BOAT REVIEW Fleury 6.7 Keeler

June 2022 Yacht Reviews
Words by John Macfarlane. Photography and video by Roger Mills.
OUR RATING
4.5 STARS
Performance
Economy
Handling
Value
Build Quality
Specification
MODEL DETAILS
MODEL Fleury 6.7 Keeler
DESIGNER Warwick Fleury
BUILDER Mike Pearce
CONSTRUCTION Plywood
PRICE AS TESTED $70,000 plus labour
SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 6.7M
LENGTH (Waterline) 6.7M
BEAM 2.4M
DRAFT 1.6M
DISPLACEMENT 850kg
ENGINE Mercury 9hp O/B
Mast & Rigging Carbon mast, Structured Luff Technology, Stratis sails
Sail Area 36.5 SqM
Ballast 300
HIGHLIGHTS
  • A welcome return to simplicity
  • Excellent performance upwind, exciting downwind
OBSERVATIONS
  • Wonderful to see the Pied Piper concept updated
  • Professionally built, but suitable for skilled homebuilders

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo Da Vinci. A simple boat can mean basic; more rarely it can mean a boat where functionality has been achieved through careful thought, attention to detail and hidden sophistication. Our test boat, Haumanu, is a perfect example of the latter.


In terms of sailboat racing Warwick Fleury’s done it all: eight America’s Cup campaigns, a dozen World Championships and countless inshore and offshore regattas.
Besides Fleury’s specialist mainsail trimming role, he’s long been interested in yacht design and has rubbed shoulders with many of the world’s top designers.
Trapped in New Zealand during the 2020 Covid lockdown, Fleury started reflecting on the boat that kick-started his career. It was in 1980 when he and older brother Graham built the Des Townson Pied Piper Rising Damp in which they raced and cruised the Hauraki Gulf and Northland coast.
“As great as the Pied Piper was and still is, it occurred to me there’s nothing around like it these days that you can build out of plywood.”

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With this vision in his head, Fleury spent lockdown at his computer drafting hull shapes on the software program Rhino. The Pied Piper was the starting point, hence the 6.7m length and emphasis on simplicity. However, Fleury also bought into the mix his 40-plus years of crewing the world’s best racing yachts, including the 33m maxi Comanche.
Comanche opened my eyes to what was possible in terms of using its hull form for righting moment. I took some of that into this boat to make it as stable as possible without relying on ballast.”
Design finished, Fleury chose boatbuilder Mike Pearce to build it, an inspired choice as he has both traditional and modern composite experience, which shows in the impeccably finished result.

Construction
In general terms, the Fleury 6.7 is based on a Piedy’s plywood construction, simplified and enhanced by modern techniques and materials. For example, instead of timber chines and gunwales, Haumanu uses epoxy coved and glassed joins. This approach protects plywood’s end grain from moisture ingress, a common issue with elderly Piedies. And instead of multiple stringers which create dirt and water traps, she only has two cedar stringers per side.
Stiffness to handle sailing loads is the key for all race yachts and this has been achieved through structural longitudinal girders which also form the bunk fronts; an idea Townson used on virtually all his keelboat designs.
A timber structure of transverse laminated Iroko timber floors and a longitudinal Alaskan yellow cedar keelson, combined with the girders and the bunk tops bonded to the hull, create a grid that’s light yet incredibly stiff.
Gaboon plywood has been used throughout; nine-millimetre frames, hull bottom, chines and cockpit floor, six-millimetre topsides, deck and coamings, and three laminations – one of six and two of four layers – for the curved cabin top. The exterior is sheathed in 430g DB glass and Fleury did much of the fairing and sanding in the weekends. WEST resins were used exclusively.


The keel consists of a 50mm x 100mm steel box-section, with plates welded top and bottom. The top plate is bolted through the keelson and mast step, with a 300kg lead bulb bolted to the bottom plate. The steel box has been faired in foam and glass to an NACA section. The rudder is another NACA section, built over a rectangular western red cedar stock sheathed in carbon, with the blade done in foam and glass.
The interior, whilst basic, is perfectly adequate for overnight camping. There’s generous sitting headroom, and whilst the squabs haven’t yet been fitted, the addition of these, plus a meths cooker, chilly bin and a porta-potty will provide all that’s necessary for a weekend away for two, or three at a pinch.
As one might expect from a world-class mainsail trimmer, the rig incorporates some serious thought and experience. Fleury didn’t want either permanent or running backstays, so mast support had to be achieved by other means.
A major part of this has been realised by using Structured Luff technology from Doyle – see sidebar. This approach has three key benefits: it maintains the boat’s emphasis on simplicity; leaving off backstay(s) allows for a generous square-topped main; and the stresses generated by the rig into the hull are lower than would otherwise be the case because the sails are sharing those loads.


Engineering for the rig was undertaken by Jonny Knopp from Southern Spars and is based around use of 100mm Kilwell carbon tubes for mast and boom, which were put together by Adrian Pawson.
Naturally, building Haumanu professionally to this standard hasn’t been an inexpensive exercise, but apart from the time and effort, there’s nothing particularly tricky involved. According to Fleury, the cost of the materials to build the boat – hull, decks, foils, rig, deck fittings and sails – was around $70,000.

