"It's very easy to go past this line where you end up having everything custom and then the expenses go very big for not a real increase in performance," he says. "In fact, having done this exercise, I don't think anything bigger than 100, 105-footer is any faster right now."
Mike Sanderson, the racing skipper for Virgin Money Speedboat, was heavily involved with the design and build of Mari-Cha IV, a 146-foot schooner that broke the transatlantic monohull record in 2003. At the time Mari-Cha IV was conceived, the design team considered three options-a 100-foot sloop, a 120-foot ketch, and a 140-foot schooner-each the maximum size allowed by the available technology.
The schooner won. However, says Sanderson, that wouldn't be the case today. "Times have changed, the equipment's different, composite rigging is very much the norm," he says, "and the 100-foot sloop, in our opinion, is the way to go."
Along with Kouyoumdjian and Sanderson-perhaps the most qualified person in the world for this sort of boat given his win in the last Volvo Ocean Race and his experience with Mari Cha III and Mari Cha IV-other key figures in the construction process included trimmer and deck layout guru Robbie Naismith, Cookson Boat Builders in New Zealand, and project manager Bill Erkelens, a veteran of Larry Ellison's Sayonara campaign.
The result is a new breed of supermaxi. Like Mike Slade's ICAP Leopard, it has the width and power of a Volvo 70 scaled up to 100 feet. But unlike Leopard, there's no semblance of a comfortable interior on Speedboat, or any allowances for one to ever be put in. In fact, a pair of bulkheads divides the interior in half, the forward portion serving as a massive sail locker. The living space for the two-dozen-plus crew is crammed into the middle third of the boat. Everything on Speedboat is there to make the boat go faster. At least the name isn't false advertising.