Could a new 90ft one design monohull class be the next big thing in the Med?

Since the Cup sub divided into two hulls rather than one, there have been plenty that didn’t agree with the move to multihulls. Mutterings and rumours about the possibility of an alternative America’s Cup event have been rife.

The appearance of new plans to run a Mediterranean circuit for 90ft one design monohulls has been doing the rounds recently with a picture and a few details of what the boat might look like and how the class may be organised.

Yet the strange thing about this latest news is that it comes without an official announcement, any idea of who’s behind the project or even contact any contact details. Instead the sail plan and concept notes appear to have been leaked onto the web suggesting that this project, impressive though it is, is more of a fishing trip than reality.

At present the gossip is of Alinghi, Luna Rossa and even team Origin being among the movers and shakers, but that’s all it is at this stage, gossip…..unless of course anyone can make us any the wiser.

Here are the details that have been ‘released’ so far.

MJ CLASS – Design concept

Initial response to the MJ 90 discussion paper has been very encouraging with several recipients expressing interest in the concept. We have had a number of useful comments and suggestions on both the design and regatta format and have consolidated a number of these into a refined proposal.

We have added more detail to the boat specification and approached a number of yards and spar shops to establish more accurate costings. Through these discussions we are comfortable that the build of six boats for the 2012 season is feasible providing we provide a detailed specification and firm orders by the end of 2010. To this end we would like to set an aggressive timetable that will allow us to move to a detailed specification within the next 30 days.

Design Rule.
To control costs and place the emphasis on sailing ability we recommend the class be of One Design and sailed as a single class. The guiding principles for the design will be;

New and Spectacular
Demanding, but rewarding to sail
Suitable for a variety of inshore courses within defined wind and sea limits (5 to 30 knots)
Low obsolescence
Promote close racing (ability to pass)

Preliminary Dimensions and Spec;
Length – 90ʼ
Beam – 4.80m
Draft – 5.00m
Disp (empty) – 18,500 Kg
Fixed keel
Solid steel keel fin with trim tab
Mast with inline spreaders and backstays
Engine with retractable propeller
Two fixed bunks
Enclosed toilet compartment
The yachts will comply with European standards and ISAF safety requirements for inshore racing.

Boat Construction
Based on the feedback received there is a clear preference for a turn-key solution to boat building.

Considering this we have approached a couple of yards with a basic spec that includes;

Engine and propulsion unit
Keel fin and bulb package
Steering system
Winch and deck hardware
Basic internal fit out
Delivery to Med

The provisional price on this package including design and project management costs but excluding, rig, sails and electronics is €4.25 million.
A separate quote has been secured for a rig package with a provisional price of €0.7 million. This price would include one additional rig and two booms to carry centrally as spares.

These prices are based on a fairly basic specification; however, we believe they are achievable +/-5% for a full specification as there are potential savings through central sourcing of engine, steering,
rig and deck hardware components.

To manage cost quality and consistency we recommend licensing two reputable yards to build the boats. Final selection of yards will be based on a competitive tender once six owners are committed.
All builds will be subject to compliance and measurement checks during construction and upon completion by the class measurer.
We have confirmation from several sources that delivery of the first six boats can be achieved by the start of the 2012 Med season providing initial orders are placed by the end of December 2010.

Sail Package
In an effort to keep annual running costs at a reasonable level it is proposed that there is a strict limitation on sail wardrobe and replacement policy;

Main X 2 year 1 1 replacement every other year
Upwind 4 X Jibs + 1 Code 0 replacement 3 per year
Downwind 4 replacement 2 per year
Sails will not form part of the core package and will be sourced by owners but we estimate the initial package at around €550 thousand.

Crew numbers will be limited to 17 plus 2 non-sailing guests.
There will be no limitation on helmsman or the number of professional sailors on board.

Circuit and Race Format
There appears to be a general consensus that;

The circuit should be based in the Med, at least in the initial phase
Initially 5 regattas per season until class becomes fully established
Initially fleet racing under own starts within own and/or existing regattas

Introduction of match racing combined with fleet from second season
Provisional 2012 regatta schedule subject to negotiation to be selected from;

Class Launch Regatta (stand alone)
Rolex Capri Sailing Week
Giraglia Rolex Cup (inshore)
Copa Del Rey
Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup
Les Voiles de Saint Tropez
Class Regatta (stand alone)

Class Governance and Management
The Class will be managed by the owners through a Class Association with one vote per boat.
All owners will hold a share in the Class Management Company
A small, part time professional management team will be recruited to manage the class ;
Class Manager, Class Measurer, Class Logistics Manager and Class Communications Manager

Further contracted support will be bought in with the prior approval of the Class Association

Class Management Costs
All class management costs will initially be funded through annual entry fees and include;

Measurement and compliance
Class Management salaries
Class planning and logistics (excluding individual boat and crew logistics)
Regatta entry fees
Internal communications and coordination
Media and PR support
Hospitality services

Based on an initial Class of 6 boats we estimate this fee to be €300 thousand per boat per year. It is envisaged that this fee will reduce significantly as the class matures and commercial revenue streams
develop and the fleet grows. We would adopt open book accounting and detailed budget will be provided when we have
commitment from a minimum of 6 owners.

The Class Association will have full visibility and joint approval over annual budgets and expenditure.

Next Steps
Based on our previously stated goal to launch the Class with a minimum of 6 boats for the 2012 season and the warm response to the initial proposal we recommend the following aggressive

One on one discussions with prospective owners to answer specific questions and table further amendments to the proposal prior to finalisation of document. Within five days of receipt of this

Final amendments and circulation of final proposal. Within 10 days of receipt of this proposal

Written commitment (based on a minimum of 6 boats) to build boat and full commitment to participate in first three seasons (2012,13,14). Within ten days of receiving the final proposal.

Written feedback on number of entries and recommendation on go/no go. Within 15 days of receiving the final proposal.

Binding agreement for Boat order and Series participation. Within ten days of go decision. [Agreement will be drafted for circulation to owners opting in with immediate effect]