Living Doll - Day 4 Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week 2009
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Living Doll continues her winning ways.
After coming oh so close to winning last year, Melbourne sailor Michael Hiatt has now triumphed at Meridien Marinas Airlie Beach Race Week. His new Farr 55 Living Doll was the IRC Racing winner after another exceptionally close tussle, and now heads into Audi Hamilton Island Race Week with a dose of confidence, and a few extra cards still up their sleeve. 'After winning here at Airlie, we sailed back out onto Pioneer Bay with the new square topped 3DL regatta main and three new carbon headsails, so now we are set for a big series at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week' Hiatt said yesterday.
Hiatt is a successful Victorian businessman who knows how to make things happen. Hiatt engaged the North Sails design group to work with the Farr design office and the rig builder, to fine tune the VPP, rig package and sail area determination, to ensure the boat sails well and to its rating.
North Sails aim was to optimise the sail plan for the new Living Doll. They scientifically tested and evaluated the optimum upwind and downwind sail area. They tested a high aspect ratio mainsail plan form and examined the tradeoffs associated with designing a rig to the IRC rule.
Hiatt has confidence in the North team; sailing with him on Living Doll is Ross Lloyd, who is North Sails Melbourne loft principal. Lloyd has a long history at the sharp end of racing design. Lloyd says, ‘The process by which we approached the Living Doll project was to use North Sail's design services, which is a group of engineers and designers who are using the latest North computer programs to not only just design sails, but to optimize them to go with each particular boat design.
‘Just as with America's Cup projects, you can run the boats VPP in combination with the whole parameters of the boats design such as optimizing the sail design program. This is certainly a step forward from what you might call just the latest generic design.
‘Using North Design Suite (NDS), including Flow and Membrain Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and Finite Element Analysis (FEA) tools, our team work in conjunction with the designers brief, sail area studies, sheeting angles, all of the things that go to make up what a yacht designer wants.
‘The important thing is you can find the strengths and weakness of a hull design and you can see where your performance is optimal. For Living Doll we looked at various sail areas and especially downward studies to optimize the actual area that would be best for the boat.’
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The little Alfa, Alfa Romeo III - the Mini-Maxi
The latest yacht to carry the name ‘Alfa Romeo’ has just made a stunning debut in the prestigious 28th annual Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre regatta in Spain dominating the event, winning six of the event’s ten races in the major Mini-Maxi division.
Its no secret that when Crichton first launched the Reichel Pugh 69 Alfa Romeo III to race the European IRC Mini-Maxi circuit ‘she did not live up to expectations.’
Alfa Romeo NZL8. Copa del Rey, Palma, Mallorca, Spain. 6/8/2009
In almost no time she was back in the McConaghy’s International factory for a major rebuild as Michael Coxon, the North Sails Australia CEO, who is the tactician on both Alfa Romeo II (the 100 footer) and the little Alfa explained.
‘There was an analysis done and it was decided that one of the problems, beyond the hull, was that the physical sail plan; the rig plan was too big for the size of the boat.
‘As there had to be hull modifications and a new rudder, it was decided it was more cost effective to leave the sails and the rig and build the boat bigger by extending to 71.5 feet, rather than go the other way around and leave the boat as a 69 footer and chop the mast and sails down.
‘We actually recut the old sails; we reduced the mainsail roach by 400mm, quite a lot again, because the original sail plan was too big.
‘The re-commissioning of the boat and bringing it up to racing standard was just seamless. All credit to Wade Morgan who is the boat captain and put the whole program together. Jonno Morris at McConaghy’s and Wade did the design work on the novel Alfa features.
‘The overall rebuild really hit the nail on the head. I think it might have gone out once before we as a crew turned up to tune and train for three days.
New Alfa Romeo 70' at McConaghy's China yard. The Alfa grille... or is it the companionway steps?
‘These rigs are fully adjustable. You’re not allowed to adjust them while racing, but whilst you are out there you can modify the rake and also the masthead position. So there are a lot of variables you can play with to tune the boats, which is quite exciting.
‘The TP52s have been doing it for a couple of years and so have some of these newer boats around their size; this was my first time working with one of these rigs. It was very interesting to be able to do that and it allowed you to try a lot of things very quickly rather than 'when we go in we will alter the butt position and maybe we’ll let the forestay out a bit and see what happens tomorrow if the conditions suit.'
‘Now days you can try all these variables every ten minutes if you want and that fast tracks tuning the boat while you were out training.
‘The boat had a really great regatta against credible competition, boats that have already been worked up for some time.
‘One of the advantages that we had was we were, marginally, the bigger boat. That meant we could play a little havoc with the slightly smaller boats. Look at our results five bullets or six bullets in a row, it took the competition a little while to work out ‘don’t set yourself up so you can be hit.’
‘We get a lot of our time up the first beat by setting ourselves up to give them dirty air – it’s a chain – you hit one boat it goes over and hits the other, and it goes over and hits the other, then we’ll step over and hit them all again.
‘Now we’re doing a couple of new sails and a bit of other work to try and fine tune the rating a little more.’
The next race for Alfa Romeo III is the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda on 6-12 September.
Choose best new little Alfa Romeo photos you have from last regatta in Spain and big Alfa in transpac.
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North Sails Repair Service at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week