VO65: Farr Yacht Design’s bow to change
ALICANTE _ The first Volvo Ocean Race’s one-design 65ft racers are emerging from production with a reverse bow _ a look that can make people cringe. But the reverse bow is increasingly common on multihulls like those in the America’s Cup, commercial ships and super-yachts. It merits a rethink, says the VOR. It is opting for a striking new look.
The choice was made largely for aesthetic reasons. While there are advantages to what the Brits keep calling a ‘dreadnought bow,’ they are negligible on a VO65 monohull. They work best on multihulls. “Our goal was to provide a visual link to the world’s fastest boats which are multihulls,” Patrick Shaughnessy, President of Farr Yacht Design, the boat’s US designer, tells Yacht-and-Coast. “Those boats have reversed stems as part of a wave piercing strategy which is arguably ineffective at the beam, length, and displacement of the VO65. In any case, we wanted to share some of that ‘modern look’ to ensure the image we presented was forward-looking and more likely to appear modern in 8 years’ time.”
Some Dutch yacht builders see resistance to reverse bows in recreational boating. Aart Willert of Flevo Jachtbouw acknowledges a reverse bow may extend the water line, adding speed, and let a boat rise from the water faster “the fact remains that people think it just looks odd.” Piet van Oossanen of Van Oossanen Naval Architects: “In sailing yachts, reverse bows are not popular. Has to do with aesthetics. In motor yachts, super-yachts even, reverse bows are enjoying some popularity right now.”
Will the VOR change that? James Dadd of Britain’s Green Marine, one of four yards building V065 (the others: Decision in Switzerland, Persico in Italy and Multiplast in France) says the reverse V065 bow “has allowed us to extend the waterlines to a finer entry, giving a more elegant and striking solution without compromising the handling benefits. It’s a step away from what has now become tradition with the plumb bows in ocean racing yachts. This helps the Volvo Ocean 65 to have a distinct appearance and stand out from the past.”
Here some reverse bow thinking by Farr Yacht Design’s Shaughnessy (photo):
Q – A reverse bow has speed and other advantages. Why opt for a reverse bow on the VO65 now?
A – “A reversed stem either moves the knuckle forward or the stem top aft, depending on where you start. In this case we agreed on a length overall at the deck, and moved the knuckle forward. We pursued a reversed stem primarily as an aesthetic choice to provide a visual link to the world’s fastest boats which are multihulls. Those boats have reversed stems as part of a wave piercing strategy which is arguably ineffective at the beam, length, and displacement of the VO65.”
Q – What sort of reverse bow did you select?
A – “We looked at a number of stem slopes and curvature variations. Our goal was to get enough of a visual impact and differentiation with the bow geometry that the new class of boats would be instantly recognizable. The input we had from photographers was that the bow area of the boat was perhaps the most photographed area of the boat. So we knew this was an important area to get right.”
Q – A reverse bow rises from a wave faster. Was that a factor?
A – “Because the stem slope is relatively minor, the V065’s dynamic response to immersion in waves will be more determined by the volume of the hull behind the stem. And by the shape of the topsides in the forward section of the hull.
Q – Will the reverse bow cut down on a V065’s pitching?
A - The amount of weight associated with this sort of geometry is negligible. It will have no measurable effect on pitch response.
Q – Does a reverse bow mean a wetter boat?
A – There might be conditions where water impacting the stem is thrown at a slightly different trajectory because of the stem slope. That said, I think it would be difficult to perceive a substantial or measurable change in wetness. The boats are just wet.
Q – Will we see more reverse bows soon?
A – “Fashion is influenced by many things. For a good period of recent history boat design was strongly influenced by the ‘box style’ rules that governed much of our grand prix type sailing. Quite separately, multihulls developed a reversed stem, wave-piercing geometry much more scientifically. Even more removed, powerboat styling seems inspired by some amount of nostalgic military stem shaping. Certainly there is some want to have your boat look like the boats you see in magazines. In this case, the fashion inputs seem well aligned.”