no r.i.p. for r/p
Been quite a while since we heard from the Reichel/Pugh boys, so we put together this short innerview with Jim Pugh. Enjoy.
JP: I don’t think it is true, the yacht/boat design arena spans a wide range of performance and cruising styles and we are covering more of that span and our designs are generating plenty of publicity. Demand for custom racing yachts decreased dramatically with the economic downturn. R/P developed and conducted a research study for the ground breaking 67m classic Hetairos (pictured above) launched in 2011, R/P was fully responsible for the naval architecture, hull, appendage lines and sail plan. In 2011 our 112’ performance cruiser Nilaya won her first two regattas the Super Yacht Cup and the Maxi Rolex regatta. (and they drew the nice looking Aquila 45 – ed)
SA: Can you assess how much damage the design problems with Shockwave and Bella Mente have hurt you guys?
JP: As soon as we were aware that of the design flaws we addressed the problems, in the case of Bella and Shockwave after construction and in other cases during construction. We fronted up and addressed these issues and it was obviously very public. Bella went on to have her share of success winning the Mini Maxi Championships in 2010 and with additional design modifications by R/P went on to win her class and set a new course record in the 2011 Transpac. (The Transpac was won overall by the Santa Cruz 70 Grand Illusion which features R/P keel and rudder designs.) Shockwave went on to win her own share of races.
Of our other modified designs Secret Men’s Business went on to an overall win in the 2010 Sydney-Hobart and Loki won the Sydney-Hobart overall in 2011. Our new 52+ Highland Fling fresh out of the box suffered some teething problems at Key West, we are confident she will fully live up to expectations. Our 2008 TP52 Powerplay took 2nd in her class at Key West following optimizations and has a good team with owner helmsman Peter Cunningham and project manager/tactician Tony Rey. We work continually with our owners and their teams in optimizing our designs worldwide for specific races and regattas.
SA: There is perhaps an overabundance of new 40’s – Soto, Farr, Ker, Carkeek – and we don’t see how the market can sustain them all. With the fade of the TP 52, GP 42, do you see a size or type of boat than can really can some traction?
JP: The 40 size will always have some traction, though possibly not through one class, they can all have good racing under IRC and ultimately HPR. The TP 52 class is transitioning through a bad economy and I believe will make a strong comeback, I would not write this class off, this is a well-managed class with good class rules that have undergone updating.
SA: What do you make of the new HRP rule? What is it and why?
JP: The High Performance Rule (HPR) is defined as a Continuum Rule, like a sliding box rule from 32’ to 72’ targeting the top of the spectrum in grand prix offshore capable performance with no concessions to dual purpose use (cruising). The rule is to be published and the guts of it made public to allow for unlimited trials and total transparency – there is no VPP and no “black box” that creates a rating. The fastest TP52 parameters will probably form the baseline for the HPR in the 52 size range and the fastest mini maxi parameters at the 72’ size. The general idea is that there are parameters that define a base boat at any given length; the base boat parameters are perceived to be the optimal configuration for high performance at that size range. Any deviation from this base boat alters the rating, so speed inducing factors such as deep draft will increase the rating and go-slow factors decrease the rating – however deviations from the base boat are penalized in a type forming bowl, becoming overly punitive as you move further away from the baseline. The key for HPR is to define the optimal high performance parameters through the size range. The end rating is calculated in linear meters which can be converted to time on time handicaps. While we have studied the 40’ size extensively the entire rule is still under development and the above is our understanding of it at this time. Hopefully HPR boats can be measured with just a scale and a tape measure.
SA: R/P, thanks to the talent of John Reichel, and your firm’s keen sense of aesthetics, almost always turned out the best looking boats. Yet as evidenced by the new crop of 40’s for example, there seems to be an alarming sameness to their looks. Is there still room for drawing the standout boat given the rules and parameters that many boats are drawn to?
JP: As far as the drawing a 40, when maximizing waterline upright and heeled with overall length, the boats truly become box boats, it makes it hard to have a great aesthetic. Some do look a lot better than others and we hope to have one soon.
SA: Where do you see tomorrow’s business coming from for R/P?
JP: We have a great team of young passionate designers. Our business will come from a wide range of racing and cruising yachts with single and multi hulls, sized from dinghies through super yachts. We now do our own composite and metal engineering. One key advantage of working with R/P is the fully integrated and co-located design and engineering staff. Key decisions happen in real-time enabling a greater exploration of opportunities for optimizing. Having the naval architects closely involved in the engineering makes a big difference. We will of continue to work with outside consultants on some projects.
SA: We have always loved the concept of the "affordable" race boat. Flying Tiger had the right idea, but failed to execute it properly. Can it be done in today’s environment, and do you think it could be successful at say 30′, 35′ or 40′ size ranges?
JP: I believe it can be very successful. It would take an excellent business and strategic plan, funding, a team committed to creative collaboration, and thorough design and construction development.
SA: You guys have watched what has happened to the AC. How would you like to see the Cup sailed, in terms of boats, venue or format?
JP: We have not been keeping a close eye on the events and don’t really have any valid comments.
SA: Do you guys see the multihull market, in terms of design business, someplace you need to be?
JP: We would like to be involved in this market from both the racing and cruising side, and here is a115’ design John has been working on, not a high performance craft, but I believe a very compelling design
SA: What are you guys working on right now?
JP: Right now we are in the early stages of a 125’ super yacht design. John is completing the lines for a new One Design 16ft skiff for the Manley 16’ Skiff Sailing Club / Australian 16’ Skiff Association. And here is a photo in construction of the new lifting keel 100’ Magic Carpet, a Wallycento being built at Wally. We are providing all the engineering on this project, Mike and Ryon our chief engineer have just returned from visiting the yard in Ancona.
Here is a rendering of a 115’ classic sloop for which we are working hard on finding an owner. This is pretty much a day sailor or over nighter, designed to beat a J Class yacht with half the crew and 1/3rd the budget. Pretty simple to sail and fast. And the rendering of the Aloha a barn door 90’ is located above!
We have a few other designs on the burners as well.
SA: That is really great to hear! We look forward to getting together with you soon.
JP: Come by sometime and meet the team.