Ker 56 Racer

Having successfully proven the Ker 51 VARUNA to be an extremely fast and reliable boat, the shipyard and designer for his new project were already determined by the owner. In the fall of 2014, he commissioned the new yacht from Knierim, which was not only to be larger, but also even more extreme for downwind courses.

In a nine-month construction period, Knierim created a 17-meter-long high-tech racer of the latest generation in an ultra-light sandwich construction. It is made of carbon prepregs with a Nomex and Kevlar honeycomb core. In addition to the predominant black for the hull, deck, sails and fittings, the Ker 56's special features include a canting keel, daggerboards (side daggerboards inserted through the hull), twin rudder system and retractable propeller.

Sophisticated detail solutions and design-related changes to the daggerboards and their position presented the boat builders with constant new challenges, which were mastered with great attention to detail and superb craftsmanship.

Not only the hull and deck, but also all the carbon fiber parts on this boat are individual productions and " in-house made", e.g. putties, daggerboards, rudder stocks, rudder blades and hatches. All molds and individual bearings were made to fit precisely with the help of Knierim's 5-axis milling machines.

The result is a boat weighing only 7.6 tons with a filigree keel fin and rudder blades barely larger than those of a dinghy.

The rig is made of carbon fiber with strikingly wide spreaders. The 200 m² sail area is divided between the mainsail and headsail. A staysail can be added to the inner forestay or used alone in stormy conditions. The bowsprit is required for the gennaker. The entire deck layout is designed for efficient handling with the lowest possible weight.

The choice of technology, especially for the grinders, has also contributed to the weight saving. On deck, the ceramic-coated winches stand out; the two grinders are located fore and aft in the huge cockpit. The connection between the grinder and winches below deck is a carefully thought-out one-off design by specialists from England.

From the two helm stations in front of the mainsheet traveler, the helmsman has a good view of the flat deck with the off-center companionway. The anti-slip flooring in the cockpit is made of extremely lightweight foam, which is also used to make gym mats. There is plenty of room for the crew of 12 to 14 to move around.

As with many regatta yachts, the hydraulic system comes from Italy. The main component is the powerful keel cylinder, which moves the canting keel 40° to each side.

Below deck there are 14 tubular bunks aft, an unencapsulated 40 hp engine, the navigation corner, a few pumps and - the only bit of luxury - a toilet cabin in the foredeck. The rest is "black cave", only the companionway and the ceiling in the companionway area are painted white.

VARUNA VI is a pure regatta yacht with not a single gram of extra weight. Designer Jason Ker has calculated possible top speeds of over 30 knots and the yacht easily reached over 20 knots on the very first test run. The best conditions for a successful career. The world tour of the new VARUNA begins at the end of September 2015 with the dress rehearsal in St. Tropez. After that, the Middle Sea Race is on the agenda before heading to the Caribbean from Lanzarote.


Year built2015
L.o.a.17,07 m
Beam4,95 m
DraftCanting Keel
Displacement7,6 t
DesignKer Design

Further information

  • Onboard video in action