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Comanche – the 31.5m sailing superyacht built to win

Sailing superyacht Comanche is a boat that belongs at the front of the racing pack. Comanche _surprised everyone watching the Sydney Hobart race in December 2014 when the brand new 30.5 metre Hodgdon Yachts-built speed machine was pictured tearing along ahead of Sydney Hobart legend Wild Oats XI. It was an advantage that _Comanche was able to maintain all the way to the Bass Strait during the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart. But when 30-knot winds failed to materialise, the more slender Wild Oats XI slipped past Comanche and into the lead, a position she held all the way to Hobart for victory and her eighth line honours. Second place is never going to be good enough for Comanche ’s owner, software mogul Jim Clark, but it was a minor miracle his yacht was there at all. She was only launched in September 2014, so the famously brutal race represented a kind of masochistic shakedown for a yacht designed for just one thing – to win.

Comanche : built to win

Think Laser dinghy or 49er morphed with rocket ship and you’ll get some idea of the qualities of_ Comanche_. At the yard, the racer was partially hidden behind two larger yachts with immaculate pedigrees, _Meteor_ and Artemis , but Comanche ’s square bow and carbon sprit jutted out beyond them, drawing the eye away from the varnished teak of her neighbours to a lean sailing machine intended to go as fast as possible powered only by the wind.

Sailing legend Ken Read, who also happens to be the president of North Sails, managed the project from day one for Jim Clark. Built at Hodgdon Yachts in Maine, US, Comanche had a hand-picked design and engineering team of international experts. It also had a construction schedule that raised eyebrows from the first day Jim Clark talked to Boat International about the radical project during the America’s Cup Superyacht Regatta in San Francisco, September 2013.

Comanche launched one year later and after stepping the mast in Newport, Rhode Island, and just two weeks of sailing trials, including a 600-mile qualifying sail to Charleston, South Carolina, the boat was packed aboard a cargo ship and sent to Australia to compete in the Sydney Hobart, which starts each year on Boxing Day.

Jim Clark and his Australian wife, Kristy Hinze-Clark, met the boat in Sydney for its short re-commissioning, Hinze-Clark racing aboard Comanche in a harbour tune-up event on 9 December 2014, where the yacht placed second despite poor conditions. The tabloids had a field-day, captioning photos with, “The supermodel and the supermaxi” and “She’s got legs” in reference to Kristy Hinze-Clark’s modelling career. These days she is a businesswoman, director for the Australian Nature Conservancy and the mother of two girls.

Boat International speaks exclusively with Comanche ‘s owner, Jim Clark

In our exclusive interview with Jim Clark, shortly before the race begins, we ask simply: “Why?”

“It’s a hobby,” he says, “I like the supermaxis, they are like Volvo 60s on steroids.” Jim Clark appears to be done with the J Class and is not a huge fan of what he calls the “multihull phase” of the America’s Cup with its reduced crew numbers. “The old sailing community is in monohulls and it’s nice to keep the guys engaged – there are lots of good sailors in the supermaxis and the guys are a lot of fun.”

When Jim Clark decided on a supermaxi, his plan was to go for line honours rather than wins on corrected time, and speed/distance records that could be set for yachts with human powered winches. “I don’t want any of that record stuff with an asterisk that says push-button winches,” Jim Clark scoffs. With this target, Jim Clark and Ken Read embarked on a “design experiment” for a yacht that could sail 30 knots or more on a broad reach. The experiment pushed them to some extreme stats, which Jim Clark says were run through CFD tests and simulations time and again.

“The 25-foot (7.6 metre) beam saves weight,” Ken Read says. “By going wider, we can have less weight in the keel to keep the same righting moment, thus we will go faster.” This thinking is carried over into the keel itself, which is solid stainless steel and not welded. With a 6.7 metre draught, the keel can be two tonnes lighter than a comparable keel on a boat with half the draught. The governing factor was the depth of Rhode Island’s Newport harbour where the boat will be based when not chasing records. “With the keel canted to one side we can just get to our berth,” Read says.

The downside to beam is increased surface drag when sailing flat in light air. “Being considerably wider than other boats, we need to be heeling at 11 to 13 degrees to present the same beam,” says Jim Clark. “In light air, we are at a disadvantage. When the wind cooperates, there is no question the boat is explosive.”

Hodgdon, the oldest boatbuilding business in the US, might seem like an odd choice if you don’t know that part of the yard’s annual output is high-tech military vessels and another part is carbon fibre limo tenders. In fact, Hodgdon is quite skilled at innovative construction techniques and when Tim Hodgdon agreed to build an oven to cook Comanche ’s carbon fibre hull, the deal was struck. The yard’s location also made it a good gathering stop for its far-flung team.

Is_ Comanche_ too powerful to handle?

