dimanche 12 février 2023

Evolution of the Whitbread yachts' hull design, from 1974 to the Ocean Race 2023 - SECOND PART

1 - From the 1970s Maxi to the first W60

2 - From the Volvo 60 to the Volvo 70

3 - From Volvo 65 to IMOCA


From the Volvo 60 to the Volvo 70

-       EF Language Sail plan © F Chevalier

In the 1997-98 edition, the Whitbread Round The World Race was raced with the W60s, and the score was counted in points, instead of time added up over the nine legs. Ten contenders left Southampton for this round-the-world race, the last leg of which took place in La Rochelle. Bruce Farr signed 8 of the 10 designs, and took the first seven positions, and the ninth, with the female crew led by Christine Guillou. Paul Cayard, famous sailor, won on EF Language ahead of an impressive number of racing figures, such as Dennis Conner, Chris Dickson, Laurie Smith, Grant Dalton, Ross Field or John Kostecki. The Farr designs were all very similar, with shapes which were still quite round in comparison to previous Maxis.

- EF Language Perspective © F Chevalier

The next Whitbread, which was sponsored by Volvo in 1997-98, changed its name to the 2001-02 Volvo Ocean Race. 

The new rules defining the VO 60s allowed carbon rigs, which boosted these sailboats and profoundly changed their performance. Of the eight contenders for victory, six designs by Farr Design raced. The Nautor Challenge team had two boats built, one by Bruce Farr, Amer Sport Two, the other, Amer Sport One, by German Frers, Jr., "Mani Frers ».Skipper Grant Dalton reserved his choice until the last minute, leaving Farr's yacht to Lisa McDonald women's crew. Finally, the eighth was the Norwegian Djuice Dragons, designed by Laurie Davidson.

What is particularly striking when watching the three designs, is the narrowness of the boat waterline on the one hand, and on the other hand, the rather pronounced hollow of the hulls. The three designers created narrow hulls, with the ballast as far outboard as possible, with a small rounded bilge at the main beam.

According to Farr, a boat has to be a "sled" shaped to match the requirements of the rule. The hull seems to be carved with a sword: the bow is carved in a sloping plane following a straight line from the bow to the mast. 
 Illbruck Challenge lines © F Chevalier

Then follows a second vertical section over 50 cm and parallel on each edge. This one runs far aft. Lastly, the ultimate cut occurs on the sides, at 45° towards the bottom of the keel at the point where the warp is measured. It goes on without trickery until the transom. 
Djuice Dragons lines © F Chevalier

Laurie Davidson has focused on safety and designed a high reserve buoyancy in the bow, penalized by a high surface area. Djuice's wing keel seems significant compared to the others.

Mani Frers' drawing shows a greater stiffness, with less flared sides than those of her competitors, and a more raking bow. 
Mani Frers' Amers Sport One lines © F Chevalier

Her fin-keel, slightly forward of the mast, helps to sail close-hauled, but makes the racer more flighty when sailing downwind. Her sail plan is very far back, with a mast close to the middle.

Farr's yachts won the first two places, Illbruck Challenge ahead of Assa Abloy, Mani Frers' design was on the final step of the podium. Laurie Davidson's racer settled for sixth', winning the last leg.

Illbruck Challenge © F Chevalier

A new class of yacht was launched for the 2005-06 Volvo Ocean Race, the Volvo Open 70. Longer, relatively lighter, more canvassed, with canting keels and two optional rudders, they have inherited the progress of the America's Cup like the TP52 or the Open 60. 

Juan Kouyoumdjian was the great champion of the race, his ABN Amro One won 16 of the 22 legs and his ABN Amro Two, skippered by Sébastien Josse, finished fourth, establishing a new speed record over the 24 hours. Bruce Farr's four VO 70s, Pirates of Caribbean, sailed by Paul Cayard, Brasil, Ericsson and Movistar came in between, and the Australian boat designed by Don Jones, Brunel-Sunergy, finished last.

ABN Amor One's lines © F Chevalier

JK's designs take full advantage of the rule, wider and therefore stiffer, with an inverted and raking bow, a canted keel, rotating inside the hull, which increases the stiffness upwind, a streamlined hull on the aft half, a deep daggerboard, a protracted keel with a reduced section. More powerful and more planing, these hulls will make themselves felt and will influence the future hulls. 

