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Exclusive: 6 facts about the build of Sailing Yacht A

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Sailing Yacht A Exterior
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The sail and booms on Sailing Yacht A

With the masts designed to carry the whole load, they were able to calculate the maximum bending-force load on the lower bearing by using the predicted upper wind speed limit. “Allowable material stresses and safety factors then clearly led to the structural requirements for the design,” Roberts adds. The bending load at deck on the main mast, for instance, is about two-and-a-half times that of a Dreamliner aircraft wing and about two times that on Maltese Falcon, which has the highest-loaded freestanding masts to date. To put it another way, the masts can withstand 90 knots of wind with full sail up (equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane), or two double-decker buses hung from the tip of each.

Magma built the masts using conventional female moulding techniques using high-strength carbon/epoxy prepreg laminate. Each mast was produced in four large sections: top and bottom, port and starboard. In the lower sections, 370 layers of carbon were laid up in open moulds. For the curing, Magma designed and manufactured oven software to monitor and control the cook cycle over a three-day period. Embedded in the masts is a network of fibre-optic sensors to give real-time comprehensive load data for safety, historical data, condition monitoring and sail performance optimisation.

The total sail area of 3,747 square metres is equal to the size of half a football pitch, and is 67 per cent larger than Maltese Falcon’s 2,370 square metres. Unlike the many small sails that deploy from Falcon’s mainmast, Sailing Yacht A’s fully battened mainsail, at 1,464 square metres, is a single piece and furls on a carbon-fibre mandrel inside a U-shaped boom atthe press of a button; no crew are required. The total length of fibre used in the sail is 754 miles, or long enough if pulled straight, to stretch from the shipyard in Kiel to Monaco.

The sails, by Doyle Sailmakers of the US, are a combination of carbon and Technora fibres and covered with taffeta to protect them from UV. The trick was determining compression loads on the battens and then engineering a soft inboard end capable of furling reliably but, at the same time, handling the forward thrust of the battens without tearing. Future Fibres, in Valencia, constructed the carbon-fibre booms, which measure 25 metres (foresail), 27.5 metres (mainsail) and 23.6 metres (mizzen).

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