X-Yachts Gold Cup class winner 'Hansen' shows Future Fibres PBO is the number one choice for serious racing boats, regardless of size.The X-37, owned by Jan Kildegaard Hansen, achieved two wins and six podium finishes to clinch the Sport Class B overall title at last month's Gold Cup. This caps off an impressive few months for the Dane who, since having a complete set of Future Fibres PBO installed, has finished first in group at The Fyn Cup and Fyn Rundt and come a close second in the highly competitive Kiel Week.
"No other X-37 had the speed to keep up with us in these conditions, it made a real difference. There was much less sag in the forestay and no pumping in the middle of the mast when the boat is moving in the waves. That made a big difference. After three wins, we are looking forward to another race to further show what we can do!" Commented Jan Kildeggard, owner of X-37 Hansen.
The smallest yacht to have specified Future Fibres PBO so far, Hansen is one of a growing number of one design racing yacht owners specifying and refitting PBO composite rigging to give them the competitive advantage.
Friend of the owner and designer for North Sails Denmark, Sofus Pedersen was onboard for the X-Yacht Gold Cup victory and commented on the boat's performance: "It's a pleasure to tune a carbon rig with Future Fibres stays. We used to have the standard aluminium mast and on that we had a range of 10 turns on the Vs from light to heavy trim. On the new rig we have 1 to 1.5 turns on the Vs! You can clearly feel changes on the boat and rig when you tune it and it made a big difference on Saturday when the wind was 20-25 knots."
Future Fibres PBO has a long and illustrious history of providing PBO rigging to the grand prix race market and it is clear that smaller boats are now becoming eager to share the technology utilised by their larger cousins. Ten years' of development has gone into making Future Fibres PBO the lightest, strongest and most aerodynamic composite rigging available and the company's Germanischer Lloyd approval demonstrates its commitment to reliability and longevity – a key factor for any owner racer.
FUTURE FIBRES BECOMES THE FIRST RIGGING PROVIDER TO ACHIEVE GL APPROVAL FOR BOTH CARBON AND PBO RIGGING SYSTEMS
Valencia based Future Fibres has achieved the prestigious 'Germanischer Lloyd (GL) Type Approval' for a new carbon rigging product – a key objective in the company's goal to offer the right composite fibre for the right application.
The new product, which is still in the development process, has been a highly guarded secret until now, sparking rumours as to what the Future Fibres team have been working on. Today's announcement demonstrates the market leader's continued focus on R&D, in what is fast becoming a highly competitive industry.
Germanischer Lloyd (GL) is recognised by the marine industry as the leading authority in its field. For more than 140 years, GL has been offering its marking services to the shipping industry and setting standards in technology, safety and quality.
Tom Hutchinson, Future Fibres' founder remarks: "This is an important milestone in an ongoing development process for us. We now have a carbon product which already outperforms the competition, but we are looking for a lot more before we come to market. With the most detailed understanding across multiple fibres and technologies we are in a unique position to offer an unbiased opinion on the most suitable composite for a given project and our aim is to lead the way into the next generation of composite rigging, just as we did ten years ago."
Future Fibres carbon forms part of a major four year R&D initiative. The overall objective of the programme is to create the ideal product for every application, regardless of material or construction method. Humphrey Bunyan, Future Fibres' Head of R&D explains: "For us, carbon is definitely not the only solution. We will be looking to carbon to complement our existing cable range, not replace it. We want our clients to know that they are getting the optimum system, using the right materials for each cable type and constructed to the highest, certified standards.
In the coming months, the company is also preparing to reveal some significant advances to its range of PBO products. After studying the super fibre on a microscopic level, with the help of a Madrid-based materials institute, Future Fibres has identified areas where significant performance gains can be made. On-the-water testing is currently in progress and the company expects to launch a new product at METS in November.
Regarding their latest certificate, Hasso Hoffmeister, GL´s expert for structural analysis of yachts and rigs, comments: "Future Fibres was the first manufacturer to attain 'Type Approval' in 2007. Achieving the certification according to our Guidelines for the Type Approval of Carbon Strand and PBO Cable Rigging for Sailing Yachts demonstrates Future Fibres' commitment to quality and safety. It is therefore with great pleasure that I'm able to confirm Future Fibres has now become the first manufacturer to accomplish Type Approval for carbon as well as its PBO rigging system.
The long process to achieve certification requires systematic proof of all quality measures and Future Fibres' carbon rigging product has successfully passed the challenging testing regime, including impact, chafing and fatigue tests."
