Sloop verse Square Rig, Maltese Falcon vs Mirabella

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by brian eiland, Jun 13, 2006.

  1. Leif HerrGesell
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    Leif HerrGesell Junior Member

    I think as with so much that humans touch we also occasionally tend to forget the essence of sailing.

    Sailing is an art/skill that in itself brings enjoyment in process and form. If you should happen to enjoy the transit from point "A" to point "B" then the satisfaction taken in the process is compounded. If the vessel providing the transportation is also pleasing to the eye then God Bless the designer and if the transit is physically enjoyable through accomodation then you may count yourself amongst the lucky.

    Sailing is a metaphor, philosophy and for some either a religion or an access point if you will, to spiritual moments that can give rise to personal epiphany.

    Atheists should never sail, to them we give motors.

    Designers are our scientist/priests. The magic they create through mundane mathmatic process elevates anyone who has felt the silence and the power of sail.

    I would hazard that Tom Perkins feels an incredible rush when he stands on the Falcon's canting deck and looks up and sees her sails fill. If Falcon only achieves 18.5 then she is less of a success? What is her mission?

    To me the joy taken in the sailing process is the ultimate expression of success. My boat is 266 feet shorter than Tom Perkin's and yet we share an experience in common with everyone else who has trimmed a sail on a day with good air.

    Boats (yachts) should always be designed with humans in mind. Remove the human from the equation and you can disregard drag, weight ratio's and nearly all the things that slow it down. You also have a sterile platform rather than a vessel. By definition a vessel must carry something. Us. . .

    Personnally I think race platforms and Cafe Racers have sacrificed much of what is best for performance as defined by speed. Just becuase "we can" is no longer an adequate excuse. Art and beauty have been subordinated to power.

    A good day of sailing on an ugly boat still beats a good day at work, but a good day of sailing on pretty boat is matchless.
    1 person likes this.
  2. Doug Lord

    Doug Lord Guest

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    D'ARTOIS Senior Member

    Reading this, I may agree with Joe Vittoria in most of what he says and of course a match between those big boats would be nice to watch.
    But pride might prevent this - I know that in the last century it was very popular to do such match-races as was also popular in horseracing for some time.
    There is always a loser and if you don't want to be a loser you keep yourself from racing.
  4. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

  5. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member

    Mirabella Can't Sail ?


    What a beauty. 292 feet (89 metres) in the mast, 247feet (75.22 metres) long and 48.5ft (14.8metres) in the beam. She can do 17-18 knots with ease, and 10 knots in a 10 knot breeze. Mirabella V is not only a beauty; she's the world's largest sailing sloop. So what's this we hear about a 'problem'?

    'Well,' say the experts in the bar, 'Did you know that every time you want to tack that boat, you have to lower the mainsail to the first reef?' 'Sure,' says another, who's been in the bar at the end of race day for years, 'Ain't that just ridiculous?'

    'There's another thing,' says some-one from the next group, whose just heard the name Mirabella V used, and can't wait to join the conversation, ' Did you know that you can't tack the boat without first furling the headsail, then letting it out on the other side?'

    'Actually,' says another, 'I've never seen her sail with her full main up - she's ALWAYS got a reefed main.'

    The group are all shaking heads into their beers now. 'What a waste of money THAT was.' Finishes another, and there's just no more to be said.

    It wasn't long after that that I found myself in conversation with the designer, Ron Holland, who has a long history of designing wonderful sailing boats. Could he really have designed a dog? So I asked him:

    'Well,' said Ron in his soft drawl, 'If you query rolling the jib up to tack, really most big boats do that. It's normal to at least partially roll up the jib. It saves the jib from wear.'

    'As far as the main is concerned, this boat is unique in that it has a huge roach, and therefore to tack with full hoist mainsail you have to lower the main to the first reef point so that the sail will clear the backstay. The reason the boat was built this way is because we wanted her to sail well.

    Most really large boats don't go anywhere in light air. We wanted Mirabella to sail in all conditions. Now it's a lot of boat to get moving - even though she has shallow hull lines, only 2 metres deep, she displaces 700 tonnes - so you need a lot of sail to get her to accelerate well.

    So the sailing strategy of Mirabella V is to get her up and going quite quickly with the full main - she can do 10 knots in 10 knots of wind.

    'However, once she's sailing, she generates apparent wind very quickly, so the normal plan is to reef her down once she's reached a good speed. She can easily do 17-18 knots with a reefed main.

    'You must remember that we never plan to use a spinnaker, so you need the good sail area for downwind sailing - she also has three headsails, the largest of which negates the use of a spinnaker, so it's all part of the overall plan to end up with a good fast sailing yacht.

