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Displaying items by tag: Mark Mills

Wicklow-based designer Mark Mills has been working on a 60ft foiling ocean-going version of the current America's Cup AC75 boats, and the new machine has just had her first sail, full story and pics here

Published in Offshore
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With at least four Mark Mills-designed Cape 31s making their Irish class debut at the Wave Regatta in Howth from June 3rd to 5th, we will see one very important wheel come full circle. For it was a 31ft Mark Mills design making her debut at Howth in 1996 that launched the tyro designer on a stellar career which today sees him established as an internationally-recognised and much-awarded race-winning innovator. But he still finds the best space to think and create in Ireland, as he has moved his productive design studio even deeper into the peaceful rural depths of the lush Wicklow countryside, where he and his team come forward with frontline designs of all sizes up to super-maxis, designs that win at the top level for racing and style in five continents.

Yet twenty-six years ago, it was quite something - a real leap in the dark - to be the first owner to appreciate this nascent talent. That personal distinction falls to Peter Beamish of Dun Laoghaire, who in 1995 placed the order for a completely new 31ft Mills-designed offshore racer to the then-dominant CHS rule. Peter Beamish was to show an exceptional talent for spotting potential, for in the 21st Century he has been one of the quietly effective supporters of Ronan O Siochru and his sailing school, the remarkably successful Irish Offshore Sailing in Dun Laoghaire. But back in late 1995, it was a Fingal-based boat-building partnership, Mizzen Marine, which he commissioned to build the new boat.

Aztec on her maiden sail at Howth, May 1996. Photo: WM NixonAztec on her maiden sail at Howth, May 1996. Photo: WM Nixon 

Cape 31 in full cry – raceboat design has moved on, but there’s no doubting the family link to Aztec. Photo Rick TomlinsonCape 31 in full cry – raceboat design has moved on, but there’s no doubting the family link to Aztec. Photo Rick Tomlinson

The two main movers in Mizzen Marine were David Harte – now of Fastnet Marine & Outdoor Centre in Schull – and Garrett Connolly, an Olympic crew in the Soling. They drew on the talents of Darragh Peelo and Robin Evans as coal-face workers in this intriguing project, with further input from the multi-talented Johnny Smullen, who subsequently became California-based and the personal boat-builder to America’s Cup legend Dennis Conner.

So in all, with ideas being bounced between designer, builders and owner, it was something of a magic circle that created the boat that was initially known as Aztec, and is now known as Raptor in Dun Laoghaire, where she’s owned and sailed by the FOFC, otherwise known as the Friends of Fintan Cairns.

As Aztec in May 1996, she was a star from the start, winning her first inshore race by a clear 3.5 minutes, and making her big time debut in the Lambay Race before going on to sweep Dublin Bay and the Solent. So with the Lambay Race continuing at the heart of the Wave Regatta (it’s on Saturday June 6th), the appearance of the Cape 31s (and let’s hope Raptor as well) will mark a very special stage in the Mark Mills design career.

Aztec makes her debut – she may have been the first of the line, but she was a thoroughbred from the startAztec makes her debut – she may have been the first of the line, but she was a thoroughbred from the start

History in the making. And Aztec fulfilled all her promised, winning her first race - a short inshore – by 3.5 minutes. Photo: W M. NixonHistory in the making. And Aztec fulfilled all her promised, winning her first race - a short inshore – by 3.5 minutes. Photo: W M. Nixon

And it will show how our concepts about boat purposes have moved on too. Aztec aspired to be a proper offshore racer, with overnight capabilities. But the Cape 31s make no such promises -they’re pure day-sailing sportsboats, and indeed at the moment they’re even exploring the possibilities of a foiling version. Yet the fact that they reflect Aztec’s overall length rings a bell, and there’s no doubting a distant but distinct family relationship in their appearance.

With the post-pandemic rising profile of the Wright Group-sponsored Wave Regatta becoming evident, June 2022 is confirming predictions of being an exceptionally busy month for the offshore brigade. But there’s much more to Wave than Cruiser-Racer competition, and while as already reported in Afloat.ie there has been a remarkable uptake in entries for Classes 0 and 1, with three race areas available. And a user-friendly pick’n’choose programme means there’s every option available from the opportunity to enjoy three days of intense competition to the more traditional choice of simply doing the Lambay Race, which was first sailed in 1904, and continues as a special way of celebrating the existence of a very handsome and unspoilt island only 22 kilometres from Dublin city centre.

