Building with advanced composites is no longer a simple matter of combining cloth and resin in a mould, pulling a vacuum and post-curing the laminate, followed by filling, fairing and finishing. The demands of the grand prix marketplace are relentless, with pressure to improve on design and shave off every gram of weight while retaining strength, durability and appearance in the ultimate challenge to marry form and function.
There are surprisingly few practitioners who combine modern high-tech composite fabrication with hands-on experience of sailing at the top level. Similarly, some of the greatest build talent is rarely seen in ‘daylight’, spending whole careers hidden in America’s Cup programmes, pushing their skill sets to the edge in this ultra-competitive arena. Now some of that elite-level composites – and sailing – talent has been unleashed to offer high-end composite solutions for any application in grand prix sailing.
Founded by Brian MacInnes in Holland, Michigan, Composite Builders have been perfecting what MacInnes (now CEO) has learnt over two decades from sailing and project management of the Windquest race programmes in the Maxi, 1D48 and 50ft classes of the 1990s, through six cycles of the America’s Cup and two of the Volvo Ocean Race. His hands-on experience has given him a strong background in the construction of tooling, lamination of structures and their components, performance testing and system maintenance. He has supplemented these practical skills with study of polymers and their application within the aerospace industry. Read on.