God's battens


Fraser Brown with his babies
 

Fraser Brown with his babies

Fraser Brown gives us the full, in-depth explanation about why C-Tech rectangular battens are the best in the world
With the 41 40-60ft multihulls and monohulls now into countdown mode for the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre, a technological development that could go some way in differentiating the winners and the losers in the biennial two-handed transatlantic race is in the field of battens, or so Fraser Brown would have us believe. Brown, a Kiwi, has been lurking around in France over recent years, acting as shore support or crewing for the younger Bourngon brother, Yvan, during the Rexona Men trimaran campaign (remember the waterskier?). He is also part of Tracy Edwards' Maiden II crew and last year was on board the 110ft catamaran's 24 hour record as well as their Round Britain & Ireland record. Aside from his racing credentials, Brown is now the European face of C-Tech, Alex Valling's Auckland-based company that is currently revolutionising batten technology. "The way these battens developed was because of the America's Cup going to New Zealand," explains Brown. "When the boats went down there it became apparent that there was a reasonably large hole in the market for battens that could do the job on a Cup boat, that would be light enough and stiff enough to produce what they wanted as far as sail shape was concerned. "Alex went down to the boats and had a look at what they were trying to use, went back to his workshop and designed a male mandril idea that tapers progressively towards the luff of the sail. He made this male mandril quite long and made it out of pure carbon so you'd have no movement in it because he was using an autolave to cook the laminate later." At the time AC battens tended to be poltruded fibreglass or carbon fibre rods, as used in the construction industry, with uniform bend characteristics, their

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