Tom concludes: "The team pulled out all the stops to get us to this position – It's simply a fantastic achievement. I'm extremely proud of everyone who's involved and delighted we're the first to achieve this award for both PBO and carbon.
Tom Hill's Titan XV, designed by Reichel-Pugh and featuring a full set of Future Fibres composite rigging, has won the IRC Division at this weekend's fifth Ida Lewis Distance Race.
Starting at 1500 on Friday with a fleet of 39, Titan XV finished its 150-mile course at 04:42 on Saturday, covering the distance in just over 13 hours and 42 minutes. (Hill also won the inaugural Ida Lewis Distance Race in 2004.)
Though Titan's time was the fastest ever logged in this race, it did not qualify as a record, since Race Officials had shortened both of the traditional courses used for this event to avoid Hurricane Bill.
"It was a hell of a race," said Hill, explaining that Titan was "screaming" both upwind and downwind in the predominately 16-20 knots of wind. "The conditions made for the best sailing we've had since putting the boat in the water."
Unfortunately for the regatta's two larger boats – George David's 90ft sloop Rambler and Irvine Laidlaw's 82ft Wally Highland Fling, mechanical failures dashed any hopes they might have had. For Highland Fling this marked her first regatta and her retirement came as a special disappointment after her captain had issued a challenge to Titan's team to show up and show its stuff.
Unfortunately, Highland Fling's jib cunningham broke, causing the sail to blow out of the headfoil. A second jib was set, only to have the same thing happen again and she was forced to retire. "It's hard to win a race with no jib," said Highland Fling's captain Xavier Mecoy.
Tom Hill said he was disappointed he didn't get to pace against the boat going downwind. "She is 25 tons and we're 16 so maybe we would have been faster, but maybe not," said Hill.
Rambler was second, correcting out at a bit less than two hours behind Titan, while Ron O'Hanley's Cookson 40 Privateer took third.
Big congratulations go out to the Future Fibres rigged ICAP Leopard, achieving its third record in a month yesterday in the Round the Island Race. The Mike Slade owned maxi became the fastest monohull to complete the 55 mile course, beating the record he set himself back in 2001. Crossing the finishing line in under four hours, Mike and the crew shaved 12 minutes off his old record and added another trophy to their ever expanding cabinet in the process.
Congratulations also go to Mike Golding and the Ecover team for winning the Open 60 class, although sympathies have to go out to Alex Thomson, who was disqualified following a collision between Hugo Boss and the Farr 45 Atomic, just before the race. Alex, who was joined on board by Formula one ace Lewis Hamilton, managed to finish first in class, despite his bowspirit being broken in the accident. The rest of the Open 60 pack, all using full sets of PBO rigging from Future Fibres, was made up of high profile teams Artemis, Aviva and Pindar. Artemis, after a battle with Aviva lasting for most of the race, finished just behind Ecover, with a time of 4:53:18, very closely followed by Dee Caffari in Aviva.
In the other classes; 'Full Pelt', skippered by Stephen Fein and sporting a full set of Future Fibres PBO, took the Yeoman Challenge Trophy in the highly competitive IRC Group 2, with a corrected time of 6:50:02.
Future Fibres founder Tom Hutchinson Commented: "It was a great race this year; the wind was good, 15 to 20 knots blowing southwest, so there was some excellent sailing to be had. The record breaking number of entries this year was great, but as we saw with Alex, it made things a little tricky at times! Leopard has had an amazing month and, after the BMW Round Island Yacht Race last week, she seems to be close to untouchable at the moment."
Future Fibres' PBO rigging is today being specified on an ever increasing number of high-end, semi-production boats, by owners recognising the performance and comfort gains that PBO rigging offers over rod and other composite materials. Owners of the most prestigious production yachts are naturally at the forefront of this transition, with manufacturers such as Shipman and Swan both encouraging new owners to invest in this modern technology. The success of PBO rigged Swans in this year's Rolex Swan Cup, has also helped confirm Future Fibres' position as the composite rigging supplier of choice, for this highly competitive area of the market.
The number of performance projects opting for PBO has grown rapidly in the past two years and race results have reflected the advantage it is giving those who have chosen PBO over rod. Future Fibres founder Tom Hutchinson explains: "We have seen the specification of PBO really starting to pick up speed in this area of the market, especially with owners of Shipmans and Swans. At last count we had rigged eight Shipman 63s, on top of several 72s and 80s, so the market is definitely moving on. I think it is down to owners simply wanting the best technology from high quality manufacturers, not just in rigging but the whole package.
