It was those qualities
that attracted the attention of Bob Miller and brought
Elliott into the design team for the new and highly
successful Mari Cha IV. The Mari Cha IV brief was to
create the fastest monohull in the world.
This new project is similarly succinct, although it
has the rider, fastest monohull for its length …
Also contributing to the design effort is Clay Oliver
from Team New Zealand, who was part of the Mari Cha
team as well.
The new project is simply known as EBS Yachting and
is the brainchild of two successful Auckland businessmen
and yachtsmen, Bill Buckley and Charles St Clair Brown.
Buckley owns a company called Buckley Systems, which
is involved in precision engineering and nuclear physics,
while Brown is a lawyer and entrepreneur with a long
history of yacht racing.
He owns a Davidson 65, Antaeus, which he has raced extensively
in Auckland and the Pacific. He also owned and campaigned
a Mumm 36, Tyrannus.
The two partners came up with the idea of collaborating
on an exciting new venture in the middle of a storm
on board Antaeus during a passage to Fiji. Admittedly,
perceptions can be skewed under such circumstances,
but their return to dry land did nothing to diminish
their enthusiasm, and the plan grew to reality.
Their objective is to showcase New Zealand design and
expertise and win line honours in all the major grand
prix sailing events encompassing three continents in
“Basically, we are all leaving home for a year,
starting in February 2005,” says George Hendy,
who will be sailing master and is currently project
manager. “Our wives have all been told not to
expect us back until late 2005 – and then we are
going to do the Sydney Hobart Race.”
“We are excited about the programme,” said
Charles Brown. “With the growth in popularity
of supermaxis we are looking forward to some great racing.
We will also be doing the Rolex transatlantic race,
which is drawing huge interest, with 24 entries already
“We might attempt to break Mari Cha IV’s
24-hour record. We have looked at the VPPs and believe
that, in the right conditions, that record is assailable.
Once we are in Europe, there is the Fastnet Race, then
the supermaxi circuit in the Mediterranean, culminating
in the maxi world championships.
“After that, the Sydney-Hobart race, which will
have at least five and potentially 10 yachts of this
On a Friday afternoon in mid-September, the hull was
turned over at Cooksons and an invited crowd assembled
to watch and join the celebrations. It was a first public
glimpse of a project that has been kept somewhat under
wraps in its early stages.
What it revealed was a long all-carbon hull, very fine
in the bow and very narrow on the waterline, but with
distinct flare to the deck amidships. Unlike some of
the current slab-sided designs, there is plenty of shape
in the hull, which is relatively high sided. From the
side, the lines are clean, with no sheer, a plumb bow
and a low-profile blister-type coachroof.
The high topsides and the small coachroof are part of
an attempt to keep the crew dry. “We didn’t
want a submarine,” said Hendy.
One of the issues that has arisen with these new generation
yachts is how much water rushes down the decks. Bols,
for example, has had crew swept the full length of the
cockpit and left tangled in the smashed remains of carbon
fibre steering wheels.
The topside flare is also an effort to deflect water
down, although its prime purposes are to create a reasonable
shroud base for the rig and to provide a bit of room
for opening the genoa leech in reaching conditions.
The decks are quite distinctly cambered as well to shrug
off water as fast as possible.
That’s about as much protection as the crew of
18 can hope for. The rest is stripped for action.
The cockpit is large and shallow, with the twin wheels
situated well forward and the mainsheet traveler behind
the helm position. Three winch pedestals will be arranged
forward of the wheels.
The carbon fibre rig will be a rotating wing section
by Southern Spars with all PBO rigging. There will be
a carbon fibre bowsprit, with gennakers in the North,
New Zealand wardrobe. “You will never see apparent
wind angles aft of 90°,” said Elliott, “or,
if you do, there is something going badly wrong.”
There is a single rudder, with a forward daggerboard
and a dual ram canting keel, which can swing to 50°.
Part of the keel will also be able to retract, to reduce
the draft to about 4m for access to harbours and marinas.
Unlike Mari Cha IV, which utilizes a combination of
canting keel and fore and aft water ballast, this yacht
does not have any water ballast. “That reflects
the different nature of the two designs,” said
Elliott. “Mari Cha IV is intended primarily for
ocean record attempts, with lots of reaching and running,
while this boat has to be more of an all-rounder. Upwind
ability was very much part of the design brief, as this
boat will probably spend a lot more time racing round
the cans, as well as offshore.”
Hydraulic power for the keel will come from the main
engine, which will not be able to drive the propeller
at the same time. At sea and during racing, the propeller
will retract into the hull.
The only fixed number being released at this stage is
the length: 100ft. All other numbers are being kept
confidential. “There are a couple of boats this
size being built at the moment and we don’t want
to be giving too much away at this stage,” said
But, he confirmed an impression that the waterline beam
is probably proportionately narrower than Pyewacket’s,
which is pencil slim.
No displacement figures are being revealed, or sail
area, or draft. The project website simply describes
it as the “newest, fastest, lightest, most technically
advanced ocean racing super maxi”.
To extract maximum performance from a yacht of this
nature – with canting keel angles to consider,
optimum canard depths and a rotating rig – will
require a good deal of optimization and expertise. “There
is a lot going on,” concedes Elliott, “but
we are starting on the front foot.
“This is not the first rotating rig monohull I
have done (indeed, he has produced a number of them,
including the equal masted schooner, Elliott Marine
and the 50ft sloop Maverick). We have been down this
track before and we are not too stressed about it. There
will be some pretty smart people involved and we will
figure it out.”
Elliott said projects of this nature often begin with
a conservative set-up and plans to later turbo-charge
everything. “We could have gone for a conventional
rig and fixed keel, with the idea that we would work
up to a full package later.
“But, it seldom happens that way – quite
often campaigns that start conservative never get to
the next stage. We decided we didn’t want any
mucking around, we would just go for it right from the
Indeed, that about sums up the project. It is a full-on
pedal-to-the-metal programme, backed by experienced
and committed owners, intended to take on the next generation
of maxi racers – no mucking around.