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McConaghy Ker 40 - the next 40-foot performance benchmark?

by John Curnow on 4 Mar 2011
Ker 40 IRC Race Yacht by McConaghy McConaghy Yachts
Without doubt, 40 feet, is the new everything, as racing yacht builders aim to serve this burgeoning market with better, faster and more exciting products.

The new, high-performance Ker 40 IRC Racing Yacht, manufactured by McConaghy Boats, is definitely one that people have been watching closely. Indeed, six owners have already put their money down, to ensure they are the first to have this lightweight, racing machine.

Rob Brown OAM, Australian sailing icon and McConaghy’s Sales General Manager, was very keen to explain the design ethos behind the vessel. ‘This boat is essentially a lot lighter than the cruiser-racers that have done well in the past. Jason Ker has taken a strategic approach in developing this design, by refining the improvements that have been achieved over and above his previous designs; namely, the Ker 46 and Ker 37.

Essentially, we have a boat that is 2500kgs (5,500lbs) lighter than a similar sized vessel. Overall, it will be more than competitive upwind in the 6-12 knot wind range and excel downwind, sailing well above its rating in the process.

Most importantly, as the wind gets stronger, the gains are more than significant both upwind and downwind!’

‘Its really like a 40ft version of the ever popular, IRC optimised TP52s we see dominating the results. Until recently, IRC has not favoured the sort of exciting performance that you get from a TP52, in the smaller 40ft range. Now that’s all about to change’, Rob went on to add by way of example.

The Ker 40 is not just a regatta or club racer. The first three owners are serious campaigners and they intend racing the boat very hard, competing in some of the world’s toughest playgrounds, like the Rolex Fastnet and Rolex Sydney to Hobart races.

A Ker design has already been an overall winner of Australia’s blue water classic and in another year, a different Ker vessel won its division, too.



This carefully considered approach is a mark of the man, Jason Ker, as well. Brown explains, ‘I spent a couple weeks with Jason last year, presenting the boat in various key yachting locations. In that time, you kind of get to know the guy and everything is very much calculated. However, there is also a real feel for what is hot and what is not. Jason is not one to bang his own drum, but you quickly realise this guy knows what he is on about. He is just one of those guys who is very focused on producing the best that he possibly can.’

‘We have really enjoyed working with him and it has been one of those experiences in life, where you just have a really good sense of security and comfort in knowing that this boat is going to be a good one!’

Of course, the many previous successes and the fact that the Ker 40 is an extension of the theory, assist with his ‘man of the moment’ status in IRC currently. Tonnere was the 46 footer that won the RORC Championship with a few races to spare and Jason’s little 37’, Peacemaker, showed that it could punch way above its weight in taking out the Chicago to Mackinac Island Race.

Light is certainly part of the equation, but it is Jason’s hull form and attention to detail in critical areas of lowering the rating, which sets this boat apart from the rest. The team truly believes that a new benchmark is being set and it will be realised very soon. They feel that the sum of the knowledge base is what will have the boat powering to wins everywhere. Firstly you have Jason’s smart design and then McConaghy’s mastery of choice of materials and build techniques, both of which have allowed for the maximum structural integrity. It is true that the Ker 40 is an out and out race boat, but the usability and fun did not get left on the dock in the process. In a lot of ways, they have been the main determinants in the specification.


Coming in at 4800kg, (10,780 lbs) the Ker 40 is going to be a lot lighter than say a Summit 40, which is more like 7000kg and much lighter than a Mediterranean production boat at say 8500-9000+kg. (18,700- 19800lbs).

The Ker 40 will rate at 1.197, which may be higher than some of those mentioned just now, but the designer, builder and soon-to-be-owners of the first boats are convinced she will sail above that number, which will make her a very competitive IRC package, indeed!

‘We wanted to get away from the predominant trend with the IRC rule of designing brand new boats with all this furniture onboard, just to get the rating points, when you never end up using it. The boat is going to be a fun boat to sail, but it is not extreme in any way. It is going to get up and go downwind, leaving the caravans to look on and wonder. I think it is a breath of fresh air and all of us at McConaghy are really excited to be associated with what we consider to be the new benchmark in IRC production yachts’, said Rob.