Some critics have said Comanche is too extreme and too powerful to handle, but Jim Clark just laughs at this and suggests we “ask Kenny”.

“Yeah, it’s still an unknown but I’m not overly concerned,” he adds. “The hull is well baked and it’s been ultrasounded and X-rayed. There is a fuse in some of the loads so that nothing super bad can happen. But you can’t have a fuse in the rigging… Some of those termination points on the rig are kind of scary,” Jim Clark says.

That rig, which rises 47 metres above the waterline, is more than 50 per cent of the length aft from the bow, a surprising configuration but based on model testing for best all-around performance with the foil and appendages.

Innovation through design

Also innovative on _Comanche _are the daggerboards outboard of the mast and slightly forward of it. By canting the keel and putting the lee side daggerboard fully down, the boat generates enough lift to keep the angle of leeway to a minimum or crab up to a mark.

Comanche ‘s wide cockpit, full of grinder pedestals, hydraulic sail controls and sophisticated LED panels, gives the impression of a workhouse with modern instruments of torture. In a way, that is what they are. Grinders will work these six pedestals to turn the Harken winches. The only push-button winch on board is used to raise the mainsail. Once that sail is up the halyard is locked off and the winch isn’t used.

The winch pedestals are set slightly inboard and Read explains that when sailing on other 30 metre yachts he found that waves coming inboard at 30 knots or so would sweep the helmsman or winch grinders off their feet. “I have fetched up in the corner of the cockpit with pieces of steering wheel in my hands,” he says. Thus, by having 10 feet more beam than other 30 metre boats, there is space to put people and gear in a safer location with the added benefit of space for sails to be temporarily stored outboard of the pedestals on the high side.

Another interesting option is set right into the deck. Small black plugs cover screw holes that allow a dodger to cover both hatches. “On long distance races, we wanted the option to erect a dodger to keep the crew safe when on deck,” Read says. A slot in the cockpit sole just aft of the dodger allows the steering wheel to be moved forward, allowing the helmsman to stand behind the dodger for more protection.

Step below and you can see how much weight has been saved on Comanche . The single-skin carbon fibre hull and foam cored framing is fully exposed. It is mostly black with white non-skid patches. The forward end of the vessel is totally open, to store sails. Directly under the cockpit on either side are the crew berths, which keep the crew centre of gravity aft, close to the position they would be in when on deck; thus the trim of the yacht is not affected by off-watch crew moving around.

Directly under the cockpit sole is the navigator’s area with barely space to sit up. “The only requirement that navigator Stan Honey had was that we made the navigator’s seat 1.8 metres long so that he didn’t have to fight the crew for a berth,” Read says.

Talking to Read one gets a sense he is completely at ease with a project of this magnitude and the commitment it will take to sail Comanche to her potential. He has sailed around the world with several of his present crew and all had input into the new yacht’s design. That counts for a lot of experience, in addition to the French design team of Guillaume Verdier and VPLP (Marc Van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot-Prévost). “Without the designers we would probably have built a far more conservative boat,” Read says, “but with their help we have taken a leap forward.”

On deck, Comanche is also radically different. All halyards go to the masthead, where they are locked off in the same style that was pioneered in the 12 Metre Class. But on Comanche , tension is applied on the sail luff by hydraulic rams mounted on the foredeck and by pulling on the sail at the tack. “It reduces weight aloft,” Read explains, “and allows complete sail adjustment from the [safety of the] cockpit.”

Another advanced feature not often seen on smaller craft is that the jib tracks run transversely instead of fore and aft. “The clews for each headsail are in the same place and we might use the same sail for going hard to windward and when easing off onto a reach. With this arrangement all we need do is ease the track car to leeward when coming onto a reach. This enables us to keep power on without altering the shape of the sail when changing course relative to the wind,” Read notes.

The deck-stepped carbon fibre mast has swept spreaders to eliminate the need for adjustable running backstays. In some ways this is a disadvantage in that the masthead cannot be moved fore and aft when sailing up and downwind, but it eliminates the need for checkstays and runners. The masthead position is controlled with backstays to each corner of the transom and lines that are led into the mast from the backstays to control the rig bend.

“I started this boat thinking I could race it,” says Jim Clark wistfully. A degenerative condition in his ankles that makes standing uncomfortable has recently cropped up in his wrists as well. “They made a seat for me where I can drive it,” he says, but he opted out of the Sydney Hobart to make room for America’s Cup-winning skipper Jimmy Spithill to assist Read on the helm.

“I feel confident we’ll start getting line honours and next summer we’ll do the transatlantic race and see how that goes,” promises Jim Clark. “I’m optimistic.”

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Sail Universe

Comanche Story: Across the Ocean in a Work Week

Shattering the transatlantic sailing record.

