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Bakewell-White Yacht Design

Devil in the detail for Speedboat’s sails

by Zoe Hawkins - North Sails New Zealand on 15 Jun 2008
Speedboat has an upwind sail area of more than 700sqm, and a downwind sail area of over 1400sqm – compared with 500sqm and 800sqm respectively for Maximus, one of the most recent supermaxis launched in Auckland. © Will Calver - Ocean Photography http://www.oceanphotography.co.nz/

Speedboat is the name of the latest 30m canting keeled racing sloop to make a challenge for speed records and offshore titles. Launched in Auckland this April the boat is described as more like a giant version of the Volvo Ocean Race winning ABN Amro than your stock-standard supermaxi.

For a yacht this big and powerful the design of almost every component started at the drawing board, resulting in major weight savings. Every aspect of sail design, down to the orientation and density of individual fibers within each aspect of every single one of its 11 sails – was carefully planned out.

The boat has an upwind sail area of more than 700sqm, and a downwind sail area of over 1400sqm – compared with 500sqm and 800sqm respectively for Maximus, one of the most recent supermaxis launched in Auckland.

'The philosophy was to smartly use the fiber to take care of the various loads in the sails, rather than keep adding more material,' says designer Gautier Sergent. 'Durability, shape holding and strength wasn’t achieved at the expense of weight.'

North Sails used its proprietary FEA program, Membrain, to achieve this.

Sail shape and structure was also carefully customised. 'With a boat this unique you cannot assume anything,' says Gautier. 'We linked Flow code to our FEA for the upwind sails and went into the wind tunnel for the downwind sails to come up with designs that would get the best out of the yacht designer’s VPP and accommodate the shape of the rig under load.'

Norths’ sail makers are credited with an ‘incredible’ job of detailing each sail, working in collaboration with sail co-ordinator Robbie Naishsmith.

Gautier says: 'Every little detail becomes crucial on a boat like this. The sails are big and everything happens fast. Things you would get away with on smaller boats you can’t do on Speedboat. There are a few design details that are a first for a boat of this size.'

Following the official launch and early sea trials, Speedboat was immediately shipped to Newport Rhode Island, ready for the start of the Newport-Bermuda Race on 20 June. The sailing team is overseen by Kiwi Mike Sanderson. Speedboat was built in Auckland by www.cooksonboats.co.nz!Cookson_Boats, and the rig is from www.southernspars.com!Southern_Spars.

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