Wednesday, 9 March 2011

America's Cup: Putting the Artemis Racing AC45 Together

Artemis Racing's own AC45. Image copyright

by Stephanie Martin

Following the successful debut and trials of the AC45 class prototype, three America’s Cup teams have taken delivery of their identical one-design catamarans, which they are busy assembling in preparation for the July start of racing in the America’s Cup World Series.

Among them are Swedish-flagged Artemis Racing, which has assigned two groups the task of finishing and assembling the hulls and the hard wing sail. At a boatyard in Silverdale, north of Auckland, Phil Jameson and David Brooke were preparing to assemble the hulls once the painting team had completed the complex graphics.

“The hulls arrived here last week,” said Jameson. “The first task was to finish fairing them and preparing them for painting.”

The Global Yacht Finishers painters arrived on Monday morning and spent the day masking up the livery, which comprises the Greek goddess from whom the team derives its name with hair swirling down the hull.

Then, a marathon task for the painters led by Jason Hamilton as they worked non-stop for 30 hours to lay down the seven colours plus finishing clear-coats. After each application of colour, the graphics had to be remasked for the next colour, a process that could take up to two hours a time.

A table littered with chocolate bars, high-energy drink cans and pizza boxes gave evidence of how they sustained themselves through the long night.

“I’m looking forward to my pillow,” confessed one of the assistants as he mixed more paint, while Hamilton donned his face mask ready to disappear into the mist of the paint booth one more time.

“I enjoy the challenge when the graphics are complex like this,” said Hamilton, “and this has definitely been a challenge. It has gone pretty well, although it has taken longer than we anticipated. You just have to keep going.”

With a laugh about the mother’s nightmare represented in their stay-awake diet, Hamilton added that loud music was another ingredient that helped keep them going.

By late-morning Tuesday, as the painters were beginning to visibly wilt, the last coat of clear-coat went on and the job was done.

“We will let the paint harden and then give it a wet-sanding,” said Brooke. “It will look like glass.” The boatbuilding team would then begin the task of assembling the hulls and deck gear, prior to launching on Saturday.

Meanwhile, down at the Viaduct Basin Jimmy Slaughter, Sean Clarkson and Rodney Ardern were at work assembling the Artemis Racing hard wing sail. “Setting it up for the first time takes a bit of time,” said Clarkson, “but once you have done that, it is pretty much plug and play. You could probably break it down in a day and assemble it again in about the same time.”

“It has gone pretty well,” said Slaughter. “It took three guys about three days to apply the film and then another day to get the full tension on.” This is done by applying heat to the transparent film, which shrinks down dramatically, eliminating any wrinkles and achieving a drum-taut skin over the carbon fibre ribs.

“It’s my first experience with anything like this,” said Slaughter, “but it is pretty cool technology.”

He said there was another day and a half’s work in running the internal halyards and control lines before everything was ready for the big day when the hull and wing would be united for the first time.

“We are planning to have our first sail later this month,” said Jamieson. “At first it will be a bit of a shake-down, making sure everything works, that the sails fit and the dagger boards go up and down. Then it will be full-on from that day on.”

Artemis Racing
America's Cup