Big toys and big ideas

America’s Cup and Volvo sailor and now North Sails president Kenny Read has covered a lot of ground while running two parallel careers. Today among his biggest concerns is the future of the sport… plus keeping on top of the meanest raceboat on the planet

Let’s kick off with the best toy in town. The Comanche project has run amazingly smoothly considering the short lead time, so how good is the boat to actually sail?

Kenny Read: The Comanche project is running incredibly smoothly thanks to Tim Hackett and Casey Smith, who have really taken on the day-to-day activities in a huge way. I’m really a general overseer of the project and get to go sailing on the coolest monohull there is on the planet. Performance-wise it’s actually living up incredibly closely to the numbers that Guillaume Verdier and VPLP originally told us the boat would achieve… which were very aggressive, I might add.

The first real great test is the Transatlantic race against Rambler which has new, funky lifting foils on the side. So it will be interesting to see what kind of difference that innovation makes to boats like this. But at the same time we’ve been running a slow, tireless improvement plan on Comanche since we first sailed it in Sydney last year. And so far so good, everything is working well. The boat itself is a technological marvel in its own way and we’re just looking for some good fun, exciting sailing across the ocean.

SH: And how does the performance compare to your last VO70, Mar Nostro?

KR: As far as comparing it to a boat like a Volvo 70 or other monohulls, there’s really no comparison. It’s simply bigger, faster, more powerful. It’s a completely different animal. We’re just learning how to tame it all the time – I wish we could sail it full time. It’s an incredible boat and it’s really fun to be a part of.

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