Carbon Must be Hard Stuff….

You’ve probably noticed that you can get quite a few fittings in carbon these days – even a holder for your stopwatch!!  I can’t say that personally I have handled that much carbon fibre, have you??  In my case, just the chassis of a Formula One car….

To my surprise, Charles was saying that some of the purpose built carbon fittings on his boat came out surprisingly very hard.  Apparently they were so hard that it felt like drilling something between alloy and stainless steel – special hard tipped drills were needed……  Interesting…..

Carbon FFs and the Charm of Resin…..

Like most Club Racers, I wouldn’t know the first thing about the way boats are moulded. I managed to get to see my Dragon being built at Petticrows which was fabulous. All very high tech. You know, at Petticrows they weigh every last bit of materials that go into the boat and predict accurately what it will weigh on the scales a long time before it ever gets there. And that weighs 1700 kilos!

I would guess it is the same at Ovington, Composite Craft and the FF Builders. You may recall in the blog a few weeks back there was a lot of discussion about Carbon FFs and the weight. We had a lot of chat about the whole area with Charles during the Datchet Winter Warm Up. Resin is quite a challenge apparently as it weighs a lot….

The problem with carbon fibre mat if it is the woven variety, is all those holes between the strands. The little holes need filling up and if resin is used, it sinks in there and just adds the kilos. Like Cadbury’s Dairy Milk but on a very large scale…

So what they do is use Uni Directional carbon fibre (less bumps, less holes) and lay two layers so the direction of the strands forms a “V” or chevron shape.  Then glass bubbles are kind of pressed in to fill those holes with air instead of resin….

So – all very elaborate stuff – I can see now why it takes a while to get it right.  On a fifteen, you want the boat to come out on the weight before correctors are added… so the builders will all have this focus on resin which pushes the weight up…..  It might sound OK that you simply add less lead to hit the Class Minimum weight, but it’s quite likely that a boat with a lot of resin has higher turning moments…. I think that’s what part of all the fuss is about.


Composite Craft – Making the Deck…..

Have you seen the way that decks are moulded?  It always struck me as counter intuitive that they are done upside down …  I don’t know why I’d have that notion – stupid really, but that’s the way it’s done.




If you think back to making jellies in moulds as a kid, you’ll very quickly work out that a complex shape like a deck mould is very clever if you to make  in one piece. I would guess that there are all sorts of trade-offs and come to think of it, my Ovi X has a two piece deck moulding – there is a kind of foredeck slot that must be bonded on last.


These three photos are all from Charles to give us some idea of how this part of the carbon boat project came together.

All photos © Charles Apthorp

Charles’ Carbon Flying Fifteen from Composite Craft….

Have you seen a Flying Fifteen in the Mould?  I must admit – I haven’t. Newcastle is a heck of a way from Kent… and though I’ve had three built at Ovis, I’ve never been to see it in process. I have though been to Petticrows at Burnham and seen the Dragon building multiple times – my own Dragon included. Same thing really!!  But I never saw a carbon boat in the mould….

© Charles Apthorp

This is Charles new boat in the mould. (You can click on the photo to enlarge) I guess the blackness is the carbon fibre and I must say it looks very neatly executed.  Charles has given me a few photos taken during the build. We’ll post them on the blog over the coming days…