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foiling

Libby Greenhalgh reviews the Rolex Middle Sea race on Maverick

Libby Greenhalgh reviews the Rolex Middle Sea race on Maverick

Just over a month ago I joined Team Maverick on their Infiniti 46 with DSS Foils for the Middle Sea Race. This 600 mile race typically provides all weather conditions and as always an absolutely stunning backdrop to the race.

This year was no exception the forecast was for a strong NNW winds, in the region of 35+KT from a little over 24hours into the race, it was enough or  some to consider not starting and overall resulted in a war of attrition during the race with roughly only half the fleet finishing.

We had a couple of days of light to moderate wind training before the start. Allowing me to get up to speed with the boat and understand how and where the performance of the boat changes with the deployment of the foils.

We started amongst all the big boats in the small and beautiful Valletta harbour looking like a fly buzzing around the bigger animals. A short sprint downwind and we are all heading off to Sicily just cracked off the wind. As the breeze pushes above 8-10 KT and the boat reaches maximum power the foils can be deployed on both sides, to act as righting moment to windward and to provide lift and stability this is particularly beneficial as the sea state worsens.

With the bright orange aeroplane wing foils deployed the boat sits at an optimal heel angle of about 10 degrees and sounds like a rocket trying to take off.
— Libby Greenhalgh

The boat is responsive and light on the helm and with the foils deployed we powered upwind in the building breeze once past Stromoboli. The effect of the foils on the stability and reducing the pitching of the boat in a big sea state makes going upwind almost a pleasure.  As you gradually bear off as always you eventually hit the power zone and from a True Wind Angle of 070 or wider you feel the boat accelerate and you need to level her off to keep her quick, it can be fairly easy to over trim in this situation.

The real fun with the boat started when we turned the corner and headed downwind and the boat lit up. With the bright orange aeroplane wing foils deployed the boat sits at an optimal heel angle of about 10 degrees and sounds like a rocket trying to take off. The aeroplane like foils self adjust the lift, as the boat lifts and the foil comes to the surface then the lift reduces which means despite it being howling winds the  foils can still be used. The water piles over the deck like fireman’s hose blasting at you which does at times make it pretty hard to stay on the side of the boat, but with boat speeds in excess of 20 KT an peaking a 27+KT is pretty impressive for a 46 footer.

Under three days to complete and we drying out back ashore as the 4th boat to cross the line behind largely 100 FT boats. All in all a boat that is a lot of fun, a team that is a lot fun and I am looking forward to sailing this boat again in 2018.

Libby Greenhalgh

#BeaMaverick #FollowTheStory

"Can we foil yet?" asks Sean McCarter

"Can we foil yet?" asks Sean McCarter

"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!

Sean...

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...

Sean McCarter: crew

Sean McCarter: crew

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.

Sean McCarter

#beamaverick #followthestory

The technical and human angle behind Maverick

The technical and human angle behind Maverick

In conceiving the yacht Maverick we set ourselves a very clear brief.  She was to be an offshore race boat designed to tackle the "600 mile classics".  As with most things in life thats where the clarity ended and the compromising started.

Our budget wouldn't stretch very far against a new 100ft maxi so that focused our attention on the handicap rather than the line honours.  The plethora of existing designs, TP's VOR's all offered something but by being excellent at what they were designed for they were not necessarily best suited to what we wanted.  We planned to run a global campaign, the boat had to be easy to ship and we wanted to keep operating costs to a minimum.  Length and people became the critical issues for us to optimise as we look to maximise the returns for our resources.

To achieve our goals it was clear we had to do something a little different, we had to embrace some newer ideas to see if we could make a smaller boat perform like a bigger boat.  In our view an effective offshore racer has to be a strong reaching boat, but given we weren't focused on ocean racing we had to be as good as possible "uphill" and very effective across a range of conditions but particularly in light air.

We sat down with Hugh Welbourn and Gordon Kay to discuss using DSS.  With Hugh's help we combined a number of ideas to help us punch above the physics of length as often as possible.  Hugh's narrow hull form design allows us to reduce drag in all modes.  DSS helps us to achieve reaching power, lift for planing and further reduces drag.  A canting keel helps to provide maximum righting moment to optimise uphill sailing.  These features combine to allow us to be both very light and powerful making the boat as quick as possible in displacement mode, early to transition and simply fast in planning mode.  The sail locker is reflective of an offshore boat.  By working with Doyle NZ from the start we have been careful to engineer the boat and spars to manage the high loads demanded by the sail makers to optimise the sail shapes and ranges on all sails but particularly fractional and mast head code sails.

Whilst there are some crossovers in appearance (foils and canting keel) the hull form design and sail locker means that Maverick is not just a short version of the new IMOCA 60.

Having decided on the concept, the team then worked hard on the minutiae to keep the weight off and to reduce the complexity.  The spotlight on detail was unrelenting with an ongoing dialogue to make sure that the best possible components were picked to achieve the right balance, for us, between performance and cost.

We race with 6 to 8 crew so "sail-ability" was a priority.  Being fast is one thing, maintaining speed consistently another.  The boat systems had to be refined to allow long periods of short handed sailing, constantly balancing the need to finish with the need for speed and the need to minimise the wear and tear on both vessel and people.  Many hours were spent on "string" layout and functionality, optimum sail plans and shapes, furling and reefing systems.

Accurate information is essential to optimising performance.  Following the adage "bad data in equals bad decisions out", we dedicated our efforts to making sure we can collect accurate information, particularly boat speed.  No mean challenge on a boat that spends a lot of time planing.  With the weight/performance trade off front of mind the need for power to drive hydraulic pressure, water, data and instruments required a series of fine judgements.  In the end we have opted for a hydro generator, batteries and water maker.  Light and environmentally friendly.

After taking a novel approach on the boat, we then took a slightly different tack to building the team.  We wanted a core group of experienced sailors but more importantly people who would come with an open mind, commit to the potential of the program and who were proven team players.  We needed good all rounders, there is no room for specialisation, and we would make no distinction between gender, or the oft misunderstood designation "professional or amateur".  In short we wanted a team that could collectively act as Maverick not a collection of Mavericks.

To round things out we have ongoing advice from Hugh, Gordon, and Justin Ferris at Doyle Sails NZ.  With the odd ringer thrown in to push the team to a higher level, be that a well known navigator or a member of the emerging talent program that we plan to run.

The genesis of Maverick, the ambition and ethos for the team, occurred on a grey day running up the Derwent to Hobart; a venue we hope to revisit in the next 2 years.  In the interim the plan is to race Maverick at regattas around the world showcasing the power of DSS, the technology from our carefully chosen suppliers and the talents of Team Maverick. 

Join us as we follow our path, which we have designed to be a little less ordinary.