Quest for the fastest monohull on the planet

By Speed Dream Media on 4 Mar 2010
Photos © SpeedDream
The design concept SpeedDream
The  design concept SpeedDream
The  design concept SpeedDream

Revealing (some) Secrets Behind the SpeedDream Performance Concept

In this News Release the SpeedDream team lifts (only slightly) the veil surrounding their revolutionary design concept and shares some ideas on how they plan to advance monohull performance to a totally new level. “We want the sailing public to be aware of our campaign and to get involved in the SpeedDream challenge with their ideas, comments and support,” says design coordinator Vlad Murnikov. “We do, however, have to be careful about how much information we can let out on this very early stage of the project. This News Release should be viewed with the understanding that our team has many more tricks up our sleeves which we will keep there for a time being. We will continue to work tirelessly on improving our radical SpeedDream concept until it evolves into the most extraordinary speed machine ever. And we will continue sharing our progress with you every step of the way.”

Items covered in this News Release are:

  • Monohull versus Multihull
  • A Slender Hull that Sails through the Waves
  • The search for the Ultimate Canting Keel
  • A Boat with Wings
  • Making a Wet Boat Less Wet – and More Beautiful
  • Learning from Powerboats
  • SpeedDream Design Background

Monohull versus Multihull

The SpeedDream campaign, the quest to create the world’s fastest monohull, is gaining momentum. The reaction to the SpeedDream announcement in early January was overwhelmingly positive demonstrating that the sailing world is ready for a radical super-fast monohull, capable of competing on equal terms with the record-setting multihulls.

"If everything comes together as anticipated our revolutionary boat will be capable of reaching and maintaining unprecedented openocean speeds," says project leader Vlad Murnikov. Murnikov is confident that many new records will be set in open ocean conditions including the fastest transatlantic crossing as well as the fastest nonstop global circumnavigation.”

Why a monohull?

“For decades catamarans and trimarans have proven themselves to be the fastest boats under sail," says Murnikov. "All this time these multihulls have enjoyed unrestricted development leaving their designers free to explore every possible recipe for speed. Monohull development, on the other hand, has always been governed by strict class rules which puts a big damper on single-hull performance capabilities."

Today’s fastest monohull, the VOR 70, is a relatively conservative design developed in accordance with a stringent 'box' rule in order to keep all boats similar and to reduce costs, and risks, associated with the ultimate ocean race. These rules put limits on length, beam, draft, displacement, rig dimensions, and sail area, all the major design parameters, as well as materials that can be used for boat’s construction. And yet, despite all these restrictions, VOR 70s are capable of reaching speeds in excess of 40 knots, the same as some of the fastest multihulls. The problem is, much wider and shorter monohulls tend to slow down after each burst of speed, while catamarans and trimarans, with their needle-like hull forms, can sustain higher speeds for a substantially longer periods of time. This explains why multihulls dominate the record pages.

The SpeedDream team believes, however, that the current superior multihull performance could be matched and even exceeded by a monohull if we are able to throw away all restrictions and design the most advanced boat possible.

“After all multihulls, no matter how long and slender, still sail in displacement mode while high-speed monohulls can glide over the water in a much more efficient planing mode,” explains Murnikov. “We see potential for a quantum leap forward in monohull performance, a true design revolution. While this is happening catamarans and trimarans would continue their incremental advancement becoming larger and wider while growing more complex and costly.”

Generally, light boats are fast. Monohull critics are quick to point out that the ballast weight that a traditional single-hull boat has to carry in order to achieve sufficient stability is dead weight most of the time. Recent advancements in canting keel design allow for enormous gains in stability while reducing ballast weight. In fact you can hardly call a canting keel a “keel”. It’s more accurately a ‘stability strut’ that adds power in a very efficient and effective manner. It’s true that multihulls don’t need ballast for generating righting moment but they do have to carry around the weight of at least one or even two extra hulls, plus all the complex structure necessary to keep it all together.

