Boats

The Dynamic Duo

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Eavesdropping on an in-depth discussion of rating rules will send a casual bystander into a deep sleep as effectively as any hypnotist, and IRC—the successor to IOR and IMS—is no exception to this, er, rule. All I can say with any kind of authority is that boats designed to IRC tend to be a good deal more interesting than the rule itself. Over the last few years we’ve seen a steady stream of IRC racer-cruisers that look fast, are easily handled and seaworthy, and therefore should have longer lives than most purpose-built racing boats of the past.

Two versatile new designs from Sydney Yachts exemplify the direction established by IRC. The GTS 37 and GTS 43 are from the offices of Ker Design, whose eponymous principal Jason Ker is responsible for a string of highly successful racing boats, including the South African IACC boat Shoshaloza, the surprise package of the America’s Cup in 2007.

The traditional formula for small IRC boats, says Ker, is to “maximize displacement to increase stability, narrow waterline to minimize wetted area, and put on just enough sail area to survive in lighter winds against the main competition.” Together with some other “go-slow” features, such a philosophy reduces the boat’s rating relative to its length, so great speed is not necessary for it to sail to its rating.

Ker says he used Computational Fluid Dynamics (computer-modelling technology for the study of things that flow) to reduce the drag of the hull forms and foils, searching not so much for a good power-to-weight ratio as a good power-to-drag ratio, while keeping in mind good performance and handling characteristics. The result was a pair of hull shapes that Ker says are “significantly” more efficient than existing Sydney designs, and that should be able to beat bigger IRC boats on the water as well as on handicap, thus leading to greater owner satisfaction.

Ker says he used Computational Fluid Dynamics (computer-modelling technology for the study of things that flow) to reduce the drag of the hull forms and foils, searching not so much for a good power-to-weight ratio as a good power-to-drag ratio, while keeping in mind good performance and handling characteristics. The result was a pair of hull shapes that Ker says are “significantly” more efficient than existing Sydney designs, and that should be able to beat bigger IRC boats on the water as well as on handicap, thus leading to greater owner satisfaction.

Both boats are intended to serve as comfortable cruising platforms when not on the racecourse. Generous beam makes for commodious accommodations, and the three-cabin interiors have all the amenities expected of the modern cruiser.

The big-main-small-jib configuration should make the boats easy enough for a family crew to sail, though the relatively deep draft (7ft 6in for the 37, a whisker under 9ft for the 43) would sure keep me on my toes when entering strange anchorages. Nevertheless, these attractive racer-cruisers are fine examples of the way performance boat design is trending.

Most of us associate Danish builder X-Yachts with boats tailored for performance first and comfort second, but in the last couple of years the converse has also been true. The yard’s Xc—“c” for cruiser—range has been growing, and the latest to be launched is the Xc-38. An all-round cruiser with bluewater capability, this 38-footer has a voluminous hull to carry the tankage and equipment necessary for cruising, yet gives little away in terms of performance to its sleeker sisters. With its rod rigging, laminated sails and high-tech running rigging—and space for a washing machine belowdecks—this is no ordinary cruising boat.

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