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Over 55,000 nautical miles and counting. Simpler than Yazykov’s previous Open 40, with a fixed keel and sophisticated but super-simple rig the 33-foot Daughter of the Wind displays many of the same characteristics, tracking particularly well on all points of sail, an autopilot being replaced by simply lashing the helm. Connections in Russia’s once mighty composites and aerospace industries proved good sources of titanium and carbon – the boat is light and very strong

Unique is just a word

Russian, née Soviet, round the world sailor Viktor Yazykov is building a new boat (and the editor is getting quite excited)


To those who know little of Viktor Yazykov some brief CV extracts might be instructive. Father and uncle drown in fishing accident when Yazykov is 13; leaves school to support family, joining shipyard to bring in money; drafted into Soviet army at 18; qualifies as elite para- trooper; leaves army at 23; earns Master’s Ticket; fitness obsession involving regular ‘ice swimming’; volunteers to go into Chernobyl after nuclear meltdown; profes- sional fisherman; starts sailing clubs and first Soviet youth sailing programme; designs (self-taught) and builds 29ft yacht; joins Fazisi Whitbread programme; dismissed mid-race for reasons never disclosed; sentenced to salt mines (com- muted); KGB withdraws travel visa; Soviet Union collapse prompts more self- designed boats; successfully completes


Around Alone (4th) on self-designed and built Open 40 Wind of Change; designs and builds oceanic shorthanded 33-footer Daughter of the Wind; sets off for sea…

A little more detail

To expand just a little. Viktor was one of the first into Chernobyl; most of those who went in with him died soon afterwards from radiation poisoning. He credits his survival to always drinking copious amounts of green tea.

Building that first 29ft boat… Well, there was little or no yacht building in Soviet Russia but there were plenty of trees, so Yazykov dragged a few fallen chestnuts out the forest, milled his own planks and put his boat together… largely using copper nails hammered out from reclaimed cabling. And that first Around Alone Open 40… well he did have some design help from Bob Adams and Steve Baker, but they would be the first to say that the concept, hull lines and foil layout were all Viktor’s. His current – rather extraordinary – 33- footer is entirely his own work. We will come back to her later.

During that first Around Alone, Yazykov famously suffered severe blood poisoning following an accident up the mast in a storm, only surviving after operating on his own arm using a mirror under the guidance of the race doctor. He then hand-steered for

much of the remainder of the long first leg to Cape Town because of autopilot failure. But he still beat home one Open 60.


As well as fitness, Viktor Yazykov’s other obsession is the perfectly balanced off- shore yacht. Indeed, it was probably only possible for Wind of Change to complete that traumatic Around Alone leg because when the autopilot failed Yazykov found that his boat – under its normal reefed main plus small jib – sailed well with the tiller lashed. Even a Russian paratrooper cannot hand-steer for 1,500 miles. For a 1996 design, Wind of Change was highly innovative – the keel and rig set far aft for optimum performance off the wind, a canting keel plus a lifting canard set forward to raise or lower to adjust helm balance. Even by today’s standards, Wind of

Change is a fast boat and unusually easy to sail. The combination of these characteris- tics, along with a far-sighted approach to the needs of fast and safe ocean voyaging, are part of the reason we hold this self- taught naval architect in such regard. Looking at Yazykov’s approach to design, two more famous naval architects (as well as sometime boatbuilders) come to mind. And there is another parallel, like Yazykov both Adrian Thompson (Alice’s Mirror, Paragon) and Nigel Irens (Apricot,

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