Breathing Life Into Boats

Posted on February 4, 2020

ATL Composites provides the precision pieces for the latest Roger Hill-designed powercat.

From concept to completion, building a custom-designed powercat is a breeze with an inspired vision, reliable team, proven materials and just a pinch of magic in the mix.

The product of her owners’ yachting experience and dream of long-range cruising, “Omahu”, a 16-metre composite displacement hull powercat from the pen of legendary designer, Roger Hill, is taking shape at Lifestyle Yachts in Pipiroa, New Zealand.

Meaning “breath”, or “light breeze” in the Maori language, Omahu is a custom-designed vessel that is unique in every aspect.

As Roger Hill explains “The hull shape is a development of our very efficient displacement form, but the styling is unique compared to other similar sized power cats we have done before. It is not a ‘cut and shut’ exercise using an existing similar sized design.”

Omahu is the vision of joint-owners, two Kiwi couples keen to experience long-range cruising around the South Pacific, exploring New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga and Australia.

One of the owners had previously built a Roger Hill-designed 14.15-metre sailing cat, around 15 years ago, customised to his requirements at that time. The choice of building materials, methodology and designer informed his choice for the current project.

According to Roger, the brief was reasonably straight forward. “There were around 20 specific items”.

“Both owners are very experienced yachtsmen, in power and sailing boats, with ocean-going range as the primary requirement. Both are very practical people, so it wasn’t difficult to convert their thoughts and ideas into the design.”

Emphasis was on comfort, rather than speed, although, powered by twin Yanmar 6LY400 400hp engines, Omahu is calculated to achieve an impressive top speed of 26 knots.

The design needed space for two couples to live aboard along with storage required for long trips to remote destinations where fuel, water and food might not be readily available.

“One of the interesting things that came up right at the start was how big the vessel should be. After some discussion, I suggested that perhaps they should go and find a suitable marina berth to keep it in, and that’s what happened. From that point, we worked out the maximum beam and a maximum length.”

The design process involved relatively few challenges.

“You have probably heard about the ‘design spiral’, the process of starting with a ‘loose’ collection of info and data and compromise through the design journey this becomes tighter and tighter until the final result is signed off.

The result of their collaboration will be a sensational wide-bodied powercat that embodies the “space, pace and grace”, the characteristics of multihulls that inspire such loyalty in their owners.

“This particular design does not have as much beam (5.6-metres) as I might normally have on a displacement power cat of this length, but this was related to the width of the marina berth. The upside of that slightly narrower beam, less transverse stability will be an improved motion; not such a quick roll period in a beam sea.”

With her shallow draft of just over 1-metre, Omahu will be able to explore remote inlets and anchorages where other yachts may not be able to access.

Seeking strength, durability, light-weight and precision, Roger based the design of Omahu on construction using DuFLEX Composite panels from ATL Composites.

“ATL and I go back a long way,” recalls Roger. “The first DuFLEX kit we did was over 18 years ago, and we have done many since then in both power and sail. One of Omahu’s owners had already built a sailing cat using the DuFLEX panel system so he was very happy to build the power cat using the same materials and method of construction.

“Another consideration was the builder, who didn’t have a lot of experience building a full-foam cored catamaran, so he has been very appreciative of the pre-made panels and CNC router set of parts.

“The DuFLEX Building System offers builders a very high-quality panel and very precise accuracy, and for the client, an assurance of structural integrity.”

From a technical standpoint, Omahu is destined to have a dark blue hull which dictated the choice of foam core to be used in the hull and transom areas. A combination of Divinycell HP80 and HP100 foam cores, type approved by DNV-GL Maritime, were chosen for the DuFLEX Strip Planks used in these areas to provide elevated temperature and mechanical performance under the owners’ choice of a dark blue paint.

Engineered to survey standards by ATL Composites Engineering team, other DuFLEX Composite Panels components in Omahu include wing-deck, soles, girders, webs, bulkheads, longitudinal and interiors all supplied in CNC-Routed Kit Form with various core types and densities to suit the design loads in the vessel.

