Banking on winning

madforsailing has a crawl around Graham Dalton's Kingfisher development Hexagon and talks to designer Merf Owen
Graham Dalton's new HSBC sponsored Open 60 Hexagon made her debut appearance in the UK yesterday when she was formally launched by HSBC Chairman Sir John Bond, Dame Mary Richardson, Chief Executive HSCB Education Trust and a posse of Maori dancers. The boat has been designed by the Owen Clarke Design Group, who were part of the team responsible for the creation of Ellen MacArthur's Kingfisher and in terms of looks Hexagon holds a great many similarities. Following Kingfisher designer Merfyn Owen (right) says they had "spreadsheets full of ideas about where we wanted to go with the next boat." So while Hexagon was alongside at St Catherine's Dock today madfor sailing had the opportunity to crawl over her to see what he was talking about. Filling us in on the background to the project Owen says that the project came together incredibly quickly. There was initial contact with Dalton in November 2000, but there followed no contact until the following June. Then within a week, Dalton's deal with HSBC was signed and the 'go' button on the project firmly pressed. "It all happened in July. We only had four weeks between getting the phone call and actually laying up the hull. Fortunately we had already done a whole pile of work on the 50s. This had led us down a certain path and we were in the middle of a tank testing program ourselves at the time." Currently the Owen Clarke Design Group have two Open 50s in build one in Italy for Russian solo sailor Victor Yazykov while John McConaghy's yard in Sydney have just started on another for American Kip Stone. Among Open 60s Hexagon is unique in that she has been designed to win Around Alone and not the Vendee Globe. Creating a race boat for