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With everybody on the handles the torque going through the Comanche grinding system is approximately double the maximum ever recorded on a Version 5.0 ACC design – and that was a lot. Nice statement of confidence in the builders, putting some of the gruntiest winches up on these relatively slender towers…

Every horse has its course

The Comanche that took line honours in the latest Sydney-Hobart was a different beast from the boat that trailed Wild Oats across the line 12 months earlier. Ken Read talks development with Blue Robinson

Seahorse: How has the sail wardrobe evolved on Comanche over the past year and what sails did you bring to Sydney? Ken Read: In essence the Comanche inven- tory has gone from a big boat monohull inventory to a multihull inventory. On all angles of sail we have the boat going faster and faster now, so the mainsail is identical to the previous main but everything for- ward of the mast from a tiny jib to our biggest jib now gets deeper as the sail gets bigger. Moving forward, after lots of testing it is even debatable if a traditional A-sail will ever go back on this boat; we did measure in a Cuben Fiber flying A4 asymmetric for the Hobart… but in the end it stayed on the dock. SH: So what sails did you narrow it down

to, given the Hobart’s weather transitions? KR: Sure, there are transitions but essen- tially this is a windward-leeward race. So we took a breezy windward-leeward inventory – plus when you get into boats that go this fast, our light-air upwind genoa is actually our heavy-air downwind spinnaker. This isn’t a TP52 where you bring upwind and downwind sails, if you look at a crossover chart on a TP52 it is all vertical – there is a light-air jib then it stops, then there is a heavy-air jib and that stops, so it is usually a bunch of vertical columns. But the crossover chart for Comanche is all diagonal, so our light-air jib goes straight across the chart to be the heavy-air runner; what works in 8kt at 50° apparent works in 35kt at 145° true. SH: How was this Hobart start… KR: There are two narrow channels out of the harbour, a big port bias and a big ebb tide and so a startline that had all the potential for ending your race right there… So I took things really cautiously with a midline start. We were confident we’d be quick as soon as we got on the downwind section, with a phenomenal forecast for us; so a conservative start to get past the big reef in the middle of Sydney Harbour, then go 5kt faster than the guys around us! SH: Audio from onboard had you a lot quieter than most boats around you…

KR: Well, that’s the way we sail it, Blue. We have all sailed together for a year, everyone is comfortable in their positions, just doing their job well. In the past when I was younger I would get pretty wound up about little details, and so I have learnt to put the right people in the right spot; in business or in sailing, let them do their jobs and don’t try to micromanage things. SH: You had a dramatic weather event head your way the first night… KR: A dramatic change was forecast, but from my perspective and the guys I have around me, you look at dramatic weather events as possible advantages. It’s not like ‘oh my god we have a weather event’. It’s more like ‘awesome, we have a weather event coming!’ I think we gained 10 miles in that situation. We had a plan, timed it perfectly and executed what we set out to do. With those guys there are no disadvan- tages on a racecourse, only opportunities to make gains. SH: Then you crashed the daggerboard. KR: Talking to our designers, it’s like a broken mast, sometimes you just don’t know the cause. So what to do? Do we now make the boards twice as strong or did we hit something? And unless there is damage to the hull in front of the board you will never know. In our case it all happened very quickly and in complete darkness, so that we actually have to



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