Warkworth-designed catamaran set to turn heads

The locally built F50s are the most advanced catamarans in the world. Photo, SailGP.

The world’s most advanced catamaran – designed, developed and built by Core Builders Composites in Warkworth – will be put through its paces in Whangarei Harbour, starting this week.

The seventh F50 catamaran will undergo testing ahead of a second season of SailGP racing next year. Whangarei Harbour and Bream Bay will offer ring-side seats for those hoping to view the new boat in action.

Already, six F50 catamarans participated in the inaugural SailGP racing this year. The seventh F50 left Warkworth last week and was transported to Northport – the deep water commercial port at Marsden Point.

It will be launched and retrieved by Northport’s 100-ton mobile harbour crane at a purpose-built pontoon and mooring area. The catamaran will ultimately be sailed by a new national team, which has yet to be announced but is set to join the league in 2020. The new crew will join the six existing SailGP teams – Australia, China, France, Great Britain, Japan and the United States – as the global championship travels to venues around the world.

Testing of the new boat will be managed by the SailGP tech team from Core Builders Composites, with assistance from sailors from across the league. Once trials are complete in January 2020, the seventh F50 will be officially handed over to the new team.

SailGP spokesperson Christy Cahill says the F50 is a one-design class, meaning that all boats are exactly the same, but innovations are constantly being applied to the fleet to ensure the catamarans are at the cutting edge of technology and speed.

Christy adds that a revolutionary modular wingsail will undergo testing on the seventh boat, in preparation for being fitted to the entire SailGP fleet before the 2020 San Francisco SailGP.

A first-of-its-kind system, the wing comprises sections that can be assembled in varying lengths – initially from 18 to 24 metres, but with the future ability to go to 29 metres. This will enable the F50s to compete in a wide range of weather conditions.

“Vital weight savings have been achieved with the all-new wing, with a more advanced structure and the removal of rigging and cables inside the hollow structure, adding additional performance gains in light winds,” Christy says.

Christy says between the manufacturing operation in Warkworth and the testing and training conducted in Marsden Point, Northland has become the central technical and development hub for the production and delivery of the F50.

“The boats are designed and built by highly skilled marine professionals from across the region with the help of local firms, including MS Engineering, Pure Design and Doyle Sails,” Christy says.

Northport CEO Jon Moore says many of the services Core Builders Composites needs are sourced locally.

“We wouldn’t be surprised to see other specialist firms servicing the international competitive sailing industry establish a presence here, too,” he says.

In 2019, SailGP debuted with events in Sydney, San Francisco, New York, Cowes (England) and Marseille (France). The Australia SailGP Team was crowned the Season 1 champion, winning $US1 million.

Season Two will kick off in Sydney on February 28.

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