Some 20 years ago, a Russian immigrant to the USA, Vlad Murnikov, designed a very lightweight, singlehanded boat that looked, from above, like a delta-wing fighter and also carried a good–sized spinnaker to really challenge any lone skipper who wanted to go fast. Many thought the resulting “MX-Ray” was far too radical and would be too difficult to sail to ever sell , but the designer was determined, so went ahead with production anyway. Well, he sold about 300 of these radical machines before he sold the company and there’s enough positive testimony out there, that it’s clear the concept indeed proved viable.
Here’s the boat: http://www.ruach.net/MXRay.html
Well designer Murnikov has since had a new dream. He now believes he can design a unique monohull that will have the potential to break all records as far as how many miles it could sail in 24 hours. Incredibly, his design target will be close to 1000 miles … ie: a boat that could average ~40k for 24 hours ! To have any hope to achieve that, he knew he would need a lot of funding, first to build a scaled down test boat and then, after most of the design issues were worked through, to build the full size 100ft boat to have a serious stab at the record. Now most projects of this scale would stop right there and even if they made Popular Science Magazine, might never be more than a paper dream. But Vlad Murnikov is more focused than most and his past success with ‘the MX-Ray versus the skeptics’, no doubt encouraged him and others. One of ‘the notable others’ was sailor-adventurer Brian Hancock and the two have since worked as a team to move the project forward.
This new boat will need to be far more radical than even the MX-Ray .. and from what we can see so far, it certainly is! One reason I am even mentioning this boat in this column, is that Murnikov considers this more as ‘a catamaran without the windward hull’ ... the latter being replaced by a weight that will be swung out to windward for ‘stability without windage or wetted surface’. But first, a prototype would be needed. The design development would be tackled in several steps. First a prototype would be designed and built to test out the moving weight concept and to develop a hull form that would work at speed/length ratios of 4 or more. (ie: Speed = 4 x Length^0.5 or more). As this is more in the area of a high speed motorboat, a stepped hull would be considered. Then the development of a foil that could be moved from side to side that could further enhance stability and also provide lateral resistance like a dagger board. Then the rig options would be examined with one possibility being a mast inclined to windward to provide more lift than heel and finally, to the full size boat to test all the developments on one, highly unique machine hopefully capable of achieving the target goal.
So far, Vlad Murnikov has now designed and built a 27ft prototype of his SpeedDream100 concept and the attached image shows how it looks. (I’ll refer to this as ‘SD27’ for SpeedDream27). The SD27 is designed to be sailed at 20 degrees heel and has a cambered vee bottom that will present a fairly flat planning surface on each side once heeled.
For the ‘piece-de-resistance’ to keep the boat upright, Mr Murnikov has a very long, weighted fin keel that is full canted up to 75 deg. to each side. This means that when the boat is at 20 degrees heel, the keel can be cranked to windward to such an extent, that its bulb comes totally out of the water on the windward side! Initially, perhaps the load on the inner end of the rocking keel was underestimated as the retaining line failed, allowing the keel to drop and this resulted in a premature capsize. Undeterred, the control lines were beefed up and with noted skipper Cam Lewis at the helm, they finally succeeded in sailing the boat on the leeward bottom surface, with the keel flying dry!
Here’s a shot of Cam with Brian as crew …. doing ‘a high-five’ as they realized what had been achieved.
Speed Dream was then presented on this BBC video and following that, Murnikov got the sponsorship of Yandex that would help to cover costs.
While the SD27 performed the basics, it clearly requires agility and much attention to sail safely, and as for other reverse-bow boats driven at speed, the boat is clearly very wet. A larger boat for 30-40kts will require some serious coamings to protect the crew
But after considering the SD27 a success, Murnikov is continuing to expand his concept to dreamboats of much larger size, but it will take a daring sponsor to really make this happen, as risks are still high. We should continue to watch this project with both interest and a degree of awe.
As per news published November 2015, the SD27 has now been fitted with new DSS foils and further trials are anticipated. (DSS = Dynamic Stability System)
“To one who has turned lifeless materials into something alive, there can never be anything more wonderful than the sailboat. The sailboat offends neither the senses of fish, fowl, nor man - and to make it go faster, is even more a thing of freedom and beauty.” (by visionary Bernard Smith)
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