Even the most daunting world records are meant to be broken … eventually. For elite navigator Stan Honey and a crew of sailing all-stars, beating the prestigious monohull transatlantic sailing record was the ultimate accomplishment. And it was no easy feat. On July 22, 2016, the Comanche — a custom-built, 100-foot racing yacht — set sail from New York to the southern tip of England.

Precisely five days, 14 hours, 21 minutes and 25 seconds later, the Comanche’s crew shattered the world record … by more than a day.

Brave the high seas as we set sail on one of the most amazing and inspiring journeys ever to take place on film.

A Great Big Film dedicated to Comanche, made in partnership with Land Rover (… ).

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About Comanche

Comanche is a 100 ft (33 m) maxi yacht. She was designed in France by VPLP and Guillaume Verdier and built in the United States by Hodgdon Yachts for Dr. James H. Clark and christened as  Comanche . 

Comanche  holds the 24-hour sailing record for monohulls, covering 618 nm, for an average of 25.75 knots or 47.69 kmh/h. The boat won line honours in the 2015 Fastnet race and the 2015 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, under the leadership of skipper Ken Read. In 2017,  Comanche  set a new Transpac record, covering 484.1 nmi in 24 hours, for an average speed of 20.2 knots (37.4 km/h). In 2019, under navigator Stan Honey, the yacht won the 2225-mile 50th Transpacific Yacht Race, with a time of 5 days 11 hours 14 minutes 05 seconds.  Comanche  won the 2017 Sydney to Hobart yacht race, with a time of 1 day 9 hours 15 minutes 24 seconds, a record that still stands today.

At 5 days 14 hours 21 minutes 25 seconds, the sailing yacht holds the Monohull Transatlantic sailing record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, which they achieved on July 28, 2016.

In December 2017, was sold to Australian Jim Cooney, and was renamed to LDV Comanche, as part of a one-time sponsorship from SAIC Maxus Automotive Co’s  LDV  brand. The yacht later returned to its original, unsponsored title of Comanche. Under this name it won the Sydney-Hobart race again in 2019 in 1 day 18 hours and 30 minutes.

Soon after the completion of the 2019 Sydney-Hobart race, Comanche was reportedly sold to a Russian interest group. [7]  Details of the sale have not been disclosed as of yet.

American Magic’s First New AC75 Patriot Revealed

10 sailing tips essentials to make you a better sailor, 1936. voyage around cape horn by schooner wanderbird, 4 step by step tips to reproof your waterproof jacket and more, live your passion, subscribe to our mailing list.

S/Y Comanche succeeds with new Doyle sails

Hannah Rankine

The 30.48-metre (100-foot) VPLP Design/Verdier Maxi Comanche, skippered by Mitch Booth, has taken Monohull Line Honours in the 2022 RORC Transatlantic Race, winning the magnificent IMA Trophy.

Comanche has set a new race record for the 3,000nm race from Lanzarote to Grenada of 7 days 22 hours 1 minute 4 seconds. Comanche’s new Monohull Race Record has beaten the previous race record by over two days.

S/Y Comanche recently installed new sails manufactured by Doyle .

Andrew McIrvine, secretary general of the International Maxi Association (IMA), witnessed Comanche crossing the line and later presented the IMA Trophy at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina Grenada . Comanche’s record result in the RORC Transatlantic Race is the latest accolade in a phenomenal list of achievements, which includes the Monohull West-East Transatlantic record and race records and line honours for the Rolex Fastnet Race, the RORC Caribbean 600, the Rolex Sydney Hobart, the Transpac and the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

Jim Cooney, owner of Comanche, said, “Comanche has been able to realise more of her potential with the addition of Doyle’s Cableless Sails. I highly recommend this exciting technology for any size boat. The big jibs and the A3 are very powerful, yet significantly lighter than I expected, increasing acceleration with greater righting moment.

“The sails’ ability to hold their shape at all angles with virtually no luff sag is astounding on such big sails. We have reduced rig load dramatically with these sails and our performance improved in all conditions, particularly light air. Our new Doyle mainsail is exceptionally high quality and the reduction in permanent weight aloft gives immediate gains in all wind strengths.”

For more information, visit Doyle Sails .

For more news and yachting tips, connect with us on Facebook , Twitter , Instagram and LinkedIn .

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Choose Smart for Happy Sailing!

Comanche – A Fast Racer

October 18, 2015 By Daniel Mihai Popescu 2 Comments

Comanche is a 100ft (30.5 meters) sailing yacht, which has been built with the scope to break every yachting record possible, winning prestigious yacht races, and meaning that it will probably become the fastest. The beautiful yacht, a Super Maxi class, has been commissioned by the Netscape creator, James H. Clark and his wife, the former Victoria’s Secret’s Australian model, Kristy Hinze.