“Advancements in modern technology and design make it possible to produce a monohull with a comparable weight and righting moment of a multihull while taking full advantage of the drag reduction of a high-speed planing hull,” says Murnikov. “Our preliminary estimates show that the SpeedDream concept would result in a monohull capable of reaching speed in excess of 50 knots and maintaining an average speed on par with the fastest multihulls.

Creating the world’s fastest monohull questions the status quo and shatters existing stereotypes of high performance sailing, while adding a new level of excitement to the never-ending quest for speed.”

When SpeedDream is built, the boat will effect the sailing community in more profound ways than any speed-record multihull could ever do simply because the vast majority of sailboats on water are monohulls. The design innovation and research that will go into this project, and the experience gained from it, will benefit the future of sailboat design and set the direction for generations of yachts to come.

A Slender Hull that Sails through the Waves

High performance results from a combination of two main factors: providing a boat with enough power and reducing resistance in order to utilize this power in the most efficient way possible. Most designers focus performance optimization on increasing power.

Multihulls are typical of this approach as they grow larger and wider with each new generation in order to achieve higher and higher sailcarrying capability. This, however, results in over-powered vessels that are inevitably over-stressed requiring a more and more robust structure to survive. This all comes at the expense of extra weight which in turn calls for even more power to maintain speed.

“Our solution is to reduce drag, by all means possible,” says Vlad Murnikov. “This way all the available wind power is used more efficiently requiring less sail area to achieve higher speeds. Less righting moment is needed, the boat is less stressed and will be lighter while remaining strong. Lighter means faster”.

To greatly reduce resistance the SpeedDream boat features a relatively narrow, slender hull, almost triangular in plan view and equipped with a sharp wave-piercing bow. The goal is to reduce drag in heavy seas as well as minimize pitching and slamming.

The boat is designed to sail most of time at a constant heel angle of around 20-25 degrees. This angle of heel will be maintained by adjusting sail area and keel angle in accordance to the changes in wind strength. Both the hull and rig are optimized to be most efficient in such conditions with the hull having two narrow planing surfaces port and starboard, each tilted at 20-25 degrees. Further design development will concentrate on verifying the optimal heel angle and determining both the shape and width of the planing surfaces in order to achieve the best combination of maximum hydrodynamic lift and minimal hull drag. The resulting hull design will have minimal volume and surface area with its buoyancy and hydraulic lift moved as far outboard as possible.

The search for the Ultimate Canting Keel

VOR 70 rules limit keel cant to 40 degrees. The geometry of most modern canting systems allows for a maximum cant of up to 50 degrees. Beyond 50 degrees the loads grow dangerously high. For SpeedDream we have developed a proprietary system that allows much higher cant angles while at the same time being able to significantly reduce loads. The goal is to ultimately sail the boat with the keel completely out of water thereby removing a significant amount of drag. Even if the keel is going get submerged periodically, on the whole this concept promises sizable benefits to overall drag reduction.

A Boat with Wings

Wings were first attached to the keel in 1983 to help the Australians win the America’s Cup. Recently we saw a huge wing sail propelling BMW Oracle to its victory. Now the SpeedDream designers are looking closer at wings, trying to utilize uniquely shaped hydrofoils to create additional righting moment and to partially offset the boat’s displacement. Placed near the center of gravity to diminish the negative effect of hull movement on their performance, these foils will be capable of creating lift equal to 30-50% of the total displacement.

The wings could be retractable or fixed and could be used as separate appendages or in combination with a daggerboard. The parameters of the wing will be decided in the later stages of design process. Further analysis will be focused on finding the optimal size and shape of the hydrofoils and their profile in order to achieve maximum lift and minimal drag.

Making a Wet Boat Less Wet – and More Beautiful

It’s hard to underestimate the importance of the deck design and layout as it relates to performance since at high speed the deck will frequently get submerged. Its shape will be sculptured to shed water as quickly and to throw as little water and spray forward as possible and to prevent large amounts of water reaching the cockpit. All of this will help reduce resistance and provide the best protection for the crew.