"Shipman is known for being a young, high-tech company, and has always been at the top end of the scale when it comes to quality. It is reasons like those that make PBO a natural fit. The same can be said for Swan, who we are working with on our second and third Swan 66s, not forgetting the work we are doing on the new Swan 60. Add these to other new and recently completed orders and it shows that the market has turned a real corner in accepting PBO as the natural replacement for traditional rod rigging."
Nik Pearson, skipper of the Swan 82 Crackerjack and veteran of two America's Cup challenges, commented on the effect of PBO: "As a skipper, the safety of the boat is second only to that of my crew. Choosing a product which is 350-400kgs lighter than rod has reduced the upwind slamming massively, making the boat a lot more comfortable and much safer in open sea conditions. Furthermore, the extra stiffness the rigging provides, helped us to finish 5th out of a 36 boat fleet at the Swan worlds – using only 1 genoa and 1 spinnaker against all the other maxis with their full quiver of sails! From both aspects, cruising and racing, there is no compromise; Future Fibre rigging is the right product for me."
Congratulations to Mike Slade, skipper Chris Sherlock and the ICAP sponsored Leopard team, who returned home this morning victorious, after comfortably beating the transatlantic speed record, set by Phocea in 1988.
The 100 foot super maxi completed the 2,925 nautical mile journey, between New York and Lizard Point Lighthouse, at around 20.22 (BST) last night, beating Phocea's record of eight days, three hours and 29 minutes by over eight hours.
Created by Farr, for serial racing yacht owner Mike Slade, the 30 metre Leopard is one of the highest profile racing yachts on the water today. Representing the pinnacle of racing yacht design, the super maxi features a full set of Future Fibres PBO composite rigging, supporting her 154 foot carbon spar and up to 15,000 square feet of sail area.
Future Fibres founder Tom Hutchinson commented: "Everyone here is really pleased for Chris and all the team. We've been working with the leopard guys for a number of years now and I've known some of them for longer than I care to remember! Mark Thomas [watch captain] said the boat felt amazing right from the start, at times launching off waves at 35 knots with the speedo out of the water!
Tom continued: "We are obviously very pleased to be a part of such a successful project, Leopard really is a fantastic boat and her wide hull lines make her very well suited to high speed offshore racing. I can see Leopard winning a lot over the next couple of years and that's great for us too, this result takes our world record tally to 43, I hope it continues!"
This morning's victory is a deserved finish to an eventful week, which saw the 12 strong team having to avoid icebergs, dodge sleeping whales and even remove a giant sunfish caught up in the rudder!
Future Fibres has delivered a complete set of replacement PBO cables for Alex Thomson's Hugo Boss, after his Open 60 was demasted by a fishing vessel just two weeks ago.
Since the collision on the 17th October, Thomson has pulled together a work force of more than 35 to ensure he is ready for the Vendee Globe start on the 8th November 2008. On top of this, Thomson turned to his mast and rigging suppliers in his quest to be 100 percent repaired and ready in time. Future Fibres, Hugo Boss' sole rigging supplier, knew it could help and even before the call came through was working on pulling the information together to build the vital replacement cables.
Giles Waterhouse, Hugo Boss' rigger, commented on the huge operation to get Hugo Boss back in action. "We've been doing everything in our power to repair Hugo Boss and have her ready in time," he said, showing appreciation for his teammates and also the suppliers who have come to their aid. "Future Fibres have been amazing. The moment they heard about the accident they got in touch with us and told us they'd do whatever it takes to get Hugo Boss to the start line of the Vendée." One of the benefits of choosing Future Fibres in an emergency like this is the company's ability to replicate – to the millimetre – the original cables on Hugo Boss which were damaged when the mast came down. Technical sales manager Miles Amin comments: "The moment we heard about the accident, before we even knew if Hugo Boss was fixable, we got all the data together and got ourselves ready to run whenever Hugo Boss got in touch. We had the call from Alex on Monday afternoon, the 20th October, with a goal of having the new cables all ready for re-rigging the mast on the 29th."
"Because each cable going out of the factory has its own unique ID number and specification passport, detailing its exact length at load, it is fairly simple for Alex to get straight back into the rig tune that he had before the accident. There's going to be very little, if any, testing time before the start so Alex needs to know that his rig is set up properly when he sails off around the world. That's exactly why we have all the systems in place – for moments just like this."
