After nearly a month in Sweden, I’m still amazed at how good everything looks. The people, the homes, the roads, the buildings, the waterfront – everything looks like it comes from a fairy tale description of some sort of viking paradise. I’ve been over here getting ready (and now working on) the World Match Racing Tour finale, where the winning team will grab a million bucks in actual money if they can hang on for four more days and beat everyone they face.
In order to better understand the boat I’m commentating on, I took a tour of the factory that builds the M32; Aston Harald Composites in the tiny fishing village of Klåva on the island of Hönö. And despite having seen dozens of boatbuilding shops of every shape and size over the years, I was shocked by what a unique place it is.
It’s certainly the cleanest composite shop I’ve ever walked, and while some of that may be its newness, I’ve got little doubt it will look just as clean in 2040 as it does today. I’ll also disclose (again) that I am paid money to commentate on livestreamed M32 racing by one of the companies affiliated with Aston Harald, and if that makes a difference to you, don’t click. For my part, I never get tired of seeing how carbon fiber boats are made, and the chance to geek out on a place this cool along with a guy synonymous with boatbuilding – well, that doesn’t come along all that often. That’s why I share it with you.
Descriptions are below the two players that make up the two parts of this interview. For the final part of the piece – 10 minutes with uber-laminator Batt Battison in the building next door, where all the good stuff is cooked in an autoclave.
Watch the Tour free and live through Saturday here. Keep an eye on SA’s Facebook for the final piece of the puzzle.
Part 1, where we see the bones of the building and somehow get 20 minutes of guided tour out of a guy as efficient with his use of words as he is at building floating carbon fiber art. This portion of the tour starts at reception and follows the process from bare, unjoined hull and deck all the way to the finished boat ready to drop onto a trailer and head to the customer. Huge thanks to Killian, and if you can judge a man by the respect he’s earned from everyone he’s ever worked with, Bushe is truly a legend.
Part 2, where we hear some of the lesser known plans for the Aston Harald operation, and why they have a nearly 40-foot wide door. Bushe thinks they can build a hell of an Open 60, and there’s more on the burner – listen to this one for the full details. Plus the scenic overview; from up high with a view over the entire space, where the designers, admins, sales executives, and production bosses hang, and then have a look at the corporate cafeteria with quite possibly the best views in all of Europe. It’s so Swedish for the best views in the place to go not to the CEO or owner – instead, it’s the communal hangout that gets the glory.