Rich in long-term industry associations, Crane has a knack for knowing and recruiting the best in the business. He credits his 35-year-long friendship with Johan Valentijn, who was the Swift 141 project manager, for his commission to lead that project. “My strength is that I know how to find the connections—the people to do the job,” Crane says. Valentijn’s yacht designs have been showcased in several America’s Cup race boats and many other successful large yacht projects.
Since Crane had worked for many years with Gardiner, he knew he would be up to the challenge of building heated molds up to 120-feet long for the project, and Gardiner soon developed an innovative approach. Working together, the two quickly improvised the technology to create the large molds needed for the project. Drawing inspiration from radiant floor heating, the two built a temperature-controlled mold table 20-feet wide by 80-feet long, with individually controlled heat settings for each 10-foot section.
“Initially, we met on the 1st of September, and by the end of October we were building the first molds at Vectorworks Marine, 30 to 35-meters long. “We were very creative,” says Crane. “Compmillennia built a heated 20′ x 80′ temperature controlled steel, concrete and epoxy coated flat mold, which allowed us a good surface for vacuum bagging, so we could do large panels and parts, and heat them in sections. Vectorworks built 13 large individual molds and parts, and individual molds for the support frames for their large sections, so they could be laminated concurrently.”
Crane credits the project’s team for the success of the monumental endeavor. In addition to Gardiner, team members included: Bill Kullengusky, the head of engineering at Vectorworks Marine, who assisted with the 3D model, and made the geometry machine ready; Kurt Hopf, general manager of Vectorworks Marine, which has one of the largest 5-axis milling machines in the world; and Mark Bishop and Brian Climenhaga, of Waterfront Composite Solutions LLC, in Fairfield, Calif., who were responsible for the composite engineering and coordinating the design effort.
Two companies built composite parts for the Swift 141, says Crane. Compmillennia made a large part of the internal and external structure. This was like an egg crate that supported the external shell parts, which were built by Vectorworks Marine, LLC, in Titusville, Fla., in large molds the company fabricated, utilizing a 5-axis router. These parts were individually much larger, up to 15x20x120 feet, but were post-cured in the mold over months at ambient temperature.