Retro 41

Launched in Slovenia for a U.S. client, this performance design combines the casual elegance of an east coast daysailer with the power and speed of a dedicated racer to produce the ultimate weekender.  Laid out for shorthanded daysailing the light displacement, large sailplan, and deep keel can deliver raceboat levels of performance when desired, but will always give fast smooth good manners.  Bringing the high quality prediction tools we have developed on our successful raceboats to a performance cruiser/racer gives owners a level of assurance regarding handling and performance that modern classic designs have not seen before.



Drawn with one eye on the classic daysailers of the U.S. east coast, we blended the styling with a modern hull shape derived from our latest racing designs, and emphasised the basic components of high performance, starting with the longer waterline provided by a plumb bow, improving the speed potential by around 15% for the same LOA relative to an overhanging bow.  The hull shape maintains low wetted surface at smaller angles of heel for good light-air speed, but gains stability quickly when heeled.  This combines with the deep lifting keel to ensure high stability without heavy displacement.  Bringing in engineering partner SDK to produce high quality composite engineering was key to ensuring a stiff light structure.


The distribution of space on board reflects the weekender brief from the client: a focus on comfortable high performance daysailing combined with the ability to spend a few nights on board, perhaps in a scenic anchorage.    This inspired the large open cockpit with a 4 winch layout allowing two to sail the boat easily, many more to cruise and socialise comfortably, or when racing with friends to compete successfully even offshore.  The svelte coachroof offers the necessary headroom over the sizable saloon and galley, without visually compromising the sleek simplicity of its daysailer heritage.


The carbon mast and park avenue boom ensure the lightest weight and lowest VCG, which with the long fixed bowsprit carries a balanced yet powerful sail plan.  Bob Perry reviewed the design in Sailing Magazine and was kind enough to say “I’ve been looking
at this boat for a week and there is nothing I don’t like about it.  I’ve looked hard but I don’t see anything I’d change. Mark Mills gives us a totally modern design that pays tribute to the classic yachts of the past. This is a boat I would very much like to sail.”


Cayman 28

The Cayman 28 is an all-carbon sportsboat drawn for an experienced Cayman Islands sailor to race locally with his friends.  Seeking a higher performance solution for the Sound in Grand Cayman we were asked to draw something exciting, easy for 4 to sail legs-in, and capable of daysailing with family in a lower-testosterone format.   In order to deliver a boat with that touch of Jekyll and Hyde we suggested extending the sidedecks out to allow the crew to produce more righting moment with no extra weight.  Yet with the racks retracted the Cayman 28 is still a sleek aggressively styled sportsboat, purring rather than roaring.  In some senses the child of our Cape 31 and an International 14 dinghy, the result takes many cues from the high performance dinghy world, with very light displacement coming from carbon construction, a flat floor running to the bow, no backstay, and a simple mainsheet bridle replacing a conventional traveller.



As with the Cape 31 our engineering partner was SDK in Rhode Island to ensure the necessary light weight under 1200kg, smart detailing, and robust structure.  ‘Rooster’ as she is known was launched on schedule by Code Yachts in Hungary in time for their major event of the season, the 600-entrant Blue Ribbon, and after one short test sail raced the the 96 miles around Lake Balaton.  Designed to take advantage of Doyle load-sharing sail designs the simple no-backstay rig is adjusted with underdeck forestay and jib tack purchases, relying on pin-adjustable shrouds to make rig setup easy and repeatable.  The philosophy for the boat was to keep it simple and light, with coarse and fine adjustment for the main and jib sheets removing the need for winches, while the asymmetric spinnaker sheet benefits from a low profile Harken Snubbair on the rack.


The sliding racks are very successful, providing a more comfortable seating position than a conventional cockpit with a very solid feel even with 5 full size crew, leading to the description ‘Gentleman’s Skiff’.  The racks have sockets for carbon stanchions to carry a webbing strap for more comfort when extended or better enclosure when sailing with them retracted.  The appendages are all carbon, with a weed knife in the keel and a lifting rudder blade allowing easy weed-clearance in the Caribbean.  Three hatches on the floor offer access under the cockpit, revealing a Lombardini 10hp inboard and storage space.


