Racing yacht to use Advanced Composites Group prepregs

A Volvo Ocean Race yacht to be built by Ericsson will use Advanced Composites Group (ACG) carbon prepreg material.

Ericsson Racing Team's boat 'Ericsson 3', which was unveiled to the yachting press on Feb. 12, 2008, is the first one-off Volvo Ocean Race (VO70) challenge yacht to come out of the purpose-built Ericsson boatyard in Kista, Sweden. This is the first of two Ericsson yachts to be made using ACG'S (Heanor, Derbyshire, U.K.) carbon prepreg materials; Ericsson 4 is in the boatyard right now.

ACG, part of the Composites Division of Umeco plc, has a proven track record in this and other challenging races, and is pleased to continue its association in this field, providing Ericsson Racing Team with customised materials and technical expertise to support them in this formidable venture. With Juan Kouyoumdjian as the exclusive designer for Ericsson Racing Team, and Killian Bushe as construction manager, Ericsson 3 embraces the strong heritage of the winning yacht 'ABN AMRO One', now 'Ericsson 2', a veteran of the 2005-2006 Volvo Ocean Race.

Ericsson 3 employs ACG’s trademarked VTM264, ACG's long out life, intermediate-viscosity, epoxy resin matrix prepreg and its associated VTA260 film adhesive, which is used to bond the honeycomb and foam core for the craft’s sandwich construction. Ericsson 3 is ready to take to the water and start serving the team as their main training boat, and be one of the race boats for the 2008-2009 Volvo Ocean Race.

The first step in the construction technique adopted by Kouyoumdjian and Bushe was to build a plug, an outline of the hull, from precision-cut frames. Once the plug was made, a carbon fiber mold was built around it. The inside of the finished mold had to reflect the exact dimensions of the boat's hull, so accuracy was of paramount importance. The hull was then fabricated in two layers, with honeycomb core or foam sandwiched between them to add stiffness to the structure. In areas where extra strength is required, such as around the keel, high density foam or monolithic (uncored) carbon fiber was used. Once fully laminated, the hull was cured in an oven.

The Kista yard has two ovens, one at 26 metres long, just big enough to accommodate the entire boat. The second, smaller oven was used to cure the carbon fiber prepreg deck, bulkheads, and other parts.