Blistering speed and a bit of history
Ever since Russian naval architect Vlad Murnikov burst onto the scene with his Whitbread racer Fazisi back in 1989—a time when Russia was still the Soviet Union—his designs have defied the norm.
And with the passage of time, his vision has only become that much more exuberant.
Case in point: the new 14ft mxNext, a miniaturized, single-handed version of the 100-foot SpeedDream monohull, a boat that remains a dream, but which Murnikov hopes will someday smash many of the offshore records currently held by such maxi-multihulls as Banque Populaire V.
Like the canting-keel SpeedDream 100 and the SpeedDream 27 prototype Yandex—currently undergoing testing in Europe—the mxNext features a wave-piercing hull and carbon construction. It also has an uber-wide beam in the form of a pair of dramatic 6ft-wide wings and a needlelike beam waterline of just 1ft 9in.
Spars and high-aspect underwater appendages are also carbon (of course), giving the boat an all-up weight of a mere 90lb, or about half the weight of a typical crew. The run of the non-wing portion of the hull flattens out appreciably, and includes a kind of chine, or kink, outboard, which presumably both promotes tracking and helps pop the boat up into planing mode.
Alas, the day of our test sail off Marblehead Harbor was somewhat wind-challenged. But it was nothing less than amazing how the boat skimmed across the water, even in a breeze of 10 knots or less. The boat’s wave-piercing bow performed as advertised, quickly shedding the chop as I tacked my way out toward the open water beyond the cast-iron lighthouse guarding the tip of Marblehead Neck. Video of the boat being sailed in some truly epic conditions late last spring show the bow popping back up to the surface just when you would have expected the boat to not only submarine, but to pitch its occupant headfirst into the briny.
If there is a downside to this boat, it’s a tendency to get caught in irons—a result of the fact there is neither a headsail nor much in the way of weight-based inertia to carry you through the eye of the wind. This is not to say it can’t be done both quickly and reliably. However, it definitely constitutes a challenge, especially in lighter conditions. I suspect the key is “carving” a turn through a combination of rudder and body weight, a technique that will certainly help define the winners and losers if a one-design class is ever established.
As is the case with the iconic MX-Ray, the mxNext is equipped with an expansive gennaker for blistering speed off the wind. Suffice it to say, this is not a boat for beginners. Nor is it necessarily a boat for middle-aged fogies, like yours truly.
Nonetheless, if you’re the kind of sailor forever in search of the ultimate rush in a stiff breeze, or if you’re interested it being a part of what may someday be sailing history, this just might be the boat for you.
In fact, now that I think about it, I wouldn’t mind having another chance to work on those tacks...
LOA: 14ft 4in
BEAM (HULL): 3ft
BEAM (OVERALL): 6ft 6in
BEAM WATERLINE: 1ft 9in
SAIL AREA: 110ft2
SAIL AREA (GENNAKER): 110ft2
ALL-UP WEIGHT: 90lb
SpeedDream/MX – 617-271-0712, mxspeeddream.com
Is SAIL's executive editor. He lives and sails iin the Boston area