Yacht racing teams benefit from monohull made with custom multiaxials

SP-High Modulus helps develop M34 yacht for Tour de France à la Voile race series.

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The Tour de France à la Voile is a series of yacht races held each year since 1978 along the coasts of France. Racing events are first held along the Atlantic coast, then midway through the tour the boats are transported overland by truck to the Mediterranean Sea, where the races conclude along the French Riviera. The tour is a test of sailing skills, so all the racing teams sail identical monohull boats. Since the tour was established in 1978, seven designs have been raced. In 2011, a new and reportedly very fast 10.34m long boat, the M34, designed by Bernard Nivelt of Joubert Nivelt Design (Saint-Xandre, France), together with Alexandre Mercier, was adopted by race organizers, besting 22 competing designs. (See HPC’s coverage of the boat’s design in “Carbon/glass hybrid wins place on monohull for famed race,” HPC March 2010 (p. 41) or visit short.compositesworld.com/lka4cqEm.) This year’s race saw 14 M34s compete during a month of racing. The overall winner in the professional category was TPM Coych, coskippered by Fabien Henry and Tugdual Becquemie, who won the last of 33 races, in the Bay of Toulon. The top amateur boat was the Ville de Genève Carrefour Prevention.

SP-High Modulus, the marine business of Gurit (Newport, Isle of Wight, U.K.), worked with the M34 yacht’s builder, Archambault (Dangé-Saint-Romain, France), to realize the design, using composite materials within the constraints of a tight budget and a high production rate.

SP-High Modulus’ structural engineering team worked in collaboration with the naval architects to create a light but stiff and robust structure. They ultimately turned to FORMAX (Narborough, Leicester, U.K.) for a custom-designed reinforcement material that suited the structural and manufacturing requirements for the sandwich design of the racing yacht’s hull and deck.

An E-glass biaxial was combined with a carbon unidirectional tape in a hybrid triaxial, with the unidirectional carbon located in the middle of the glass layers. FORMAX further optimized the material with the addition of tacky adhesive strips placed at regular intervals on one side of the material, allowing easy placement of the fabric in the mold, eliminating the need for solvent-based spray tackifier. The triaxial fabric was included in a B3 SmartPac designed by SP-High Modulus, with all of the materials for the build kitted and cut for maximum efficiency.

FORMAX announced earlier this year that its entire range of carbon multiaxial fabrics has been awarded Det Norske Veritas (DNV) materials qualification. DNV accreditation is of particular interest to FORMAX’s marine customers that are involved in the production of larger marine vessels.