Hinckley aims to lead that change to epoxy resin. In March 2018, the boat builder unveiled what it called the world’s first carbon epoxy performance boats in production.
“We have a very strong vacuum resin infusion capability, which minimizes excess resin and therefore resin weight,” Saladino says. The addition of lightweight carbon fiber helps the Hinckley Sport Boat efficiently achieve speeds exceeding 60 mph without stacking outboard motors on the stern. Hinckley is quick to point out that optional twin 627 horsepower outboards from Seven Marine will allow the Sport Boat to reach 63 mph, indicating that speed is a growing demand for its customers.
By adding epoxy into the mix, the builder is able to balance light weight with greater strength and durability. “We see this as the optimal approach for a strong, durable and safe hull,” Saladino says.
The company dry-lays its molds so that all of the fibers in the hull and support structure can be aligned to designed load paths before resin infusion. “When the resin is vacuum infused there is a chemical bond between the hull and the support structure as the resin cures. This is an improvement over other approaches, which insert the support structure after hull infusion when only a physical bond can be made,” Saladino says. “Our confidence in this approach is why we guarantee our hulls and decks for life.”
The company is now working to extend this vacuum-infused carbon epoxy across its full line of yachts, a goal that will place the company “well ahead of current industry practice,” according to Saladino.
Epoxy Achieves a Richer Finish
Around 2016, Scout Boats in Summerville, S.C., began introducing a carbon fiber/E-glass hybrid into its mix in response to a shift in how boaters use their watercraft. According to Steve Potts, owner, founder and president of Scout Boats, the introduction of add-ons – ranging from aftermarket stabilizers to stacking of outboard motors – is making boats heavier. Meanwhile, boaters are asking for reduced fuel consumption.
“Even though we’re not building race boats we put a lot of emphasis on performance – both high-speed performance and fuel burn – and the handling characteristics of the boat,” Potts says. “Rather than to say this is just the nature of the beast, we started to address this [trend] by changing our methodologies to basically make the boat ultra-light to offset those added weights.”
By applying CFRP within its 42-foot sport fishing boat, for example, the team was able to shave off 600 pounds. “It doesn’t sound significant, and it certainly adds a significant cost, but we see the reduction in pounds as well worth it once you add a 700-pound stabilizer,” Potts points out.