12 December 2014

New Zealand Endeavour (Farr Maxi)

New Zealand Endeavour (Farr design no.274) was Grant Dalton's entry in the 1993/94 Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, a successor to Dalton's previous maxi, Fisher & Paykel. New Zealand Endeavour and her near sisterships Merit and La Poste (design no. 278) were born of an extensive research and development exercise by the Farr office. When planning for the boats began in early 1991 it was expected that the costs of that research would be spread over five programmes. However, as global economic conditions declined at that time, research was scaled back, although it remained very thorough, covering weather analysis, tank testing of 14 hull variants, velocity prediction development, appendage development, rig analysis and construction optimisation.

This Maxi class of 1993 took their lead from Steinlager 2, Peter Blake's all conquering ketch from the 1989-90 edition of the race (design no. 190). The new boats were 25.9m long, only slightly longer than Steinlager 2, but with a shorter waterline and much lighter in displacement (27,660kg compared to 35,150kg), with less rated sail area and similar rated beam (it is interesting to compare these displacement figures with the less constrained design of the 1995 ILC maxi Sayonara, of 24,400kg). Rated sail area was traded away to achieve a long light hull, while the rigs were developed to produce more power for their rated area. Appendage drag was drastically reduced through the use of smaller keel foils married to large bulbs, and more slippery hull sections ensured less drag for an equivalent stability and IOR rating.
Profile and deck plan for New Zealand Endeavour (Farr Yacht Design)

The bow profile was a modern interpretation of the clipper bow, having the function of a bowsprit but without the rule complications that use of a bowsprit might entail, a conservative position adopted as one of the lessons from the failed New Zealand America's Cup campaign in 1992. 
New Zealand Endeavour is turned over at the Marten Marine yard - the square shape in the keel is the location of the internal ballast slab
The yacht was constructed by Marten Marine and was state of the art - the hull being a complex layup of carbon fibre laminate of five outside and three inside skins, laid on top of three Kevlar skins, which in turn were sandwiched around a 25mm core of Nomex honeycomb and then cured at 80 degrees. More weight gains were achieved in her deck gear - for example the winches were moulded from carbon fibre and milled from titanium and aluminium. The total weight of the winch package was 300kg, compared to 500kg on Fisher & Paykel.
Early trials in the Hauraki Gulf, with main gennaker and mizzen staysail set
Despite carrying less sail, Farr's new 1993 designs were faster in light airs and significantly faster in moderate and strong downwind conditions due to the lower displacement and high effective length. Although New Zealand Endeavour was oriented towards heavier air than her two sisterships (less sail and slightly less displacement), Dalton was keen to ensure that the boat would still be competitive in the light, as a result of losses in these conditions incurred against Steinlager 2 during the 1989 race aboard his previous Fisher & Paykel. The design approach for New Zealand Endeavour also traded off some upwind performance in preference to reaching and downwind speed, but notwithstanding the crew were impressed with her upwind pace in early trials. 
This aerial view shows the large separation between the main and mizzen rigs

New Zealand Endeavour slices upwind in light-moderate conditions in early trials - the clipper bow is a notable feature in this photo. The local Lidgard loft provided Endeavour's working sail wardrobe.
The development of the rig was an interesting area, with analysis of different options of rig separation and sail area distribution leading to a high aspect ratio arrangement for both the mizzen and the main, with taller mizzen masts than the 1989 generation, and substantially larger separation between the rigs. This increased separation resulted in smaller mizzen staysails, but greater efficiency was achieved due to the increased space in which they could be set. 
The mizzen boom extended well past the transom

