High-end Spanish boat manufacturer Balance Arquitectura Naval is designing a new racing catamaran, Balance A+, that will be built of carbon fiber from keel to masthead, including the sails. The company has chosen Solvay’s composite materials for the design.
Balance Arquitectura Naval’s Balance A+ is a racing catamaran for solo navigation assisted by foils. The Balance A+ is 5.49 meters in length with a 3.00-meter beam and a wingsail, also referred to as the wing, surface of 18.5 square meters.
The catamaran’s structural parts, such as the hull, were built with Solvay’s carbon fiber. What’s new is that the wing, a rigid aerodynamic structure like an airplane wing that replaces conventional sails, was also built with the carbon fiber. The rigid wing includes four elements that are more than 11 meters high and offers greater efficiency than conventional sails. Carlos Simarro, Account Manager at Composite Materials, Solvay in Madrid, said, “Using rigid wings is an increasingly frequent solution for racing boats. They are more efficient to capture wind power, whether light or strong.”
The medium viscosity VTM-264 pre-preg, a lightweight and highly resistant type of Long Fiber Thermoset (LFT) was the resin selected for the project, as it offers low temperature curing without requiring an autoclave, saving costs on expensive equipment that may have to be custom built because of the size and shape of the parts. Mr. Simarro explained, “For wings, you need low porosity to obtain a smooth and regular surface without any imperfections and free of internal voids during the consolidation of the laminate. If the temperatures of the curing cycle aren’t right, the resin doesn’t impregnate the fabric properly, which will lead to poor part quality, and the wing won’t be as efficient.”