The sleek black and red yacht has been built under a contract with a lot of confidentiality clauses by Hodgdon Yachts from Maine. Comanche has one of the largest single-infusion hulls constructed in America, and even globally. The oven used to cure the hull and superstructure is the largest one in the United States, and has been built by Hodgdon Yachts itself. They have been using advanced composites for several years, both for yachts and for military projects.

Super Maxi Class Yacht, Comanche

Super Maxi Class Yacht, Comanche

The naval architects are Van Peteghem Lauriot Prévost (VPLP) and Guillaume Verdier, acknowledged names in the racing world. The 150 foot mast has been constructed by Southern Spars and the sails are from industry leader, North Sails , including a spinnaker of more than 11,000 square feet. Launched in September 2014, Comanche is the result of studies of the IMOCA Macif and Banque Populaire, first and second in the 2012 Vendee Globe. Different from her other 100′ rivals, like Wild Oats XI or Perpetual Loyal , with her large beam, her mast far aft and a boom directly over the transom, Comanche has a much larger sail plan. The cockpit has been designed for manual maneuvers rather than hydraulic and therefore saves weight. Comanche has a powerful hull shape and a maximum draft of 6.5m in order to enter most ports. With a low freeboard and lateral ballast the center of gravity has been lowered to gain power.

Comanche and its crew, downward view

Comanche and its crew, downward view

Comanche is commanded by renowned US skipper Ken Read, and raced by a world-class crew of twenty-one international sailors.

Her performances, like what Ken Read has explained that happened during the Transatlantic Race 2015, an average speed of 25 knots per total, a top speed of 38.8 knots, and large distances passed in the mid 30’s knots, are things which will make me to dedicate more space to this kind of posts. I am thrilled by what man can achieve with a good boat, and pure racing, like this, using just the power of the wind and the ability to float over the furious waves, even to brake them if necessary.

Comanche Sails!! FAST!! from Onne van der Wal on Vimeo .

Above is a very short (too short) video made by Onne van der Wal, which shows Comanche sailing. Before publishing this, I have been looking for more videos, maybe more relevant, like I wish for this website to be, a better compilation of related sources on different matters.

So, I found this on YouTube, posted by sailingshack, where Ken Read presents the magnificent boat.

It really is a great boat, a very expensive one as well, it took $15 million to be built, and many millions more for the rest (called “campaigns”), and it made second place in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, losing to Wild Oats XI , and also second in the Transatlantic race 2015 (TR 15), loosing to Rambler 88 with a difference of only seven hours, which is really incredible, because in such a competition, they arrive at days distance. More on racing, in future posts, maybe I’ll make a new category.

I hope you like it and I’ll tell you more about yacht racing in general. What do you think, are you speed racers?

If you like what you read, please subscribe to this blog by completing the form . If you want to help more, start by following us on Twitter , and like our page on Facebook . You don’t know what good things may happen. To lighten your day, check our pins on Pinterest , we can be friends there too. Oh, and if you need a really good looking blog attached to your site, or just for fun, to express your feelings more competitively, read this Own Your Website offer! Thank you very much.

Copyright © 2015 The Yacht Owner – Comanche – A Fast Racer

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About Daniel Mihai Popescu

Daniel Mihai Popescu is a ship engineer with background in sea transportation, real estate, yacht brokerage, construction, entrepreneurship. Avid reader, traveled the world, explorer of the human nature. Never stopped learning, now I create and manage Wordpress based sites . • Twitter • Facebook • LinkedIn • Instagram • Pinterest • Goodreads • Medium •

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January 7, 2016 at 14:04

Buna ziua, Mi-as dori un articol scris de dvs. despre velierele cu chila leagan, swing keel sailboat cum sunt cunoscute. Multumesc.

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January 7, 2016 at 20:31

Am să caut mai multe informații despre ele, mie tipul ăsta de chilă mi se pare o complicație inutilă deși îi văd utilitatea. Mi-ar face plăcere dacă v-ați abona la newsletter, șamd…

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The (Really) Big Boats Have Arrived

Those enormous, pricey Maxi yachts have joined the Caribbean racing season and will be at Les Voiles de St. Barth.

maxi yacht comanche

By John Clarke

It has taken a few years, delayed by the pandemic, but formal Maxi yacht racing is coming to the Caribbean, considerably increasing the competitive opportunities sailors have to race their sleek monohull behemoths that can reach 100 feet long.

Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille, which begins on Sunday, will join the inaugural I.M.A. Caribbean Maxi Challenge, a four-stop event created to increase the participation of Maxis in those regattas and draw more Maxis to the Caribbean sailing circuit.

“Maxi sailors are really excited because this increases the standards and quality, and the number of regattas they can sail,” said Benoît de Froidmont, president of the International Maxi Association . “Now we will have proper starts and courses.”