“Naturally the task of protecting the crew from the elements on a boat intended to reach 50+ knots in real ocean conditions is an enormous design challenge, but we have a few interesting tricks up our sleeve that will help make this inevitably wet boat a little bit less wet and more comfortable for her crew,” says Murnikov.

The deck, with several strategically placed breakwaters, is designed to shed water aside as quickly as possible. The cockpit is set far aft and is significantly elevated relative to the rest of boat, and both the helmsman and crew are protected by good-size dodgers. The cockpit sole is a mesh trampoline with a deep, steeply sloped channel below that allows water to easily pass aft and discharge through the open transom with minimal impact on the crew and boat speed.

“It has to be said that so far no offshore sailboat has ever sailed at such speeds so we are venturing into totally uncharted territory. No one quite knows what we will face there,” admits Murnikov. “Highperformance sailing could be dangerous, but so is climbing Mount Everest or driving an F1 car. Our design team will keep working on making this boat as safe as possible and we believe that the experience gained throughout our project will greatly benefit all offshore sailors.”

All the functional attributes of the SpeedDream design also contribute to the boat’s strikingly futuristic image. “I view design as part science and part art and believe that beautiful boats are fast boats. This boat looks like nothing ever seen before and to my eye she is very beautiful, and therefore she has to be very fast,” jokes designer Murnikov.

Learning from Powerboats

Among other venues the SpeedDream design team is actively exploring are applications of stepped hulls, spray rails and other speed-enhancing features that are widely used on powerboats. “The next step will be to take a closer look on the benefits of bottom aeration in order to further reduce wetted surface,” says Murnikov. “And that’s only a start. During the extensive research and development process, throughout design, construction and boat testing, our designers and engineers will keep improving our revolutionary SpeedDream concept until it evolves into the most extraordinary speed machine ever.”

SpeedDream Design Background

SpeedDream is the brainchild of Vlad Murnikov, a radical sailboat designer, born in Russia, now based in the USA. Vlad was the project leader and design coordinator for FAZISI, Russia's first-ever entry in the Whitbread Round the World Race, the premier oceanic sailing competition in the world, now known as the Volvo Ocean Race. In the 1989-90 Whitbread race, not only did the remarkable FAZISI with her minimal budget and crew of novice sailors overcome impossible odds to place 11th in a field of the world’s best yachts, she posted the next-to- longest 24-hour run racking up the then-incredible 386 miles in a single day.

FAZISI was one of the lightest boats in the entire Whitbread fleet. Although the almost twice-as–heavy, over-canvassed New Zealand ketch STEINLAGER won the race under the command of the legendary skipper Peter Blake, the light-displacement boats ultimately prevailed in the design competition. Today they fully dominate the racing scene getting lighter and faster with every new generation. Murnikov’s unique SpeedDream concept improves upon the once-revolutionary FAZISI blueprint and advances the scientific art of boat design into yet uncharted territory.

Another trend-setting design that influenced the SpeedDream concept was MX-Ray, a revolutionary boat that forever changed small boat sailing. When Murnikov came up with the idea of super-fast, singlehanded dinghy with asymmetric spinnaker, nobody believed that the concept could work or that there would be sailors skillful enough to handle such a boat.

Not only did the tiny 13-foot MX-Ray proved to be extremely fast, capable of reaching 27 knots, she turned out to be great fun and very easy to operate. Over the years more that a half-dozen designs from various manufacturers followed in her wake, and today practically every dinghy producer has a similar boat in their line-up. It is from the MX-Ray that the SpeedDream concept has borrowed her sharp wavepiercing bow, very narrow waterline, and dart-shaped hull.

Other members of the SpeedDream design team are bringing their cutting edge expertise in offshore racing boats, record multihulls, hydrodynamics, structural engineering, hydrofoil and keel design. On top of this SpeedDream’s innovative rig and sails are going be developed by industry leaders. We are confident that our team is capable of producing the fastest sailboat ever.

For more information please take a look at the latest SpeedDream magazine found online at issuu.com/speeddream/docs

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