ARC: designer and builder go racing

Builder and designer of the new Pogo 50 fast cruiser are getting a hands-on test across the Atlantic. I think this exciting boat is a stunner

ARC Rally 2012

It's a little unusual to see a boatbuilder or yacht designer doing an ocean race on one of their own boats, let alone together (more's the pity). But the builder and designer of the brand new Pogo 50 Surfing Pétrel are part of her crew doing the ARC, and are out to show the boat's potential.

If something goes amiss on the way, these are the guys to have on board. Or if you prefer, they only have themselves to blame!

The builder is Christian Bouroullec from Pogo Structures, maker of the Pogo 40 and Pogo 12,50 (pictured below, top row, middle). He is part of the crew that includes the owner (he prefers not to be named), designer Pascal Conq (bottom right) and top short-handed racers Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron.



The boat has a fairly punishing IRC rating, but the crew's progress and crossing time are well worth watching because this is a really exciting fast cruiser that I could well imagine living on comfortably.

For designer Pascal Conq, creator of some of the world's fastest monohulls, it's the second time he's done the ARC on one of his own designs. Pascal is from Finot-Conq, the great naval architect's office behind five of the six yachts that have won the Vendée Globe race.

The Pogo 50 takes some of the ideas of these beamy, powerful, light boats and translates these into a form more suited to cruising. The yacht displaces 9 tonnes, has a swing keel and unlike the smaller Pogo 40, does not have water ballast. "We decided to simplify and to keep it reasonable in terms of power, so we could keep the sails for longer," comments Conq.

There is an easily handled sail plan, a carbon rig that is lower than it would be for full-on racing with raked back spreaders and no backstay and runners to handle.

The genoa and staysail are permanently mounted on furlers and there is a short fixed bowsprit on which to set a spinnaker or code sail. There is only one electric winch, on a pedestal between the tillers, which can be used for mainsheet and traveller, though it will be operated manually on the ARC to save power. It's arranged so that the main halyard can be lead back to it.

The other lines, including the sheets are led to winches lined up on the aft end of coachroof under the sprayhood, because as Pascal Conq points out it's a better upright winching position than bending over winches mounted on a coaming.

It's full of clever, simple ideas and a proper cruising interior with galley, fridge, freezer and comfortable but simple (light) accommodation, with an owner's double and head forward and two more double cabins aft. It's also meant for use at sea, with big, secure looking leecloths separating the double berths aft.

Not surprising, perhaps. The design was a commission from a very experienced French businessman who already has multiple transatlantic crossings under his belt, so it's based around family cruising plus a bit of racing. It incorporates ideas from Pascal Conq's previous crossing and racing experience.

He's taking with him the same notebook he kept during the last ARC, in which he jotted down ideas for sailing and living at sea. This photo shows him looking at some of the ideas and sketches he collected then (including ideas for a complex sail repair they had to do during his previous ARC). He says he's hoping to add more ideas.

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