Sail September 2006

MEET JUAN KOUYOUMDJIAN, AKA Juan K, naval architect of the moment.

The two ABN AMRO boats that Juan Yacht Designs produced for the Volvo Ocean Race were the right contrarian call-not accepting the conventional wisdom that a race around the world will experience average windspeeds of 12 knots. Taking 15 years of weather data, and throwing out two El Nino years, says Juan K, 'The average went up to 16, so we optimized for 12 to 18 knots."

The Juan K boats ( with a pair of canted rudders apiece) are beamier and more powerful than the single-ruddered Farr designs that made up the rest of the fleet, and ABN One was a runaway winner. Then came the announcement that Volvo would stick by its sponsorship but change the format. The next race will start in only two years, and its promoters favor skipping the Southern Oceans in favor of the Middle East, Asia, and perhaps the U.S. West Coast. That raises questions, so we contacted the Argentina-born designer at his office on the Avenida de Aragon in Valencia, Spain, not far from the America's Cup venue...

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