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Above: not the easiest boat to sail fast in a slop, Comanche trains off Sydney. The similarities are striking between the straight, inclined daggerboard ‘format’ on Comanche (Verdier-VPLP) and the 2008 Imoca 60 (Farr, left) with which Michel Desjoyeaux dominated the Vendée Globe. Though now outperformed for a reaching race like the Vendée by curved foils, this is still an effective low-drag configuration that delivers some useful lift when heeled

re-engineer something based on no facts whatsoever. It was another little adventure in our world of sailing these boats. The up/down lines on the daggerboards are heavy-gauge Spectra, so when the board broke it was like towing a huge fish- ing lure under the boat, flailing around, banging and crashing and trying to punch through the hull. I was with Stan Honey in the nav station when we heard the crack and assumed it was the daggerboard, then the flailing – and we were waiting to see the edge of the board punching up into the hull. But Casey Smith got to one line and one of the pit guys got to the other, cut them and the board slid away under the boat… and smacked right into the rudder. SH: And hit hard. KR: The helmsman shouted, ‘The rudder’s gone, I can’t steer!’ What happened was the board hit the rudder as it was turning, hitting so hard that it sheared the tiller bar off the tiller arm, flipped the boat into irons, then we started sailing backwards. The rudder spun 1800

and the tiller arm

tore into the back of the boat, ripping into an empty ballast tank; so now there was


plenty of damage in the back of the boat, with shreds of carbon everywhere… Now the rudder is facing aft, chunks of things are missing, the tiller arm is broken, the board has gone and who knows what has happened to the hull, so we dropped the sails to assess everything, and were drifting back towards Sydney. SH: But the crew fixed things… KR: I have been saying for a long time that I wouldn’t leave the dock in an 8ft inflatable without Casey Smith onboard. He is one of those typical Southern Hemisphere ‘just get it done’ guys – never blows his trumpet and is a miracle worker. I have sailed more miles with Casey than any other human being – for all the right reasons. SH: And afterwards? KR: On starboard we were going sideways as fast as forwards, so we changed how we sailed the boat completely. We dropped the keel down, put a lot more twist in the main, sailed the boat upright and less powered-up on that tack. Then on port we pushed the boat harder than we normally would to make up ground. SH: This race was a condensed Volvo leg.

KR: Jimmy Spithill said at the end of the race, ‘Kenny, can I ask you a question? Every time you guys go sailing… is it always that weird!’ This had a whole Volvo fitted into two days. The madness and mayhem, pushing you and the boat beyond its limits. But in a Volvo you have 18 months to deal with all this stuff. SH: Moving back to the wardrobe, what number mainsail is this for Comanche? KR: Mainsail no3, and the only reason it is no3 is that all last year we used mainsail no1. But, for sure, the boat had a lee-helm problem when it was launched. So we changed some underwater stuff, added quite a bit of rake and then made a very big mainsail to try to pile area onto the back end of the sail plan; so mainsail no2 is really good in light to medium air. But for the Hobart we built a proper three-reef offshore main; mainsail no1 did all the rac- ing and all the deliveries – meaning it had around 30,000 miles on it. Welcome to the world of 3Di and no more delivery sails. SH: Who leads the sail programme… KR: Mostly JB Braun. JB did a major part of the aero package for Oracle in the last two America’s Cups and is one of the brightest guys you will ever meet… He was involved with the design of this boat from day one, working with Verdier and VPLP, and that reflects the evolution of sails now. There is no such thing any more as buying a boat and getting some sails



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