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Partnership between the Caterham Group and Future Fibres

News International-French

5 Aug 2013

Formula One meets competitive sailing with an exciting new technical partnership for Class 40 sailing campaign.

Caterham Challenge is the innovative Class 40 sailing campaign being led by Mike Gascoyne, CEO of Caterham Technology & Innovation (CTI), Caterham Composites and MGI, and Sailing Director Brian Thompson. The Caterham Challenge brings to offshore racing the technological and performance standards seen in Formula One and in the automotive and airline industries, and intends to set new benchmarks in the world of competitive sailing.

Future Fibres will initially be supplying the Class 40 yacht, Caterham Challenge, with a set of aft rigging and furling forestays. The boat will be fitted with monitoring systems to provide real time sailing load data from the cables. This type of data collection is not necessarily new to the marine industry, but what is new is the logging and interrogation of this data. By working closely with Future Fibres, the Caterham Group will use their experience in data handling and interpretation gained in the Formula One environment, to provide meaningful insight into both yacht and mast/rigging performance.

Martin Oughton is based at the Future Fibres Innovations Centre in the UK and explains: “By using a strain gauge or a load pin on the cable we can get accurate performance data from Real Time Exposure (RTE) cables. Once the load data has been interpreted, Future Fibres will then be able to feed actual load data in to the design phase for a completely new mast and rigging package. The number of data sensors on both the mast and rigging will then be increased, allowing ongoing evaluation of the new design and further optimisation.”

For Future Fibres, the ability to feed real data analysis back into the company’s R&D programme essentially ‘closes the loop’. By providing quantifiable ‘real world’ loads and fatigue cycles relative to cable performance, the product development process can be dramatically accelerated. They believe the opportunity to
data-log integrated mast and rigging performance will drive the next level of rig design.

The Class 40 partnership is not the first time the two companies have worked together. Future Fibres has been working with Caterham Composites for the last 12 months studying the deformations and stresses of the rig at various locations whilst on the water. Throughout this project, mathematical models have been verified and refined through a period of RTE testing on a number of different boats. During this collaboration, shared interests and the Caterham Challenge project were discussed and a technical partnership followed. Mike Gascoyne talks about the arrangement: “Future Fibres was an obvious choice for us at Caterham Challenge. Through Caterham Composites we already had a technical relationship and there are many shared areas of technical development that we can explore together. Through our connections with Formula One, we have extensive experience in the development of lightweight composite structures, and also how to monitor and test these composites to ensure reliability and safety - a key factor for both parties.”

Formula one competitive sailing future fibres
Through the Caterham Challenge, Future Fibres’ objective is to transfer what they are learning in the offshore sailing arena into practical benefits for their clients across a range of sailing sectors. For example, they believe that much can be done to improve performance and reliability in the superyacht world, and by using the Caterham Challenge as a test bed, Future Fibres will be in a position to develop the monitoring systems and data analysis tools to achieve this end. Future Fibres is aiming to package up marine specific monitoring systems for their clients and to offer a complete service of on-going data management. They are working towards being able to offer a full turn-key solution, from simple live-load monitoring to full data analysis and feedback to yacht crews and race teams, with the additional capacity of being able to feed into the design process, thus driving continuous improvement and performance optimisation.

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