December 31st 2012. By Louay Habib.

JV72 Stig: An Italian Stallion

Louay Habib takes a closer look at the racing maxi Stig, from Baltic Yachts.

Owned by Alessandro Rombelli, the previous Stig was a very successful cruiser/racer Mini Maxi built by Baltic Yachts of Finland. However, Rombelli’s has a voracious taste for one design racing and after he won the 2010 Melges 20 World Championship in Miami, his yearned for big boat one design racing.

“We decided to go for the extreme,” explained Rombelli. ‘The Racing Mini Maxi Class is almost one design. It is a box rule but very strict; the owners have just voted that no boat will have a TCC (IRC Handicap) above 1.60. for the next five years.”

It is fair to say that the design for Stig is an evolution of the most successful winning Mini Maxi currently on the circuit; Niklas Zennstrom’s Rán. Stig comes from the same drawing board – Judel Vrolijk – but Rán was launched in 2009.  The project for Stig started in November 2011 and was launched by Baltic Yachts in June 2012. There are have been some significant changes to boat building since then; to start with, building a yacht of this size in six months would have been virtually impossible just a few years ago.

Stig sailing upwind

CNC MILLED Stig’s hull was made from a CNC milled female mold this produces a very accurate finished product in a short period of time. The mold is produced by a computer and then milled by a computer controlled milling machine. A CNC Milling machine can produce a mold in less than two weeks. It would take significantly longer to produce the mold by hand, and human error may also be an issue. Stig is virtually entirely made from carbon fibre and where carbon fibre is not the solution, titanium is; both the pushpit and the pulpit are made from the metal.

 

Stig Copa Rey

LIGHT WEIGHT The weight saving on Stig is quite remarkable, even the anti-slip deck is pinstripe, saving 50 per cent of the weight of the application. Stig has only been racing for a few months and the learning curve is very steep but there is no doubt the latest Mini Maxi is one hell of a weapon.

 

Stig below decks

BARE BELOW Whilst Stig has a similar rating to Rán, there is a big difference internally. Rán is not exactly fitted out but it does have far more internal structure. Stig has virtually nothing inside, just a few pipe cots and a minimal gas hob for cooking freeze dried offshore. Down below is pitch-black carbon fibre. ‘We don’t worry about damaging the teak or the table because they are not there,” said Rombelli.

 

Stig in the Copa del Rey

When Stig was launched she was 400-500 kg lighter than any of the previous Racing Mini Maxis, which prompted several competitors to replace their keel with a deeper fin but a lighter bulb. This did save weight but Stig has a heavier bulb and therefore more righting moment, which all adds up to more performance; the weight saving isn’t just confined down below.

 

Stig

CLEVER DESIGN Stig has no vang at all; a single Dyneema strop is attached to the boom, which is lead to a hydraulic pump. Stig relies heavily on hydraulic power but there are no electrical pumps. All of the hydraulic pressure is produced by man-power; the latest rotary drive system connects all of four pedestal grinding stations to a carbon fibre reservoir. This alone produces all the hydraulic power for control lines and winches. Another clever design can be seen with the transverse headsail system. The car is moved using hydraulics, but a common problem in the past was water ingress via the control lines going below. The solution on board Stig is to position the entry points on the centreline of the car system, as far away from the gunnels as possible and totally covered when the main hatch is open. Photo Kurt Arrigo/Rolex

 

Stig Maxi Rolex worlds

REMOVABLE BOWSPRIT An interesting design feature is a removable bowsprit. The owner Rombelli insists that the extra kilogram of structure required to make this happen is worth it. The flexibility in sail choice it allows is a major advantage. Essentially, if Stig decided to change the size of its downwind sails, fitting a bigger or smaller bowsprit is very easy. Also if the sprit breaks it is easy to replace. Photo Rolex/Kurt Arrigo

 

Stig on the startline

CARBON RIGGING Stig is equipped with full carbon rigging developed and built by Carbo-Link, the Swiss company renowned for its revolutionary products. For example, the bobstay has a built in 12 ton load sensor, which gives the crew exact performance data. Many TP52s use Carbo-Link bobstays and Groupama (winner of the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race) are customers.

 

There is no doubting that the Racing Mini Maxi Class is red hot at the moment with a clutch of 72’ racing yachts already turning heads at major regattas; Niklas Zennstrom’s Rán, Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente, Alessandro Rombelli’s Stig and George Sakellaris’ Shockwave all did battle in this year’s Rolex Mini Maxi World Championship. There are several more on the way; Andy Soriano’s new Mills 72, Alegre will be launched early next year and rumour has it, at least two more are likely.

The maximum handicap rule is a clear indication that the owners in this class don’t want to see boats becoming obsolete too soon; this is very much promoting longevity of the yachts and providing a fantastic and fair battle ground for the Racing Mini Maxi Class. What is more if a new owner decided to commission a yacht right now, he could be racing it at the Rolex Mini Maxi World Championship in September 2013.



Louay Habib
Louay Habib is a freelance journalist and broadcaster based in the UK who writes for some of the most prestigious magazines and clubs all over the world, including the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Volvo Ocean Race.