The latest news straight from Team Philips:
Pete Goss has announced that Team Philips, his revolutionary 120 ft catamaran, would be repaired without altering Adrian Thompson’s original design concept and on the start line of The RACE in Barcelona on 31st December 2000.
The carbon fibre yacht, which on Wednesday 29th March lost the port bow just North of the Isles of Scilly, was rescued in a huge effort by the team and the assistance of many, particularly the RNLI, Royal Navy and the Isles of Scilly. Within just 48 hours of the disaster Team Philips was stabilised and under tow for Dartmouth, Devon arriving on Saturday 1st April to a tremendous welcome, a mountain of cards and gifts of support.
“What happened and why has been on everyone’s lips since the day we returned. The good news is that we have sailed the boat for over 1,000 miles and can say in full confidence that Adrian Thompson’s radical concept has lived up to all expectations. We can repair her and she will be a boat to watch in The RACE,” said Pete Goss, her skipper.
At the Isles of Scilly, an immediate process to identify the cause and remedy of the failure was set in motion with the firm directive being to take clear logical steps and not to be rushed. Due diligence also includes a survey, once she is back in the factory, of the entire structure to ensure that there are no other areas of concern.
SP Technologies, the structural engineers for the hulls, immediately set out to find a theoretical reason for the failure. This was in parallel with a practical survey which has included taking core samples of the hull. A clear and safe path ahead has been found.
Adrian Thompson, Team Philips’ designer reports: “The breaking of the bow section has been identified as a failure of the unidirectional carbon strakes (strip) that runs the length of each side of each hull. These strakes, which are about 500mm wide and 6mm thick are manufactured as part of the inside skin of the sandwich structure of the hull. The strakes are subject to an end load (compression) and a tensile load (tension). The successful loading of this area is wholly reliant on a satisfactory adhesion of the strake to the Nomex core used in the sandwich structure.
“Successful bonding of thick carbon laminates to Nomex core has not been problem free in the past due to difficulty of removing air which expands during the high temperature cure cycle. To overcome this production methods were advised by the material manufacturers to enhance the bleed of air from the cells within the Nomex core thereby enabling a complete bond between the carbon skins and the core material.
“The core samples have revealed that it is the expanding air that has caused the carbon strakes not to have bonded to the Nomex core and are therefore unable to accept the end load applied without buckling. Fortunately this is a problem unique to this area of each hull and is therefore a regrettable, but isolated problem.
“As with any in-depth investigation where significant resource is used to establish the failure mode, the wisdom of loading a thin strake stabilised in this way has been questioned. Further surveys with the boat in the factory and design work will define the detail of the solution which is likely to be based on more conventional composite frames or or stringers.”
“We are, as a team, as shocked as anyone that this happened”, added Pete Goss, Team Philips’ skipper. “Particularly as we have all been so diligent in our approach. The fact is that we are working at the cutting edge of composite development where lessons are sometimes learned.
“It is easy to be a good team when you’re on top, but what counts is when you are at the bottom of the valley. Ours was a big valley and everyone to an individual within the project has rallied from sponsors to designers and builders. This programme to fix the boat is established and the funding is now in place for the repair.
“This is not the end