Lambay – the perfect unspoilt island, yet it is only 22 kilometres frOm the heart of Dublin city.Lambay – the perfect unspoilt island, yet it is only 22 kilometres frOm the heart of Dublin city.

Howth’s long tradition of One-Design keelboat racing will be much in evidence, for in addition to the locally-rooted Howth 17s of 1898-vintage and the Puppeteer 22s dating from 1978, the Squibs are undergoing one of their number surges in anticipation of the big championship in Kinsale at the end of June, while at the other end of the scale, the Sigma 33s are indicating growing strength, with the Howth-based Insider (Stephen Mullaney and Ian Martin) the current Irish champion.

Post-finish celebration aboard the Irish Champion Sigma 33 Insider after another race win. Photo: Conor LindsayPost-finish celebration aboard the Irish Champion Sigma 33 Insider after another race win. Photo: Conor Lindsay

The peninsular harbour also has a small but potent J/109 flotllla sailing from its marina, including Irish class champion Storm (Pat Kelly, Rush SC) , and they will be on their mettle, as J/109 star Mojito from Pwllheli (Vicky Cox & Peter Dunlop) is already into the mix, and now the class have made Wave a designated event for their Eastern Championship.

The Howth-based J/109s Outrajeous (Richard Colwell) and Storm (Pat Kelly) racing off the Fingal coast. The J/109s have designated the Wave Regatta as their Eastern Championship.The Howth-based J/109s Outrajeous (Richard Colwell) and Storm (Pat Kelly) racing off the Fingal coast. The J/109s have designated the Wave Regatta as their Eastern Championship.

HYC’s own club-owned fleet of J/80s made their impressive 2022 debut with the Irish Universities Keelboat Championship in the last weekend of March (when the weather was much more spring-like than it has been since), and that successful series of 18 sunlit races has inspired college crews to put down their names for charter of J/80s for more of the same.

The HYC fiotilla of J/80s making the best of bright March sunshine during the recent Irish Universities Keelboat Championship. Photo: Annraoi BlaneyThe HYC fiotilla of J/80s making the best of bright March sunshine during the recent Irish Universities Keelboat Championship. Photo: Annraoi Blaney

With normal club racing on the East Coast in full swing before the end of April (DBSC Opening is today week), there’s no doubt that it will take time for the full buzz to manifest itself again, but in Howth there’s an impressive harbour/community effort underway to ensure that Wave is an effective launching pad for the national and international programme, with Howth Harbour Master Captain Harry McLoughlin pulling out all the stops to optimise the port’s potential, while the Michael J Wright Group are joined as sponsors by Fingal County Council, Euro Car Parks, WD 40, Cassidy Travel and CKS Finance.

As for the weather, that’s in the lap of the Gods. But for anyone immersed in the culture and lore of Irish sailing, the prospect of the ancient Howth 17s racing round Lambay as they have done for 118 years in tandem with the presence of the very modern reminders of Mark Mills’ first boat in the same place is profoundly moving.

The Howth 17s Aura and Pauline racing round Lambay - as they have been doing for 118 years. Photo: John DeanThe Howth 17s Aura and Pauline racing round Lambay - as they have been doing for 118 years. Photo: John Dean

Published in W M Nixon

The Royal Cork Yacht Club has confirmed that two Irish Cape 31s which are currently in build, one from Cork and one from Dublin, have now entered Volvo Cork Week 2022.

The entry form and advance notice of regatta are live on the RCYC website.

It’s expected that the Irish fleet will have grown to four of five boats by next July when the Cork Week regatta returns for a delayed Cork300 celebration after its pandemic-enforced absence in 2020.

And it’s also hoped that they will be bolstered by visiing Cape 31s from the UK for five days of championship racing in the waters surrounding Cork Harbour.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie back in August, plans are afoot to build a sportsboat fleet here from the South African racer-inspired design by Wicklow-based Mark Mills.

Published in Cork Week

Could it be that the newest Irish one-design keelboat class will be another Irish design?

The news that Irish sportsboat exponents here have ordered up to five Cape 31 One Designs for next season has echoes of what happened almost 30 years ago when the smaller 1720 sportsboat was born in Cork Harbour.

The new Cape 31 was designed by Wicklow based Mark Mills as a simple, clean, high-performance One Design, and it's been turning heads at some of the world's biggest sailing centres.

Now, according to Afloat sources, Irish interest in the South African inspired racer has come from Howth and Cork Harbour and from some very experienced crews seeking a racing boat with 'no pretences towards cruising'. 

The boat, which is crewed by five or six, offers a combination of both upwind and offwind performance in a breeze while retaining lighter airs capabilities which has appealed to many sportsboat sailors.

