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Southern Spars and the new era of Grand Prix racing yachts

by Josh Impey on 22 May 2013
Mills 72 Alegre training in Valencia © Jesus Renedo http://www.sailingstock.com

With an order book bursting with projects – four America’s Cup AC72 wing sails, up to ten Volvo 65’ One Design rigs, multiple superyacht rigs and a new era of Grand Prix racing rigs, all in 2013 – it’s clear that Southern Spars is leading the way with design, technology and manufacturing of composite spars and rigging.

'This year we’ve been busy producing the AC72 wings for Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Challenge,' says Richard Lott, Southern Spars’ managing director. 'At present, the Volvo 65’ One Design rigs and numerous superyacht projects ranging from 30 to 90 metres are moving through our Custom Projects facility in Auckland, New Zealand.'

Lott and Southern Spars director and co-founder Mark Hauser believes the yachting sector appears to have pushed through the hump of the global financial crisis.

'It’s great to see the marine industry slowly recovering,' says Lott. 'With the America’s Cup ramping up with a new era of racing in the exceptional AC72 foiling catamarans and the Volvo Ocean Race taking a new turn into One Design, we’ve seen grand prix racing teams coming back in full force as they gear up for the 2013/14 busy regatta calendar. There are exciting times ahead for Southern Spars and clients around the world.'

Hauser adds: 'Southern Spars was founded on the backbone of this Grand Prix yacht racing with one of our first major projects resulting in Sir Peter Blake’s Steinlager II winning all six legs of the Whitbread Round the World Race – that’s a record yet to be trumped. Since then the team at Southern Spars has pursued a passion for excellence, building and supplying the world’s finest carbon spars and rigging.'

Other significant projects delivered by Southern Spars in 2013 include the recently-launched WallyCento Magic Carpet 3 and the Mills 72’ Alegre.

Hauser says: 'Both Magic Carpet 3 and Alegre sport the latest high performance technology from Southern Spars, with high modulus Thin Ply Technology (TPT) throughout. Both masts have all the bells and whistles from internal tangs through to the latest Top-Lok (locking mainsail car for square top sails), racing booms with nomex honey cone cores and EC6 carbon continuous rigging.'

Developed by Reichel/Pugh Yacht Design with the exterior styling and interiors by Wally, Magic Carpet 3 fully exploits the WallyCento box-rule to create a fast, seaworthy cruiser-racer that benefits from the latest performance technology while respecting the Wally spirit. Magic Carpet 3 is the second WallyCento be launched to date; Southern Spars also supplied the rig package for the 30m WallyCento Hamilton which won the first Superyacht Cup Cowes regatta after just five days of sailing since her launching in July 2012.

A stunning performance also marked the debut for Magic Carpet 3 – just two weeks after her launch, she competed in Gaastra Palmavela regatta (Mallorca, 1-5 May) out-matching competitors in all races in real time and crossing the finish lines between five and 20 minutes ahead of the closest competitor.

Magic Carpet 3’s owner and helmsman Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones commented: 'I’m highly satisfied with the outcome of this ground-breaking project. Magic Carpet 3 is precisely what I wanted and expected her to be, totally fulfilling my goals and briefs – fast, beautiful, comfortable, technologically-advanced, and easy to sail.'

Presently, Andy Soriano’s brand-new Alegre is getting ready for her busy regatta season in Valencia, Spain. With her Southern Spars rig package stepped and tuned, the 72-footer, designed by Mark Mills and built at Longitud Cero, has successfully completed her maiden sea trials.

Alegre’s owner’s representative Dave Williams comments: 'We are very happy with the new Southern Spars rig and rigging package. It is exactly what we expected and the Southern team have done an excellent job.'

Hauser adds: 'For the team at Southern Spars, it was great to get back into the mini maxi game after a little downturn in this market. We’re delighted to hear we have yet another happy customer.

'We are also pleased to announce that we have recently received orders from three of the world’s most high profile racing teams: Ichiban (newly-designed Carkeek 65’), Wild Oats XI and Loyal (ex-Speedboat).

'This year’s Sydney to Hobart will be one to watch, with all three going head-to-head with their newly-stepped, fully-specified Southern Spars rig and rigging packages.

'The positive feedback we have from Americas Cup teams, grand prix race teams and superyacht owners about why they choose to work with Southern Spars means a great deal to everyone in the company. We continually strive to be at the forefront of the world’s mast and rigging industry in terms of design, technology, manufacture, safety and performance.

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