Concept: International 8m racer with cruising accomodations
PLEIONE (www.8mrpleione.com) was designed not only to compete against the best 8-Meters in the world, but also to cruise and daysail coastal New England. Her profile above the waterline is very intentionally reminiscent of classic 8m’s from the 1930’s, but below the waterline her hull shape and appendages are ‘meter boat’ state of the art.
Her owner and builder is a life-long sailor and highly successful racer who has no interest in modern, lightweight, snub-nosed sportboats, or in high-sided , broad-beamed contemporary cruiser/racers. He knows from experience that when your next port-of-call lies to the northeast, the wind always seems to be blowing from the northeast. He wanted a meter boat’s feel and speed upwind, as well as her long-ended style and grace. Perhaps most of all, he wanted to build a signature boat while he was still able, and he wanted to be able to enjoy her both on the race course and as a cruiser.
Construction: Cold molded wood, to Lloyd’s scantlings
PLEIONE’s hull was built over a male mold, starting with the massive keel and bilge stringers laminated over the frame molds in Hondoras mahogany. The hull shell began with ¾”western red cedar strip planking over the molds and longitudinals. This is followed by 4 layers of 1/8” thick Spanish cedar veneers, cold molded in place. The sheer clamp and keel floors are laminated of mahogany and ash, repectively. The decking starts with 3/8” tongue and groove cedar over laminated ash deck beams, followed by three layers of ¼” Okoume plywood. Gougeon epoxy resins were used throughout. PLEIONE ‘s construction is exceptionally rugged, since she must fully conform to Lloyd’s Scantlings in order to receive an official 8-Meter Class measurement certificate. The hull skin is finished bright inside, while the under side of the deck is painted out white. She is trimmed with mahogany brightwork below, and teak on deck.
The first layer of Spanish cedar veneer goes in place over the western red cedar strip planking
Typical 8m’s are narrowly focused race boats, without auxiliary power. The 8m Class Rules (www.8mr.org) include requirements for some rudimentary interior accommodations and some limitations on deck area, but despite these rules, most 8m’s are basically empty shells with large openings in the deck intended to suit racing crews. In contrast, PLEIONE features an inboard diesel (easily removeable), a five berth interior with complete galley and enclosed head, and perhaps most important, a self draining cockpit with seats and comfortable coamings. PLEIONE is a competitive racing 8m, but her interior amenities and cockpit give her far broader capabilities and appeal than most 8m’s.
PLEIONE’s spade rudder is separated from her keel, as has been the meter boat norm since Olin Stephens’ 1967 INTREPID. Her hullform traces its design DNA to the best of the Newport era 12m’s, that were very carefully optimized for PLEIONE’s 8-12 kt target wind range. Her keel does not follow the 12m trend towards ‘upside down’ profiles, however. This type does benefit from low upright drag, but is prone to catching kelp and pot warps, and is heavily dependent on large winglets for upwind efficiency. PLEIONE’s keel has a conventional leading edge sweep that will reliably shed pots and debris, its substantial bulb gets the center of gravity low and reduces any dependence on wings, which are not practical when cruising. (Modest winglets will be fitted for future 8m racing).
PLEIONE’s keel profile contrasted with the ‘upside down’ weed catcher type
PLEIONE was a tall order for both designer and builder. Combining the aesthetic, performance, racing and cruising requirements was a design challenge, and the build took 4 ½ years. Luckily, the designer and owner/builder thoroughly enjoyed both the project and the process, and the result was well worth the wait; PLEIONE is drop dead gorgeous, and impressively fast to boot. She has had consistent podium finishes in events as varied as the 8m NA and World Championships in Toronto to the PHRF NE Championships in Marblehead, and she has dominated ‘Spirit of Tradition’ racing in Maine. This design is not intended to suit everyone, just those few independent thinkers who can appreciate classic style, comfort, and performance in a truly timeless yacht.