Sailing has been a wonderful way of life for our family. Unfortunately, as a sport, sailing is seen as inaccessible at best. In an effort to prove that this need not be the case we have setup The Sail-School Project. The project aims to take sailing simulators into primary schools for a few days at a time, in order to introduce the sport of sailing to as many kids as possible - and to introduce them to their local junior sailing programme. If you are interested to know more, here is a link to the project website sailschool.org.uk
July 2016 - 05:15 Dartmouth UK
An early start, sailing home from summer cruise in the west country. Not great photography - but it was cold and pre-breakfast.
Geoff Stock - managing director
Beginnings: I have sailed boats for as long as I can remember, first with the family from Itchenor, then racing Cadet and Merlin Rocket dinghies on the river Thames - my first experience of boatbuilding was watching my father renovate a Thames A-Class Rater in the late 1960's. In 1978, with a degree in Politics and Economics and while working as a trainee accountant for Peat Marwick Mitchell, I read an article in ‘Yachts & Yachting’ about the future of boatbuilding. It described the vacuum assisted resin injection process being used to build yachts at Jeremy Rogers boatyard in Lymington. Bill Green was Jeremy's right hand man at that time - I asked him to let me work in the injection moulding shed, and started work at the yard in early 1979. I have been working at the leading edge of custom yacht building technology ever since.
1979-1985: At Jeremy Rogers I was doing a range of work on a number of production and semi-custom racing boats, including a series of Peterson 39's, one of which (Eclipse) won the 1979 Fastnet race. The resin injection system was fantastic at producing boats hulls to a consistent weight; and that was the main motivation for Rogers investing in this cutting edge composite technology from the automotive industry. It was not however the lightest way to build a boat. These were the days before serious laminating epoxies were available, so the custom boat division developed ways to vacuum consolidate Kevlar and carbon laminates with resins that were (with hindsight) not well suited to the task.
In 1980 I went to Southampton Institute to study Yacht & Boat Design, while working at Rogers in the holidays. When Bill Green and Ian King started Green Marine, I joined them as they were building their first boat, the Welbourne 43' Panda in 1983. Over the next few years I worked at Green Marine on a string of IOR boats: three Frers boats: Nitissima, Fujimo and Jennie M; the Welbourne half-tonner Chia-Chia; two one-tonners: Bill Tripp's Thumper, and Phillippe Briand's Panda ’85, and a memorable Peterson 50' cruising yacht called Zeezot van Verre.
By this time boats were laminated with wet lay-up epoxy resin. The working times were short and boats were built at a pace - half the outer skin of a one-tonner would be laminated and vacuumed in a day. We used some UD fibre, but mainly combination Kevlar/carbon fabrics. Later on, when SP Systems developed longer working time resins (it was thought of as ambient temperature pre-preg 'Ampreg'), we could do an entire outer skin of a 50 footer in unidirectional kevlar/carbon in a day.
1986-1993: It seemed to me that the company closest to the edge of racing boat technology was SP Systems; so I applied for a job there and started work in late 1985. Paul Rudling’s SP Systems has been the company most responsible for the development of new materials and technologies for custom racing yacht builders. I was lucky enough to work in Technical Services during the 8 year period when the chemists and engineers at SP (now Gurit) moved custom boatbuilding all the way from epoxy wet layup, through wet-preg, and onto the 90˚ pre-pregs that we use today. The materials revolution was driven by resin and adhesive systems, but the benefits were all about laminate sophistication (optimisation) and the ability to bond honeycomb cores to carbon skins in a reliable way - always a bit hit and miss with wet laminating resin.
1993-2010: In 1993 I re-joined Green Marine, first as project manager for yachts such as the Tripp designed 'Shaman', the Lutra 52 'Tonnerre', and the Frers 92' ultimate day boat 'Stealth'. And then from 1999 I was R&D and contract manager while the company built five Americas Cup yachts (Luna Rossas and Mascalzone ITA99), two Volvo 60's, three Volvo 70's, six TP52's as well as a number of IMS boats and larger IRC boats such as the Judel/Vrolijk 60' Jethou and 72' Ran 2.
In the same period, in Green Marine’s Southampton yard, we were building the first generation of large, fast composite cruising yachts. Six in quick succession in fact: the Frers 106' Ulisse, Reichel/Pugh 92' Leopard, the Brenta designed 122' Ghost, the Farr 116 'Sojana' and the Tripp 39m Cinderella and 42m Sarissa. All of these were built in 90 degree pre-preg, in every combination of mould tool imaginable. We also developed the RNLI lifeboat build programme from a wet-preg system to full 90 degree pre-preg, and built over 150 RNLI part-assemblies for various fit-out yards.
2010-2016: In 2010, with Green Marine under new ownership, I became Technical Director during a period when we built 'Hamilton' (now 'Open Season'), seven Volvo 65 one-design yachts, the Irens 78’ fast cruising cat 'Allegra' and the Reichel/Pugh Wally Cento 'Galateia'; as well as three part-assembled cruising yachts for Vitters Shipyard: the Briand 110' Inoui, and two Mckeon designed 33m fast cruising yachts. I left Green Marine in August 2016 to form our new company Fibre Mechanics, back in the Lymington shipyard originally built for Jeremy Rogers Contessa Yachts.
In Summary: The experience I offer is the long view on materials, mould tools, build processes and the costs of lightweight custom yachts over the last 40 years, with hands-on experience of what works and what does not. My partners at FIBRE Mechanics include some of the best project managers, design engineers and production managers that I have come across in that time. Together our experience is both wide and deep, and as a group we are in a great position to make that experience count.