Extreme cat loses bow in sea trials

Tests on the hull of Pete Goss’s giant catamaran Team Philips, which was slated to enter the first running of the no-limits round-the-world race, The Race, apparently revealed why a section of the vessel’s bow snapped off just two weeks after launch during mild sea trials off the Scilly Islands.

Team Philips ran into trouble March 29 when a 45-foot section of the port bow broke off and floated away during trials in the Atlantic. A similar crack was also discovered on the starboard hull. Goss’s team announced April 11 that the hulls were damaged because of a failed carbon strake that runs the length of each of the 120-foot hulls. The 500-mm-by-6-mm strakes were improperly bonded to the hulls.

“Successful bonding of thick carbon laminates to Nomex core has not been problem free in the past due to the difficulty of removing air which expands during the high-temperature cure cycle,” said Adrian Thompson, the yacht’s designer, in a statement. “The core samples have revealed that it is the expanding air that has caused the carbon strakes not to have bonded to the Nomex core, and they are therefore unable to accept the end load applied without buckling. Fortunately, this is a problem unique to this area of each hull and is therefore a regrettable, but isolated, problem.”

Team Philips was designed to sail at more than 40 knots, the hulls capable of bearing loads up to 70 tons; it broke up in winds of 25 knots.

The damaged vessel, including the errant bow, was towed back to the U.K. and is expected to be refurbished for an on-time entry in The Race, which starts from Barcelona on Dec. 31, 2000.

By Ocean Navigator