One of Thomson's rivals in the Vendee Globe is Brian Thompson (no relation), skipper of Bahrain Team Pindar, and another Future Fibres' client. Brian, who had his own emergency earlier in the year when stepping the rig into his Open 60, commented: "We ordered our first set of rigging, and gave Future Fibres the usual two or three-month lead time, but then discovered that the two outrigger bobstays didn't fit. Not Future Fibres' fault – the specified measurements were wrong in the first place. We were really up against it to get the rig working; had to take the rig out again, put it on the ground and wait for the new bobstays to turn up. Future Fibres turned them round within the week, not many rigging suppliers could do that."
Future Fibres has invested heavily in its service infrastructure to ensure it has the capability to fulfil urgent requests from race teams, wherever in the world they may be. The discontinuous nature of the company's PBO rigging means single cables can be produced and replaced in situ within days of an event and typically with no need for a crane or heavy lifting machinery.
A decade after Future Fibres started work on its first Vendee Globe campaign, the composite rigging specialist is now firmly established as the leading supplier of fibre rigging in the IMOCA Open 60 world. Of the 19 new boats in this year's race, ten are sporting full sets of Future Fibres rigging, with numerous others using partial sets of its PBO system – making Future Fibres the largest rigging supplier in this year's competition.
Miles Amin, Future Fibres technical sales manager commented: "This is our third Vendee and our involvement has grown with every campaign. In terms of full rigging sets, we worked with two teams in 2000, four in 2004 and ten teams this year. It shows that PBO is really leading the market in the most challenging round the world races."
Miles continued: "A lot of the credit for Future Fibres' presence in the fleet goes to our French rigging specialist Vincent Le Roux from Blew Stoub, he's been supplying the Open 60 fleet since the mid-90s, has plenty of hands-on Open 60 experience and just knows the class really well. We work very closely with Vincent in the run up to the start to make sure all the teams get the support they need."
When it comes to rig configuration, there seems to be little consensus over which design is preferred. This year's event sees conventional three-spreader and two-spreader rigs, deck-spreader rigs and rotating wing masts all lining up in Les Sables d'Olonne. On the other hand, as Vincent Le Roux explains, PBO rigging is one thing that has become widely accepted as the principal system: "In the last race PBO was still an innovation, a revolution from rod rigging, but now it's proven technology.
"Compared with four years ago, the product is far more optimised in terms of braiding, fittings, mouldings and connections, all the details are noticeably more refined now. At the same time we're facing new challenges; the boats are significantly more powerful – maybe by 30 percent – compared with last time. The loads are climbing really high and Future Fibres work closely with naval architects and mast designers to ensure specifications are correct."
As well as performance, reliability and low maintenance are obvious high priorities for single-handed sailors: "As with all composites, abrasion and chafe can be a problem but it's a manageable risk when approached properly, comments Vincent: "For example, the wing masts with deck spreaders can be prone to chafe points because often you lead the mainsail inside the cable. One of the innovations of recent years has been the modification of protective braidings, now made of black dyneema with Teflon liquid, they help sheets and sails run more smoothly over the cables, minimising chafe."
Quality of service is another area where Future Fibres has stood out from the crowd. As the recent incident with Hugo Boss has demonstrated, having a supplier who is ready and willing to do everything in its power to fix a serious issue is worth a great deal and as Future Fibres' project manager, Alex Runciman remarked on the recent delivery of the cables, it does not go unnoticed: "Full credit must go to everyone at Future Fibres who's been involved in the production and delivery of the 25 replacement cables in such a short timeframe. I know there were teams working during the weekend, before and well after normal working hours, all with the goal of delivering the rigging on time. Hugo Boss stepped the rig this morning without any problems and the team look forward to testing tomorrow. I have no doubt that this was the result of huge effort, I am sure that many other companies around the world will take note and wish they had a team like this!"
Vendée Globe boats with full sets of Future Fibres rigging:
Bahrain Team Pindar
Following Great Britain's Olympic sailing team success last week, Future Fibres were themselves celebrating after Ian Percy and Andrew Simpson took gold in the Star Class sailing event, using PBO cables from Future Fibres.
In a first for the Valencia based rigging experts, Future Fibres was approached by Team GB and asked to provide a set of runners for the historic and prestigious racing class. They didn't hesitate to say yes.
Future Fibres founder Tom Hutchinson commented: "This is not the size of boat we would normally work on but when you are asked by David Howlett to help the Olympic team you aren't going to say no! It was great working with the team and the result is fantastic."
He continued: "It was a real privilege to work on the campaign; the boys are amazing sportsmen and the Star Class is such an institution in sailing and a very competitive class. It's been around for nearly 100 years and a great deal has changed since then but it is still one of the most popular at the Games."
