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Owen Clarke Design are one of the world's leading companies of racing yacht designers and naval architects. We specialise in the design and naval architecture of high performance racing yachts and sailboats. We have considerable experience of working within a design team as well as acting as lead designers on large complex projects. Below are examples of a number of boat types and classes we've been involved with in over three decades of design, construction and build project management of racing yachts: OC are probably most well-known for our eight IMOCA Open 60 canting keel, pre-preg carbon short-handed boats, such as Acciona, the first zero emissions, zero fossil fuel racing yacht to race the Vendee Globe.

Credit: J.Renedo/sailingstock.com

Acciona is the latest IMOCA Open 60  racing yacht to have been designed by Owen Clarke Design

Involvement with the IMOCA Class has given us access to considerable funding and project/design time (for 1/3rd scale tank testing for instance) over the last two decades that has expanded our knowledge and understanding of the complex subject of high speed/high Froude number sailing yacht naval architecture. While designers involved in yachts designed to win under rating systems historically were shackled in by the rules that did not encourage development, the IMOCA Open 60 world continues to encourage innovation. Mainstream yachting has adapted slowly but surely to encompass and allow high Froude number boats decent ratings. Yachts designed to the Fast 40, IRC, ORC and ORCsy rules are only now developing hulls and foils based on principles that designers working in with an open brief have understood for many years.

This is a photograph taken during the 1/3rd scale towing tank model testing undertaken on the Owen Clarke / Clay Oliver designed IMOCA 60 Ecover 3 in 2005. During these tests an interceptor trim control system, such had been previously fitted to Russian Navy fast attack craft was investigated and subsequently fitted to sisterships Ecover 3 and Aviva. When Ecover 3 took part in the 2007 TJV, this was the first time an interceptor system had been used by a sailing yacht. The system was subsequently banned by the IMOCA class technical committee after both yachts raced with it in the 2008 Vendee Globe.

The wheel of innovation continues to turn and at OC we continue to innovate past what we know now using the latest tools available to us. In 1987 when we designed our first racing yacht, an 11m trimaran the hull and outrigger lines were drawn on computer at a time when the majority of yachts were still hand drawn. A velocity performance prediction (VPP) software program for multihulls didn’t exist at that time and so designer Merfyn Owen created one, writing the software in Fortran 77. OC have always used the latest design tools and thinking in the development of our designs. We were the first in the IMOCA class to use tank testing, wind tunnels and CFD, which we continue to use this and other computer modelling tools in the development of our racing yacht designs to this day.

This a screen grab image of CFD (computational fluid dynamics) analysis being undertaken on a pre-lifting foils Owen Clarke IMOCA Open 60 design.

Owen Clarke have been using the knowledge gained on the water and in the office to develop our own high-performance designs adapted to rating rules and in 2014 we first presented the culmination of this work in our IRC/ORC 401 design. An offshore IRC/ORC 57 concept created for a respected offshore racing team in 2020 specifically for races such as the Fastnet, Caribbean 600 and Sydney Hobart lost out narrowly at the tender stage to an existing Mediterranean optimised design with existing hull moulds. We have however between 2017 and 2019 alone seen our input transform (an owners’ own words) the performance of five well known grand prix inshore and offshore racing yachts between 12m and 35m.

Owen Clarke Design are specialists in rudder and foil design for racing yachts. This is Black Pearl, a yacht designed to the IRC / ORC rules, one of the latest for which OC have designed a new rudder.

OC have been involved with the fastest growing offshore racing box rule class, Class 40, since its inception and now have eighteen of these offshore sailboats on the water, the latest being #157. Many of the details and naval architecture principals of these amazing boats are absolutely relevant to any high-performance racing yacht today. When one compares the development of the rigs and hulls for example it’s impossible not to see where ‘conventional’ offshore racing yachts have been left far behind in terms of development. Development that we have verified using test rating certificates that reveal how relatively stagnant rating rules are unable to fully account for the performance advantages available when comparing corrected time and elapsed time over a range of courses.

Credit: Patrick Deroualle

Jorg Riechers on the bow of Owen Clarke designed No.157 Class 40 Open racing yacht at the start of the Normandy Channel Race

Class 40 is a box rule, primarily developed to produce offshore short-handed racing yachts, but not necessarily single-handed or double-handed designs. The rule encourages design innovation but is written in such a way that has prevented runaway costs and older boats have retained both performance potential and value on the second hand market. This picture is of #143, Longbow, an OC custom design with lifting rudders and a masthead rig for an American client, optimised for races on the US east coast and Great Lakes. While many of the yachts in the class are custom or semi-custom designs, the latest being optimised for Trans-Atlantic races such as the Route du Rhum, the majority of the fleet remain polyvalent production yachts.

Owen Clarke designed No.143 Class 40 Open racing yacht was built in the USA, launched in 2015 and named Longbow

Our studio has taken what we’ve learnt on the water as sailors, in the model tank, wind tunnel and using computational modelling to develop a large multihull and a number of 24m + monohull superyacht racer/cruiser designs. What these large yachts all have in common is that they’re objective designs based both on practical experience and the latest innovative thinking. Although as designers we have and continue to race onboard in events such as the Maxi Worlds, Superyacht Cup and Voiles de St Tropez our experience of working as part of a design team in grand prix projects means that we punch well above our weight when it comes to big boat design. Owners can expect the very best in input from our team of world class sailors, grand prix and Americas Cup designers and engineers.

This is a concept design for blue water racer cruiser with a raised deck saloon that maintains the sleek appearance of a Mediterranean day sailer. The sailplan and deck layout are optimised for the ORCsy superyacht racing rule and the yacht is designed for an owner to cruise and take part in bucket and racing and superyacht regattas.

We’re also involved in superyacht refits. A great example of this is Angels Share, a 40m Wally whose team we joined immediately before the vessel was purchased, by undertaking inspection and sailing trials prior to purchase. OC then acted as naval architects and designers during a multi-million Euro refit at the Lurssen’s shipyard which included significant changes to her deck, rig and sailplan. Originally conceived as an inshore racer-cruiser, Angels Share exited the yard fully capable of crossing the Atlantic to cruise with her owners and a crew of five in the Caribbean. Then winning in the same year the Newport Superyacht Bucket on the water and on corrected time.

Angels Share is a 40m Wally that Owen Clarke Design  provided design consultancy services including IRC optimisation services

To access the sub-menu of our various racing yacht designs: From the main menu above select; Custom Yachts and then; Racing Yacht Design

To discuss any fully crewed or short-handed custom racing yacht project, email: OC RACING

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

To view our largest racing yacht designs go to: SUPERYACHT DESIGN

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

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