Forty(1)Design to debut at Southampton Boat Show

Jason Ker-design Class40 to be unveiled on Friday

Tuesday September 10th 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom

The latest Class40, and the first ever from leading British yacht designer Jason Ker, is to make its UK debut at PSP Southampton International Boat on berth M517 this Friday.

While many racing classes are in the Doldrums at present thanks to the poor state of the global economy, Class40 is bucking this trend with the 130th example of this box rule offshore racing boat being launched this year. Created by leading America’s Cup and IRC designer Jason Ker and his team at Ker Yacht Design in Valencia, the new Forty(1)Design represents the class’ state of the art. Its aim is to provide the latest race winning features normally only found on custom boats, but at a more affordable production boat price.

“At present one-off Class 40s cost more than 500,000 Euros to put on the water,” explains Project Manager, Ned Collier Wakefield. “The aim of the Forty(1)Design is for it to be competitive with the latest one-offs, but at a price that is comparable with racing spec production Class40s.”

Thus the Forty(1)Design’s price is US$400,000 (roughly 300,000 Euros ex sails, electronics, running rigging, shipping and tax) thanks to her being built at McConaghy Boats in China. Here, in addition to lower labour rates, savings have been made through her production process, with female tooling, the potential for bulk buying, etc. However compared to other production Class40s, the Forty(1)Design comes with a much higher spec as standard, including epoxy construction, optimised kick-up rudders, a high strength steel fin, premium deck gear package, premium mast, etc.

Colossal research and development has also gone into the design of the boat, with top specialists contributing to the project. For example, initial development and engineering work on the three spreader rig was carried out by Scott Ferguson (currently managing the AC72 wing design and engineering at Oracle Team USA) before handing over to the experts at Southern Spars. America’s Cup sail designer Chris Williams, from North Sails’ head office in Connecticut, worked on the sail wardrobe.

In researching the design, Jason Ker and his team harnessed the power of a ground breaking 'neural network', typically used in artificial intelligence applications (read more about the concept of the boat here). With this they were able to test more than 70,000 hull shapes before the best candidates were subject to more exacting CFD.

The end result is a boat with an aggressive, beamy hull shape, yet featuring a narrow waterline, while her chine and ‘chamfer’ (the cutaway gunnel) artificially extend the length of her hull. At the transom there are VO70-style ‘batwings’, elevating the height of the runners/spinnaker sheet turning blocks. These enable greater range to be had from downwind headsails and for sails to be trimmed more evenly.

To integrate the structure optimally, the Forty(1)Design has a keel tower, diverting loads from the keel head up to the deck while a ‘V-strap’ takes loads from the chainplates down to the keel – technology borrowed from America’s Cup yachts.

Similarly a foam core is used in the hull that is 30mm thick, rather than the normal 20mm, to improve hull stiffness while minimising the amount of structure required on the cabin sole, thereby making it easier to move the stack around. The yacht has been designed so that an extra bulkhead can be added easily, bringing her up to ISAF Offshore Special Regs Cat 0 spec, required if she is to sail around the world in the Global Ocean Race.

To improve reaching ability the Forty(1)Design is fitted with an L-configration keel, with efforts made to minimise keel weight, while retaining good upwind performance.

The boat carries 750kg of water ballast each side - the maximum permitted by the rules. To ensure this is best positioned, the ballast is contained in long, thin single tanks.

The first example of the Forty(1)Design, built for Tony Lawson’s Team Concise, arrived in the UK two weeks ago and has since been commissioned. After PSP Southampton Boat Show, the boat will head off on sea trials and qualification for November’s Transat Jacques Vabre (TJV). In this 5,450 mile long doublehanded transatlantic race from Le Havre to Itajaí in southern Brazil, the boat will be campaigned by Ned Collier Wakefield and co-skipper Sam Goodchild, for whom the TJV represents unfinished business: Two years ago aboard their previous Team Concise, they had just pulled into the lead when they suffered a collision off the Azores forcing them to retire.

The Forty(1)Design will be on display, available for viewing by press and public, on berth M517 on the marina on press day and over the weekends of PSP Southampton International Boat Show. Designers Jason Ker and Simon Schofield will be on hand to answer questions over the first three days of the show including at the yacht’s christening at 14:30 on Friday afternoon. All welcome.

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