Gurit (Newport, Isle of Wight, U.K.) reported on Sept. 26 that two recently launched yachts make significant use of the company's Hi-Panel construction solution from SP-High Modulus, the marine business of Gurit. The Stimson 56 Alcedo and the Marc Deborde 78 IETA are now sailing in the northern and southern hemispheres respectively, and the project teams have reported significant advantages in their construction processes due to the use of infused composite Hi-Panels.
Having founded and managed a business fabricating swimming pools, Marc Deborde is no stranger to composites, so the company was a natural choice for the build of his 78-ft/23.8m power catamaran. He built the boat at his own facility and used a team of relatively inexperienced builders. “We needed to find a way to build the boat that would suit the team’s skills, would enable me to manage the project budget closely and give me reassurance of quality,” says Deborde. He chose the Hi-Panel solution particularly because of the larger sized panels SP-High Modulus was able to supply. With the maximum panel size being 9m/29.5 ft in length, the topsides of the catamaran were built in just three pieces, so joins were kept to a minimum and structural integrity was uncompromised.
“The Hi-Panel system certainly saved us time throughout the build process. The parts were clearly labelled and accurately cut at the SP-High Modulus facility in Auckland, and were extremely easy for my team to assemble, with minimal tooling and no lifting equipment required. The main structure was built in a matter of weeks.”
IETA’s hull bottom is built with 100-kg structural foam, cut into strips onsite and hand laid with epoxy resin. Hi-Panels were used for the topsides, deck and internal structure, with the majority being Corecell M-Foam/glass fiber sandwich panels, infused with Prime 20 epoxy resin. Marc Deborde and his team supplied the shapes to SP-High Modulus, which nested them on panels according to the laminate required, using its proprietary software. The panels were built by the company’s composite technicians, with shapes labelled and cut on CNC machines. The shapes were left tabbed in the panels, for ease of stacking in a container and shipping to Marc Deborde in New Caledonia.
The Stimson 56 performance cruiser was not the first Hi-Panel boat for naval architects Stimson Yachts. Having previously designed a 6m runabout, the concept was familiar to design principal Christian Stimson: “From the outset, I worked with the builder of the 56, MB Yachts Ltd. in the U.K., and the client to develop a design and build concept that would make the project viable. Including the sea freighting of panels from Auckland [New Zealand] to the builder in the U.K., the Hi-Panel system was the most viable option for us.”
Stimson Yachts worked with the New Zealand SP-High Modulus engineering team to develop the laminate specification for Alcedo. She has a strip-plank cedar hull bottom, with the topsides, deck and internal structure made of Hi-Panels. The panels are Corecell M-Foam/glass fibre sandwich panels, infused with Prime 20 epoxy resin.
When the Hi-Panel is chosen as the construction solution for a project, there is at the outset some additional work on the part of the designer. The assembly sequence has to be carefully considered, in consultation with the builder, as does the detailing of the panel interfaces. In the case of the 56, Stimson Yachts built a full 3-D model, which was then broken down into components before being flattened into 2-D shapes for SP-High Modulus to nest and cut. A manual was produced for the builder to ensure the assembly sequence was followed as designed.
“There is additional design work when using the Hi-Panel system,” says Stimson, “but this offers advantages further down the line. For example, using the Hi-Panel system means the structural arrangement and other details have to be agreed early on in the process, which is beneficial to the smooth running of the project. The structural weight is known from the outset, which allows the client to make realistic decisions about other design features such as furniture specification and fuel tanks. But the most significant benefit of the Hi-Panel system has to be the time saving in the construction process. The client of the 56 estimates a time saving of around 50 percent when using the Hi-Panel for the build of the primary structure compared with more conventional composite fabrication. Now that has to be worth a few extra design hours up front!”