October 2014 saw the launch of Jim Clark’s highly anticipate Comanche, a 30.5m pre-preg carbon fibre racing yacht from US shipyard Hodgdon Yachts. Clark’s rep and skipper is legendary yachtsman Ken Read. Here we provide a snippet of the interview with Read about the challenges of building a high performance yacht.


Ken Read at the helm of Comanche (image by George Bekris)

How did you go about ensuring safety for such a high performance boat?
Safety is always the number one priority on a boat like this. The very nature of this vessel doesn’t exude a lot of confidence in safety, but, we spend as much time on safety as we do on boat speed. This can be seen in the way the life rafts have been designed to sit in the boat and how you can get to them easily. Many of the crew on board have extensive sailing experience and know what it is to be safe at sea. We go through man overboard scenarios and how to treat them. Everyone who comes on this boat understands the inherent dangers involved. That said, we have worked hard to minimise the dangers and I think we are within the lines of where we need to be.

Having worked on a number of projects in the past, how does this one compare?
There is a similar mentality to the Volvo Ocean Race, an event that is about building a custom boat that is as light as the rules will allow, going as fast as you can while trying to keep the boat in one piece. This project is the same except on a much larger scale. Fortunately we have a great team on the sailing side and on the shore side. The team is essentially the same core group of people that have been together for the past eight years. Their consistency helps to build confidence across the board and that is what Jim and Kristy Clark are counting on.

What is new on this boat that we are likely to see in future builds?
I would say one of the biggest steps forward with this build is the mast and sail plan position. The mast is probably further aft than on any other monohull – it is well beyond 50 per cent aft, which looks odd but it is a totally different set up for the sail plan. We think this improves performance all around, although it is easy for people to jump to the conclusion that it is made to be a reaching running flyer. However, with the tools and technology available now, we have been able to establish the best position for maximum performance.

Read the full interview in Issue 15 of The Superyacht Owner. To subscribe, please click here.