• Undaunted: Crossing The Atlantic In A Tub

    Matt Kent, age 33, turned back just 24 hours into his first attempt to sail across the Atlantic aboard the "stern-faced" tub Undaunted. Ryan Langley takes a close-up look at this tiny little ocean-crossing capsule.

    Just 24 hours into his first attempt to sail solo across the Atlantic in Undaunted, his 42-inch yacht, Matt Kent had to turn back.

    He set off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on 6 April, but returned after concerns about his boat’s seaworthiness.

    He explains: “I wasn’t really in too much danger, [but] there was a weak point in the boat that was concerning me. The emergency floatation system component that was on the rudder assembly was getting hammered so hard in these really close together waves. The float was getting jammed upwards so fast and so often the boat’s movement couldn’t keep up.

    “It was the worst, most unpredictable and erratic conditions I have ever sailed in with that boat. When it started gusting 45 knots I decided that I shouldn’t keep going with such an obvious weak link.”

    Kent estimated his crossing time at some three months, so Undaunted cannot be fixed in time to avoid the hurricane season this year. He therefore plans to postpone his next attempt until the autumn.

    He still hopes to set a record for the smallest boat ever to cross the Atlantic. “Both of the guys that held this record had to wait months or even years as setbacks took their toll.”

    Where it all began for Undaunted

    Skipper Matt Kent was working on a 200ft tall ship when he pondered what the smallest boat ever to sail around the world had been. On discovering that a 5ft 4in yacht had crossed the Atlantic, a seed was sown which resulted in the custom-designed Undaunted.

    In 1965 Robert Manry sailed his 13ft 6in Tinkerbelle from Massachusetts to England (see video clip below), and the modern ‘microyacht’ trend was born. Tinkerbelle was followed by the 12ft Nonoalca and 8ft Bathtub across the Atlantic.

    By 1968 Hugo Vilhen had made the smallest ocean crossing yet, sailing his 6ft April Fool from Casablanca to Miami. Vilhen went on to cross the Atlantic in his 5ft 4in Father’s Day, while in 2002, Tom McNally attempted, but failed, to cross the Atlantic in the absurdly tiny 3ft 11in Vera Hugh II.

    Now Matt Kent, a 33-year-old professional tall ship sailor originally from Oregon, is preparing to cross the Atlantic Ocean aboard his three-and-a-half foot aluminium microyacht Undaunted. He expects the 4,700 nautical mile voyage to Florida, to take four months.

    “Undaunted is 42in long and 42in wide with a 5ft draught, 700lb lead ballast and a 40-gallon emergency water tank slung off the bottom of the keel,” explains Kent.

    “Undaunted is designed to pitch rather than roll. That is counter to most boat designs. With better roll stability it will slip off the wind less as it leans forward. If it was more inclined to roll it would move forward and spill the wind from side to side, and be less efficient with more movement.

    “Large twin rudders for low-speed efficiency and redundancy also help straighten the boat’s movement, along with a full keel.”

    A test sail on Lake Erie demonstrated the unique handling of the boat Kent calls ‘a grumpy little man’.

    “He sails downwind like a champ, self-tending downwind by sail angle alone due to the high mast being all the way forward. With a hull speed of just 2.5 knots he is not quick but he is stable and his square dimensions means he is affected by waves from any angle the same.

    “He just bobs up and down. With a balance point about 16in above the keel and a 5ft draught he has a stability profile most designers would kill for.

    “Undaunted is a terrible boat, but he is a great storm shelter. A sailing capsule ready for the worst and also able to do the easy part, sailing in a straight line.

    “We couldn’t make it go any faster, we couldn’t make it longer for the record. So we focused on safety and stability and through that our stern-faced grumpy little man was born.”

    Read more at http://www.yachtingworld.com/extraor...gJ9kS4YH5tt.99