The black art

James Boyd spoke to Derek Clark about how his team went about creating Wight Lightning
Derek Clark is a man exuding quiet confidence at the moment. His baby Wight Lightning, GBR70, has been launched and despite GBR Challenge being seen by the outside world as America's Cup newbies, he and his design team are confident that they have come up with a fast boat. Peter Harrison's GBR Challenge is significant not only for being the first British AC campaign since Fremantle, but it is also the first since the competition changed to the America's Cup Class (formerly the International America's Cup Class) yachts. So Wight Lightning is the first ACC yacht ever to have been conceived and constructed in the UK. The size of this task cannot be underestimated. Under the America's Cup protocol fledgling AC teams such as GBR Challenge cannot simply go to a yacht designer and say "we'll have one of what you did last time - but better..." The plans for the various Team New Zealand boats for example are the property of Team New Zealand and not their designers although quite how a designer is supposed to erase their memory once they move on from a campaign is hard to see. It is over just these issues that OneWorld is currently facing the America's Cup Arbitration Panel. For Clark creating Wight Lightning was a case of starting from scratch. His first step was to set up a design team and British sailors can take pride in the fact that this included some of our top brains in this field. Full time on the project was an inner core, the Technical Group, of Clark, Jo Richards and the two designers bought in from Nippon - hull design specialist Akihiro Kanai and structural engineer Taro Takahashi. But Phil Morrison, Rob Humphreys, Hugh Whelbourn, Steven Jones and Simon Rogers were also part