As regular readers will recall, Afloat has been reporting on Cape 31 developments since its inception in 2017

Cape 31s racing at Cowes WeekCape 31s racing at Cowes Week

There is a fleet in double digits in Cape Town, and, closer to home, the class stole the limelight at this month's Cowes Week Regatta on the Solent.

According to Mills, boasting high-performance features such as an innovative ramp deck, an all-carbon keel fin, and a Southern Spars carbon rig, the light but powerful 31 has been impressing sailors on both sides of the Atlantic.

Designed to be the tightest possible fit for a high cube shipping container to allow easy transport worldwide, it's not entirely clear at this point if the new Irish owners intend to race locally or join the international regatta set, a means to escape the Irish winter.

Cape 31 - The low freeboard aggressively chined hull shape that maximises form stability in a breeze but enjoys low wetted surface when upright. Plans courtesy Mills DesignCape 31 deck plan - The low freeboard aggressively chined hull shape that maximises form stability in a breeze but enjoys low wetted surface when upright. Plans courtesy Mills Design

Cape 31 - The low freeboard aggressively chined hull shape that maximises form stability in a breeze but enjoys low wetted surface when upright. Plans courtesy Mills DesignCape 31sail plan - the new design accommodates a socketed deep carbon keel fin and a powerful sail plan, developed with North Sails South Africa and set on a Southern Spars Cape Town carbon rig Plans courtesy Mills Design

In the UK, promoters say they are also competing against the IRC rating fleet in a bid to make the Cape 31 the "ultimate all-rounder". 

Published in Irish Sailing Classes
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Construction is due to start shortly on the County Wicklow extreme foiler design of the new 60’ Flying Nikka from the drawing board of Mark Mills. 

The Cetilar branding for Roberto Lacorte’s Flying Nikka has been revealed by its sponsor PharmaNutra S.p.A.

PharmaNutra through its Cetilar brand is an enthusiastic sponsor of high-intensity sport including foiling sailing projects and endurance car racing.

Mills promises an update in coming weeks where he "will describe the design process and the team who are making his design a reality".

Published in News Update
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Solent yachtsman and Rear Commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron, Bertie Bicket has announced that his latest Fargo is to be a new Melges IC37. Currently under construction at Fibre Mechanics in Lymington, she is due to be delivered in the spring.

Speaking from Auckland, Bertie comments: “After a lot of searching and evaluation of what’s out there, the IC37 simply ticked more boxes than anything else on the market. At the smaller end of the scale there are options, but I didn’t want a big dinghy and was looking for a proper race boat, that could handle tough Solent days out and maybe also go offshore, so ultimately these boats were head and shoulders above others.

As regular Afloat readers will know, the IC37 is from the design board of County Wicklow's Mark Mills and it is the boat in which Royal Cork's Anthony O'Leary and crew took bronze at the 2019 New York Yacht Club Invitational Regatta.

“Having competed in the New York Yacht Club Invitational Regatta in 2019, I know just how much fun these boats are and to have a growing international one design class to compete in makes the IC37 a compelling proposition,” Bicket added.

With additional endorsement from the NYYC, who were the brains behind the IC37 concept, securing another UK boat will prove a great steppingstone for the development of this class over the coming years in the UK and we all know that one design boats, which have a second life in handicap racing, are here to stay.

“Having studied the on-board systems and ethos of the design, it is a substantially cheaper option in terms of running budgets and bang for buck, so we’re incredibly excited to get back out there and hope a few more boats might join for some close level rating sailing,” continues Bertie.

Fargo and her crew of ‘Solent legends’ are expected to put on a good show with their new and optimised steed.

Reflecting on feedback from existing and potential owners, the 2021 season will see some changes to the UK class.

The success of ICY, owned by veteran Solent one design campaigner Ian Atkins, in its first year while racing under IRC has ensured interest in the IC37 continues to be strong. To further encourage that interest, the IC37 will race with an IRC orientated sail wardrobe as well as a couple of other changes to increase its IRC competitiveness.

“Despite only racing in the one design format (main, one jib and one spinnaker) last season, ICY proved to be very competitive, winning three out of the four regattas she took part in,” says Sam Pearson, from Ancasta Race Boats. “It’s extremely exciting to see, at last, a mid-sized race boat which is not only exciting to sail but cost effective and very competitive under IRC.”

Another significant move will see class limitations on crew being removed for non-one design events. With these changes being easily unwound, owners can still participate in one design events, both locally as well as internationally as they wish - great for international competition as well as resale values and class sustainability.

