October 13th 2013. By Louay Habib.

Mills 72 Alegre: Less is More

Louay Habib visits the Rolex Mini Maxi World Championship and takes a close look at the latest supercharged design, the Mills 72 Alegre

The Mini Maxi Class is burning bright, and thirteen boats took part in the 2013 Rolex Mini Maxi World Championship on the Costa Smeralda, Sardinia in September. Racing was intense, with seven yachts finishing in the top three at least once over the eight race series.

The latest Mini Maxi, Andre Soriano’s Mills 72 Alegre, made its World Championship debut and in a tense last race was runner up by just a single point to Niklas Zennstrom’s Ran 2. Alegre‘s designer, Mark Mills, implemented a number of innovations to advance Mini-Maxi design.


IMPRESSIVE DEBUT: The Mills 72 Alegre powers upwind during her debut at the Rolex Mini Maxi Worlds. Photo Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex.

Mills 72 Alegre deck

RAMPING UP THE DECK: Alegre’s innovative flush ‘ramp-deck’ is designed to help the crew to hike out and move sails around the boat with ease. The deck design is part of a package of features that add stiffness to the overall structure, while reducing weight and forestay sag. Photo Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex.

Mills 72 Alegre state-of-the-art-rig

STATE-OF-THE-ART RIG: Alegre features a state of the art high modulus carbon fibre mast and carbon fibre EC6 Rigging. Designed by Southern Spars using technology learnt from the production of the America’s Cup AC72 catamaran rig, , the emphasis is on the optimal combination of strength and stiffness as well as reducing windage. Photo Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex.

Mills 72 Alegre moveable ballast

MOVEABLE BALLAST: With over 20 crew, weight is a valuable resource for righting moment. Sidedeck ‘hiking benches’ are optimised for hiking and getting on and off the rail quickly, aiding straight line speed and momentum during manoeuvers. Photo Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex.


Mills 72 Alegre muscle power

MUSCLE POWER: Keeping weight aft in the boat encourages early surfing of the hull. Alegre relies on hydraulic power for sail controls, but all the hydraulic pressure required can be produced by muscle power alone via a rotary drive system.


Mills 72 Alegre

TRIMMING POSITION: The flush deck and ergonomic design allow the headsail trimmer to achieve a comfortable position,  looking directly down the shape of the sail. Note that the clew, deck fitting and winch are directly in line reducing friction in the system and enabling a more direct control of the trim.


Mills 72 Alegre from above

SAILS: Kevin George from North Sails UK has been sailing on the owner’s boats for years. Using North Sails 3Di material, which is constructed from carbon fibre filaments rather with no creep (stretch) or de-lamination. Note the asymmetric spinnaker also uses a 3Di panel (grey area). The orange ‘test strips’ shape and yacht telemetry is recorded for future development. Photo Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex.


Mills 72 Alegre ergonomic cockpit

ERGONOMIC COCKPIT: The cockpit floor is angled up to meet the foredeck at a shallow angle, and the large main hatch allows easy sail handling. The cockpit locks are controlled from the first step. Note the built-in spinnaker sheet exit point which leads directly to the winch.


Mills 72 Alegre foredeck

FOREDECK: Alegre has a large sliding foredeck hatch for ease of hoist, which is water-tight when closed. Note the independent furling systems for headsails. Underneath the deck, the spinnaker takedown system is linked to the pedestals. Photo Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex.


Mills 72 Alegre - designer Mark Mills

THE DESIGNER: Alegre designer Mark Mills sees a very positive future for the class as an arena for monohull development.

MILLS 72 ALEGRE SPECIFICATIONS: LOA: 21.95 metres • Beam: 5.7 metres • Draft: 5.1 metres • Displacement: 16750 • Sail Area (upwind): 300sq m • Sail Area (downwind) 650sq m

“There is every sign that the Mini Maxi Class will continue to develop and thrive,” says Mark Mills. “It is now likely that the America’s Cup will continue to pursue the development of multihulls and this may actually benefit the Mini Maxi Class as they a totally different type of boat. Several new Mini Maxi designs are in build and I can only see the class getting faster and more competitive in the future.”

“The class is an excellent forum for development, rapidly becoming the top end of big boat monohull racing in general and owner-driver racing in particular, which makes our ongoing involvement doubly rewarding.”


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.