BMW Oracle announce mast maker

HallSpars chosen to build rig for AC mega-multihull

Wednesday May 28th 2008, Author: Jane Eagleson, Location: United Kingdom
The carbon fibre mast for BMW Oracle Racing's new America's Cup multihull is now under construction at Hall Spars in Bristol, Rhode Island, the team confirmed today.

Located about 20 miles from Newport, the long-time home of the America's Cup, the Hall facility was a natural choice for undertaking what is a difficult engineering challenge, BMW ORACLE Racing design coordinator, Mike Drummond said: "It is a huge challenge to construct such a large mast and to cure the carbon in an autoclave big enough to accommodate this project. Based in the USA, Hall Spars have a leading reputation in delivering the high-quality construction we need on this scale.

Drummond continued: "The rig program is a key component in the performance of the aero package on the multihull." The rig design team is led by American Scott Ferguson and Hervé Devaux of France with support from BMW.

“It’s a real pleasure to work with the BMW ORACLE team," said Ben Hall, Vice President of Hall Spars & Rigging. "The Hall team thrives on innovation, and our facility and autoclave are perfectly suited for a project of this magnitude. The performance of this boat will be like no other in existence. I can’t wait to see the sea trials,”

Hall Spars & Rigging was founded by Eric Hall and Phil Garland. The doors opened on June 9, 1980, in Bristol, R.I., USA. In 1992, Hall became the first sparmaker to use an aerospace-quality autoclave in the curing of carbon parts in its own facility. By 1994, Hall was building carbon spars for production boats, including the J/120 and J/130.

The BMW ORACLE Racing mast is being built at Hall’s U.S. factory located in Bristol, R.I. (Two other identical factories are located in Holland and New Zealand.) The US facility employs 95 people and occupies 7158sqm 80,000sqft) production space. Every Hall carbon-fibre spar is autoclave cured to aerospace standards of 6 bar (85-100 psi) and a temperature of 120°C (250°F). Hall’s high-pressure process eliminates voids and maximizes fibre straightness. The US factory has two autoclaves - the 46m autoclave cures America’s Cup masts and most super yacht spars in one cure cycle. The 20-meter autoclave is used for poles and parts.

Hall composite structures are seamless because they are made on a male mold.

Pre-preg unidirectional carbon fibre is laid up around an aluminum mandrel and then autoclave cured. (The mandrel is removed upon curing.) The result is a seamless tube with fibres stretched straight during the heat cycle by the expanding aluminum mandrel. These fibers continue - uninterrupted - around the circumference of the tube. A Hall seamless carbon tube is the lightest, strongest and stiffest tube available on the market today.

Ed's note - so unless they start joining parts together, it looks like their tallest mast might be 46m.... not 64m

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