And more opportunities to sail their boats, which are expensive to maintain and cost as much as $10 million — owners want to get as much out of their boats as possible. “The biggest sin is to let these boats just sit,” said Ken Keefe, a former America’s Cup sailor who manages and sails on Vesper, a Maxi 72.

After a two-year pause for many regattas around the world because of the pandemic, sailors are excited about the new series, Keefe said. But many are also practicing a degree of restraint because of Covid and the war in Ukraine.

“Everyone is still a little shellshocked coming out of Covid,” he said. “We are all counting our blessings, but are more reserved this year — we won’t be dancing on tables. But the overall feeling is: Let’s get back to sailing, let’s get the band back together.”

Modeled after the races in the Mediterranean Maxi circuits, the Caribbean challenge invites Maxis over 60 feet long to compete February through May at the Caribbean 600 in Antigua, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, Les Voiles de St. Barth, and at Antigua Sailing Week.

To qualify for the series, sailors must compete in a minimum of two of the events, though this may eventually be increased to three once the circuit is better established, said James Boyd, an I.M.A. spokesman. Teams that compete in more than two events get to discard their worst result.

Technically, the addition of the Caribbean Maxi Challenge adds to I.M.A.-sanctioned Maxi events, but not all Maxi sailors were planning on sailing all four of the Caribbean events. Many will sail in just two or three and win on cumulative performance points, de Froidmont said.

Keefe, who manages logistics for Vesper, which includes transporting the boat around the world, said it would be possible to do all four of the Caribbean regattas and still take part in the Mediterranean sailing seasons.

“It can work out to move these boats around and boat in nice places and do it in a safe manner,” Keefe said. “The trick is to get the boat out of the Caribbean as soon as the series ends to avoid the hurricane season.”

The first stop of the series was the Caribbean 600 in Antigua. Comanche, a 100-foot Verdier design, won the regatta, followed by the VO65 Sailing Poland and the VO70 I Love Poland.

Conditions were challenging. One sailor told the I.M.A website that the race was one of the hardest in the world.

“It is like a heavyweight boxing match — the lefts and the rights just keep coming at you and you wait for that knockout punch,” said Richard Clarke, a tactician for Warrior Won. “No lead is safe until the very end.”

The Russian-owned Comanche, a recent trans-Atlantic ocean race winner and a dominating presence in regattas, withdrew from the Caribbean Maxi Challenge after World Sailing, the sports’ governing body, banned Russian participation because of the war in Ukraine. Skorpios, a ClubSwan 125 Maxi yacht, also withdrew under similar circumstances.

“There’s an awareness of what’s going on in Ukraine,” Keefe said. “The Russians have touched our sport in a strange way.”

The second stop, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, held in early March, was four days of racing. Sailing Poland took first, Janssen de Jong-DutchSail second and I Love Poland third.

The third stop is the Les Voiles de St. Barth, and the fourth and final is Antigua Sailing Week, which starts April 30.

The winners of Maxi racing receive only a trophy and bragging rights. “It remains an ancient sport,” de Froidmont said. “There is no prize money, just very passionate people who enjoy the challenge.”

The number of Maxis competing has increased over the past several years, he said, and should continue to rise.

Boyd, the I.M.A. spokesman, said it might take a few years to build a deep fleet for the Caribbean Maxi Challenge.

“This is the first year,’’ he said, “so we imagine it will take a few years for this to gain traction fully. Nonetheless, we are pleased with the Maxi turnout.

“The Maxi participation in Les Voiles de St. Barth is also looking strong with I.M.A. members participating from both sides of the Atlantic,” Boyd added. Twelve Maxis are scheduled to race.

Currently leading the series is the VO70 I Love Poland ahead of the Farr 100 Leopard 3.

“But neither is competing in St. Barth, so it could be that we will see some new teams move into the lead after St Barth and Antigua,” Boyd said.

“We have some incredible competition this year,” said Keefe, who has won the Voiles de St. Barth four times. “I can’t wait.”

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The John Winning Jr-skippered maxi yacht, Andoo Comanche, produced a masterclass of high-speed sailing to win Line Honours in the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge on Sydney Harbour today. Meanwhile, the Jim Cooney-skippered and owned Volvo 70 Willow was declared the overall winner.

Under glorious sun and in southerly 15 knot winds that suited perfectly, Andoo Comanche was first to finish the two-lap harbor course.

See LIVE: 2022 SOLAS Big Boat Challenge

After reaching a maximum speed of 27 knots, she crossed the finish line off Rushcutters Bay in 53 minutes 58 seconds. In Andoo Comanche’s wake and in order were the three other maxis – Christian Beck’s LawConnect in 55 minutes 18 seconds, Peter Harburg’s Black Jack (skippered by Mark Bradford) in 56 minutes 35 seconds and the Oatley family-owned Hamilton Island Wild Oats, skippered by Mark Richards, in 59 minutes 27 seconds.

maxi yacht comanche

“We had a good day. We started where we wanted to start,” said Winning Jr.

