Worthy or not? You decide.

21 Jul
                                              Lending Club en route to Hawaii – photo credit Lending Club crew

It was fantastic to see Ryan Breymeyer and his team on Lending Club demolish the Transpacific record this past weekend. They sailed a superb passage and knocked more than a day off the record time set by the curmudgeon Olivier de Kersauson on Geronimo. To be fair Lending Club is 15-feet longer than Geronimo, but either way you look at it they had an amazing record breaking crossing. This is a young crew pushing the envelope on decent but not extravagant budget.

I contrast this with the recent 24-hour record set by Comanche, the 100-foot maxi skippered by Ken Read in this summer’s Transatlantic Race. I need to tread carefully here because I am a big fan of Ken Read and I like that Jim and Kristy Clark have invested in sailing by building Comanche, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s not an opportunity lost. Comanche managed 618.01 nautical miles in a 24-hour period to set a new record. That’s an average speed of just over 25 knots. Not bad, but not really that impressive given that the conditions were perfect for fast sailing. In the same conditions the MOD 70 trimaran Phaedo3 clicked off a 24-hour run of 652 nautical miles. Heck in the last Vendee Globe François Gabart on Macif logged 534.49 miles at an average speed of 22.27 knots. One guy, all alone, on a boat 40-feet shorter than Comanche. Now that’s impressive.

I realize that Comanche was designed to be competitive under IRC but this enormous, and I am guessing very expensive boat, is just another slab-sided, unimaginative, lacking in innovation VOR-100. I can’t help but think that so much more could have been done to make this superyacht into something really super instead of taking a bog-standard design and hitting the magnify button on the copy machine. It took a crew of 20 on Comanche to set a new monohull record, but despite the size of the boat and the size of the crew they took almost half a day longer than the trimaran Phaedo3 who recorded the fastest crossing in the Transatlantic Race with just seven on board. Lending Club sailed with eight.
                                                               Comanche – photo credit Onne van der Wal

OK apples and oranges but my point remains the same. Bigger and bigger boats with more and more money chucked at it will result in faster boats and more records being set and broken, but when does it end and why is no one building something that is not a cookie-cutter version of something already built; just bigger? Time for some innovation I say. Time for someone with deep pockets to think out of the box and build a boat worthy of a world record.

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  1. Brian Hancock

    Hi Dobbs – your points are well taken – I agree that it’s a stunning boat and I take nothing away from the team and their effort to get a new record. My point is that the more and more money thrown into bigger ad bigger boats will keep breaking record but in a blunt hammer kind of way. There needs to be more innovation – not just more of the same but only bigger and exhibiting brute force to capture a record.

  2. Dobbs Davis

    Its unfortunate Brian missed the point of all the design and fabrication innovation that went into Comanche’s design to achieve that record…the partnership of VPLP, North, Southern and the other partners in the project to integrate boat, sail and rig design into one package was a fascinating story.

    This is how they arrived at the unusual proportions in the rig plan that make this boat distinctive.

    My suggestion is to pay less attention to the media hype generated by the PR firms hired to promote the race and more into what Ken and his team have achieved on this apple – just as what Ryan, Renaud and their team achieved on their orange

    Both are outstanding achievements for their respective fruits.

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