Keith Miller from Wexford transformed his Yamaha 36 from a slow cruising boat into a well-balanced and finely tuned IRC racer
Keith’s Yamaha 36 was doing a race to the Fastnet and back when his backstay parted bending the mast beyond repair. Considering this challenge as an opportunity, and working in partnership with www.visitwexford.ie he had a look into improving his Yamaha 36 by creating a better mast and rig set-up. Having read a lot of articles on Afloat about boat “balance” and what can be done to improve a boat’s performance, Keith contacted UK Sailmakers Ireland to see what improvements could be made to his boat.
Getting the Balance & Boat Speed
Keith and UK Sailmakers’ Barry Hayes then reviewed what his previous rig set-up had been and what Keith was willing to do to improve the boat. Given we had to find a mast that would suit what Keith goals were, we got in contact with New Zealand yacht designer Kevin Dibley of Dibley Marine to help us work out the best mast and IRC optimisation design considering the stability and lead (balance) of the boat.
Keith found a second-hand mast form an Oyster 395 which fitted the job perfectly. We then set about analysing the performance and rating that we could get out of the boat with that mast. Working closely with Kevin and crunching a lot of data we came up with a few options.
Some of the options were: A) a fractional with an overlapping headsail with a smaller main, B) a masthead max non-overlapping headsail with an IRC main, and C) non-overlapping headsail with an oversized main. After scratching our heads and reviewing the data multiple times, we agreed the best plan for giving Keith optimal stability and performance was option B.
Working from there, we did detailed measurements of the boat and rig. Then we built a 3D module of the boat so we could see the aerodynamic drag calculations allowing us to develop the most efficient, aerodynamic sails package possible. All the time we kept in mind the objective of maintaining the stability and lead (balance)in the boat.
Keith was focussed on offshore and IRC racing, so we went with X-Drive® Endure sails for offshore performance and reliability. The sails would also have taffeta and enough structural loading for durability with two reefs in his IRC roached main. The headsail was design to be furling with a horizontal battens and an IRC roach. The sail design modelling we did showed that this combination would result in the best durability and performance offshore.
As Covid-19 lifted, and Keith was able to get out sailing, he was itching to see how his plan had come together and see the performance first hand.
Keith updated by email:
Just a quick word to say I was out on Andante at the weekend for the first time with the new rig and sails. We were out in around 10 kts of breeze Saturday and Sunday.
I believe the boat behaved beautifully and was very well balanced. On a reach with the new assym, she was very easy to steer; even when the helm was distracted and went too far upwind, she responded easily to the wheel to get back in control.
Going upwind we had the jib sheet on an inhauler at an angle I didn't think possible. We could steer with slight adjustments to the mainsheet and only about 2 degrees of rudder. I am absolutely delighted and can't wait to be up against some competition. I think we have given this old bus a new lease of life.
I only paid Kevin and UK Sailmakers Ireland €500 for this analysation work to give a new lease of life in this Yamaha 36. She is a totally different boat with excellent performance and stability. I am looking forward to getting out racing.