Kuka-Light. A new species about to make an appearance.

The idea of creating Kuka-Light started to spin around my head when I realised that to improve the Rating of my boat I had to have smaller sails and make the boat slower. This is absurd for a yachtsman used to racing with A class catamarans and with Melges 24 boats. Speed and apparent wind are synonyms of fun for me so I asked myself: why give up on fun and give up having maximum performance?

I decided I wanted to feel the same sensations as when I am sailing my A class also on a keelboat made for demanding regattas such as the Middle Sea Race or Fastnet; building a 40 foot boat that is as light as possible and that uses the apparent wind to maximise its possible performance. I sent the rating to hell! As of today, I am still not totally sure of what we will manage to come up with and if our visions will be proven right. We’ll just have to wait and see.

I think that Mitch Booth (helmsman) and Sebastiano Rech Morassutti (project manager) can describe the project and philosophy better than me, so I will leave you in their capable hands.
Franco Niggeler
Owner of Kuka-Light

Kuka-Light. Creating something special

The idea to create something special was following the Middle Sea Race 2009 when competing on a Cruiser/Racer (Kuka) Sly 42. We all enjoy racing and then asked ourselves why wouldn’t we just want to go fast and forget about handicap and rating systems. Why should we compromise our performance and make a boat slower just to have a better chance to win on handicap. This was going against the whole reason we take part in the Sport in the first place…To sail fast and have fun. Also all cruiser racer have a lot of compromises we did not want. If you are racing you need something created for it.
Kuka-Light, has been created with the fresh approach of not considering rating and handicap rules , but simply perform as best as possible for this size boat. The brief from the owner , a long time friend of mine was to build the fastest 40 ft monohull in the World that could take part in the premier ocean and coastal races and be easily sailed by 6-7 crew.

The brief went out from the following ideas:
1. To set up a crew is never easy and if you have a smaller crew it will be easier to find them and save a lot of money when travelling around.
2. The size of 40 feet was chosen as it is still a size which can be used by normal people, not a professional crew. Also the owner was always using boats of this size.

We started with a clean sheet of paper and applied many principles from our multihull background. The choice of the designers was crucial as we intended to create something different. So an established designer with experience would have problems to forget all what he had done before. In the same time we needed a team of designers capable to do a real race boat. Do to our multihull experience we decided that weight was the highest priority. This resulted in the end with probably the highest power to weight ratio keel boat ever launched.
We then formed a partnership with ST yacht designers who shared our vision of Kuka-Light.
Mitch Booth
Helmsman of Kuka-Light

Kuka-Light. No compromise.

Creating a racing boat without any compromises is an extremely interesting job for a person involved in project management. The possibility of being part of a program of this type is considered almost a “dream”.

When, during a flight from Malta to Milan, Franco spoke to me the first time about his idea to build a “fast moving” regatta boat, a boat without any rating rules, there was immediate enthusiasm. Such an open view, without reference to any rating rules, would have allowed us to create an absolutely innovative hull from all points of view: marine engineering, construction process and organisation.

The first decision taken, perhaps the only fixed point of the whole project, was the definition of the dimensions; the boat must be sailed in offshore races by a team of 4 and 6 persons, consequently, logic lead to limiting the length to about 40-45′.

The next step was to select the Designer. After having talked for a long time, Franco decided that to create an innovative boat it was important to involve young people, those with a new outlook and unconditioned by previous projects. This would mean problems due to lack of design experience, but which would certainly be compensated by great commitment and interest.

It was therefore decided to entrust the job to Studio ST, with which I had already collaborated in the past, due to their skill in the development of the part regarding marine engineering and in the structural project; two ambits which, in the case of construction using advanced composites, it is of fundamental importance that they proceed in parallel and in a perfectly integrated manner.

While the Designers worked at the computer and at the drawing board, the shipyard or, more accurately, shipyards were chosen, because it was decided to build the hull-deck shell in Sweden at Marstrom, a shipyard that Franco had been acquainted with for years as it is one of the biggest builders of race catamarans and great expert in composite constructions. The work plan was drawn-up with them, which envisioned the construction of various elements of the hull and the deck. These would then be transported to the Cantiere Soleri in Italy, which would have the task of assembling the parts, creating the internal structures and fitting-out the essential systems and interior furnishings.

The job was rather complex, the logistics were not easy and the classical unforeseen technical events, which always appear when creating objects that are “completely exceptional” certainly didn’t make things easier. Finally, thanks to everyone’s commitment and the patience and Franco’s skill in organising “Team work”, all technical problems were always brilliantly solved, bringing a new “sea creature” to life: Kuka-Light.
Sebastiano Rech Morassutti
Project manager Trimarine – project manager Kuka-Light

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