New cat on the block turning heads before it's even left the yard

This is certainly the longest bowsprit YM has ever seen! It belongs to Mike Slade’s new Leopard 3, a 30m (98ft) maxi canting keeled yacht based on the Volvo Open 70 design. Designed by Farr Yacht Design and built at McConaghys yard, Australia, the yacht certainly has people talking with her impressive vital statistics.

Above deck the rig will tower 48m off the water, with a large sail area to power her massive displacement, expected to be around 36.5 tonnes in racing trim. With A2, staysail and full main the new Leopard will be able to fly a massive 1,600sqm of sail. And then there’s the 4.5m(15ft) bowsprit to contend with?

She is due to leave Australia on a ship at the beginning of April and will be finally assembled in Southampton in May, the rig being shipped from New Zealand and the keel from Italy. Sea trials will take place mid to late May with her official launch scheduled for 8 June.

This year’s program will include competing in the Round the Island Race and the Royal Ocean Racing Club season taking in the Rolex Fastnet Race in August before the boat heads to the Med. After the Med season, Leopard 3 will then be shipped back to Australia to compete in the Rolex Sydney Hobart and then back to the north hemisphere to compete in the Caribbean regattas in 2008 and then the Bermuda Race.

They may then make an attempt on the monohull transatlantic record. Under present rules they will be allowed to make an attempt on the four master Phocea’s powered winches record but not on Mari Cha IV’s outright monohull non-powered record. Another project owner Mike Slade is known to be keen on is making an attempt on the fully crewed monohull, non-stop around the world record, which to date no one has claimed.