"Can we foil yet" asks Sean McCarter...
Round the world yacht race skipper Sean McCarter joins Team Maverick for the first time to compete in the Palermo-Montecarlo race. Here he documents his experience as he foils with us for the first time and gets a taste for DSS speed!
This was the question I pestered Team Maverick with for the two days of training in Palermo before race start to Monte Carlo. The incessant questioning continued for a further 240 nm of light, upwind racing to Porto Cervo, the first mark of the race, then something special happened...
Becoming a 'Maverick' was a no-brainer; my good friend and old competitor on the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race called me up and asked if I was keen to sail the new, light weight, state of the art, Infiniti 46R with DSS, newly commissioned and launching in San Tropez. Olly explained the goal of building a team eager to push leading edge technology in many of the world’s classic offshore races. Sign me up!
Arriving in Palermo and meeting a post-delivery exhausted crew, it was refreshing to see a wide variety of experience, enthusiasm, good humor and positivity. Olly is an intelligent skipper with an eye for detail and a knack for delegating second-to-none.
At first sight, Maverick is a mean-looking machine with numerous standout features, a huge bowsprit, massive rig, hard chines and the orange tips of the Dynamic Stability System (DSS) foils peaking out menacingly from each side. It is a relatively small boat utilising technology common to boats twice its size. A canting keel and dagger board help turbo charge the boat when conditions don't allow for foiling. A huge amount of effort went into weight saving; 5.5 tonnes most of which is in the keel bulb says job well done. My favourite example is the throttle; unlike most race boats who use an 'off-the-shelf' brand, Team Maverick have made a 1 mm dyneema line and pulley system to engage gears and another into a cam cleat to select RPMs depending on how hard you hard you pull!
After rounding our mark off Porto Cervo, we bore away into the Maddalena channel and finally we got the elusive call, 'Deploy the foil!' We hoisted a jib-top and started shaking reefs. For the following two hours, we blasted through one of the most spectacular racecourses in the world, affectionately known as 'Bomb Alley', with the sun rising in a perfect background. We topped out at 21.8 kts and the boat felt stable and capable of more. We later heard that Rambler 88's max speed was 22 kts...say no more.