
ISAF OS: Cat. 1
Designer: Carkeek Design Partners
Builder: Premier Composite Technologies, Dubai