Movistar's  lines © F Chevalier 

Bruce Farr searched for smoothness and balance, with a rudder in the centerline of the yacht. Movistar lost her keel, the crew was rescued by ABN Amro Two.

Brunel-Sunergy's lines  ©F Chevalier 

Meanwhile, poorly supported by a limited budget, Don Jones had developed a more conventional boat, rounder and wider, with full forward shapes, a single daggerboard forward of a very advanced mast, and a cockpit that was very far aft.

ABN Amro One Sail plan © F Chevalier

The tenth edition of this round-the-world race, the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race has become increasingly difficult for the public to follow. It started in Spain, passed through Cape Town, reached Singapore, then China in Qingdao, crossed the Pacific Ocean from North to South, reached Rio and Boston, Ireland, Gothenburg, Stockholm, and ended in St. Petersburg, Russia! We went a long way from the Whitbread in four legs.

Of the ten yachts, Juan Kouyoumdjian designed three, Bruce Farr two, Botin Carkeek one, Reichel/Pugh one, and Roy Humphreys the latest.

Ericsson 4, a JK'design, with Torben Grael at the helm, dominated the field, followed by Botin's Puma, sailed by Ken Read, with Farr's Telefonica Blue in third place. 

I did not have the possibility to finalize the drawings I had prepared for the 2008-2009 edition, as no magazine followed up on my proposal to publish the designs of the five design offices.

Ericsson 4 sail plan © F Chevalier

Among the three designers in the race for 2011-2012, Juan K imagines half of them, the French Groupama 4 helmed by Franck Cammas, the American Puma skippered by Ken Read, and the Spanish Telefonica, helmed by Iker Martinez. Farr Yacht Design drew one, Abu Dhabi; the Chinese Sanya was the former Telefonica Blue, a Farr design, skippered by the 2006 winner, Mike Sanderson. Finally, Marcelino Botin, remarkable for his TP52s, was the author of the Camper design for ETNZ.

Camper lines © F Chevalier

Perhaps most surprisingly for this "Box Rule", the designs of the three designers turned out totally different. Marcelino Botin created a real super TP52, narrow and stretched out to the extreme, with a very advanced center of gravity, a beam backed up three-quarters of her length and a low transom, huge daggerboards aft of the mast, itself centered on the middle of the sailing boat.

Abu Dhabi lines (Farr Yacht Design) © F Chevalier

Farr's design breaks with all trends. Considering that these racers plane from the slightest breeze, and stop abruptly in too steep waves, the hull needs to get up to speed as quickly as possible, and tilt close-hauled without pivoting too much on the bow, in order to increase the stiffness. The Result: a monumental bow, round and strong, grazing, vertical side walls, a maximum beam allowed halfway up the yacht, a wide and centered waterline, stretched but soft shapes, fine and elaborate daggerboards, practically vertical and close to the axis. The deck is curved towards the bow, without roof marking.

 Groupama 4 lines (by JK) ©F Chevalier

Juan K has evolved his earlier drawings, optimizing all the benefits already acquired in the last edition won by the Swede Ericsson. Very developed front shapes, clearly evident in the forward sections, under a bilge that goes all the way to the bow; flat bottoms starting from the bow, ensuring a planing start and spreading the axis of the boat when heeling to increase stiffness; back bottoms following the curve of the wave, favoring the continuation of the wake and lengthening the wave that determines the speed limit. All of these elements have proven their effectiveness over the other contenders.

Groupama 4 has won the Volvo trophy on the Botin Camper design, followed by the two new JK designs, Puma and Telefonica, with the two Farr's finishing dead last.
Groupama 4 Sail plan ©F Chevalier

Puma Sail plan ©F Chevalier

The six sections of the two V60s and the four V70s show the evolution of the yacht design from this Whitbread period. 

2 sections of VO 60 and 4 of VO 70, between 2001 and 2011 ©F Chevalier

Between the first, the Laurie Davidson and the 2001 Mani Frers, the waterline widens. From the first 2006 Don Jones V70 on the top right to the 2011 Botin, the bilge becomes more defined and the shapes more radical.

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