It is the form of the Ker 40 that is going to make her so successful. They will have a four-metre beam, but yet the waterline is narrow. This will give her form stability very early, by utilising the crew weight on the rail. What is unique about the hull is the distribution of volume. The boat is very powerful forward of the mast and has nice healed waterlines throughout. When the boat heels over, the wide beam does not bury the bow in a sea way or swell due to its powerful sections forward and narrow waterline beam. Ultimately, the windier it gets, the faster this boat will go.

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‘Jason put a lot of effort into getting this right and I believe it’s the secret of his successful designs. He would probably describe it in more scientific terms, but that is my take on what sets this boat apart from the crowd’ was how Rob added.

So what else form the central design parameters? The foils are not revolutionary, but they are not too skinny either, so more on the forgiving side and that helps to make the boat get lift earlier, especially coming out of the tacks. The keel is an iron fin with lead T-Bulb into an anodised alloy keel box system. The boat is supplied standard with a tiller steering system, or a McConaghy Dual Carbon Wheel option is available.

Down below, it is fairly rudimentary, but still in keeping with boat’s ISO Class A regulations and general IRC and ORC requirements. There are four pipe cots, a two-burner stove, sink and fully plumbed head for’ard of the mast, a navigation station and 30Hp Volvo Penta with sail drive, underneath.

Above deck, it’s all carbon fibre. The boat comes standard utilising an Asymmetrical spinnaker system with a detachable bow prodder. Hall Spars have built a nice rig, consisting of Hi Modulus carbon fibre autoclaved mast and carbon boom. There is a Symmetrical spinnaker system option, including carbon spinnaker pole and associated running rigging, if you so choose.

Harken head foil and deck hardware are standard equipment. There is a rigging upgrade option, including running rigging and also composite standing rigging of carbon fibre or PBO. Transverse jib tracks are standard and it includes a vertical adjustment system, all of which are easily operated from the trimming position. In terms of rig provider, the market was surveyed before the choice was made and Hall Spars have been contracted to supply the first 10 rigs for this boat, as they were seen to provide the customer with the best product and value for money.

Brown explains, ‘The price of the rigs was a major factor in getting the cost of the whole boat as low as possible. More importantly, one of the big factors with the choice of Hall Spars is firstly their name and performance. Secondly, Hall Spars have facilities in a number of key locations around the globe for ease of service.’

To help meet ISO CatA and ISAF Cat1 requirements, along with providing a strong, go-anywhere vessel, McConaghy used their world-renowned expertise with composites in many industries and settled on vacuum-formed, resin infused E-Glass foam sandwich construction. This gave them both the strength and lightness they are expected to supply.

‘It is just basically a really good building technique that we have found to be extremely effective without compromising performance. It compliments all the state of the art design and engineering work that has gone in to this boat. In the end, the bottom line is rewarded as well’, Brown explained.

The first boat is heading to the UK. Jonathan Goring is her proud owner and he recently visited the Zhuhai factory in China, where he was suitably impressed, not only with his new boat, but the magnificent facilities at McConaghy.

Due to hit the water in May, Jonathan’s comment says it all, ‘My visit to the factory to see hull No. 1, which is our new ride for the next few years, was a real eye opener! She is clearly built for speed and feels like an extremely powerful 40 footer. The cockpit is very well laid out, with all the deck gear in the right place and the hull lines are extraordinary. She's clearly built to plane! Importantly, the build quality is what one would expect from McConaghy; simply excellent.'

The next group of boats are heading to Singapore, Australia and UK, with a gaggle of interested parties from Japan, Europe and the USA just waiting to see how this new thoroughbred will perform. Given its bloodlines, the hull and rig cost of US$340,000 is exceptional and no doubt a further reason for potential owners to be reviewing this magnificent vessel. From that point, you add your specific choice of sail wardrobe and wherever you want to go with electronics.

Click here http://mcconaghyweb.com/newsite/ker for more information on the specifications, pricing or contact McConaghy Australia, 77 Bassett St, Mona Vale NSW 2103. Telephone +61 (0)2 9997 7722 or Fax +61 (0)2 9997 7772. Website http://www.mcconaghy-aus.com!

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PredictWind.com 2014KZRaceFurlersSouthern Spars - 100

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