    'To say that she 'doesn't sail well' is a bit outrageous. It's quite clear when you look at the shallow hull and high aspect ratio of the keel that we were very much interested in her sailing ability. I think the comments you have mentioned are as much as anything a misunderstanding of the philosophy behind the design effort that went into Mirabella V.

    'Mirabella V is a boat that sails well in light air, and that's a really big achievement. Most large cruising boats don't accelerate well, and Mirabella V does. The yacht, of course is out for charter some of the time, and during charters she does often sail around with one reef in the main - charterers are often looking for comfort not speed, and 12 knots or so is just right for them.

    Well, there you go, drinkers at the bar - you learn something every day! --

    Nancy Knudsen
  6. Mikey
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    Mikey Senior Member

    The nature of man, jealousy and envy :)
  7. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member

    Mikey, you will note that I posted that with a question mark. I only ran across that discussion and posted it. It was not me talking but rather that journalist
  8. DanishBagger
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    DanishBagger Never Again


    To be fair, I think Mikey commented at the people in the bar, and their conclusion that Mirabelle V "couldn't sail"

    I might be wrong, but I'm willing to bet a beer if you ever come around these parts of the world.
  9. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member

    I wasn't sure how to interpet it.
  10. Paul Scott
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    Paul Scott Senior Member

    We do that on our 40' uldb for the big light air reaching jib. We can't point high enough reaching because of apparent wind with the assym if we need to fetch a mark on a reach, and the blade is sooooo slooow. This is in anything up to 8K or so. So we use the big light air jib that we furl to tack or jibe. Fast is fast. Sails are expensive. We don't have a permanent running back. 22 1/2 degree spreaders, so big roach main not a problem. But it is nice to have the main reefed down to the jib hounds (3/4 rig) when tacking. Can just leave the runners on.

  11. Mikey
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    Mikey Senior Member

    Brian, I saw the question mark and understand you :)
  12. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member


    Thanks Mikey, I just wasn't sure of interpetation.

    BTW, how long have you been in Thailand? I visit there twice a year now and will be retiring there with a lady from Issan.
  13. Mikey
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    Mikey Senior Member

    15 years and I have never regretted a day of it, in fact, I would have left Sweden 15 years earlier if I could change the past...

    Wonderful country to live in, PM me next time you're off, let's have a few 'my country my beer' - Singha of course :)


  14. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member

    Mirabella & The Maltese Falcon Meet Again In Antigua

    The world’s biggest sloop and the world’s biggest clipper met up again in Antigua.The Mirabella V wasn’t racing, of course, just doing a bit of sail testing, but everyone wanted to know who won.

    This is how the Superyacht Cup organizers saw it:
    The first day’s sailing was a spectacular sight for all, with a stunning display by two of the world´s largest sailing yachts, as the three masted Maltese Falcon (88m) and the sloop Mirabella V (75m) sailed away from the start area outside English Harbour.

    The two yachts started together one hour after the first boat, in the pursuit style race for superyachts. Maltese Falcon and Mirabella V are two radically different yachts, but they both performed impressive speeds of over 22 knots in the 18 – 20 knot trade winds. The course took the fleet on a close reach, south of Antigua, followed by a bear away, towards Curtain
    Bluff, and a beat back up the coast.

    There was little doubt that on the broad reach Maltese Falcon was the fastest boat, flying full sail, but after rounding the bottom mark for the beat back up the coast Mirabella V showed she was willing to put up a fight. Although officially not competing, boat for boat, the two yachts were clearly displaying their credentials.

    This is how Mirabella V’s captain saw it:
    We were sitting at anchor, in Antigua, minding our own business. I got talking to Chris, captain of Maltese Falcon and told him I was taking Mirabella V out, as I needed to do some work on the sails while underway. He told me how happy it would make Tom Perkins if we would go and “play” with them in the Superyacht Cup the next day, off Antigua.

    When I called Mr Vittoria, to ask if I could take her for a spin, he said he had received an email from Tom, not an hour before, asking him to let us sail. He cautioned me that insurance doesn’t let me race, so to just cruise along, but that it was a great opportunity for the two boats to have a great sail together.

    We’d had some work done on the bottom section of the mainsail, in Genoa, by Doyles, and I had yet to re-attach it to the top section of the main, not an easy job to line up the batten pockets so the batten can lace them together, but I decided I could sail with a reef in, because I didn’t have the bottom section attached. I can hear the keyboards typing away already at that comment “still not sailing at full hoist, yadda yadda yadda........”. In retrospect, it was a fine sail selection; I had ample power and all the speed I needed. After the hoist, I gingerly bore away and sheeted in. When I settled onto the course to the leeward and a little ahead on a beam reach. Maltese Falcon was piling on sail all over the place and I thought that it was all over the way she looked to be passing me. I killed the engines, feathered the props and rolled out a jib.

