Miranda Merron: February newsletter

Miranda Merron: February newsletter

Sunday February 6 2011 Author: Miranda Merron Location: none selected

Despite the fact that we have installed an engine in our boat (obligatory in Class40 rules), the aim is nevertheless to produce a sailing boat!
One of the defining characteristics of a sailing boat is that it has at least one mast.

The rig is one of the fundamental aspects of a successful racing boat. It is an exercise in combining performance with reliability, while keeping the rig to an acceptable weight, and the success of the mast is dependent on managing this feat.

Under Class40 rules, carbon is permitted for the mast, boom and bowsprit. In order to keep costs down, the rules specify a limited modulus of carbon.
However, the method of construction is open.

Today, the most advanced and sophisticated method of construction, or at least the one that delivers the best results, consists of building spars in female moulds, using prepreg carbon cloth, and curing in an autoclave at high temperature.

This method of construction requires high quality material, the right tools, expertise and a great deal of experience in the field.

For our rig, we are fortunate to be working with suppliers whose extensive knowledge and experience place them firmly amongst the world leaders in this area of high technology.

The prepreg carbon is being provided by Structil, supplier to the high performance composites industry, ranging from aerospace to marine, as well as a variety of other fields where the technology is applicable.

For the manufacture of the mast, it is only natural that we have turned to Eric Duchemin, who recently founded Axxon Composites with his business partner, Philippe Boclet.

Eric Duchemin and Halvard, both natives of the Cotentin Peninsula (Cherbourg Peninsula) in Normandy, go back a long way (though they hail from opposite coasts, but you need some friendly rivalry…)

The ever youthful Eric is known throughout the sailing world for his expertise in masts. His passion for his chosen profession is as strong as ever after decades of adventures as a spar manufacturer. He has always been at the forefront of innovation where masts are concerned. Halvard won the 2008 Quebec Saint Malo Race with one of Eric’s masts.

As one of Axxons Composite’s production facilities is in Romania, in the Carpathian Mountains near Dracula’s castle, we are formally announcing that we will be equipping our boat with a “Dracula Spar”. When you have an ambitious project, it is important to involve partners with a bit of bite…

Also of note, based on the principle that you don’t change a winning team, Eric has roped Illy Brummer and Alain Bouchet into this new adventure. Illy is Finnish, but lives in Brittany and has been involved in engineering carbon masts ever since carbon was first used in their manufacture. Alain was one of the pioneers in carbon masts, and has unparalleled expertise in building spars.

It must not be forgotten that for a mast to stay upright, it needs rigging. To this end, we are fortunate to be working with Sparcraft Rigging, managed by Joël Guerinet, whose knowledge will be most useful in assisting us in making the right choices for all the elements which make up the rig.

We are also delighted to be working with Facnor for the sail furling systems. Based on the Cotentin Peninsula, this is a dynamic company at the leading edge of innovation. Facnor is a worldwide leader in designing and manufacturing furling systems, and it is fast becoming the world standard for furling equipment.
This partnership with Facnor is the continuation of a long-standing relationship, since Facnor has always supported Halvard in his projects. Over the many years of working together, Facnor has always risen to the challenge when a new product needed developing, and most of these products are now available as standard.

As for the boat itself, the build is coming along, and we are still searching for that elusive sponsor.

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