Ker 51 Racer

Nothing but racing… This KER 51 is a true offshore racer designed for the prestigious events around the globe. VARUNA, owned by Hamburg regatta sailor Jens Kellinghusen, is a pure-blooded racer without any doubts. On May 4, 2012, his wife Angelika christened the boat with the traditional name "Varuna" in front of more than a hundred guests. One day later, the boat successfully completed its maiden voyage with its first sailing tests. This racing yacht, which the owner described as "a piece of art", is likely to be heard more about from now on, people speculated at the time, and they were proved right.

All black from the hull and mast to the sails with the number GER 6700, the approximately 15.50 meter long and 4.75 meter wide "Varuna" attracted attention from far away on the Kiel Fjord. In a light to moderate breeze, she glided across the barely moving sea. The man at the helm was proud and full of praise. "Everyone involved has done a fantastic job," said Kellinghusen, "every single part has been built to perfection with dedication - a masterpiece!" The entrepreneur expressed his gratitude by postponing the christening, initially planned for the end of May before the start of the regatta season in Hamburg, to the launching at the KNIERIM shipyard.

Only five and a half months passed between order and delivery. And this despite the fact that not only the molds for the hull and deck as well as the rudder, keel and bulkheads were milled with tenths of a millimeter precision in one of KNIERIM Tooling's three five-axis machines, but also those for many smaller structural parts. The composite construction method perfected by the high-tech company for individual yachts is state of the art: carbon fiber prepreg with Nomex honeycomb as a sandwich core. "It is certainly one of the most accomplished boats we have built in the ten years since our realignment," says shipyard boss Gunnar Knierim.

Remarkable: most of the halyards and stretchers have been "hidden", the cockpit layout is clean and tidy. The futuristic airfoil rigging from "Hall Spars", a mast of the latest generation, is a perfect match. Inside and out, everything was painted in flint black metallic by "Alexseal", but with a matt finish. This saves a spray coat and thus another ten kilograms of weight! Only the Norddeutscher Regatta Verein and the Alster Piraten Club banners at the stern, whose colors Jens Kellinghusen has always represented, are colorful. He earned the respect and recognition of many active and former regatta sailors for his courage in having a boat built that was designed down to the last detail for maximum speed. The owner compared the result with its predecessor, a Rogers 46: "This 'Varuna' has the same weight, but is ten percent longer and has 40 percent more sail area." She weighs only around 6.6 tons with a large part in the 3.75 meter deep keel.

Even a novice can see that this boat must be fast. Internationally renowned yacht designer Jason Ker, who was responsible for the first South African America's Cupper in 2007, guarantees that this is no coincidence. "We calculated 130,000 different hull shapes in just three weeks," reports the designer. The 51-foot-long yacht was optimized for regattas according to the IRC rating system, but also has a competitive ORCi handicap, says Ker. The result is a "unique underwater hull" (Kellinghusen) and a racing value as high as that of a TP 52 of the latest generation.

The first comparison with a boat in this class was awaited with excitement. On June 16, the "Varuna" met the competition for the first time at the Welcome Race of the Kieler Woche, including the Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One under skipper Jochen Schümann. While the three-time Olympic champion will compete with his new, international crew, Kellinghusen will continue to rely on a 14 to 15-strong German team with bosun Tim Daase, who "has contributed all the key ideas for the easy handling of the yacht". Among others, the two "North" sailmakers Nihat Aydin and Arnd Howar as well as Sebastian Vedder and Christian Stoffers, who - like the KNIERIM team including trainees - spent many a day until late in the evening building the boat.

The return race from Eckernförde to Kiel was planned for Kieler Woche. The "Varuna" was then transferred to Sandhamn in Sweden, where she took part in the Gotland Rund race. "This is our test to see whether we are fit enough for bigger tasks this year," says the skipper and reveals the goals. After regattas in the Mediterranean, including Les Voiles de Saint Tropez and the Rolex Middle Sea Race in Malta, the "Varuna" is due to start in the legendary Rolex Sydney Hobart Race in Australia on Boxing Day. The extraordinary yacht is sure to attract curious glances everywhere.


Year built2012
L.o.a.15,50 m
Beam4,75 m
Draft3,75 m
Displacement6,6 t
DesignKer Design

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