This week saw the launch of Hodgdon Yachts’ 30.5m pre-preg carbon fibre racing yacht Comanche, designed by VPLP Design together with Guillaume Verdier Design. Without a keel or mast, the yacht was towed from the American shipyard's East Boothbay facility to Newport Shipyard where final works are being conducted. Having stepped the mast yesterday, the team are on course to commence sea trials on Sunday 12th October.
“It’s been Herculean to get this boat done in time,” says owner’s representative and president of North Sails Ken Read. “It’s not really meant for racing around the buoys. It draws a lot — 22 feet — with big, big sails. It's hard enough to get sails up and down on this boat offshore when there is time. At the end of the day, this is really an offshore boat where you let her out of her cage to do her thing, and hopefully that’s go from point A to point B very, very fast!”
Read explains that the main goal behind the project was to build a yacht that will finish first in whichever race she runs, and “break a record” when the weather permits. And we won’t have to wait long to see if the team has been successful in meeting the brief, as she will compete in the 70th Rolex Sydney Hobart on 26th December 2014.
With engineering provided by Tim Hacket and Casey Smith, VPLP Design in collaboration with Guillaume Verdier Design set out to create a design that would allow her crew to push the yacht to new levels of performance and resulted in a boat with an eight metre beam to offset the water ballasts. Project manager Xavier Guilbaud explains that the challenge on Comanche will come in heeling “the boat in light airs to reduce the wetted surface area, due to her wide hull. In light airs, we are counting on a tall, high aspect ratio rig and sailplan.”
“While this is a beautiful boat, the design process was entirely focused on performance without any compromise,” continues Guilbaud. “As with all our multihull designs and our previous Imoca60 design, we were keen to position the mast as far aft on the boat as possible to increase the aspect ratio of the mainsail and move the weight aft for downwind performance. The boat is deliberately not an upwind boat."
Guilbaud also reveals that due to the tight schedule, the team opted for a classic daggerboard geometry but angled 10-degrees outboard to produce some lift.
“Everyone involved with Comanche, especially [the owners] Jim and Kristy [Clark], are incredibly excited that the build side of the project is nearing completion,” says Read. “I'm as anxious to see the results as anybody, but we have to remember that there is a three year schedule for this boat and this is just the beginning.”
Van Peteghem Lauriot Prévost VPLP