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SP-High Modulus Provides Composite Solution for M34 Race Yacht

  • Tuesday, 3rd August 2010
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  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

The first M34 performance sailing yacht, the new design for prestigious annual Tour de France à la Voile race, was launched in June and has been undergoing rigorous sea trials.

SP-High Modulus is providing a full composite construction solution to the yard and designer, comprising structural engineering, technical support, and composite materials, the majority of which is being supplied in B³ SmartPac format.

The Tour de France à la Voile is an annual yacht race around the coast of France, and since the event’s establishment in 1978, only six different one-designs have been used. French boat yard Archambault has been selected to build the new series of boats, the M34. This new design by France-based Joubert/Nivelt/Mercier Design is, at 10.34m, one metre longer than the previous Farr 30 design, which was used from 1999 to 2010, with a greater sail area/displacement ratio.

SP-High Modulus’ structural engineering team worked in close collaboration with the yard and design office to create a light, but stiff and robust structure. The final structural layout and laminate specification, balance the requirements of weight control, stiffness performance, and overall cost-effectiveness. As well as first principles engineering, the SP-High Modulus team undertook Finite Element Analysis of some of the critical structures, such as the keel support, to reach an optimum solution that resulted in accurate and repeatable alignment as well as practicality of build.

The structural engineering analysis lead to the development of custom-designed materials to suit the specific structural requirements as well as the yard’s build methodology. The glass and carbon hybrid fabrics, designed by SP-High Modulus engineering and technical teams, offer increased structural performance with a reduced number of layers, as well as ease of build through improved drapability and integral tackiness for positioning in the mould. For the core materials, SP-High Modulus’ Corecell M-Foam was chosen as it offered the required properties at every location on the boat and meant that only one core material needed be used on the project. The build process using SP-High Modulus’ Prime 20LV resin system has been further aided by the supply of the materials in the form of a B³ SmartPac. The materials in pre-cut format, along with a schematic and written construction booklet, has resulted in the yard reducing its preparation and lamination time by over half. With a challenging build schedule to launch 30 boats in the next 12 months, this approach has given the yard confidence they can meet the deadline, whilst maintaining high quality standards.

The sea trials were a success, with the naval architect, skipper and race director all happy with the boat’s performance. Broad reaching with 17 knots of wind, the boat achieved 15 knots which gave a good indication of its potential. The boat was described as “stiff, powerful, fast and reliable”. The second and third boats in the series are currently in production.


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