The use of a ketch rig was a result of the predominance of reaching conditions typically experienced on the Whitbread course, but also because the sail area of the mizzen was treated 'cheaply' under the IOR. Indeed, the official book of the Endeavour campaign records that an even larger mizzen was contemplated, with a mizzen mast of similar height to the main mast, but engineering challenges saw the height of this rig 'moderated' to just 2 metres shorter.
New Zealand Endeavour powers upwind in fresh conditions during her New Zealand trials
The overall impression was that of a more extreme version of Steinlager 2, with a more pronounced and elongated overhang, married to her unusual clipper bow, and a main mast set for'ard and her mizzen boom extending well past her transom. Her sail plan presented an unusual arrangement of small foresails and spinnakers, offset by large gennaker staysails. She was, to all intents and purposes, the ultimate expression of an offshore maxi at the very end of the IOR era.
The official launch of New Zealand Endeavour in Wellington Harbour, November 1992
New Zealand Endeavour was officially launched amongst much fanfare in Wellington Harbour in November 1992, reflecting the corporate location of her principal sponsors, in front of a crowd of more than 30,000 - a thunderous fireworks display lit up the harbour in a ceremony broadcast on prime time TV. 
New Zealand Endeavour power reaching and flying one of her Banks' gennakers
Any early passage to Wellington for the launching revealed the big advantage in the design of her rig, achieving high average speeds over long periods in five-sail reaching conditions. Dalton commented at the time that the performance gain was largely due to the use of assymetric spinnakers, by then permitted under the IOR rules, as amended for the Whitbread maxis, and which were more stable and could be carried closer to the wind.

Her first big test was the 1992 Sydney-Hobart race, which she passed with flying colours, taking line honours in convincing fashion (see video above). She was then shipped to Europe to take part in the UAP Round Europe race and the 1993 Fastnet race. New Zealand Endeavour came up against her maxi competition in the Round Europe (photo right) - Merit Cup and La Poste - where she rounded out the winner, despite finding some chinks in her light air speed due to some sails being off the pace and the boat being optimised for heavier winds.  

Just before the Round Europe race, some delamination was discovered in the bow sections and these were required to be repaired before the Fastnet race, resulting in some major surgery. During this refit new rigs, designed and built by Southern Spars, were stepped, some 25kg lighter than the originals. A new lighter keel was also fitted (500kg) - being smaller in size it also reduced underwater drag. The changes proved successful, and New Zealand Endeavour was the best of the maxis in the Fastnet race, but they lost out to the smaller Whitbread 60s that were better suited to the fresh upwind conditions in the first half of the race.
New Zealand Endeavour at the start of the third leg from Fremantle to Auckland (8 January 1994)

The performance of New Zealand Endeavour in the Whitbread race is well documented - she won the first leg to Punta del Este, lost the top half of her mizzen mast on the leg to Perth, but bounced back to win the third leg to Auckland and the fourth leg to Punta del Este. She finished with the fastest elapsed time of 120 days and five hours, to give Dalton and his crew the coveted Whitbread trophy. Her time was nine hours faster than Yamaha, the first to finish of the new Whitbread 60 class, and some eight days faster than Steinlager 2's record breaking performance four years prior. Merit Cup finished third, 21 hours behind New Zealand Endeavour.
New Zealand Endeavour sails out of the inner Hauraki Gulf at the boisterous start of the fourth leg (19 February 1994)
At full power with spinnaker and her big mizzen gennaker set
The official film of the 1993-94 race can be seen here:

New Zealand Endeavour was recently listed for sale (in Portoferraio, Elba Island in Italy). She has sailed very little in the last six years, apart from an Atlantic crossing in 2008, although she received some extensive refit work before undertaking that crossing.


  1. Awesome article, i remember her best as "Tasmania" in the 1994 sydney to hobart, there was a TV doco made on her and bob clifford buying her and all the training they did and the race itself, but i can't find it anywhere, if you could find it it would be a worthy edition to your channel.

  2. Thanks, it would be great to find that documentary, perhaps Channel 9 Aus?

    1. I believe so, my second guess would be abc, I'm from tassie and it aired on tv here, i recorded it on VHS at the time and i remember despite writing on it not to be recorded over i was devastated when it inevitably was, lol.

  3. She is now in Monfalcone, Italy with a new owner, has just had a new paint job and is being prepped to go back in the water for next year, I also believe some "cruising" items will be added down below to make her more comfortable for long distance sails.

  4. I have 2 NZ Canterbury Endeavour jackets from 1993 for sale. Please contact me at..