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Harken to supply hardware for new Infiniti 46R with DSS technology

Cutting edge performance set to raise the bar in competitive yacht racing
27/7/2015

Article contributors: Hannah Cotterell and Gordon Kay

Harken, a world leading manufacturer of quality sailboat hardware, are teaming up with Infiniti Yachts to provide kit for their exciting new Infiniti 46R. As with any Infiniti design this is no ordinary project, complete with revolutionary Dynamic Stability System (DSS) and canting keel, this progressive design is set to turn heads on the racing circuit. Working closely with Infiniti's Gordon Kay Harken have come on-board to decide what hardware would best suit this new design. 

What is a Dynamic Stability System (DSS)?

This patented system uses retractable foils to increase stability, reduce heel angles, reduce drag and enable progressive dynamic lift, making a faster, lighter and more balanced and comfortable boat to sail.

DSS enables the yacht to be lighter and leaner with a lower drag hull form than a conventional yacht. Ultimately the faster the boat goes the more lift and righting moment it delivers, reducing heel angles and increasing speed.

DSS has been used on bigger boats such as the 100ft Wild Oats and 88ft Rambler and will be used on the new Infiniti 53 designed by Farr Design Group. Smaller yachts such as the Quant 23, the world's first fully flying keelboat and the Quant 28 and 30 series of lake racers also use DSS in their core design.

The Infiniti 36 GTs, with fixed keels and Harken deck gear have been demonstrating the benefits of DSS in the Mediterranean and now the Infiniti 46R is launching in the mid 40ft range.

Why is the new DSS enabled Infiniti 46 turning heads?

The Infiniti 46 was designed to meet the requirements of many owners, namely a very high performance sailing yacht that can compete offshore and inshore but without an army of crew. Designed to be sailed by a crew of six and take part in the offshore and coastal classic events such as the Rolex Sydney to Hobart, Rolex Newport to Bermuda Race and transatlantic races; this design delivers extraordinary performance for a yacht of its size.

The Infiniti 46 will be lighter, lower drag than any comparable yacht and owing to the effects of DSS it will sail upwind with lower heel angles than conventional yachts. However, when reaching at speed the yacht will heel far less, typically less than ten degrees.

The other advantage of DSS is that it enables additional weight to be taken out of the keel as the DSS foils are generating stability. 

The biggest difference though, is performance. DSS enables you to go faster, much faster. Reduced weight is one factor, yes, but hydrofoil technology also allows for a greatly reduced wetted surface area, minimising drag through the water and increasing top and average speeds.

It is therefore, only natural, to consider what affect this would have on the designs hardware choice, I caught up with Infiniti's Gordon Kay to find out more…

H: What sort of loads are you expecting to deal with, is it greater than your average 46 ft yacht?

G: With additional power comes additional loads and we have worked closely with Harken to optimise the winch package to deal with these, taking into account the low crew numbers and the need to be able to trim effectively.

H: What if you need to ease everything in an instant (drop in wind) while foiling?

G: Transitioning from non-foiling to foiling and back again does mean that the crew need to sail the boat slightly differently to a conventional yacht. As the boat accelerates the apparent wind comes forward dramatically and with additional power the sails can be trimmed on harder; the converse is true and as such the ability to control the sails effectively is perhaps even more important in a foil driven design.

H: How closely have you worked with the Harken team to align hardware with the design requirements for the 46R?

G: We have worked extremely closely with Harken in the detailing of the winch package; the level of detail and attention was excellent and we have a slightly unconventional set-up, which suits the boat perfectly.

H: What was a critical factor in your hardware choice?

G: Power. The ability to get enough power and control with as few winches as possible yet at the same time having the redundancy and reliability that an offshore focused design requires.

H: Is the hardware requirement much different to your average 46ft racing yacht?

G: Yes and no. The additional righting moment means that you need to consider each part very carefully. The foil driven boats often sail in different modes to a more conventional yacht and so the deck gear is optimised towards being able to achieve that.

H: Why Harken?

G: Product, service and the ability and desire to immerse themselves in the project, we have a long relationship and we have always been very satisfied.

Now throw a canting keel into the mix…

All yachts require "righting moment" to offset the heeling moment from the sails; which is commonly achieved through the weight of the keel. We have already mentioned that with DSS the weight of the keel can be significantly reduced; however the 46R will be equipped with a canting keel...

H: How do the two work together and what's the advantage of this?

G: IRC gives you no credit for sailing with a small crew and so for upwind races such as the Fastnet the canting keel gives you some extra power for the upwind sections. DSS improves the VMG (Velocity Made Good) upwind by reducing heel and pitching so in upwind mode the two work well together.

Once reaching, then power is king, and the combination of canting keel and DSS gives a real turbo to the boat. 

H: What affect will DSS have on race handicap for the 46?

G: IRC and ORC/ORR already rate DSS powered boats and typically treat the DSS element of the boats fairly. Like many designs their ability to perform to rating is often driven by the conditions experienced on the race and the goal is to try and provide as wide a range of performance as possible.

So what comes next?

The Infiniti 46R is currently in production and will go live on the racing circuit in late 2015. There is no doubt this innovative new design is set to turn heads and quite possibly raise the bar for competitive racing. DSS is increasingly being seen as less of an experiment and more of an essential component for enhanced racing performance and comfort and we can't wait to see it take to the water!

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