Open 30

Owen Clarke designed and built our own Open 30 racing yacht, equivalent to the Class 9.50 as far back as 1993. She was our first monohull sailboat and one of the best and most radical short handed racing yachts of her day.

Her name was Maverick and she is pictured above. She is an Open 30 as was defined by the RWYC rules at the time and was built for the RWYC Round Britain and Ireland Race in 1993. Designed, engineered and constructed by Owen Clarke Design in Plymouth, England, she was chartered that year and raced successfully by Ellen MacArthur’s business partner Mark Turner.

This lightweight water ballasted speed machine was also conceived to cross the shallows of Ravenglass bar in the Three Peaks Race. It’s revolutionary lifting carbon keel could be raised along with it’s twin rudders in order to be motored through the shallows at low water drawing less than 1m in order to deliver her team of fell (mountain) runners to drop them off and retrieve them from the second mountain stage of this famous and quintessentially British yacht race.

Designed Owen Clarke Design
Built Owen Clarke Design
Material Glass Carbon/Glass and Airex foam sandwich
Length 9.14m (29’11”)
Beam 4.04m (13’4”)
Draft Keel Down 2.28m (7’6”) fully raised motoring 0.7m (2’3”)
Sailing disp. 1545 kg (3400 lbs)
Spar Aluminium fractional rig (with masthead kites) by Atlantic Spars

In 2001 Merfyn Owen was part of the consultation group that put together the Open 30 rule. A number of sailors have approached us over the years and we have carried out design studies costing carbon, glass verses foam and cedar boats between 30 and 35’. It’s obvious that today, as has happened with the Class 40 that some fleet critical mass needs to be attained. This is what must probably happen before sailors will invest their hard earned money in a boat where the numbers are small, unlike 1993 when the numbers in the Open 30 Class for the Round Britain Race were very healthy.

Despite the uncertainty Owen Clarke Design (between projects) have been carrying out the preliminary design of a new generic 30. It has made an interesting study now that we have a few more complex design tools and better data available to us than we had thirteeen years ago! It’s to be a kind of pilgrimage because this is where we started in monohull design. We have compared Maverick to this new design on the VPP and the aim has always been to produce a faster more cost effective boat less expensively pro-rata than Maverick was in 1993. This seems to be a realistic goal to us, since because of the lack of investment in new boats Maverick is probably still the fastest or among the fastest offshore thirty footers of any type in the world.

We don’t believe that given the inherent benefits of being able to design under an open rule that it’s necessary to build an expensive structure to have a great boat. Ideally we’d like to be looking at strip cedar construction with a simple water ballast system rather than swing keel with a yard construction time between 2500 and 2750 hours. Whether this class makes aresurgence or not we’ll feel that we’ll have at least done our bit.

Maverick has been a fantastic boat and has often beaten forty and even fifty footers on the water. Thirty feet is a great size to sail fast offshore without breaking the bank to get there.

For an explanation of the technology behind the design process go to:


For an insight into our engineering and detailed design work go too:


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