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WaterWitch 48

2006 December 7
December 2006


When I was a kid in high school I would turn out for basketball practice and miss the school bus ride home. I walked home. But to make the walk interesting I would imagine I was on a 12-Meter yacht customized for singlehanded sailing. I would tack back and forth as I walked the three miles home, shifting my movable ballast with each tack. I was fast and the walk went quickly. This new Botin & Carkeek design would have served that old fantasy well.

This is a very sexy looking boat. For me, the most exciting part of the design is what you don't see when the boat is underway. While the general aesthetic approach to this design is a vintage look with long overhangs and minimal freeboard, the hull shape is strictly modern and owes much of its shape to the current America's Cup class. It's narrow, very narrow, with an L/B of 6.83. Compare that to my very narrow Far Harbour 39 at 5.23 and your typical AC boat at 6.15. There is very little form stability in a hull shape like this but in this case I see that there is some hardness to the turn of the bilge and the sides are slab, maintaining what BWL can be salvaged. I am very thankful for the full set of hull lines the builder has sent me. The angle of entry is 23.5 degrees, which is wide but a function of getting the prismatic forward that you want. The D/L is 167. The narrow keel fin appears to have a trim tab and there is 4,444 pounds of lead in the bulb for a ballast-to-displacement ratio of 43.7 percent. Draft is modest at 6 feet, 6 inches. Photos of the boat under sail show it immersing a good portion of that long aft counter. The sheer is almost flat but with this minimal beam any more sheer spring would have looked odd.

This design began with a request from the client, L. Jay Cross, for the designers to reproduce a Knud Reimers design. Reimers is famous for his sliver-like Scandinavian designs. Botin & Carkeek convinced the client to go further and bring the Reimers look into the 21st century. I love the way this entire rig is totally inboard of the ends of the boat. There must be about 11 feet aft of the boom end and the headstay is pulled back about five feet off the stem. This allows an asymmetrical chute to tack to the stem and still be well clear of the headstay. The SA/D is modest at 20.39 and the jib is self-tacking. Having so much overhang aft and such a short boom means that this design can carry a lot of roach without having it interfere with the backstay very much. There is an oversized backstay crane to help get the backstay farther aft and allow for a long headboard.

This is a very simple deck plan. The mainsheet sheets just aft of the cockpit and the sheet leads to a console in the cockpit with a centerline winch for mainsheet and halyard control. This is very handy for the helmsman. The self-tacking jib track looks too short to me but they almost always are. The single jib sheet goes from the self-tacking track, up the mast, down the mast, back to the transom, turns 180 degrees and goes forward, splits to a two-part purchase, then goes to the cockpit console where it can be led to either spinnaker winch. Did you get that? The anchor stows in a well in the foredeck and is deployed hinge fashion to leave a clean stem when it is stowed. The photos show the boat under sail with a crew of four. Given that this is almost a 48-foot boat I'd like to see a longer cockpit but of course that would take an aesthetic toll. It's always something.

The WaterWitch was built in Capetown, South Africa, by Jan Rossa, and High Modulus engineered the structure. The rig was designed by Scott Ferguson and the sails were by Steve Calder of North Sails. The hull and deck are carbon fiber, as is the rig.

How can you not love a boat like this? I imagine the owner will never tire of being asked, "What kind of boat is that?" as they slide on by. An 80-foot version is in the planning stages. Yes!