The Tour's 2011 design competition win has gone to UK boat designer Christian Stimson
The World Match Racing Tour’s 2011 design competition win has gone to UK boat designer Christian Stimson who is one among seven total proposals that will be available to the tour’s host venues.
Stimson’s design forms a key part of the series’ wider development plan which will see a further six new venues added to its current calendar of eight regattas by 2013.
Stimson’s design, Reflex MR, is one of seven selected from 18 different entries submitted by pioneering boat design houses around the globe. (See design proposals here.) The new host venues being added to the Tour will select which boat design best fits their needs while existing venues will also be given the opportunity to update their fleet with one of the new designs.
The designers were presented with a tough brief, namely to create a robust, cost-effective boat that is capable of delivering exciting, tactical and fiercely-fought racing across a range of conditions, from variable winds to differing depths and unpredictable currents. The designers were further challenged by the fact the boats need to test performance sailors yet be versatile enough for corporate and club sailors to give venues a diversified income from them.
Sanctioned by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) with ‘Special Event’ status, the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) is the preeminent match racing circuit in the world. It attracts the leading sailors who fight not only for the title of World Champion but also for $1.75million, the biggest prize purse in sailing.
The brief gives designers the opportunity to make their mark in match racing and Stimson is excited to be a part of it. “The opportunity to design a fleet for the WMRT is a very exciting one. To have the best sailors in the world put your design through its paces is something every designer revels in!”
Terry Newby of Regatta International, who oversaw the submission of designs, said: “The World Match Racing Tour is delighted with the huge response it received to this brief and the fact it attracted some of the world’s best boat designers reflects the status of the Tour.”
Having grown up in the UK Stimson was a keen sailor from a young age and after graduating from Southampton Institute he set himself up as a freelance designer. Career highlights include designing the Reflex 38 for Clipper Ventures in 1999 and joining the GBR Challenge America’s Cup team in 2002. Now working out of New Zealand, current projects include a 50 foot catamaran in production in Taiwan and a 56 foot lift keel cruiser which is in build in the UK.
Designing a boat for the WMRT is a natural extension of the match racing work he has done in his career, but he acknowledges it is not an easy project to pull off. “Designing a yacht that the world’s best sailors find demanding yet rewarding that also has the good manners and stability to allow novices and VIPs to enjoy a day on the water is no small one – but one we relish.”
His solution is a 38-foot boat which fits in a 40-foot container and has some clever details to reduce damage and ease repair. The design can be reconfigured to suit a race mode or corporate mode. ‘The helm, being a wheel, needs to be as large as possible for match racing, but for corporate days a smaller wheel is easily fitted.’
While design flexibility is key, Stimson stresses that the success of the WMRT as a sporting spectacle demands designs that can deliver exciting racing. ‘Match racing requires yachts to have excellent handling characteristics, and much design time was spent on the foils to achieve this using state of the art CFD and VPP software.’
In order to ensure fans and media see this exciting racing Stimson stresses the importance of on-board camera positions to deliver fantastic video content around the world.
Regatta International’s Newby added: “We expect everyone to benefit. The designers will increase their profile while the Tour’s venues will be associated with world class sailors using the very latest match racing boats. For the Tour, it will continue to affirm its position to fans, broadcast partners and sponsors as the arena for exciting, innovative and compelling match racing.”