“We just want wind. We were lucky that we had a nice reach off the start to be able to be first at the bottom mark. We are thankful to the weather Gods for giving us that wind.”

First to finish behind the maxis was Willow, fifth in 1 hour 4 minutes 8 seconds, followed by the Grant Wharington-skippered Botin 80 Stefan Racing, 10 seconds further behind, then Anthony and David Johnston’s Reichel/Pugh 72 URM Group, skippered by Marcus Ashley-Jones, in 1 hour 7 minutes 39 seconds. The Duncan Hine-skippered Reichel/Pugh 66 Alive, owned by Phillip Turner, was just another 2 seconds behind, followed by Whisper (David Griffith), No Limit (David Gotze) and Moneypenny (Sean Langman) in that order.

maxi yacht comanche

“It was a really exciting race… We had a solid start. We were quite happy with our position,” said Cooney afterwards, adding that while “everything went to plan” in the race overall, the crew “recovered well” after one hiccup – a furling issue relatively early in the race.

The SOLAS Big Boat Challenge is one of the final lead-up events to the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. While the Rolex Sydney Hobart is a vastly different race, the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge was still witnessed by a strong spectator fleet that provided a superb taste of what to expect for the Boxing Day start.

After some exciting jostling for position, the fleet of 11 boats set off from Point Piper, with bows virtually aligned towards the first mark at Cannae Point.

maxi yacht comanche

LawConnect was the fastest off the start, but soon Andoo Comanche picked up pace to sweep by and take a commanding lead. Andoo Comanche reached the first mark after about 11 minutes.

On the upwind leg to Shark Island, Andoo Comanche extended her lead to 43 seconds over LawConnect, followed by Black Jack. Hamilton Island Wild Oats fell off the pace to turn at Shark Island a little more than two minutes down.

maxi yacht comanche

Over the last lap of the race, Andoo Comanche consolidated her lead for a trouble-free run to the finish after passing the Cannae Point and Shark Island marks once more.

maxi yacht comanche

LawConnect was the Maxi Division’s overall winner on 8 points, followed by Hamilton Island Wild Oats on 10 points, Black Jack on 10.5 points and Andoo Comanche on 12.5 points.

maxi yacht comanche

In the Mini Maxi Division, URM Group was crowned champion on 6 points, ahead of Willow, Alive, Whisper, Moneypenny and No Limit.

“The boat is well prepared. We’ve been working on it for a couple of years now,” said URM Group owner Anthony Johnston afterwards.

maxi yacht comanche

“We sailed pretty conservatively. We thought we would take a cautious approach. We had a few points up our sleeves. We’re happy with where the boat is. The crew is going really well. We are quite confident [ahead of the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart].”

  • Andoo Comanche
  • SOLAS Big Boat Challenge

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Fastest yacht: The giant record breakers

  • Toby Heppell
  • October 29, 2021

Skorpios is the latest in a long list of giant monohulls designed with a view to becoming the fastest yacht on the planet. We take a look at some of her predecessors

maxi yacht comanche

Every so often the yacht racing world sees an ambitious owner with pockets deep enough to want to step things up a gear and produce a new record-smashing fastest yacht.

The latest of these to hit the water is the jaw-dropping ClubSwan 125 Skorpios built for its Russian owner, Dmitry Rybolovlev. Almost everything about this new monster yacht is bigger, stronger, faster and higher tech than any boat which came before it.

Pretty much any metric you care to look at on Skorpios is mind-boggling. The five-spreader Southern Spars mast stands at 175 feet tall, and she can carry 11,324 square feet of sail upwind, and 21,108 square feet downwind.

maxi yacht comanche

Enough sail? Skorpios off the Dorset coast. The ClubSwan 125 is named after owner Rybolovlev’s famous Greek island, where Jackie Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis. Photo: Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images

Skorpios has been built with the express brief to break offshore records as the world’s fastest yacht. Her recent win in the 2021 Fastnet Race – only weeks after hitting the water for the first time – shows she certainly has what it takes to take line honours in big races.

And the numbers Skorpios has shown while racing initially seem to indicate that it is really only a matter of time until she starts claiming some of the biggest records on offer in the sailing world.

But Skorpios is only the latest in a long line of new yachts built with the express purpose of winning line honours and taking records, each bigger, faster and more technologically advanced than that which came before.

The current transatlantic record holder, Comanche , is probably the yacht that most readily springs to mind when we’re looking at the development path for Skorpios .

