SP, Baltic Yachts finalize structural design on 60m ketch

Custom-built, composites-intensive Panamax yacht is said to feature largest ever single prepreg molding.

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SP, the marine business unit of Gurit (Isle of Wight, U.K.), reports that structural design work on one of the most challenging boat projects is nearing an end. SP has teamed up with luxury yacht builders Baltic Yachts (Bosund, Finland) for their biggest venture to date, this one involving what it said to be the largest ever single prepreg molding.

Known for delivering high-performance sailing yachts, Baltic is pushing the envelope of yacht design and construction with its lightweight, super-fast 60m/197-ft ketch, Panamax. Designed to be the largest ketch that can pass through the Panama Canal, the custom-built Panamax incorporates materials and engineering supplied by SP to ensure maximum performance.

Panamax is reportedly notable not only for its sheer size but also a number of novel features; the unique ketch is set to be at the forefront of innovation, with project management by Jens Cornelsen. Featuring a plumb-bow, long bowsprit and traditional sheer line, the boat combines classic looks and comfortable cruising with powerful performance. Using a combination of Nomex honeycomb, SP Prepregs, Corecell foam, carbon fiber, adhesives and laminating resins, Baltic's largest yacht to date is being built with a wide range of composite materials.

Principal Engineer of SP, Rod Fogg said, "Panamax has been our biggest project, and we have worked on the design since 2007. The sheer scale of the yacht creates constant challenges for everyone involved, but its ground-breaking systems and engineering mean it is not just another large sailing yacht." SP believes it is the largest single prepreg molding ever.

"One of the biggest challenges of the structural design has been that of the two-stage lifting keel, which can operate in three positions, but raises in two stages using internal and external rams to 3.7m above the deck for the harbour draught. Designing for an ultimate grounding load of some 3,000 tonnes means this could also be one of the highest point loads ever in composite design. To help with the flow of such construction information, SP also has had an engineer on-site for a year."

The yacht is co-designed by two top naval architecture offices (Gerard Dijkstra & Partners, and Reichel/Pugh) and is designed to perform in inshore and offshore regattas after it is delivered in 2011.