Originally Posted by noelex 77
In the 80's Volvo
Bruce Farr calculated a ketch design would win over the sloops. He proved to be correct and 84' Bruce Farr designed ketch, Steinlager, claimed line honors on every one of the six legs.
A sloop wins most races and will do better on average, but given specific wind conditions other sail plans can be faster...
There is a common misunderstanding about this and the following is what I understand reality to have been.
First, a minor point, it wasn't Farr who came up with the idea that ketches could be the best boats for the 89/90 Whitbread maxis, the idea was brought to him by several of the syndicates who realised that there were rule advantages in going to a ketch. It is fair to say that Farr took advantage of the rule as he was after all the designer
. But it wasn't his idea and explains why some of his other maxis were not ketches in the same race, their syndicates did not bring the idea of the rule advantage to him as some others had.
Second, Steinlager and Fisher
& Paykel were built as required for the Whitbread to meet the 1989 IOR rule for Maxis (70 foot rating, coming out around 80 foot), not as the fastest possible boats to get around such a course (should the race not have been rule constrained).
What several of the syndicates realised was that the 1989 IOR rule gave significant advantages to ketch rigs, some of which were that the mizzen was not penalised as much as a mainsail
, mizzen staysails were only lightly penalised and as the main and mizzen masts were spread further apart a double gain was realised because the mizzen and mizzen staysails were rated even better again as well as giving a sailing advantage along the lines of being "two sloops following each other" as Bob has alluded to.
All this free sail area arising out of the rule had an increased advantage in that the race was mostly downhill as the Cape Town
stop over was not used due to troubles there. That even being so I don't think many would claim that if the boats were not designed to meet the required rule, they would still have been ketches instead of sloops.
So these were not straight out fast racers and if one wishes to contend that claim one only has to look at their displacements, they were heavy boats.
In the end, if I recall
correctly, the first four boats came in within a couple of days aggregated time of each other, the first two ketches (Steinlager 2 and Fisher
& Paykel) followed by two sloops and the next a ketch. So even though there was a rule advantage for the ketches the sloops could keep up regardless of the rule burden on them. I believe that Steinlager managed to get itself the longest actual length under the Maxi
rating at around 84 feet.