Sam adds: “It has been a challenging time to start building a new class here in the UK. However, with these changes and the fundamentals that make the IC37 the ideal race boat for the UK, we see a bright future for the class. Having Atkins and Bicket, both long-term, highly regarded and very experienced owners buying boats demonstrates how strong the argument is for the IC37.”

Published in Boat Sales
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County Wicklow designer Mark Mills Design is starting one of the most exciting new design projects outside of the America's Cup.

The vision of his repeat client and Italian Owner of the Year Roberto Lacorte is to be the first to have a Mini-Maxi sized foiler capable of coastal racing and to bring true big boat foiling performance to a wider audience.

This will take the lessons and some of the technology from the America's Cup AC75 foiling monohull and put them together in a more user-friendly and cost-effective package which can sail in a wider range of conditions. 

Given the very challenging design brief, Mills says he has  assembled a team of specialists to ensure he can deliver Roberto's vision.

Roberto Lacorte, seen here with designer Mark Mills (top left) and his sailing team led by Alessio Razeto of North SailsRoberto Lacorte, seen here with designer Mark Mills (top left) and his sailing team led by Alessio Razeto of North Sails

Among the 10-man group are members with experience from 3 of the 4 AC teams currently competing in Auckland. R&D Partners KND are providing the analytical tools and expertise to evaluate the novel design topography, with aero input from North Sails design specialists, while Pure Engineering provides their technical knowledge to produce the lightest and most reliable platform.

The initial six months of preliminary design work has been focused on validating the concept, using the TNZ-developed Gomboc dynamic simulator and the North Sails VPP to evaluate various configurations and foil geometries both when flying and in displacement mode. Led by founder Gio Belgrano, Pure has developed an entirely new wing articulation solution to reduce foil cost and improve reliability appropriate to a project operating outside the rarefied conditions of the America's Cup.

 The vision is to be able to foil the mini maxi in winds below 10 knots The vision is to be able to foil the mini maxi in winds below 10 knots

The vision for the design is a robust simple platform able to foil in winds below 10 knots true, and capable of passing the various requirements for entry into mainstream race events, such as WS Offshore Special Regs categorisation including stability. The need for limited Archimedean sailing in sub-optimal wind speeds and increased contact with the sea surface in a wave pattern leads to a hull shape differentiated from its AC75 siblings by greater concern for the wetted surface.

Published in News Update
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County Wicklow based yacht designer Mark Mills and Turkish boatbuilder MAT have announced their latest collaboration, the MAT1340, an IRC Racer-Cruiser.

This 44’ IRC special is the result of an extensive R&D phase aimed at optimising under IRC both inshore and offshore.

It has been increasingly clear that a new approach to IRC performance has become successful, especially offshore, and having devoted the R&D time to understand the features fully, Mills says he ended up with a solution significantly faster on corrected time than an aggressive ‘Mini-TP’ model.

MAT 1340 unveiled - this 44’ IRC special is the result of an extensive R&D phase aimed at optimising under IRC both inshore and offshore.MAT 1340 unveiled - this 44’ IRC special is the result of an extensive R&D phase aimed at optimising under IRC both inshore and offshore

These features of medium/light displacement, fin keel, moderate sail area, and the option of twin rudders enable reduced crew numbers especially offshore.

This is Mills' fourth project with MAT Yachts over 14 very productive years working together. Since he began working together MAT has become successful worldwide with their focus on high performance, cost-effective boat building, ensuring this new design has the best opportunity to succeed both inshore and offshore. Given the demand for both inshore and offshore racing, lengthy consideration has been given to both disciplines and the extensive options list allows an owner to spec the boat to their exact demands, whilst knowing this is a multi-discipline design.

Published in ICRA
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County Wicklow-based international superyacht designer Mark Mills has scooped another major trophy at the stratospheric end of the global sailboat design spectrum. Back in April, he was an Afloat.ie "Sailor of the Month" awardee when his very advanced prototype Wally 100 Tango took the MDO Monte Carlo Prize. And now he is supreme in another category, as announced at the even more exotic Mediterranean location of Capri.

Mark Mills: Internationally awarded in Monaco in April, and Capri in September…..yet his heart is in the midst of County WicklowMark Mills: Internationally awarded in Monaco in April, and Capri in September…..yet his heart is in the midst of County Wicklow

His MD75 Karma, built by Maxi Dolphin, has been voted the Best Sailing Yacht at The International Yacht & Aviation Awards 2020. A striking high-performance design for an Italian client, she combines a sleek minimalist exterior with a relaxed and engaging interior by Nauta Design in Milan, the complete package making us realise that the notion of "less is more" acquires a different sense of meaning with a 75-foot performance cruiser.

