Belle Mente 368
In 2006, Hap Fauth’s 66-foot Judel/ Vroljik Bella Mente surprised the Newport Bermuda Race fleet with a line honors win, beating a slew of boats much larger and faster. This year, Fauth and his team will try for the repeat, but with a much different boat, a 69-foot IRC-optimized Reichel/Pugh design.
“The 66-foot J/V design was a great boat and we had a lot of fun with it, but it was intended to be a trainer,” says Fauth. “It was a crossover boat [between IMS and IRC] and our suspicions were that, at the end of the day as IRC developed and matured as the dominant rule under which we were sailing, the boat would be less than competitive. I decided to go ahead with a grand-prix program, and we talked to a number of designers and ultimately decided on R/P.
“It’s a lighter boat, it’s a deeper boat, and it has a much higher percentage of displacement in the bulb. From midships aft, the boat is extremely powerful versus the old boat, which was very traditionally shaped. She was a beautiful raceboat, but it took 20 knots of wind to get her up on a step. The new boat will get up on a step at 12 to 14 knots of windspeed.”
One of the more striking aspects of the 69-footer is its flush deck, a decision, according to Fauth, that wasn’t brain surgery. “They really don’t give you very much,” says Fauth. When the boat heads offshore, a hood will be installed to keep the belowdecks area dry. The absence of a doghouse also made it easier to install a more effective inhauler system. The system developed for Bella Mente features two hydraulic rams per side, one for inhaul, one for outhaul, allowing the trimmers to set the sheeting angle precisely on either side. Once one side is set, the other side automatically matches the setting.
The mast, which has state-of-the-art internal halyard locks, is supported by the latest carbon rigging from Southern Spars, EC6+. The mainsheet traveler is a Harken design that trickled down from the America’s Cup. The backstay is a 3-to-1 topmast arrangement, which is the height of simplicity for a boat this large.
Fauth initially considered building an STP 65, particularly because the class seems to be gaining momentum, but eventually decided to go the one-off route. “I think that ultimately it will be a great class,” he says. “But I’m 63 years old, and I’m not sure the limitations within that rule were appropriate for me. By the time the class gets up to critical mass we’ll be into another generation of boat and I may have moved on to other things.”
After the Bermuda Race, Bella Mente will head for the Mediterranean, then either Key West Race Week and the
Caribbean circuit or the 2008 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.
DSPL 32,398 lbs.
SA (u/d) 3,245 sq. ft./6,750 sq. ft.
Sails North Sails
Mast Southern Spars
Builder New England Boat Works