Araldite sponsors pioneering eco-friendly Mini Transat 6.50 sailing boat prototype
09 September 2010
Huntsman Advanced Materials is sponsoring the first ever racing boat prototype to incorporate up to 50 per cent of natural flax fibre in the composite structure. The boat, which has been called Araldite, takes its name from Huntsman’s award winning Araldite range of products. Araldite is a 6.5m long, 3m wide, ergonomic, lightweight Mini Transat racing boat prototype and is the smallest offshore racing boat allowed to cross the Atlantic. Designed by Regis Garcia to showcase the possibilities of incorporating flax fibres into the composite structure of an open sea sailing prototype, the boat was built at the IDB Marine de Tregunc shipyard in Brittany, France. With acceptance and funding received from C.I.P.A.LIN, the French Interprofessional Committee for the Agricultural Production of Flax, the project has been completed in just over 12 months.
The ultimate goal was to adopt a cleaner production process whilst combining the renewable properties of flax with the well-known, high-performance characteristics of carbon fibre, without compromising the light weight or mechanical properties of the sailing prototype. In order to achieve this, Lineo, a Belgium company specialising in flax reinforcements, provided the diverse fibres, specially treated to ensure perfect compatibility between the flax and the Araldite warm curing system.
Lineo uses new technology to coat flax fibres with epoxy resins in such a way that absorption of water from the flax is prevented and strong bonds between the flax and the epoxy resin are created, guaranteeing the quality of the laminate. Working closely in partnership, Huntsman research laboratories and Lineo issued the necessary laminate mechanical properties used for designing the prototype’s diverse parts, including the deck, hull, helm and toe-rails. In total, flax fibre constitutes 50 per cent of the boat’s structure, with the remaining 50 per cent being reinforced by traditional carbon fibres.
The Araldite was launched today (September 9 2010) at a ceremony at the Maison du Nautisme at Douarnenez, France. In its maiden competition, the boat will compete in the Mini Empuries two-handed prototype race, sailing 300 miles around the Balearic Islands before crossing the finishing line at L’Escala in Spain. This will be followed by the Mini Barcelona solo race from September 18-21, another 300 mile race which will see the Araldite sailing from Barcelona back to Barcelona.
Photographs: (top) main skipper Thibault Reinhart works inside the hull of the Araldite, and (opposite) an exterior view of the hull.
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