Advanced Engineering 2019

Superyacht failure down to bad bonds

12 April 2000

Tests on the hull of Pete Goss's giant catamaran have revealed why the vessel's bow snapped off just two weeks after launch. Exclusive access to information that identifies particular production problems ends speculation that the calamity was caused by a design flaw. Team Philips ran into trouble off the Isles of Scilly when a 40ft section of bow broke off during sea trials in the Atlantic. Experts now say the break-up was caused by the £4m boat's carbon fibre skin of the main load-bearing area failing to bond with its honeycomb paper core. The flaw in the production process left the two massive hulls inherently fragile, the weakness running the entire length of the 120ft vessel. Although the craft was designed to cruise through the waves at more than 40 knots, it broke up in winds of 25 knots, only two weeks after the Queen officially named her. Goss now faces an expensive repair bill to correct the problem, but its designers have been reassured that had the boat, the biggest carbon fibre vessel in the world, been built to its optimum strength the structure would have worked. It is hoped that the vessel, which was towed to Dartmouth after it sustained the damage, can be repaired in time to enter a round-the-world yacht race beginning in December

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