Highland Fling XI

There are only a few internationally-recognized builders of big, high-tech sailing yachts. Goetz Custom Technologies of Bristol, R.I., furthers its position as one of them with its latest build, a Wally 82, designed by Reichel/Pugh. The boat, called Highland Fling XI, was delivered in early August from Goetz’ yard to Newport Shipyard for completion and sea trials.

Highland Fling XI represents the latest in Goetz’ efforts. With a mixture of blue-clear over black carbon weave, the hull shines from shades of sapphire to ebony. The sleek coach house, gleams in a coordinating silver. Her mast looms 131 feet high, with carbon rigging which sparingly supports it. The carbon winches, hidden tracks and lines leave no distractions to take your eye off of the perfect honey colored teak decks. Highland Fling XI is the epitome of newly defined speed.

Although the yacht is billed as a Wally, Highland Fling XI is “every inch a Reichel/Pugh design” according to Mike Roberts, a designer at Reichel Pugh Yacht Design in San Diego, Calif. Roberts says that their design work was done with some oversight on the part of Wally in order to insure Wally’s standards and specifications, thus garnering the “Wally Class” rating for Highland Fling XI and allowing the yacht to compete with like-categorized yachts.

Scotsman Lord Irvine Laidlaw has owned boats which have competed in the Wally Class before, but this is his first Reichel/Pugh design. His previous boat Highland Fling X, a swing keel Wally 80, was designed by Farr Yacht Design of Annapolis, Md. Sir Laidlaw choose the Reichel/Pugh team based on their recent successes in designing Wild Oates, Alfa Romeo, and Morning Glory, all large, lightning-fast boats.

Challenge race

The yacht’s completion schedule was under pressure to meet a challenge set by the new yacht’s captain, Xavier Mecoy, to sail against Titan XV, a 75-foot Reichel/Pugh design. The challenge will take place during the 2009 Ida Lewis Distance Race in Rhode Island, a perfect “not so long” 177-nm course that offers something for everyone &mdash racers and cruisers alike. The race features a longer course for the larger boats and an around Block Island course of 150-nm for smaller boats in the fleet.

Highland Fling XI has been described as “as a total breakthrough,” by Mecoy. Every piece of equipment has been scrutinized for its weight-to-strength ratio, drag reduction, and aesthetics. Many of the companies that have supplied parts also produce components for the aerospace industry.

Highland Fling XI is not built to any particular structural standards such as ABS. The hull and deck are built from pre-impregnated carbon fiber over Nomex coring. The carbon construction provides a stiff but light structure with a low center of gravity. This lightweight structure gives the boat a displacement of only 44,000 pounds.

The keel is comprised of two parts; a hollow steel foil which is externally attached to the notably flat hull and a torpedo shaped bulb. The lead bulb, which was manufactured by APN, Mayville, of Milwaukee, Wis., weighs 14 tons and is externally attached. The keel extends to a depth of 16 feet to counter the tall mast. The yacht’s twin rudders are made out of carbon fiber and were built by Composite Solutions of Hingham, Mass. Construction is in pre-preg carbon, autoclave cured for maximum compaction and strength. The rudder quadrants combine light weight with superior strength and reliability.

The tapered carbon mast and spreaders were built by Southern Spars of New Zealand. The boom, also carbon fiber, is built with a deep section accommodating a loose footed mainsail. Carbon rigging also offers a weight savings of over 60 percent compared to conventional rod rigging. The running rigging is RSB, a square braided fiberglass rope. The mainsheet traveler is flush mounted in the deck.

Hydraulic sail handling

All winches are hydraulic. The deck is clean and uncluttered, with a small anchor locker and a large, custom foredeck hatch built by Goetz. Lewmar port lights offer additional lighting below. The cockpit features an open transom with two wheels. The steering pedestals and wheels are also composite, manufactured by McConaghy of Australia and China. All electronics are Brooks & Gatehouse. The boat’s GPS is by I-Star.

The sails were designed by Steve Calder and Rodrigo Meriles and built by North Sails in their Nevada 3DL facility. The Code 0, made of polyester, will power the boat on reaching legs. Highland Fling XI will only carry reaching spinnakers. A carbon fiber bow sprit adds to the sailing performance and a super sleek look. The mainsail is fully battened with a head more than six feet wide, reminiscent of the new America’s Cup boat profiles. The upwind sail area is 1,446 square feet while downwind the yacht flies more 9,957 square feet of canvas.

A VW engine under the hood

Mechanical propulsion is supplied by a 165-hp VW turbo diesel engine. Large for the weight of the boat, the engine will provide power for propulsion as well as service the hydraulic system. Many races allow for engines to be running while racing, particularly the Wally Class races, to provide power for the hydraulics. An inverter will charge the yacht’s lithium-ion batteries. This battery bank, of approximately 580 amps, represents a weight savings of 74 percent over a conventional lead acid battery bank. The propeller shaft is a retractable drive unit that rotates up and stows away when not under power. The opening is then covered with a hinged plate, further reducing hull drag. A conventional, fixed four-bladed propeller is mounted on the shaft.

Although the Wally 82 is oriented around performance racing, Highland Fling XI, also features accommodations which would allow the yacht to serve as a week-ender and coastal cruiser. The center companionway ladder opens into a very spacious main saloon. Traditional settees have been redesigned using carbon tubes to create sling-like seating with an ultra modern look. The tubes are covered with a light grey, polyester mesh fabric, which then continues up along the interior hull covering wiring leads and plumbing. The fabric saves weight and is mildew resistant.

Forward of the mast, there are two staterooms with over and under bunks. Each cabin has its own head with carbon fiber commode and sink by Al Fresco Composites. These units are built in carbon fiber to minimize weight. Aft of the companionway and to starboard is the owner’s cabin. This cabin has a double berth and a large en suite head. In order to save additional weight, locker doors and several non-structural bulkheads, traditionally fashioned out of wood, have been replaced with fabric as well. A light sail cloth-like laminate with a carbon and twill finish has been used to create panels for these areas. The headliner is a tightly stretched fabric, which is easily removed for access to wiring, etc. All four cabins and the saloon are air conditioned by Sea Breeze Cooling. A full galley, located to port, features refrigeration, propane stove and a Spectra watermaker. Countertops and cabinets are all fashioned from carbon fiber.

Although not the biggest, Highland Fling XI could be the lightest yacht per square foot that Goetz has built to date. In building this yacht, Goetz Custom Technologies has demonstrated their tenacity in honoring the objective of the project and in producing a racer/cruiser that is sure to round marks way ahead of the others, the world over.

By Ocean Navigator