Star Class coach and equipment manager David Howlett is a man who needs no introduction, having coached team GB sailing to three gold medals in previous games. "The PBO runners Future Fibres produced gave us a small but important advantage; the cables are lighter and have less windage, compared with the standard cables. I know that the Swiss team had been working with Alinghi on their boat so we knew we needed to do everything we could to be as competitive as possible.
"This Games was the culmination of a lot of hard work from a great team of people. The cables may seem like a small part but in a race where seconds can count, it can be the difference between the top of the podium and the second step."
Percy and Simpson fought a close battle with their main Swedish rivals but managed to hang on, crossing the finishing line and taking the gold in the last race. Percy will now return to work on his next challenge, joining former Olympic team mate Ben Ainslie as lead tactician for Great Britain's Team Origin, in the 33rd America's Cup.
Tom continued: "I have to say a big congratulations to both the guys and the whole GB sailing team; the commitment they have is incredible. It was a real privilege to be involved in the campaign
At 105-foot long, Sodeb'O is one of the most ambitious and technologically advanced trimarans ever built. That's not even taking into consideration the fact that it has been designed and built for a crew of one!
Thomas Coville plans to make an assault on the singlehanded round-the-world record set by Ellen MacArthur in February 2005 in her purpose-built 75-foot trimaran, B&Q. It was a phenomenal performance, and it will demand excellence from Coville in every aspect of his campaign, if he is to have any chance of beating B&Q's time of 71 days and 15 hours.
One area where there have been significant developments over the past three years has been in rigging, and Coville has been working closely with composite rigging specialists Future Fibres in producing something that will support his 35-metre carbon rig safely around the world through all conditions – but for the minimum possible weight.
PBO rigging is beginning to take over from Kevlar as the preferred option on these types of boats and the original plan was to fit out the entire Sodeb'O rig with PBO. With the Nigel Irens / Benoît Cabaret design having been built in Australia at the Boatspeed yard, Coville and a small crew sailed Sodeb'O back from Australia up to Europe.
The semi-circumnavigation was also an ideal opportunity to test the possibility of using a full complement of PBO rigging. Miles Amin of Future Fibres explains the rationale of the project: "Becoming technical partners with Thomas and the Sodeb'O project has been an excellent learning curve for both parties. Historically the big multihulls have used Kevlar rigging. PBO hasn't been perceived as suitable on maxi-multis because of the extreme shock loading that can occur in this type of extreme sailing.
"But there was a lot of rumour and word of mouth about the pros and cons of these different types of composite material, so Sodeb'O's journey from Australia to France was an excellent opportunity to get some hard facts. We could put some cables on the boat and carry out a full programme of destructive and non-destructive testing.
"We already had a fair idea of PBO's strength under static loading, but predicting dynamic loading is a black art, which is why this trip was so valuable to us. We wanted as much information as possible from Thomas, for example how long they had been on port/starboard tack, in what wind strength and wave conditions etc. We wanted to know what sort of treatment the cables had seen.
"When we got the cables back, we found that in some cases the cables had been cycling at a higher percentage of their break load than we had expected. That was a bit of a surprise. Whereas we had expected the cables to be cycling at 10-25% of maximum break load, the figure in some cases was more like 25-45% of the cable's UTS (ultimate tensile strength). The cables were coming on and off load more often and more aggressively than we had thought.
The aim of the exercise was to analyse what had worked satisfactorily and what had not worked so well, and then to upgrade or up-spec the cables where needed."
"The majority of rigging is staying as PBO," says Amin, "with a few elements being made in Kevlar. When Ellen went round on her record-breaking voyage, B&Q was rigged with a full set of Future Fibres Kevlar rigging. Things have moved on in the past three years, and if Thomas is going to have a chance of breaking that record, he needs to move the game on in every area. We believe that for this project he is using the most optimised set of rigging ever produced."
Amin acknowledges that other campaigns may be using an equivalent, lighter set of PBO rigging, but that such an approach wouldn't be appropriate for Sodeb'O. "When you've got a fully-crewed multihull, you've got 14 pairs of eyes to keep a good watch on what's happening. It's easier to keep things maintained, and you've always got someone steering, watching for the gusts and the waves. Thomas is not going to spend much of his time at the helm – and of course he's going to need to sleep! So the set of rigging we have produced for him is the lightest and strongest we could make, whilst also providing that safety factor to give him peace of mind that this rigging will get him around the world."
Coville is looking at making an attempt at the singlehanded round-the-world record sometime in the next few wee