Monster Machines: New Super-Yacht Aims To Break Toughest Records In Sailing

A speedy new vessel owned by tech-billionaire Jim Clark is set to make some waves at next month’s Sydney to Hobart sailing race. Not only is his super-yacht super fast, it’s one of the most technologically advanced ships on the sea today.

Christened the Comanche, the ship measures 30m long by 9m wide with a uniquely positioned main mast set at the stern of the boat. It was built in just over a year — less than half the time of what a ship this size normally takes to build — by the team at Hodgdon Yachts of East Boothbay, Maine. Although much of the vessel’s technical specifications and performance data remain closely guarded secrets ahead of the race, Clark’s crew has shared a few details about the ship’s design.

For one, is hull is composed largely of pre-impregnated composite fibres that must be baked into their final, hardened shape in an industrial oven. For a ship this large — one of the biggest single-infusion hulls anywhere in the world — the Hodgdon team had to convert its production facility into an enormous E-Z-Bake that could harden large sections of the hull as they were laid.

Also, as one of the requirements for its record-breaking attempts to be recognised, the ship employs manually-cranked sail winches rather than more modern ones that operate with the push of a button. There is also a benefit to the older technology. “It’s a trade-off,” Kimo Worthington, the Comanche project’s manager told the Boothbay Register. “It is lighter to be manual.”

The Comanche and its 22-man crew have already set sail for Australia with high hopes for winning the 630 nautical mile Sydney-Hobart race and dethroning the current champion, Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats, which has won seven of the last nine events there. Regardless of how it performs there, Clark plans to have the Comanche enter a slew of other events — including the Transatlantic,Transpac, Fastnet and Middle Sea — over the next two years before putting the ship up for sale alongside his other super-yacht (also on sale — only $US75 million!), the Athena. [CharterWorldSailing ScuttlebuttBoothbay RegisterCNNMegayacht NewsSailing World]