The video you are about to watch represents a seminal moment in the design arc of the FPB world. The last two minutes take place in some of the most difficult steering conditions we have ever seen in 40+ years of cruising, and are an extreme test for the design philosophy that is the foundation for this new generation of FPBs.
If you are familiar with our work you will know that we value speed for the safety it brings, the flexibility in choosing the best weather, and for its tactical importance in dealing with extreme weather scenarios. In the FPB world, going faster almost always means a more comfortable ride. The better your steering control, the faster you can go, and in an extreme weather situation, the limits of your steering will also determine your storm tactic options.
In yacht design terms, there is a conflict between a hull shape that is comfortable heading into the seas and one that steers well running off at speed. The tradeoff lies in the shape of the forward part of the hull; the sharper the forefoot, the softer the ride into the waves. But a sharp forefoot locks your steering in downwind, making the boat difficult to control.
This is why it is so dangerous to run at speed and surf downwind in most yachts, both power and sail, due to the risk of broaching and the problems — occasionally terminal — associated with this unpleasant event. Yet running at speed is often the only tactic that will take you away from a storm system center (particularly tropical storm systems).
We don’t like to talk about what FPBs can do. We would rather demonstrate. Hence the lack of public performance data about the new FPB 78s. The FPB 78 is designed to be the most comfortable uphill FPB yet. But we also want the ability to run at speed, and surfing is fun.
This video takes place in 30 knots of breeze building to 50 plus. Seas are new and, at the end of the video, reflecting back from the shore. Some of these waves are six to seven meters/20-25 feet. You will see speed over ground from the gps and rudder angle, along with heel and pitch attitude.
If we told you in advance that the FPB 78 would perform as you will see in this video, most would say it’s not possible. We will let you judge for yourself. We suggest you watch it now, then read the comments below.
To begin with, we are in the early stages of calibrating the steering system and the stabilizer settings. As good as what you have just seen is, it will get better as we fine-tune Cochise. If you go back and study the rudder angle, heel, and speed data shown onscreen, you will see very little rudder movement for the conditions at hand. To us, the most interesting part of this passage came during three instances where a wave slap knocked us off course 10-15 degrees, and the buoyancy of the wave dropped away as we crossed its face at an angle, inducing heel of 15-30 degrees. During each occurrence, we maintained boat speed and steering control, and within a few seconds were back on course. Those of you who are familiar with the sea will recognize the uniqueness of this capability.
There are several key design elements that contribute to the performance you have just witnessed. In broad brush terms, they are the development of volume in the bow, the positive angle of the sheer, and the anchor and anchor platform, plus the very fine stern shape. Although these characteristics are in some respects typical of the entire FPB family, the way in which they work together on the FPB 78 is a major refinement of what we’ve done in the past.
While the most telling part of this video lies in Cochise’s response to potential broaching situations, the really fun part is the way she hangs on a wave face for long periods of time. She does this better than even our fastest sailboats. We can’t wait for some long period open ocean swells.