Gitana X under repair

Following cracks found in her beam stems

Monday August 12th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: France
Following the beam problems experienced by the new Gitana X 60ft trimaran, the boat's engineers have announced their verdict - the new generation all-carbon fibre curved foils on the floats exert greater loads on the trimaran's structure than the hypotheses applied during the design process. So the trunks of the crossbeams have to be reinforced, a long-winded job requiring painstaking attention to detail.

Gitana X's design team spent much time working on these appendages and in the process created safety factors for the loads they would produce. But a prototype remains a prototype and once out on the water, it was discovered that the foils exceed the highest loads the structure was designed to take.

So the Gitana engineers have gone back to the drawing board and come up with new curves for the loads generated by these convex foils. After the engineering of the whole boat was checked by structural engineers only the crossbeam butts (point where the beams attach to the floats) have been identified as needing reinforcement.

The cure has been far from easy and has involved getting inside each of the tapered arc-shaped beam. The build team at Multiplast will add layers of carbon on the four inner and outer faces of the butts, using wet lay-up carbon fibre cloth. This is then vacuum-bagged to help the cloth adhere to the structure, before a final step, post-curing at 60° C is carried out to ensure the resin attains maximum strength.

This work is currently underway and Gitana X should be back on the water at the end of August ready for the ORMA Grand Prix in Fecamps and then the Route du Rhum.

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