Sailing
Sailing conditions were perfect – an eight to eleven-knot NE, flat water, an empty harbour and the tail end of this amazing summer that just keeps delivering.
Designed for three, Haumanu has five aboard for our test sail – Fleury, David Duff and Stu Molloy from Doyles, our photographer and myself. Better suited to two or three, we’re a little overloaded but the Mercury 9.9hp short-shaft outboard, mounted centrally on a simple fixed bracket, proved ample.
The cockpit is great, the rounded edges are kind on knees, whilst a similar rounded shape at the gunwales makes stacking out much more comfortable.


The first impression of Haumanu’s business end is a maze of ropes, but each has a purpose. Both main and jib require considerable luff tension, and this is achieved with powerful cunninghams. The main is hoisted from the base of the mast inside the cabin, which avoids an exit hole in the mast at cabintop height. The main halyard locks off at the top of the mast, which lowers mast compression.
The main vang is sheeted through a 24:1 purchase, with a 4:1 mainsheet inside the boom. The bitter end of the mainsheet is fixed to Dyneema rope bridle between the stern quarters, with the business end exiting through a ratchet block and jammer on the cockpit floor.
Jib sheets are controlled with two tiny Harken winches on the cabin top, whilst the Code Zero and gennaker sheets can be handled here too, via tweaker blocks. A 1.5m-long carbon prod gets the tack of the extras well forward.
No question Fleury, Duff and Molloy know their sails – their depth of knowledge is awe inspiring. I’m looking up at one of the best setting mainsails I’ve ever helmed under, whilst beside me the trio are debating six mil off this, four mil off that and a fraction stiffer top batten. And then they start on the jib.


My rudimentary knowledge of sail shapes is obviously not required, so I concentrate on helming this little rocket. The tiller’s so light it’s a one-finger job, yet there’s enough weather helm to feel what’s happening. Tacking is instant, the little boat flicks around literally on the spot and back up to speed within a boat-length or two. Warning: don’t get into a tacking duel with Haumanu.
We round an imaginary top mark and Fleury calls for the Code Zero. This is mounted on a top-down furler, which is pulled out to the end of the prod with a rope and block. The lads from Doyles have this sheeted on in about three nanoseconds and Haumanu takes off like a bobsled on an ice runway. Considering the 10-knot breeze and our overloaded state, it’s seriously impressive performance.


Haumanu has no instruments, however our photographer’s phone app recorded speeds over the ground of between six and seven knots upwind and over 10 reaching. Swapping the Code Zero for the gennaker allows us to sail considerably deeper angles, but don’t ask me what these are as there’s no compass.
The prod flexes in sympathy as we cross the odd ferry wake but nothing too serious. There’s no creaks or groans and the boat feels rock-solid.
Fleury has raced Haumanu once where she outpaced several Young 88s downwind and wasn’t far off their pace upwind. Considering an Y88 is around two metres longer, this is impressive for a brand-new boat with virtually no tuning. Sadly, Fleury and Haumanu won’t be seen on the harbour again until August as he’s currently in Europe crewing on the TP52 Quantum Racing.

Summary
Sixty-two years ago, the late Des Townson designed the Pied Piper to get cash-strapped youngsters out on the water. That concept is just as valid today and nothing would give Fleury more satisfaction than seeing some Haumanu sister yachts join her on the sparkling waters of the Waitemata.
The Fleury 6.7m would be a perfect syndicate yacht for two or three friends to build and campaign. And who knows where that experience might lead their owners in the future?

Structured Luff Technology

According to Richard Bouzaid, Doyles Sails Design Director, Structured Luff Technology sails are a game changer with applications from superyachts to club racers.
A Structured Luff sail is engineered to accept higher loads in the luff, which are distributed throughout the sail. This enables the sail to be tightened and flattened in higher wind strengths without the need for increased rig tension.
The idea began through Code Zero’s, which are free-flying sails, but the technology has now evolved into mainsails and headsails. By incorporating Structured Luff technology any sail will become more stable and efficient through a wider range of conditions.
There are significant advantages:
• Sailing loads on the hull are shared between the rig and sail so the hull structure experiences far less overall tension
• Headsails have a wider range, in turn meaning smaller inventory and less changing
• Mainsail range is increased, meaning less reefing
• Masts have lower compression and/or inversion loads
• Headsails can have extra “free” area because there’s no need to allow for forestay sag
• Less need of permanent and/or running backstays
• Less crew required
• Lower pressure from the likes of hydraulic backstays/mast jacks
Of course, there’s no something for nothing…
Structured Luff Technology requires:
• Stronger, no-stretch halyards, and/or halyard locks
• Powerful cunninghams and/or downhauls
• While polyester panelled sails can be used, the most beneficial application is a Stratis sail
• Different approach is required to sail trimming
• A couple of practical examples; one Superyacht gained 35m² in ‘free’ headsail area through not having to allow for headsail sag, whilst another was able to lower the hydraulic load on its mast step from 60 to 30 tons.
• It’s not just for superyachts. Structured Luff Technology sails on classic and modern classic yachts is far kinder on their hull structures; whilst for short-handed racers and cruisers, sails with a wider range offer major handling benefits.

 

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Fleury 6.7 Keeler

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo Da Vinci. A simple boat can mean basic; more rarely it can mean a boat where functionality has been achieved through careful thought, attention to detail and hidden sophistication. Our test boat, Haumanu, is a perfect example of the latter.

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Innovision 616 Explorer

Painted in a striking metallic Brisbane Blue from Superyacht Coatings, this distinctive looking trailerboat is a bold and beautiful sight. An updated version of the Innovision 616 Explorer, she was delivered to her new owner in mid-April, just a fortnight before this review, having been built to order in the Innovation workshop in Albany, Auckland.

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