Last Friday 4th September, international media group design et al hosted the final process of The 10th Anniversary International Yacht & Aviation Awards 2020 in Capri, and the winners of the 2020 Awards were announced after an exhaustive selection process only made possible by some very advanced technology. The unique voting system enabled 12,441 global industry professionals to individually acknowledge, consider and finally vote for the shortlisted nominees.

Utterly minimalist – Karma's appearance is decidedly different from that of the Irish traditional trading ketch Ilen which is also currently featuring on Afloat.ieUtterly minimalist – Karma's appearance is decidedly different from that of the Irish traditional trading ketch Ilen which is also currently featuring on Afloat.ie

Although design et al is an internationally-recognised powerhouse in top-level creativity, its ultimate headquarters is in Chester in northwest England, just across the channel from Mark Mills' design studio in the heart of County Wicklow. Nevertheless, the very international voting system means that we can be reasonably sure it wasn't an Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association stitch-up when Karma was announced as the winner in the Best Sailing Yacht category.

Certainly, Mark Mills is thrilled with this second major first prize in 2020 for Mills Design: "We love working on projects like this, where a combination of sleek looks, true performance aspirations, and great collaborators ensure the result will be outstanding. It's an honour to be recognised by the industry with such a prestigious award."

Karma's saloon is intended for relaxation after day sailing, and is definitely not designed for rugged overnight passages Karma's saloon is intended for relaxation after day sailing, and is definitely not designed for rugged overnight passages

Inevitably it is Mark Mills' work at the glossy peaks of the international marine industry that attracts the most attention and the prestigious prizes, but he continues to be an avid enthusiast for the challenge of designing front-line offshore racers. Thus as the more everyday sailing world struggles back to post-pandemic normality, we can expect the Mills-designed Melges IC37 – with which Anthony O'Leary and his Royal Cork crew took the Bronze at last September's New York YC Invitational at Newport, RI – to make the impact she merits on the European scene.

Prototype Mark Mills-designed Melges IC37 testing North Sails off the New York YC's Harbour Court at Newport, Rhode Island. After the semi-hiatus of the non-season of 2020, it is expected that that the IC37 will be making an impact in Europe in 2021 Prototype Mark Mills-designed Melges IC37 testing North Sails off the New York YC's Harbour Court at Newport, Rhode Island. After the semi-hiatus of the non-season of 2020, it is expected that that the IC37 will be making an impact in Europe in 2021

Published in Superyachts
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Yacht designer Mark Mills is the latest speaker in the Royal Irish Yacht Club’s special series of online talks tonight, Wednesday 10 June.

Mark Mills started Mills Design in 1995 with an order from Peter Beamish for the 31ft Aztec, built in Malahide by Mizzen Marine.

Building on her success, his custom designs have won numerous titles including the 100ft Wallycento Tango, the Maxi72 World Champion Alegre 3, multiple IRC Championship winners Mariners Cove and Tiamat, and the 69ft IMA Mini-Maxi Champion Alegre.

Equally his production designs such as the IC 37 for the NYYC, double ORC World Champion Landmark 43, C&C30, Cape 31, King 40 and DK 46 are well known worldwide.

Originally from California, Mills studied yacht design at the Southampton Institute while racing with some of the best teams in the UK.

He won with the Seahorse Sailor of the Month in December 2014, the 2009 Irish Sailor of the Year award, was named the Asian Marine & Boating Best Designer of 2010 and 2015, and recognised closer to home with Wicklow Sailing Club’s Irish Holly trophy.

Most recently, he won first prize at the premiere edition of the MDO Montecarlo prize for the Wallycento Tango.

A member of the RORC Technical Committee and an advisor to both the US and Irish IRC owners groups, Mills has spoken around the world on yacht design and rating rules for events such as IBEX both in the US and Europe, the International Yacht Forum, and regularly at ICRA meetings.

He was one of the initial HPR Committee members who helped draft the High Performance Rule for the NYYC, and subsequently joined the Sailing Yacht Research Foundation (SYRF) Advisory Board.

This evening, he follows the likes of Julian Everitt in the RIYC’s special series of talks with some of the world most renowned yacht designers. RIYC members should contact [email protected] to attend this talk, which starts at 7.30pm this evening, Wednesday 10 June, via the Zoom platform.

Published in Royal Irish Yacht Club
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