Jason Carrington, president of Carrington Yachts Limited, is sought after to create new sleeker, lighter yachts. In his experience as a project manager and an avid racer (he has competed in the Volvo Ocean Race four times), he helps designers and manufacturers find the right balance between speed and sleek sturdiness. Here are his views on the pluses and minuses of composites in his world.
When were you introduced to composites?
When I was in college I did an apprenticeship with Green Marine, the largest composite racing yacht builder in the U.K. They were one of the first companies to build yachts with composites, the first to do prepreg, and they remain very cutting edge.
I’ve been in the industry 20 years as a project manager. I’m not a designer or a manufacturer; it’s my job to sit down with a designer and help them with the layout and structure. I have a good understanding of what a boat will put up with because I sail and because I know how they are manufactured.
Do you advocate the use of composites frequently?
I am a big fan of composites because I know their advantages compared to their disadvantages. As a result I use them regularly; I can’t imagine a well designed, competitive yacht not using them.
The people I work with are building yachts to race, so the use of composites is never a discussion. Composites are lighter, stiffer, stronger and last longer, so we are always going to use them. I think people in general yachting don’t appreciate the positives and therefore don’t use them.
Why don’t people in general yachting use them as much?
Composites are still generally seen as high tech and therefore not available to everyone. In general there aren’t many people in a manufacturing yard that are capable of using composites, let alone using them well.
There are very few people within the UK, or the world for that matter, that know how to use composites well. Similar to Formula 1 racing, we need someone who is good at using it; however, there is a lack of skilled people. There are hundreds of boat builders in the UK, but if someone phoned me up for a recommendation, I would struggle to think of a place that knows composites well. Even in the world, I’d say there are five yards that I’d trust. Two in New Zealand, One in Australia and two in the U.K. Composites are just very easy to get wrong.