Kuka Light

Kuka Light is a high-end race design that was begun in December of 2009. We were approached by the owner, Franco Niggler, through Angelo Glisoni to begin concept design studies for the lightest possible monohull around 12 m that could compete in Rolex Middle Sea Race, Rolex Fastnet, and other ca. 600 nm offshore courses.

The project began with a simple set of parameters:

  • No regard for rating whatsoever.
  • As light as possible, period.

The initial discussions centered on weight and what “no rules” really means. The IMOCA 60’s were often used as a reference. It was decided that achieving Design Category A for the purposes of CE/ISO certification and ISAF OSR Category 1 was appropriate, the same as a TP52, for example.  A transatlantic race will likely still be attainable for this boat.

Options to achieve the lowest possible weight initially touched on the simplicity of the design:

  • Canting vs. fixed deep draft keel
  • Fixed mast vs. rotating wing mast

The power to weight of the canting keel proved unbeatable with technology today, for the regattas in question. The efficiency of the rotating wing mast, enhanced by a boat that would sail more like a catamaran than like a fixed keel mono, was too attractive to be ignored.  Likewise the sail plan is made up only of sails that operate on low apparent wind angles, even the “downwind” sails.  The daggers, lifting rudders, and flush hidden propeller system all complete the picture of a racing yacht with an IMOCA and VOR pedigree.

To get the lowest possible weight of the primary hull and deck laminates and unprecedented approach was taken. We decided to build the port and starboard sides, the central hull, and the deckhouse and cockpit each in the largest diameter autoclave available to us. This is exactly the kind of construction techniques ruled out in the America’s Cup, the VOR, and even IMOCA yachts, except for the masts and appendages.  To capitalize still further on the lightest techniques possible, core material from aramid honeycomb was chosen along with interesting choices in the exact grade of carbon fibre pre-preg, with properties that allow reductions in weight.  These choices put a high premium on quality construction.

Kuka Light has just completed the Palermo Monte Carlo race, a distance of 460 nm, finishing in third place real time, in exceedingly light conditions.  Later this season she will also race in the Middle Sea Race.

More pictures here.

View a video of sea trials in May of 2012 here

See the dedicated Kuka Light webpage here

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