Flax fiber racing boat completes Transat race

Huntsman's Araldite resin system is the namesake for a 50 percent flax fiber boat that completes the France-to-Brazil Transat 6.50 race in 15th place.

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Huntsman Advanced Materials (The Woodlands, Texas, USA) reported on Nov. 8 that the Araldite, a racing boat made with flax fibers, crossed the finish line in the Transat 6.50 Charente-Maritime race in 15th place. This is the first flax fiber built boat to take part in and finish the legendary race.

Sponsored by Huntsman Advanced Materials, the boat takes its name from the company’s range of Araldite products. Huntsman also provided technical support for the project.
To develop the flax reinforced system, Lineo, a Belgium company specialising in flax reinforcements, provided the diverse fibers, specially treated to ensure compatibility between the flax and an Araldite warm curing system.

Huntsman and Lineo issued the necessary laminate mechanical properties used for designing the boat’s diverse parts. In total, flax fiber constitutes 50 percent of the boat’s structure, with the remaining 50 percent reinforced with traditional carbon fibers.

“The going was relentless and many competitors were forced to abandon because of the extremely harsh weather conditions, but in spite of the many challenges that were thrown our way, including an energy problem that forced us to turn back to Cape Verde for essential repairs, this race has given me one of the greatest challenges of my life,” said Thibault Reinhart, skipper of the Araldite.

“We set about designing the Araldite with the firm intention of proving the possibilities of building solid and robust racing boats from environmentally friendly natural fibers. The idea was to bring flax fiber over to the other side of the ocean in this legendary race. By finishing in 15th place, flax fiber has just proven its worth in naval construction and thanks to the performance undertaken, many more boats may be built with this natural fiber in years to come. I’m very proud of the achievement and even prouder of this great boat.”

Having left La Rochelle, France, on Sept. 25, Thibault Reinhart arrived in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, on Nov. 2 after 28 days, 20 hours and 8 seconds at sea on board the Araldite.


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