Gunboat recently launched the first Gunboat 68 out of the factory to the marina.
Gunboat built much of the boat in-house, leveraging their expertise in infusion for the larger composite elements, then integrating advanced components commissioned from industry-leading partners.
The naval architects and designers VPLP Design (Paris and Vannes, France) determined a realistic weight based on cruising expectations and designed the layout, the optimal lines, and the structure and sail power. Gunboat worked with FIBRE Mechanics to use robotically-laid fiber on the bulkheads and stringers using the North Thin Ply Technology (NTPT). In NTPT, extremely thin layers of pre-preg carbon are laid by a machine, then CNC-cut Corecell is fitted. More layers of carbon are then robotically applied and the whole panel is cured at 110°C in an autoclave. Thin ply pre-pregs allow greater optimization of modulus, strength and weight, and, therefore, an overall improvement in the mechanical performance of the final part.
The use of NTPT allowed higher structural tolerances of the forward cockpit design than on prior models, allowing the mast to be moved further aft. Xavier Guilbaud of VPLP explained, “The mast is positioned further aft than on the previous Gunboat models to increase the aspect ratio of the mainsail. It also allows easier fine tuning on the mainsail trim with smaller loads to handle. Adding rake to the rig gives the main a near-vertical leech for a better-looking and more efficient main when reefed. All this makes a more efficient sail plan, better helm balance in any sail configuration, and easier to handle and trim.”
Using advanced Finite Element Analysis (FEA) software, VPLP engineered each bulkhead to manage the loads it would bear. With the fiber laid robotically, a superior product was produced at a fraction of the man-hours.
Gunboat’s COO William Jelbert said, “The guys at FIBRE Mechanics brought us a repeatable process with clear-cut quality control. In addition to weight saving, pre-preg carbon gives you an enhanced level of quality and improved tolerances. Because the tape laid is always unidirectional fiber instead of woven fabrics, it’s a much lighter and stronger product. Outsourcing our interior structure to a supplier capable of handling minute details and very light materials allowed us to implement these components easily into our production line. No two bulkheads are the same in this boat, every bulkhead has been optimized for the load it will see. On top of that, we can control cost, labor hours and shrink the build time.”