This week saw the launch of Hodgdon Yachts’ 30.5m pre-preg carbon fibre racing yacht Comanche from its East Boothbay facility. Without a keel or mast, the yacht was towed 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.

Comanche is launched!! from Onne van der Wal on Vimeo.


“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.


Comanche on the slipway

“If you’re going to pick a first race for an unbelievably high-tech boat like this, [the Rolex Sydney Hobart] probably isn’t at the top of the list,” says Read. “Mainly because you’ve got to learn [how to work] the boat, you’ve got to break it in and make sure that it stays in one piece. To go and throw it into the blender like the Bass Strait is not necessarily perfect, but we’ve known the deal since the start.”


“Everyone involved with Comanche, especially [the owners] Jim and Kristy [Clark], are incredibly excited that the build side of the project is nearing completion.” — Ken Read


Comanche was designed by VPLP Design together with Guillaume Verdier Design, with engineering provided by Tim Hacket and Casey Smith. The team worked to create a design that would allow her crew to push the vessel to new levels of performance and resulted in a boat with an eight metre beam to offset the water ballasts and has a deep keel to reduce the weight of the bulb. 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,” says Guilbaud. “As we say in France, ‘a fast boat is mostly, and often a nice looking boat’.”



Following the Rolex Sydney Hobart race, plans are in place to take part in other classic races such as the Bermuda Race, the RORC Carribean 600, the Transpacific Yacht Race or the Transatlantic Race.

“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.”