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Boats Built with Hexcel Composites Take Top Places in Transatlantic Race

27 November 2007

Hexcel Corporation has congratulated skipper Michel Desjoyaux, co-skipper Emmanuel Le Borgne and the Foncia team on their victory in the Transat Jacques Vabre race.

Congratulations were also extended to the Safran sailing team, skipper Marc Guillemot and co-skipper Charles Caudrelier on finishing in second place. Both boats, which set off from Le Havre, France on November 3rd and arrived on 20th in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil were built with composite materials from Hexcel.

David E Berges, Hexcel’s Chairman and CEO said, “Everyone at Hexcel congratulates the Foncia and Safran teams on their tremendous performance. Our organization is excited to have contributed to this achievement. The lightweight but exceptionally strong Hexcel materials supplied for both boats are another example of our Company’s efforts to make everything from aircraft to racing yachts lighter, stronger, faster.”

The Foncia boat, designed by Farr Yacht Design, was built by the Chantier CDK shipyard in France. CDK selected Hexcel composite materials due to their previous winning experiences and tried and trusted performance. The Foncia has a honeycomb sandwich construction and was built with both woven and unidirectional HexPly M10 prepregs, using high strength carbon fibre.

The innovative design of the Safran monohull was conceived by leading marine architects Van Peteghem-Lauriot Prevost and Guillaume Verdier. Working to an extremely tight schedule, the team took four months to plan and design the boat with a view to building a high-tech carbon honeycomb sandwich structure, as lightweight as possible but strong enough to withstand single-handed sailing in the worst ocean-going conditions.

The Chantier Naval de Larros shipyard, which specialises in the composite construction of boats, was selected to build the Safran. Materials selection was critical and, as preferred partner for the supply of composites, Hexcel took up the challenge and helped the architects optimize the choice of carbon fibers and composites, within the confines of the Open 60 restrictions. A range of HexPly M10 prepregs with woven and unidirectional reinforcements was selected. Hexcel’s carbon fibre was used extensively: HexTow IM7 very high strength carbon fibre was used for the hull and deck structures; while HexTow IM9 super strength carbon fibre was selected for the bow section and the hull.

The Safran achievement is all the more outstanding considering the boat lost its large spinnaker on day 10 day of the race, resulting in a 15 degree wind angle loss in relation to the other competing boats. According to the skipper, Marc Guillemot: “This boat has so many assets and is state-of-the art. The extreme lightness and rigidity make it highly manoeuvrable, which is a major asset”.

The Transat race was superb training for the Vendee Globe solo, round the world race that starts in November 2008, which has always been the main goal for the Safran team, and in which the two boats will again compete.





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