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  • Writer's pictureNic de Mey

SPACESHIP 60 BUILD: Time for some structure

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

Our infusion table team springs into action as soon as hull construction starts. Given the intricate internal structure of an advanced composite catamaran and its sheer complexity, the infusion table becomes the most critically managed bottleneck in our process. Crafting a large bulkhead can take up to four days, but its installation takes a single day, prompting the assembly team to request these components urgently.

Our infusion table is a single-piece carbon fibre panel measuring 8.5 meters by 5 meters. It's a highly valuable piece of equipment that we take exceptional care of; we would come to a pretty quick standstill if it were damaged and, therefore, out of action for any time. The team responsible for the table guards it with unwavering dedication.

Bulkheads, longitudinals, and flat panels are all manufactured on this table. We make every effort to incorporate all rebates, penetrations, and flanges into every component that emerges from this table. Once a part is crafted here, it requires minimal additional work before it is seamlessly integrated into the boat. There's no need for additional penetrations, capping, or cutouts to be added later.

The assembly team undergoes regular audits by the design department, and frequent measurements are taken to ensure precision down to the millimetre. Since we design and build all our joinery from the ground up and before the main structure even exists, the internal structure must align precisely with the design. This meticulous approach ensures that when it's time to fit the joinery, there are no issues with parts fitting seamlessly into place.

During this process, we frequently rely on the conventional tools of a boatbuilder. When I completed my apprenticeship, the company I worked for had only one laser operated by a single individual due to its high cost. However, times have evolved, and now every one of our team members carries one or two lasers in their toolbox. These lasers are consistently used to guarantee that each component is installed in the boat accurately and at the correct level, there are also times when we use a long tube filled with water to check levels from one hull to the other, like before the laser came along.

The quantity of load-bearing structure within a Spaceship 60 is truly impressive. Much of it serves a dual role, providing the boat's strength and forming essential elements such as cabins, fuel and water tanks, engine supports, and flooring. I can't envision another material that offers a boat such remarkable stiffness and strength while maintaining such a minimal weight.

A bulkhead in the very early stages of construction, note the plant's setup on the table that forms penetrations and cappings.

A jungle gym of carbon fibre

The sheer size of a SPACESHIP 60 dictates that the bulkheads are huge

Fuel tank construction is underway, even fuel baffles are structural

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