This superfast cruiser incorporates some of the best ideas from solo ocean racers

Hitting 20 knots as we are fired out of Marseille, our wake streams astern like a river in spate. We are going so fast that by the time the spray from the bow atomises in the wind it is already at our lee quarter, refracted into a rainbow.

The raw sensation of power is what you might expect on muscle boats such the Volvo 65 or a Vendée Globe racer. But I am aboard the carbon super cruiser Nomad IV, according to designers Finot-Conq ‘the world’s fastest 100ft cruising yacht’, and as Ile de Porquerolles rolls by, the bear away is no more than a helmsman’s finger jab at one of the control panels.

With her bowsprit, plumb bow, chines and huge beam carried right aft, Nomad IV is a dead ringer for those ocean racers, and with good reason. For a cruising boat with a comfortable proportion of that power and performance, the owner turned to the French design group renowned for their mastery of shorthanded offshore racers such as Mini Transat pocket rockets to IMOCA 60 round the world yachts.

Lead designer Pascal Conq has been behind numerous groundbreaking innovations over the past 30 years, yet he and his team had never before been commissioned to design a yacht of this size.

The owner, a French IT and telecoms entrepreneur, wanted a 100-footer that he could race and charter, cruise round the world and take part in ocean racing classics such as the Middle Sea Race, the Fastnet and Sydney-Hobart. Some of the provisos were that the yacht should be capable of entering shoal waters and not heel upwind to more than 12°, and so that the yacht can access shallower anchorages, the keel lifts from 5.4m to 3m.

Above all, though, she had to be a yacht for sailing – and fast.

Design work began in 2010 and she was three years in build at the Maxi Dolphin yard in Italy before her launch this year. The FC100 has been referred to as Finot-Conq’s take on the Wally Cento.

That she sails and feels similar to the powerful but forgiving Open class race boats is unsurprising, but it did challenge the designers. “There is a lot of volume and the boat is very beamy, very powerful and stable,” says Pascal Conq. “It was a big step-up in size, but we have been able to apply what we’ve learned from our racing boat experience. It [posed] some architecture problems; the power of the shape, the keel structure and load points, but that is what we really like to do.”

The sailplan is race boat style, with a towering 43m (120ft) mast set in the middle of the boat. She has a fully battened square top mainsail, J1 headsail on a hydraulic furler; a J2 and a J3 staysail that can be removed to make tacking easier. Upwind sails are all in moulded North 3di carbon/Dyneema laminate (lighter, more durable and with less deformation than 3dl, but more expensive). The gennaker is built in Cuben Fibre and there is an enormous 980m2 spinnaker for downwind sailing.

Read the full article in the August issue of Yachting World, published on 10 July.

 Well reefed down but still hitting 16-20 knots on a trial sail – not ballasted at this stage so as not to stress the boat during early trials

 The owner of the yacht wanted cockpit space to seat 50 people. At this scale the deck saloon looks unobtrusive in the overall lines

Below, the deck saloon, which has panoramic views all round