Designer Mark Mills felt the clients played a major role in how the boat developed: “It’s been one of our most enjoyable projects ever, with an enthusiastic client committing early and firmly to the big decisions on the project.  Aggressive styling?  Sure.  Racks?  Yup.  All carbon?  Why even ask?  The goal is to have fun, working with a single committed owner can be so much more rewarding than a focus-group driven commercially constrained process.  And finding an enthusiastic builder in Code Yachts who took responsibility for getting the boat on the water on time and looking good ensured the original promise of the project was delivered to the owner.”


More information on the Cayman 28 website .


Flying Nikka

The challenge set for us by repeat client Roberto Lacorte for Flying Nikka was not just to have a foiling sailboat, not just to foil long distances offshore, but to do so within the framework of the existing rules which have no experience of handling foiling boats.   This brings many challenges, as does the requirement to keep the project broadly accessible , using the best of the America’s Cup experiences in a project with the costs and sophistication more in line with a Grand Prix inshore boat like a Maxi 72.  I think these practical requirements made the project much more interesting and rewarding as we were forced to solve problems in robust and realistic ways.



Because this type of boat is so new and challenging we created a team of experts  in each of the specialist areas.  Working with our R&D partners KND in Spain, we became one of the first users of the TNZ dynamic VPP Gomboc outside the AC arena, combined with the latest North Sails VPP producing foiling VPP solutions.  With those high quality predictive tools managed by Roland Kleiter at KND we had confidence in meeting our original promise to the client to achieve takeoff in less than 10kn true wind speed, which we validated on the very first day of sail testing.  We brought in AC and IMOCA foils specialist Nat Shaver, North Sails designers Gautier Sergent and Michele Malandra, and mast designer Steve Wilson from Southern Spars.  On the structural side the expertise of Pure Engineering led by the relentlessly innovative Giovanni Belgrano provided the light yet robust foundation for the boats performance.  From the clients side project manager Micky Costa became a crucial member of the team managing the huge complexity of systems and construction at King Marine, along with AC mechanical engineer Thiha Win solving the detail control challenges of such a complex and high performance design.  The remarkable thing over a year of design meetings was how positive and constructive the team dynamic remained throughout the process.


In order for a foiling boat to perform across the widest range of conditions and wind angles in a venue like the Mediterranean Sea it is necessary to have better light air and upwind performance than a sliding foiler like an IMOCA can provide.  This pushed us towards the AC75 type articulating foil solution which allows the windward foil to lift out of the water and thus reduce drag in light airs.  The adjustable solid wing at the bottom of the arm allows us to alter the amount of lift much more rapidly than a sliding foil, allowing us to handle every regime from displacement to takeoff to foiling in the optimal way, without the complexity of AC75 style flaps.  Similarly the adjustable rudder elevator allows real-time trim control to deliver the stable ride height that is required for safe high speed flight.  Racing in some of the worlds great races under Offshore Special Regulations Category 3 brings an additional stability requirement that AC75’s do not have to meet, so for the purposes of race entry Flying Nikka also has a keel and bulb, providing the stability especially at large angles that also brings some peace of mind when offshore, especially at night.  A useful side-effect of the keel is the additional ride stability producing a very accessible foiling experience.


The sail plan similarly reflects a practical approach to high speed, with a short chord rotating mast which does not require runners due to the 35 degree spreader sweep.   With weight so disproportionately important to performance every simplifying step that reduces systems or crew numbers pays back in performance many times over.   The removal of runners greatly simplifies the handling and system requirements allowing the 5 man crew to focus on steering, jib and main trim, pit and navigation respectively.   With no headstay adjustment headstay tension is achieved as a function of mainsheet load, with the North Helix structured luff sails taking a significant proportion of the forces.