    In the 18-22 knots of wind, I found we were only just being overhauled by Maltese Falcon. Because of my concern for the mainsail foot, I didn’t want to vang on, or sheet on, to what I would normally like, so the main was not doing its best, but I figured Mr Vittoria might not like it if my next phone call was about a ripped mainsail, especially with charter season starting, as I don’t have another in the container!

    Anyway, that’s my excuse for the reach, at first; being gentle on the main.
    The staysail is the equaliser
    I unfurled the staysail and found that we were now pretty even on the reach, both doing around 17 knots. The staysail was the equalizer.

    Maltese Falcon looked magnificent; waterline length rules, on a reach, and Maltese Falcon has plenty of that over us, so I was surprised we could hang on.

    Remembering that Maltese Falcon was competing and we were not, I had to confront my next problem. Maltese Falcon was above me and had to bear away and gybe at the turning mark. I don’t gybe and now had the problem of letting Maltese Falcon roll me and gybe in front of me. I furled the staysail and she creamed along in front and gybed; it looked pretty good from where I was driving. I then, despondently watched Chris take off down the run. He was sailing very high of the mark, because I assumed he needed to run square to reduce sails before the next beat, so he put distance on us very quickly, before slowing down as he ran square to the mark.

    I rolled the jib and tacked under main. We came out of the tack at
    about 3 knots, set the jib and bore away. Next thing we are still doing 15-16 knots on the run, which amazed me. Once I was up and running I don’t think we lost distance down the run/broad reach.

    I closely watched Maltese Falcon round the bottom mark and saw her come out of it at very slow speed and then tack. I realized she was being squeezed for water beyond the mark. My plotter showed her as being in less than 10 metres of water, so I avoided the mark and stayed in deep water (draft being 10 something metres).

    I then waited until she was well to windward of me again and then came on the wind. This was Mirabella V country moderate seas and 20 knots. I was getting more confident in the mainsail, so sheeted and vanged a little more. I never was trimmed on as tightly as I wanted, though, and thus was carrying a little lee helm up the beat. We saw 33 knots AWS up that leg, with 35 AWS being the jib’s theoretical limit. I found that 30 degrees AWA worked well with the main undertrimmed. The alarm went off for the jib sheet tension, set at around 20 tons, so it was near its limit. I am glad we had just end-for-ended all the running rigging, because we were maxing stuff out. We also had the cap shroud 200 ton limit alarm going off, but it felt very comfortable.

    We put a mile on Maltese Falcon
    Curtain Bluff to the finish, off English Harbor is about 5 miles and I don’t think I am exaggerating if I say we put a mile on Maltese Falcon up that beat. I so severely overbaked the layline that I reached into it, but this is what Mirabella V is supposed to do and I can’t take much credit for it. No shame for Maltese Falcon on this leg, it’s just not her point of sail.

    At this point we’d had a chance to compare the boats on different courses and I had work to do to the mainsail, so I bailed out and left them to it. The original start time for Maltese Falcon was 1400. Tom Perkins requested it be brought forward an hour, but I don’t think anyone told the chopper pilot, so that cameraman missed some great footage of the two boats barreling along at 17 knots.

    That night we all had a beer together in Nelson’s Dockyard. Maltese
    Falcon stole the show by going stern to all lit up. I saw Chris and we were both pretty happy to have had a blast together.
    There just aren’t that many sailing boats over 200 feet that can actually get out of their own way and we had just had two of them, only a couple of boat lengths apart at 17+ knots. It all makes it more fun for owners and spectators and that is the name of the game.

    The tortoise & the hare
    Mirabella V and Maltese Falcon are apples and oranges; you can’t compare them. I, personally, think Mirabella V is faster on all legs in moderate wind, as she should be, but Maltese Falcon eats me on the corners, as they just brace the yards around and steer. It is the Tortoise and Hare scenario.

    I commend Chris on the way he runs and drives Maltese Falcon. His skill complements a very fine craft; she is a really handy vessel. Mirabella V sat out the rest of the races, so I could keep prepping for charter. Sadly, I watched Maltese Falcon through my porthole as she tore up the Caribbean Sea.
    As the race organizers have adjusted the handicaps, the racing has become closer and closer, with Maltese Falcon finishing mid fleet today, in the final race, I think. Good job Chris, I was jealous every day.

    The best thing to come from the day is that Maltese Falcon is toying with some underwater mods to improve upwind performance. I say “bring it on, Chris”, then she will draw too much water to be able to use my favorit berth at Antigua Yacht Club. See what our priorities really are now?

    Guess I’m ready for a “flaming” from Sailing Anarchy readers. Bring it on, guys.

    Everyone who saw the boats sailing that day loved it and I just had way too much fun to worry about it.
    David Dawes, Master.

    The Magazine from BYM News Issue 1 - January 2007
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