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‘This new 7m is a development of the 650. A lot of work has gone into making it lighter and more economical to build by refining areas like the hull-to-deck joint and reducing surface area and double handling where possible.’

Shaw had an older 7m sportboat design, which took to the water Take Good Care

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named Custard Truck and now sails as Orange Peeler, but to meet the Australian requirements the new design is more moderate. ‘Put simply, I think the differences are best defined as the new 7m being more of an exercise in subtle efficiency, whereas the older Custard Truck is more about brute strength. The new boat has less sail area, less righting moment/beam and is therefore able to be built lighter. And cheaper.

‘Interestingly, the performance of the boats is more similar than their dimensions and power would suggest. The newer boat is also at times significantly easier to sail to its full potential.’ Another focus of design in the new boat was incorporating small hiking racks that do not have to be removed for trailering. Part of the brief from Wilson and the Kiff brothers was to keep the whole thing simple. They did not want to have to spend a lot of time rigging and de-rigging the boat every time they used it. The racks slide in, reducing the overall beam to 2.4m and making trailering much easier. It also allows the whole thing to slip into a 40ft container for shipping.

For the rest, the design work had to achieve maximum efficiency. Overall length and waterline length are identical at 7m, full carbon construction by Matt Goddard of MG Composites in Wellington is finished to a high standard, control systems are dinghy-like utilising purchase systems with no winches. Trapezes increase righting moment while the fixed ballast is carried on a lifting daggerboard, with 40 per cent of the 310kg lightweight displacement in a modest bulb. Draft with the board down is 1.9m. (The trapezes cannot be used in Australia, where the stability lost will be made up for by carrying a fifth crewmember.)

Upwind sail area set on the high-modulus carbon mast is 36m2, with a large square-top mainsail producing much of the horsepower. When the gennaker is hoisted to the end of the 3.2m prod, it adds 75m2 of additional area.

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The new boat made its racing debut at Bay of Islands Sailing Week, which attracts some of the top talent in the country. Typically, the time gap between emerging from Matt Goddard’s yard to hitting the startline was very small, but there were no real dramas. ‘It all came together as smoothly as it could have,’ says Wilson. ‘ Anyway, all three partners have plenty of experience in their day jobs of putting boats together for racing. ‘Between the three of us we are pretty good at getting things done in a hurry.’ Out on the water they showed they are pretty good at making the boat go in a hurry as well. With nine boats in the sportboat division, their scorecard (discarding an eighth) reads 1/1/1/1/ 3/2/4/1. ‘We were stoked with the result,’ says Wilson. ‘We didn’t expect it to perform that well straight out of the box.’ Wilson concedes that conditions throughout the series were fairly uniform: flat water with breeze in the 5-15kt range. There is more to learn in a wider range of conditions.

What most impressed the new owners, who sailed with one additional crew throughout the series, was the upwind speed. This has been a hallmark of Shaw’s designs. They are not simply downhill flyers. His 9m canting-keelers frequently give well-campaigned 12m rivals a hurry-up at the top mark before screeching off to harry the 50-footers on the downwind legs.

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‘The Magic 25s have always been able to point high,’ Wilson comments. ‘We were surprised we could sail the same lane as them upwind and then easily get away from them downwind.’ Summing up their initial assessment from the Bay of Islands, Wilson says there is nothing they would change apart from the mainsail. ‘The headsail is really good, but we made the mainsail too light and it was showing a bit of stretch. We will probably go to a 3DL mainsail from North, but that is in the nature of working up a new boat.’

With all three partners likely to be based in the Med over the coming summer season, the loose plan at the moment is to slip the boat into a container and have it ready to hand for some Euro- pean sailing between the grand prix commitments of their day jobs.

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