Ker 11.3 aimed at busy owners
The launch of the Ker 11.3 appears to have tapped into a growing preference for one-design competition over handicap racing, but his boat will be the new kid on the block that is already crowded with established one-designs like the Farr 40 and the Mumm 30.
Asked what he thought was the appeal of the new Ker 11.3, the young designer commented: "It's an out and out race boat. We've made developments in every which way to save weight and gain optimum speed, and we're hoping for a similar if not better performance to the Farr 40, but a third cheaper.
"The boat is a logical extension from Roaring Meg which I think people will admit was very fast last year." But Roaring Meg is also known for having her mast fail during the long offshore race of the Rolex Commodores' Cup. How has Ker addressed that issue? "There was an issue with the mast of Roaring Meg, but for the 11.3 we felt design simplicity was important and so have gone for a vastly simplified rig - people are more comfortable with a conservative rig they understand. The hull is very much a development and the sail plan is also very similar."
Roaring Meg - in the hands of a crew that included Ultra 30 champion Rob Greenhalgh and 49er sailor David Lenz - was very fast, faster at times than the Farr 40s despite their superior waterline length. That perhaps explains the appeal of the 11.3 to her prospective buyers this year.
Race 1, a company headed by Philip Crebbin and Johnny Faulkner is working closely with Ker on the new project. They are trying to offer potential owners a more hassle-free way of purchasing a new racing boat, and have commissioned a package offering the Ker 11.3 as a completed product. "This eliminates the necessity of a production manager to oversee the development of the boat from start to finish," said Crebbin.
This off-the-shelf approach to buying a boat has certainly appealed in the dinghy market and has revolutionised the UK racing scene in the small boat arena. To some extent this is a leap into the unknown for Race 1, but Crebbin is confident. "Well, we've got orders for six already so the appeal is definitely there," he said. "Some people want to do without the stress and the complications involved with buying and setting up a new boat. Race 1 are able to take on board what people require and supply people with a completed product without the hassles."
Four boats are expected to be ready for the Round the Island Race with eight or nine expected to compete at Cowes. It seems their radical approach is certainly hitting the spot for some people.