Top notch new Mini

Top builder and Open class designer join forces for Swedish Mini sailor

Wednesday February 26th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: France
With the aim to create the winning Mini Transat boat for Eskil Degsell’s, Marc Lombard and his design team has taken another step forward when designing the latest Mini Transat 6.5 for the Swedish syndicate Arvid Nordquist Challenge.

The focus has been to build an 'all-round boat', optimised for high performance in all conditions, rather than going for the most extreme solution. With statistics showing that old boats have still been able to stand up to competition, Marc Lombard firmly believes that improvements in many areas and details will show to be the winning concept. The years of inventive spirit and continuous development among the Mini Transat skippers has already led to a high performance, modern and strong design of mono-hulls. With the canting keel, twin rudders and twin dagger boards it is hard not to make the direct comparison with the newly announced Volvo Ocean 70 concept.

The challenging part has thus been to excel on the very mature state of development these boats have reached. Marc Lombard’s previous design Mécénat chirurgie cardiaque (latterly sailed by Simon Curwen) is an 'all-round' performance hull but with a certain lack of power on close reaches.

Therefore a slightly more powerful hull at moderate heel angles has been developed, while keeping a relatively fine waterline beam at 0° heel angle to preserve the potential of the boat downwind and in light air. The expected result is a slight gain of 2-3% on the power/drag ratio expected, light air and downwind ability slightly improved compared to the previous design.

Having developed previously on the twin dagger board/twin rudder configuration, these solutions have been kept only improving aspect ratio and span, obvious factors of performance upwind. On the keel design, the drag advantage showed to be for the steel structure with less bulb and finer profile due to relative stiffness of the material. The result is a very stiff, moderately heavy, fine profile, carbon fibre version, gaining a net 10kg on the overall weight of the keel and bulb. This extra gain made up the margin for the evolution of the sail plan. Eskil Degsell, together with Magnus Olsson and the North Sails team has been working on several new developments in this area: higher aspect ratio on the main, moderate area of jib but extensive use of genackers.

On deck and inside, the major changes have been the improvement of space and position of the fore ballast configuration and the storing areas inside. The deck mould which has proved to be the most ergonomic in the Mini design field has remained the same. About 12 boats have used the same deck mould in the last 5 years, including well known winners.

Finally, the extremely high quality of the building process secured by the builder Thierry Fagnent at AMCO has resulted in the design of a very strong, although light structured, Mini Transat 6.5. Thierry Fagent built the boat using vacuumed wet lay up of carbon fibre and PVC foam.

Marc Lombard concludes that Eskil Degsell with this evolutionary design combined with the results of our 15 years of experience in the Mini Transat field, will have a top-level boat.”

Further on he believes that this mature class of boats will show the skill of the sailors since the level of preparation is so high and the top skippers are so well trained. Marc says “I strongly wish and believe that Eskil will quickly find the right tempo to sail her and thus perform well in the Mini Transat 2003.”

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