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Nacira 950

2009 May 4
It would be nice to have a little catboat or maybe a pink-sterned schooner to review but that's not where the world of yacht design lives in these weird times. I'll wager many of you don't know what a pink-sterned schooner is. But you do know the Volvo 60s and the plethora of high-performance sport boats that are the focus of today's design efforts. The target of yacht design today seems to be largely the pursuit of fast racing boats with the goal being VMG and off-the-wind planing speeds at any cost. One way to try to keep the cost down is to design to a rule like the Class 9.5 rule. A good example is this design from the Nacira Design studio in France.

The Class 9.5 rule is very simple. It's not a box rule as it gives maximum dimensions but no minimum dimensions except in the case of displacement, where displacement must be greater than 2,600 kilograms, or 5,720 pounds. The thrust of this rule is to eliminate the use of exotic materials in order to reduce the cost of the boat. You cannot use any carbon fiber in the hull; only E-glass is permitted. Nomex and aluminum honeycomb cores are not permitted. You can't use carbon fiber for chainplates or rudder stocks, and all standing rigging has to be stainless steel. Even the sails are limited to laminated polyester, with nylon being the only material allowed for spinnakers.

Hulls are limited to an LOA of 9.5 meters-31 feet, 2 inches-so they will all use that max dimension. Overhangs will be nonexistent in order to capture max sailing length. The maximum beam allowed is 12 feet, 4 inches. Water ballast is allowed and you can carry 450 liters on each side for 1,018 pounds of movable ballast. The Nacira 950 shows what we should expect for beam allocation with max beam being carried almost all the way to the transom. There is a chine aft to further add to the sailing length and for stability of the boat when heeled. Twin rudders will guarantee that one rudder will stay immersed at high heel angles, ensuring good control. Draft is limited to 7 feet, 10 inches. The D/L for the 950 will be around 84.4, and L/B will be 2.56. These are fat boats.

To me, the most interesting feature of this rule is that sail area is not measured. Instead, the mast height is regulated. The mast cannot be more than 16.5 meters above the DWL. The spinnaker pole and bowsprit lengths are limited to 2 meters and 3 meters respectively. Your sail inventory is limited to seven sails. With sail area being unlimited you can see how the mast has been moved aft in the Nacira 950 to allow for bigger headsails. The Nacira has an on-deck, articulating bowsprit. This will allow the boat to sail deeper with asymmetrical chutes. Using the listed upwind sail area for the Nacira, the SA/D is a huge 43.02.

There are port and starboard double quarterberths shown and a small galley to starboard. The head is in the forepeak. The nav station is on centerline. While this is not a classic cruising interior you could cruise this boat comfortably as long as headroom in the head was not a consideration.

Built in Belgium, the Nacira offers a fast ride on a boat designed to a very simple rule. With the few limitations and barring any massive rig innovations I think the focus on this new class will be on hull shape. It will be a fun class to watch.

LOA 31'2"; LWL 31'2"; Beam 12'2"; Draft 7'10"; Displacement 5,940 lbs.; Ballast 1,018 lbs.; Sail area 861 sq. ft.; SA/D 43.02; D/L 84.4; L/B 2.56; Auxiliary Volvo 18-hp; Fuel 13 gals.; Water 26 gals.

BE Composites, Vinâve des Stréats 96B, 4537 Verlaine, Belgium, +32 479-311-527, www.nacira950.com.

OBE: $182,000
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