The newest Numbers is Dan Meyers’ fourth custom raceboat. But it’s the first one he’s been involved in building. The previous three were used boats he bought and optimized, the most recent being a Farr 60. Being involved with the process from the outset was a surprisingly gratifying experience. “It was a tremendously fun project,” says the 45-year-old Meyers, giving a lot of credit to Rolf Vrolijk’s design office, which he says took the time to ensure he understood each step of the process. “We were in England on the week that they were in the test tank at the University of Southampton. I expected it to be a pretty dry exercise, but it was fascinating.”
Meyers considered building a boat that would fit into the Storm Trysail 65 box, but his worries about the stability of the rule, and the number of boats it would create, led him to an IRC-optimized design. However, the newest Numbers, at 66 feet, has virtually the same IRC rating as Rosebud, the first Storm Trysail Transpac 65 built, and Meyers expects to have some very competitive racing with Rosebud, the 66-foot Blue Yankee, and a handful of other new boats between 65 and 70 feet.
A number of Alinghi team members, including Murray Jones, Curtis Blewitt, Warwick Fleury, and Brad Butterworth, lent their expertise to the boat, which was built at Goetz Custom Boats in Bristol, R.I., and were on hand for the shakedown sails on nearby Narragansett Bay. However, Meyers flatly denies a standing rumor that this project was partly an R&D effort for the next America’s Cup. “That’s just nonsense,” he says. “We’ve been talking about this boat for several years. We have a lot of guys from Alinghi who are involved in the project and that’s because they’re friends of ours.”
The newest Numbers had an auspicious racing debut, winning the 42-mile distance race at the 2007 IRC East Coast Championships by 27 minutes on corrected time. However, Meyers says that was due to two factors: there was a lot of reaching in the race-a point of sail the boat enjoys-and they were able to catch the tide at the right time. For the rest of the weekend, Numbers battled tooth-and-nail with John Kilroy’s 52-foot Samba Pa Ti, with the latter winning the regatta by 3.5 points.
After tuning up on the southern circuit, Meyers is eagerly anticipating the spring racing in the Northeast, when there is expected to be a solid class of similarly sized boats. While the boat is optimized for buoy racing, he said he was planning on competing in the 2008 Bermuda Race as well.