Merfyn Owen: Route du Rhum Wrap Up

Merfyn Owen: Route du Rhum Wrap Up

Thursday December 9 2010 Author: Merfyn Owen Location: none selected


Excerpts from article wrapping up the Route du Rhum. For more information and editorial go to here

It’s a wrap on the 2010 Route du Rhum, Joerg Riechers on Cinnamon Girl finished in a very creditable 5th place though having held 3rd for the last few days was unlucky not to finish on the Podium. Conrad Coleman on 40 Degrees was beset by problems from the pre-race start to finishing his race with only five of his usable  race sails still serviceable.

We have included some of Joergs comments from his after race briefing: "After the start Frehel to Ouessant: Conditions Meteo: 18kn to 23kn TWA 125° to 135° Sails: Main 1 reef - A2 On this point of sail the boat seems to be really fast as I went from an really average 19th place at Frehel to a really superb 3rd place at Ouessant and it was not very tactical just a speed thing.

Day one reaching next to Sam Manuard: In the night I broke the genoa halyard and hit a cargo rope and lost 3 to 4 miles on Sam Manuard

Day two sailing upwind next to Eric Defert (Tyker 40): The Tyker is a difficult boat to sail against, as I was toasting Sam Manuard the day before I thought now I can kill Eric Derfert but that was not to be, Although sailing really concentrated there was nothing in it between the two boats and I was really happy he committed a tactical error.


Managing demanding design schedules and carrying out the day to day work is all well and good for the principles at Owen Clarke Design, but behind the scenes are a group of people whose input is as critical to our success as those at the coalface of sailing these finely tuned race boats to their limits. As well as working very closely with suppliers of high end services like the Wolfson Unit and SP/Gurit there are other no less important figures who, have and continue to assist Owen Clarke Design remain at the forefront of racing yacht design. Two of these perhaps overlooked people who make OCD boats not only great fun to race, competitive, reliable and even faster are US designer Clay Oliver and Brit, John Levell.

Clay started his association with OCD back in 2003 when Clay Oliver Yacht Design who are based in Annapolis, USA, worked closely with OCD when some members of an Americas Cup team formed a group to design a Volvo 70 for a MaxZ86 owner who had at that time committed to doing the Volvo Ocean Race. That project was not to be in the end, but later collaboration on the Ecover3 and Aviva IMOCA 60 programs came about and we were delighted to put in a call to Clay to review the hull design of our new 3rd generation Class 40.


John Levell had been on our radar for a while as a known independent structural engineer, having worked within the aerospace and marine industry providing broad and detailed composite engineering solutions to various projects.  OCD contacted John at the same time as reaching out to Clay to see if we could further optimise the 3rd Generation Class 40 program. John started working with OCD in late 2007 on the development of a new Class 40 structures package and by 2008 started getting to grips with the concept in more depth. The previous OCD Class 40 racing yachts had evolved around a potentially ORC Category 0 solution to the designs, featuring multiple watertight bulkheads. Today, these would now be perceived as over engineered structures. At the time there was a tangible shift away from extreme long distance racing yachts in the rest of the Class 40 fleet, prior to the acceptance of Josh Halls Global Ocean Race. The focus was being pushed towards shorter oceanic routes and even a burgeoning focus on round the cans racing with the introduction of Class 40 world championships. The basic principles for the newer generation boats were favouring a much broader spectrum of racing

John Levell originally worked as an aerospace stress engineer, designing light aircraft initially then eventually moving on to satellites and composite space structures to be transported on the NASA space shuttle. A spell as the chief design engineer followed with Sparcraft before entering the racing yacht field with SP Systems, now SP/Gurit.  From 1997 onwards John has worked independently covering composite yacht fittings, aircraft components and bicycles and his racing yacht involvement has spanned such diverse projects as Ellen MacArthur's B&Q Castorama, Thomas Colville's  Sodebo, (3rd  in this current edition of the Route du Rhum), Mascalone Latino, Alinghi, and even Mini Transat designs.


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