2 November 2013

Midnight Sun (Peterson Maxi)

Midnight Sun
Midnight Sun made a brief appearance on the Maxi-yacht scene in the early 1980s, most notably in the 1983 SORC. She was watched with particular interest as she was Doug Peterson's first racing maxi, designed for Jan Pehrsson of Sweden. Pehrsson was seeking battle with the most prestigious IOR yachts in the world, the likes of Kialoa IV, Condor, Helisara, Nirvana and Windward Passage for honours on the maxi circuit. 

Pehrsson was known internationally as the owner of two former Midnight Suns, both of which were Admiral's Cup contenders for Sweden. His first boat was in 1978, a 42ft Ron Holland-design that won the Runt Gotland Race and scored wins in the SORC and Two Ton Cup. The next Midnight Sun was another Holland design, a bigger 50 footer, built in aluminium in Huisman's in Holland.
Hull profile and internal arrangement of maxi yacht Midnight Sun
Midnight Sun on launching day
Pehrsson chose Peterson for his new maxi after discussing the design with Holland and German Frers. Peterson was felt to have no preconceived ideas about maxis and was chosen when his preliminary design was lighter than those of the other designers. 

Construction of the 79.5ft yacht began at Baltic Yachts in Finland in November 1981, with a foam sandwich layup using aircraft-grade balsa, providing greater flexibility in weight distribution. The deck was built in S-glass over carbon fibre beams. The yacht weighed in at 75,000lb, the lightest maxi in the world at that time (although with the addition of ballast she measured with exactly the same displacement as Jim Kilroy's Kialoa IV). The mast and hydraulics were by Stearn Sailing Systems, sails were by Hoods and a titanium rudder was supplied by Solimar of Italy.

Her initial campaigning was to involve the Runt Gotland Race before the Maxi Cup in Sardinia and the Mediterranean Sea Race in 1982, and followed by the 1983 SORC, before returning to England for the Fastnet Race and the Maxi World Championships. 

Helisara (left), Midnight Sun and Condor
On paper the most salient features of Midnight Sun were her stability and moderately proportioned sail plan, the latter providing the lowest sail-hull factor (SHR) of the maxi fleet at 15.72. As expected, Midnight Sun was particularly effective in moderate and heavy air with the wind forward of the beam, but perhaps at a slight disadvantage off the wind in the light. She showed impressively in the 1983 SORC particularly in view of the fact that she had not yet been properly optimised, sailing with her centre of gravity factor (CGF) above minimum and other rating issues.  
On delivery to the 1983 SORC
In the end, however, Kialoa IV went on to win Class A, followed by Windward Passage and Boomerang. Windward Passage held Kialoa IV at bay throughout most of the series, but Windward Passage's withdrawal from the round-the-boys Lipton Cup brought them back together so that by the Nassau Cup the two maxis were separated by just 0.1 of a point. It was Midnight Sun that had caused Windward Passage to withdraw from the Lipton Cup, although the reasons are not clear. In the ocean triangle that followed, Midnight Sun lost her rig and withdrew from the rest of the series. 
Midnight Sun (above and below) sailing upwind during the 1983 SORC

Kialoa IV may have had an edge overall but upwind, even in the light, Midnight Sun had an advantage. This was confirmed in a maxi series held in light-airs in Nassau soon after the SORC when Midnight Sun, still not properly optimised, sailed through the fleet on the windward legs and won both races.

Midnight Sun (Sharon Green photo/Doug Peterson Tribute page)

It was felt that if she was to be raced as hard and as often as Kialoa IV, and if Pehrsson could match Kilroy's determination, both boats could produce superb competition in following seasons. However, although Midnight Sun went on to sail in a couple of regattas in Europe, where she performed very well inshore, she quietly disappeared from the international ocean racing scene. It is understood that she is now a fully fitted luxury charter yacht.

1 comment:

  1. Additionnal news about Peterson : http://www.demi-coques.fr/articlevoile/dpeterson

    Sry in French only :(