It would not be possible to describe the project without naming the key contributors that made it possible: King Marine produced a beautifully built boat which launched and foiled with no complications.  ReFraschini built the solid carbon arms, wings, and rudder to an incredibly high standard.  Cariboni produced not just the hydraulics, but many other challenging components, with Donati Racing and FaRo Advanced Systems with Ricardo Berospe working on the electronics and flight control.  North Sails Italy under Alessio Razeto produced the Helix sail wardrobe, working closely with Southern Spars. Everything came together under the guidance of Micky Costa, himself responsible for much of the detail solutions that makes Flying Nikka look and work as intended.



The MAT 1220 is our latest design for a new generation of IRC racers from MAT, emphasising versatility both in performance profile and configuration.  The premise for the boat is to produce a modern light design that is equally at home offshore as inshore, taking the rating-friendly features of the successful ‘French’ IRC design type combined with slightly lighter displacement.


The French style of IRC design combines features such as medium displacement, greater emphasis on bow overhang, fin keel of moderate draft, and a number of sail plan tweaks to arrive at a very competitive corrected time solution inshore over 12knots true, and offshore in most conditions.  Because of this combination of these features it is inherently competitive reaching, and we have been working on improving the inshore character of the boat in sub-12 for better light airs windward leeward performance without giving up the ability to get on the step downwind at a reasonable wind speed.  The base rating for the fin keel version with pinhead main is around 1.155, while with the fin keel and a squaretop it could go up to 1.190.


Building on the deck and styling of MAT’s 1070 design, the large cockpit offers an optimal platform for high level racing as well as open space for fun family sailing.  The interior can be completed to a range of fitouts from stripped racing to offshore racing to family racer/cruiser.  Working with engineer Steve Koopman of SDK Structures we have configured the boat to be as versatile as possible, with the socketed fin attachment allowing easy changes between the standard fin keel and a deeper bulb keel.  The sail plan is built around the lower rated pinhead main, but for lighter air venues the squaretop main offers a useful increase in sail area.  A twin rudder option is available for more offshore oriented campaigns, and multiple winch choices range from the base layout to a pedestal driven solution and a powered winch option.  Because it is not an extreme typeform with a medium sized sail plan and reasonable displacement, stability and draft, we are also working on ORC optimised configurations.

R70 Retrostyled Performance Cruiser

In March of 2017 we were asked to join an experienced Italian owner for lunch in Milan with his friends and advisors to explore the possibilities for a new 70′ performance yacht.  During a long and very enjoyable meal he described his passion and experience and we ended up discussing the positives of the clean simple styling of the sixties and seventies.  This is not the ‘Classic’ styling of earlier design periods, but the result of decades of racing yacht development at the time by offices like S&S focused on producing a seakindly offshore yacht.


It aroused a very personal curiosity as to where this idea might lead, so even after the client decided to refit an existing yacht instead of a new build, we continued to sketch and dream.   Three years later we received fresh interest in this type of design and started to develop it properly.


The twin foundations of the R70 are the restrained, even austere, styling matched with a modern hullshape adjusted to suit the overall aesthetic.  I am not a fan of the trend towards pastiche styling, with exaggerated overhangs that wave around but cannot contribute to performance.  Instead this hull shape takes as much from our latest high performance designs like the 74’ racer its compared with above as possible, relying on a plumb bow, light displacement, and powerful shoulders to maximise heeled righting moment, but modulated to produce the firm sheerline, gracefully tapering sheer in plan, and counter transom that are hallmarks of the era.


Within the timeless exterior all the requirements of a modern owner are met, with a raised saloon above the battery bank for quiet running, tender stowage opening up to become a terrace, and integral side boarding ladders.  This is a yacht able to match the performance of many raceboats with the good manners and seakindliness to travel the globe.  When I daydream of world cruising, this is the yacht in my vision, swinging to anchor off the rocky side of a pine-scented inlet… but under the skin it’s pure performance.