Boats using Hexcel composites take first, second

Hexcel Corp. congratulates the FONICA and SAFRAN sailing teams for finishing first and second in the Transat Jacques Vabre race. Both boats use Hexcel composites.

Hexcel Corp. (Huxford, U.K.) on Nov. 21 congratulated skipper Michel Desjoyaux, co-skipper Emmanuel Le Borgne and the FONCIA team on its victory in the Transat Jacques Vabre race. Congratulations also were extended to the SAFRAN sailing team, skipper Marc Guillemot and co-skipper Charles Caudrelier, for finishing in second place. Both boats, which set off from Le Havre, France, on Nov. 3 and arrived Nov. 20 in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, were built with composite materials from Hexcel.

The FONCIA boat, designed by Farr Yacht Design, was built by the Chantier CDK shipyard in France. CDK selected Hexcel composite materials due to their previous winning experiences and tried and trusted performance. The FONCIA has a honeycomb sandwich construction and was built with both woven and unidirectional HexPly M10 prepregs, using high-strength carbon fiber and Hexcel's HexPly M10 resin that is particularly suitable for racing boats.

The design of the SAFRAN monohull was conceived by leading marine architects: Van Peteghem-Lauriot Prevost and Guillaume Verdier. Working to an extremely tight schedule, the team took four months to plan and design the boat with a view to building a high-tech carbon honeycomb sandwich structure, as lightweight as possible but strong enough to withstand single-handed sailing in the worst ocean-going conditions.

The Chantier Naval de Larros shipyard, which specialises in the composite construction of boats, was selected to build the SAFRAN. Materials selection was critical and, as preferred partner for the supply of composites, Hexcel took up the challenge and helped the architects optimize the choice of carbon fibers and composites. A range of HexPly M10 prepregs with woven and unidirectional reinforcements was selected. Hexcel's carbon fiber was used extensively: HexTow IM7 very high strength carbon fiber was used for the hull and deck structures; HexTow IM9 super-strength carbon fiber was selected for the bow section and the hull.

The SAFRAN achievement is remarkable because the boat lost its large spinnaker on day 10 day of the race, resulting in a 15° wind angle loss in relation to the other competing boats.