Before Skorpios , Comanche was the most recent, highly ambitious racing yacht on the planet. She was built with one thing in mind and one thing only, to break ocean records and win line honours in some of the world’s most famous races.


Comanche showing off her considerable beam. Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

“The design office were told specifically by me that if this boat wasn’t the worst rated boat in history they have failed,” stated the owner Jim Clark on Maxi, Comanche ’s launch, reaffirming the aim of the boat to break records and win line honours without any consideration for handicap wins.

Comanche was something of a revelation when she was first launched. Over the years boats had been carrying more beam (width) towards the transom to create more power – at the expense of outright light weather, upwind and VMG running performance.

Comanche took this line of thought to the extreme with what seemed an impossibly wide stern, which led to the boat being nicknamed the aircraft carrier.

Although Skorpios is technically beamier than Comanche (8.75m vs 7.85m) the ClubSwan’s hull shape has a more modest beam-to-length ratio, and far greater internal volume and higher freeboard, all products of the project starting out with some focus on cruising in addition to outright performance.

But despite a slightly less powerful hull shape compared to Comanche , when you look at the rig, you see that this will likely be overcome by sheer grunt in terms of sail area. Skorpios ’ mainsail alone is 7,093 square feet, compared to Comanche ’s 4,413 square feet.

Comanche was, indeed is, a yacht that pushed technology to the absolute limit and when she was launched her extreme design caused quite a stir.

She is still considered one of the fastest yachts on the face of the earth and, in addition to her transatlantic record, Comanche also holds the monohull 24 hour sailing record at an impressive 618.01nm (averaging 25.75 knots) in a 24 hour period.

These two records will almost certainly be two of the key prize scalps Skorpios will be hoping to take.

Mari Cha IV

Although for many Comanche is the most obvious boat to which Skorpios can be compared, arguably a closer comparison could be that of Mari Cha IV , particularly when you consider length and ambition to break oceanic records.

The 140ft Mari Cha IV was launched in 2003, at this size both Mari Cha IV and (140ft) Skorpios face a similar problem, there are several top races that have an upper LOA limit of 100ft – neither could take part in the Sydney Hobart race for example.


Mari-Cha IV held the Atlantic record for 12 years. Photo: Thierry Martinez

In 2003, Mari-Cha IV set a new west-east transatlantic record with a total time of 6 days, 17 hours. During the run, she also set a new 24 hour monohull distance record of 525.5 nautical miles . This record stood until Comanche snatched the crown in 2016.

Due to her size and the sail area needed to power the giant, Mari Cha IV was built as a two-masted schooner. This meant that each mast could be smaller – within the bounds of the technology available at the time.

The twin rig on Mari Cha IV also meant each of the sails could be smaller than would be needed on a single masted yacht, reducing loads and enabling the boat to be sailed without resorting to powered winches.

That Skorpios is a single masted 140 footer demonstrates two things. The ClubSwan 125 shows the advances in technology with a single 175ft mast now being much more easily managed and understood – thanks, in no small part to advancements in load sensing technology which have filtered down from the America’s Cup and high tech offshore yachts such as the Ultime trimaran and IMOCA 60 fleets.

However, sail handling for sails of the size needed on Skorpios is still an issue and the ClubSwan 125 still needs powered winches, which will put her out of contention for a number of records that require exclusively human power.

In 2008, Speedboat was launched . The Juan Kouyoumdjian -designed 100ft Maxi was a yacht designed to produce blistering speeds and was built with the express purpose of ocean record breaking.

Speedboat, Newport Bermuda Race 2010

Speedboat , Newport Bermuda Race 2010

The yacht was built by Mick Cookson at Cookson Boats in New Zealand and her radical underwater features, including an incredibly flat run aft were all features that would later be included in the design of Comanche – features that demonstrate a yacht built for record breaking as they offer serious compromises in lighter winds.

In many respects Speedboat was the first to take the wide flat hull concept and transplant it wholesale into a 100ft Maxi.

Speedboat was also the first Maxi to have a deck-stepped rig, which was produced by Southern Spars, and she has plenty of other radical features.

To an extent Speedboat was built as a scaled up version of the Volvo 70 ’s which had been impressing in the Volvo Ocean Race . As such it is hardly a surprise the boat was the product of Kouyoumdjian’s design house, as he had created several of the fastest Volvo 70s then racing.

Unfortunately Speedboat arrived at the very start of the financial crisis and she only sailed in a number of events before she was mothballed and eventually sold.

She went through a couple of incarnations before being purchased by George David and was sailed as Rambler 100 during which time she dramatically lost her keel and capsized while competing in the Fastnet Race .

For his part David would go on to commission Kouyoumdjian to draw Rambler 88 , an impressive bit of kit in its own right and aimed at winning line honours and races outright in an 88ft package.

