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.