Every horse has its course

The Comanche that took line honours in the latest Sydney-Hobart was a different beast from the boat that trailed Wild Oats across the line 12 months earlier. Ken Read talks development with Blue Robinson

Seahorse: How has the sail wardrobe evolved on Comanche over the past year and what sails did you bring to Sydney?

Ken Read: In essence the Comanche inventory has gone from a big boat monohull inventory to a multihull inventory. On all angles of sail we have the boat going faster and faster now, so the mainsail is identical to the previous main but everything forward of the mast from a tiny jib to our biggest jib now gets deeper as the sail gets bigger. Moving forward, after lots of testing it is even debatable if a traditional A-sail will ever go back on this boat; we did measure in a Cuben Fiber flying A4 asymmetric for the Hobart… but in the end it stayed on the dock.

SH: So what sails did you narrow it down to, given the Hobart’s weather transitions?

KR: Sure, there are transitions but essentially this is a windward-leeward race. So we took a breezy windward-leeward inventory – plus when you get into boats that go this fast, our light-air upwind genoa is actually our heavy-air downwind spinnaker. This isn’t a TP52 where you bring upwind and downwind sails, if you look at a crossover chart on a TP52 it is all vertical – there is a light-air jib then it stops, then there is a heavy-air jib and that stops, so it is usually a bunch of vertical columns. But the crossover chart for Comanche is all diagonal, so our light-air jib goes straight across the chart to be the heavy-air runner; what works in 8kt at 50° apparent works in 35kt at 145° true.


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