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A speeding bullet of a new boat for Italian owner Dario Ferrari, Cannonball is the first Maxi 72 from Botin Partners and


Premier Composite Technologies. James Boyd went aboard Photo: Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi


W


ith the America’s Cup held in flying multihulls over the past few years, the torch for elite-level displacement monohull racing has been carried


by the Maxi 72 class. In 2014 the International Maxi Association separated out these grand-prix boats from the rest of the Mini Maxis to ‘preserve the bulk of the fleet’. Today the Maxi 72 has its own box rule, underpinned by IRC.


The parameters of the Maxi 72 box rule are basic, essentially limiting length to 18.75-21.946m, maximum draft to 5.4m and IRC TCC to 1.614. In reality, all the current boats are at the maximum limit of these.


It costs around €6 million to put a competitive Maxi 72 on the water and half that again for annual running costs, so this fleet is as about as high end as it gets in IRC racing. The class rule may be strictly owner-driver, but otherwise all the boats are stacked with seasoned pros, ready to push rules to the limit.


So although its ‘box’ may be basic, the small print in the Maxi 72 rule is not. For example, it defines the salinity of the water during draft measurement and prohibits devices such as special paint, textured surfaces or bubble makers, that might improve the hull’s hydrodynamic properties – all straight from the America’s Cup rule book.


Understandably given the costs involved, the fleet size is limited, but boats tend to have a long competitive life. Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente, for instance, won the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship in 2012 and again in 2016 when she was four years old.


In 2017 she was still competitive, although couldn’t take the silverware from the newer hardware coming on line, notably Dieter Schön’s Momo, which finally, after being launched back in 2015, became World Champion.


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