Wild Oats XI

No list of record breakers and record holders would be complete without a mention of Wild Oats XI , the 100 ft Maxi belonging to the Oatley family, which has won the Sydney Hobart no less than seven times.

Wild Oats XI ( WOXI for short) was actually launched back in 2005 and is a prime example of what can be done to a yacht to keep her on pace with current trends and developments.

In 2009 she was lengthened at bow and stern from 98ft to 100ft. In 2011 her forward balanced spade canard was removed and twin daggerboards were added amidships. In 2012 she received a bow centreboard as well as caudal fin winglets on her torpedo bulb.

maxi yacht comanche

Wild Oats XI . Photo: Kurt Arigo / Rolex

In 2013 she was equipped with a Dynamic Stability System (DSS) foil, which is a retractable horizontal foil deployed on the leeward side of the boat.

In 2015 her stern was shortened by 2m and her 12m forward sections were replaced by a 14m longer, sleeker bow, keeping her midship sections unmodified and in effect moving her entire existing sailplan aft by 2m, a trend which had been seen in many of the newer maxis to be produced since.

The various appendages which have been added and removed over the years have lent the yacht the affectionate nickname the ‘Swiss army knife’.

By today’s standards WOXI remains a very skinny boat in the Maxi world – she and almost-sistership at the time of launch, Alfa Romeo II both had a max beam of a little over 5m.

Wild Oats XI remains a potent race boat and particularly for races like the Sydney Hobart, her relatively narrow beam gives her an edge in light winds, VMG running and beating, all of which mean she is still very hard to beat over a race with mixed conditions – if ultimately working against her should she ever look to set oceanic records.

Leopard 3 ( ICAP Leopard as she was launched) hit the water in 2007 for serial Maxi owner, Mike Slade. The Farr design had a number of unique features at the time of launch, which made her one of the most impressive superyachts on the circuit.

ICAP Round Britain and Ireland Race 2010

ICAP Round Britain and Ireland Race 2010

Leopard ’s mast was a towering 154ft and she could set a total downwind sail area of 17,265 sq ft. At the time this was a vast amount of sail – though Skorpios ’ 21,108 sq ft is something of a stark comparison.

Leopard is capable of speeds of over 35 knots. But her similarities to Skorpios actually centre around the plans the British boat had from the start to enable cruising and racing in a little more comfort.

Leopard featured a luxurious removable interior, which could be removed for racing and refitted for cruising or for charter – for which she had also been specifically designed and built.

Although Skorpios does not go quite as far as a fully removable interior, there is, at least, a nod to comfort in her design when compared to the out and out racer that is Comanche .

If you enjoyed this….

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May 2024 MPU

Andoo Comanche and Willow win 2022 SOLAS Big Boat Challenge

Andoo Comanche takes Line Honours in the 2022 SOLAS Big Boat Challenge - photo © CYCA / Andrea Francolini

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Published on December 14th, 2017 | by Editor

Comanche finds new owner Down Under

Published on December 14th, 2017 by Editor -->

Comanche, the innovative record-breaking 100 foot maxi yacht designed by VPLP and Guillaume Verdier and launched in 2014 for Jim and Kristy Clark, has been sold to Australian Jim Cooney.

The yacht was to compete in the 628 nm Sydney Hobart Race as LDV Comanche under partnership between Clark and two-time race winner Neville Crichton, but the last-minute sale now will have Sydney skipper Cooney at the helm.

“I have stepped down as skipper, we still have sponsorship for the boat, and if for any reason he can’t do it, I will step back into this shoes,” Crichton said.

Crichton had assembled a world-class crew for the race – including America’s Cup skipper James Spithill and many of the men who raced her to victory in the 2015 Hobart race. The crew will stay aboard while Cooney, daughter Julia, son James and Waratah Jeremy Tilse join the crew.

maxi yacht comanche

“We are all just so excited about doing the race on her, she is one not the most remarkable yachts in the world. I’ve actually never sailed it before. We are all going sailing on Tuesday (Dec. 19) to understand what sort of beast she is.’’

The new ownership means every supermaxi on the start line of the Sydney to Hobart will be racing for an Australian victory. The other three are Black Jack (previously Alfa Romeo), Infotrack (previously Perpetual Loyal), and Wild Oats XI.

“How amazing that pretty much the four fastest boats in the world are now all Australian owned,” said Cooney, chairman and major shareholder of TCI Renewables, a wind energy development company.

“This year competition is fierce, with the strongest line up of super maxis ever seen in one race. Depending on conditions, any of the 100 footers could take line honours, it threatens be one of the best races in the history of the event.”

The race starts on Boxing Day at 1300hrs AEDT and will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia.

Event details – Entry list – Facebook

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Tags: Comanche , Jim Clark , Neville Crichton , Sydney Hobart

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maxi yacht comanche


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