In September 2015 Knierim launched the latest generation racer designed by Ker Design with canting keel and daggerboards. Cutting-edge technologies were used for the construction of the high-tech racing yacht VARUNA VI, a no-compromise 17 metres long and 4.95 metres wide Ker 56.
“If you intend to win an international top-level regatta at some point in your sailing career, you have to make a decision whether you want a boat that is built for inshore racing or one that is optimised for long distance offshore races”, said owner Jens Kellinghusen about his vision regarding the new-build yacht.
In fact, the team was highly satisfied with the yacht’s predecessor, the 5 foot shorter “Super-TP52” concept, but with regard to sailing the offshore classics – from Fastnet to Sydney Hobart Race, the Trans Atlantic to Trans Pacific competitions – it was necessary to improve the yacht’s reaching speed potential in particular.
The result is a 10% longer and just 7% heavier boat than the Ker 51, carrying an incredible 35% bigger sail area. “While we are talking about tenths of knots when sailing upwind and running downwind, the boat’s speed when reaching is measured in knots”, explains designer Jason Ker.
The canting keel has a pivoting range of 40° to either side and provides a significant part of the yacht’s overall weight of 7.6 tons. The daggerboards’ position was optimised during the building process and moved further aft near the mast. Top speeds of 30+ knots are expected. Thanks to the twin rudders the yacht remains perfectly steerable and controllable at such enormous speeds.
VARUNA VI is made of an ultra light sandwich construction using carbon prepregs with a Nomex and Kevlar honeycomb core. Every carbon fibre part was made in-house, like chain plates, daggerboards, rudder stocks, rudders, dodger, winch pods. For all moulds and some bearings Knierim’s 5-axis milling machines delivered precise results.
Also, the technical equipment is state-of-the-art, from grinder drives to hydraulics for the canting keel.
The deck layout is just functional. Eye-catcher on the black deck are the light ceramic coated winches. The cockpit floor is covered with an extremely light weight non-skid foam. Over all, there is not a gram too much on board.
Below deck are only 14 pipe berths, a 40 hp engine without any insulation, the housing for the retractable propeller, a few pumps, the nav station with some electronics, a control panel for the hydraulics, plus – and this is the only luxurious piece on board – a toilet cabin.
Two weeks after launching the boat, the first and only sea trail in the Baltic Sea put a bright smile on everyone’s face on board. Builders, designer, owner and crew enjoyed the ride in flat to choppy waters near Kiel lighthouse at westerly winds of about 10 knots with gusts up to 16-17 knots. Everything on board worked well, all systems performed as expected.
VARUNA VI accelerated easily to 20+ knots without any serious trimming and with just the main sail, stay sail and heavy genoa. No Gennaker was hoisted due to a not yet delivered bob stay. Also upwind she showed a good speed of around 10 knots. The daggerboards could be easily moved up and down and steering the boat was a pleasure as seen on the helmsman’s smiling face.
After a few hours in her elements VARUNA VI was brought back to the yard, lifted, disassembled and packed for the land transport to St. Tropez where she is expected to sail from Saturday, September 26th, 2015. These races will be the tune-up for the Middle Sea Race in October. “After that we will know the real performance of the boat”, said Jason Ker after the sea trial. For the moment he was satisfied with the performance and very impressed by the high quality standard of Knierim built boats.