Sweet… Ker 56 Varuna

Ker 51 Varuna har ju varit en av de absolut coolaste race-båtarna under senaste år. Allt är helt svart och gänget verkar verkar verkligen pusha båten så hårt det går. I januari såldes båten till Piet Vroon och heter numera Tonnerre 4 (Tonnerre 3 var ju en Ker 46).

Och den nya Varuna blir inte att leka med. Canting keel, daggerboards, massor av segelyta och 4 meter peke borgar för farter över 30 knop. Och färgen blir lika glad som tidigare: svart!

Premiär på Fastnet i augusti.

Så här såg det ut när man vann Round Britain and Ireland:


New Ker 56 “Varuna” with canting keel

After the successful 51-footer, new top speeds can be expected.

For the past 15 years, the name has usually appeared well near the top of ocean racing results lists around the world. The “Varuna”, owned by Jens Kellinghusen from Hamburg has been associated for as long as we can remember with the glorious times of German Admiral’s Cup boats in the eighties and nineties. And, on the 21st of July, its skipper’s 68th birthday, a new one will be christened – even faster and even more extreme than its predecessors. The high-tech carbon racing yacht, a Ker 56 with canting keel and dagger boards, twin rudders and retractable propeller, has hitherto been under construction at Kiel’s KNIERIM boatyard, a member of the DEUTSCHE YACHTEN – Superyachts Germany working group.

Even at first glance, the unfinished, coal-black hull of the boat makes an unmistakably bold statement in the shipyard on the Kiel Canal: Born to be wild! With a length of 17 meters, a good five feet longer than the earlier, already uncompromising Ker 50 “Varuna”, her turbo engine is mounted underneath. The hydraulically driven canting keel, movable to both sides through an angle of up to 40 degrees, the mass of which will make up a large portion of the boat’s all-up weight of 7.6 tons, with a draught of 4.07 meters, increases the potential top speed to well over 30 knots.

“At top speeds, the needle will be even nearer to going off the scale”, says boat captain Tim Daase, who is a member of the permanent crew of 12 to 14, which caused furors on the international stage last season by winning the prestigious Round Britain and Ireland Race. And this has awakened an appetite for more. Offers to buy the winning yacht swayed Kellinghusen to order yet another new build from his successful shipyard in November 2014. “Satisfied customers are good for us, repeat customers are the best of all”, are the sentiments of directors Gunnar Knierim and Steffen Müller, whose business has again worked flat out to seal its unparalleled reputation in the boat builder’s art.

All of the moulded components for the hull from the bulkheads and structural parts up to the deck and the fittings were first machined in one of KNIERIM Tooling’s three five-axis milling machines, accurate to one tenth of a millimeter. The “baked” carbon fibre prepreg mats, with Nomex honeycomb cores, are state of the art composite technology. “Only in the area of the bow have we used a foam core”, reveals Daase, who has certainly found his vocation on the open sea, “so that the hard impacts on the waves are absorbed better.”

This shows beyond doubt the conditions to which the new “Varuna” will again be exposed. After the sea trials on the Baltic Sea are completed, her baptism of fire will be the legendary Rolex Fastnet race. The ocean racing classic over 608 nautical miles, now approaching its 90th birthday, starts in the south of England in the middle of August, with some 350 yachts taking part. If the race is a success, the owner is already targeting the equivalent race in the southern hemisphere in Australia at the end of the year – the Rolex Sydney to Hobart race, where Kellinghusen celebrated a class win in 2013 in the IRC-1 category.

The new build has benefitted from the experiences and successes gained from winning the German Offshore Award for the best ocean racing team twice in a row. Accordingly, a simpler deck layout has been adopted this time round. Hardly any halyards or control lines still run under the deck and this undoubtedly makes for faster repairs or replacements. Jib tracks have also given way to pad eyes. “This also follows the principle of minimizing the number of holes in the deck”, explains Daase, as the crew is expecting a lot of water on the deck given the prevailing conditions. “We should at least keep it as dry as possible below deck.” For the crew, he has, however, also ordered 14 new, virtually waterproof drytops…

They will be grateful for both when they go off watch. Because, in the cockpit they will again be trimming the sheets of the sails by hand, using the grinders on the winches. Hydraulics, operated by pressing a button and which are in any case available for the canting keel, are only for other trimming gear, such as the cunningham and outhaul, as well as the boom vang. The “Hall Spars” mast that stands 25.50 meters tall (above sea level) is this time secured with “Carbolink” carbon rigging. Most recently, the Swiss company fitted all foiling AC72 catamarans in the 35th Americas Cup and met the demand from all sides for the use of leading edge technologies.

Because of the higher overall boat speeds and the resulting stronger apparent wind, all sails have been cut to be comparatively flat in profile. The A2 kite, with an area of 333 square meters on a four-meter bowsprit (from the forestay) is the largest of all. Most headsails are furled, in other words not merely the Code Zero, measuring 161 square meters, and are furled in the luff. For the statisticians: The sail area upwind is a good 200 square meters, not including the 121 square meter mainsail and the 81.5 square meter genoa.

Externally, the new “Varuna” should again be easily recognizable, as it remains true to its carbon fibre countenance both inside and outside with its matt flint black metallic finish by “Alexseal” and the colorful pennants of the Norddeutscher Regatta Verein and the Alster Pirates (both sailing clubs from Hamburg) on the 4.95 meter wide hull. Below decks, however, not only the large box for the canting keel suspension and system make clear what has been shoehorned into the Ker 56. A host of frame assemblies and stringers testifies to the much higher loads that have to be absorbed at top speeds of more than 30 knots through the waves.

01 Ker 56 Deck-Rumpf-Hochzeit-2

“Celebration” for KNIERIM’s boat builders: The “marriage” in which the deck of the Ker 56 “Varuna” was set onto the hull.

02 Ker 56 Hochzeit Deck-Rumpf-2

Routine precision work in the KNIERIM shipyard, yet constantly exciting: Centimeter by centimeter, the deck is lowered on to the hull and again matched exactly to the “Varuna”.

03 Ker 56 Rumpfschale-2

The sandwich design of the “Varuna” hull consists of a millimeter-thin carbon fibre prepreg, 30 millimeter Nomex honeycomb (paper) as core and a 1.5 mm carbon outer layer.

05 Ker 56 Female-Rumpf-2

The smooth, minimalist deck (female moulded) of the Ker 56 no longer requires fairing. The only finish needed is primer and paint.

06 Ker 56 Rumpf-Versteifungen-2

The diagonal cross members – already clear varnished and therefore in blue protective film – help to improve the rigidity of the racing yacht between hull and deck.