The IMOCA 60 class has long been a hotbed for design innovation, from canting keels to water ballasting to carbon-fiber hulls and spars. Now, the IMOCA 60 class is once again leading the charge with its adoption of Dynamic Stability Systems’s (DSS–dynamicstabilitysystems.com) “horizontal wings.” The DSS system, which was invented by the UK-based yacht designer Hugh Welbourn, has now undergone more than a decade of R&D on a variety of boats to ensure that it’s ready for the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe, the biggest IMOCA 60 race afloat.
Unlike water ballasting and canting-keel systems, which are often mechanically complex, the DSS system uses a simple horizontal foil(s), which is fitted to a point near the boat’s maximum beam, just above its waterline, and is either slid from board to board during maneuvers or deployed via mechanical tackle (think of a horizontal centerboard). When deployed to leeward, the DSS helps lift the boat while also reducing its tendency to roll and pitch. According to DSS, the faster the boatspeed, the more lift the wing generates. Should the DSS fail, the yacht simply reverts back to its “normal” mode of displacement sailing.
With respect to what this new technological adoption could mean for the IMOCA 60 class, Gordon Kay, DSS’s founder and managing director said he sees massive potential: “[When] used correctly, the DSS will decrease the elapsed time around the world by as much, or more than the [advance of] the canting keel over the fixed keel.” As for what the DSS will mean for the development of new IMOCA 60 hull shapes, Kay said he anticipates changes there as well. “Having DSS fundamentally changes how the boat behaves,” said Kay. “Lifting it out of the water removes the need for larger volume hulls, bluff bows and righting moment from excessive form stability.”