The Owen Clarke design studio currently has two bespoke yachts in build, both featuring a host of elements designed to make them proper explorer yachts

A well established and regarded name in the offshore racing world, the Owen Clarke studio has in recent years been making a reputation for its bespoke explorer yacht creations. The most notable is arguably the 2018-launched 20m Qilak which was the cover model and main feature boat in Yachting World’s May 2019 issue.

It helps that naval architect Merf Owen has plenty of high latitudes cruising experience, and that his wife, Ashley Perrin, is an ice pilot and expedition leader who has been taking yachts to high latitudes for nearly a decade. The couple have just completed a circumnavigation of Newfoundland via Greenland and Labrador.

Owen Clarke currently has two notable alloy explorer projects in construction which have spawned from Qilak in terms of looks, layouts and learnings: a lift keel 15m and a centreboarded 18m.

15m Explorer Yacht Lynx

This 15m Explorer Yacht Lynx is very much a descendant of Qilak, and is even dubbed ‘little Qilak’, thanks to its similar looks, its hydraulic lifting keel, twin rudders and pilothouse. The latter is expansive enough to incorporate a watchkeeping station and a pilot berth.

A multipurpose and multi-climates yacht, Lynx is both a bluewater cruiser and a high lats explorer, capable of transiting the Northwest Passage. A private yacht designed for a Swiss owner, it complies with the MGN 280 code to allow for commercial/charter voyages in all oceans and polar regions.

Lynx represents the latest in small explorer yacht design, aimed specifically at families/small groups for short-handed, fast passages and with the ability to then remain in remote areas without support for prolonged periods,” Allen Clarke explains.

This is a true explorer yacht in that it is ice rated and built accordingly with double frames and an ice belt in the hull. The tank capacities are particularly capacious and help give an extensive cruising range under motor of over 3,000 miles.

Clarke explains how they can use VPP programming based on motorsailing and when the engine goes on to help calculate fuel/tankage: “It’s the same stuff we use on race boats but here we’re using it for a remote cruising boat.”

The designers’ assumptions were made on having a watermaker, 800Ah batteries and an 80A 24V alternator. Four major passages were analysed, ranging from the 2,000 miles of a Northwest Passage to the 7,500 miles from Europe to Montevideo, Uruguay, as well as spending up to 60 days aboard. Fuel usage from motoring, charging batteries and heating for the Reflex stove were calculated leading to the conclusion that the spec for 1,570lt of diesel with 200lt reserve in the day tank seems more than ample for this design.

18m Explorer Yacht OC188

Designed for extended remote cruising including a circumnavigation, OC188 is six months into its aluminium construction at alloy experts KM Yachtbuilders in Makkum. Its experienced owner wanted an easily handled yacht with good performance together with the volume that could accommodate an owner’s cabin and three double guest cabins.

A low aspect ballasted keel with lifting centreboard helps provide the desired shoal draught of 1.4m while giving sailing performance and pointing abilities when lowered to 3.8m. Meanwhile twin rudders help allow for the yacht to lay up safely.

The decision between this and a full lifting keel such as aboard Lynx – also designed my Owen Clark – comes down to the added performance benefits of a deeper keel and whether you can live with the keel case in the interior, says Clarke. In this case it was not deemed necessary to impact the interior to that extent, especially as the owners plan to spend long periods of time aboard.

The OC 188 is a distinctive, purposeful looking design. Standouts include the amount of covered and protected space and the solar capacity on the pilothouse and fixed bimini. The aft cockpit and transom design also looks innovative as it includes a large lower deck to store a solid tender (the owner did not want a garage such as aboard Qilak). Instead the dinghy is launched via an Atlas heavy lift carbon davit, which can mount in several locations. This then leaves an expansive aft terrace for lounging at anchor.

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