Far from handing over the plans and moving on to the next commission, Roger Hill prefers to work closely with clients and yard as the vessel is brought to life.

“I really enjoy the developing relationship between the client, the builder and myself. It’s tremendous when the builder is on song and going well, the client is seeing his new boat taking shape and I get involved with helping in any way I can to make the process go as smooth as possible.

“Being a designer must be one of the more satisfying things to do on the planet and that probably applies to just about designing anything. But boats, I think are a little bit more special, it is such a complex sum of all of its parts and then when done well become much more than the sum of its parts.”


METS yields Global Rewards

Posted on December 18, 2019

ATL Composites is pleased to announce agreements with new European distributors as a result of exhibiting at this year’s METSTRADE Amsterdam in November, the company’s seventh show with joint venture partners vdL Composites GmbH.

“We have established Distributors for our DuFLEX and Featherlight composite panels in France, Turkey and Italy,” confirmed Inga von der Linden, Director at vdL Composites, based in Wesel, Germany.

“They are the WEST SYSTEM distributors for those countries, and consequently, we have had relationships with their companies through the WEST SYSTEM network. But it was through exhibiting at METS that we met face to face and decided to work together.”

The new DuFlex and Featherlight distributors are Etap Marine, Istanbul, Directeck in Aubiere, France and WS Marine S.r.L. in Genova, Italy. “They are extremely well placed in key markets to supply some of the world’s premium boat builders,” added Lorraine Murray, Director at ATL Composites. “We are looking forward to more vessels coming on to the global market with the quality DuFlex/Foam and Featherlight panel systems for light-weight, strength and durability.”

The new distributors will stock a mixture of DuFLEX/Foam and Featherlight panels in various thicknesses and with single and double layers of e-fibreglass skins to service their local customers. They will also be in a position to offer custom panels including full sized component packs, for one-off projects and/or for their local production builders, produced to specifications by vdL Composites GmbH, which is based in Germany.

“These custom panels could also include panels with high density inserts for hardware installations which were of great interest to many of the professional boat builders who visited our stand at METS,” added Lorraine.

METS 2019 was an extremely successful show for ATL Composites.

“This was our seventh consecutive year exhibiting with vdL Composites GmbH and the most fruitful,” said Lorraine. “Australian brands and businesses enjoy great respect for our ingenuity, quality and proactive approach to tailoring solutions to every customer’s unique requirements.”

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ATL Composites’ Expertise & Experience Underlie The Whiskey Project

Posted on November 27, 2019

The highlight of the recent Pacific 2019 Expo at Sydney’s Darling Harbour, the intriguingly named “Whiskey Project”, stole the spotlight with the launch of its first boat – WHISKEY ALPHA eight five – and won a legion of fans for its aggressive profile, versatility and performance capabilities.

Built by Van Munster Boats, located on Lake Macquarie in NSW, Whiskey Alpha eight five is the first “Next Generation Tactical Watercraft”, the product of collaboration among exmilitary operators, world-class maritime architects, engineers and innovators.

The “Whiskey” nomenclature is derived from the NATO phonetic alphabet where “W” denotes the military water operators and “Whiskey” is their callsign. Whiskey Alpha eight five is 8.5m long but is scalable from 6 to 12-metres.

Featuring a new-technology hull that boat builder Brett Van Munster describes as ‘disruptive’, the high-performance powerboat hull is made from advanced carbon fibre composite materials which provide a greater strength to weight than traditional aluminium or FRP hulls.

The revolutionary Sea Blade hull form is the product of a decade of research and development to design the ultimate foundation for mixed sea states and offshore applications providing greater stability and seakeeping whilst achieves a higher average speed than a comparable deep-V hull.

As Brett Van Munster explains “The co-founders of The Whiskey Project commissioned the design based on their 20 years’ Defence experience as tactical maritime operators, and they intimately understood what the capability gaps were in the existing craft being used globally.

“They knew the current boats were simply not fit for purpose. Whether they are from military or police or other state agencies or even support boats or tenders, operators need watercraft that offered a higher level of seakeeping and safety but also high-speed offshore capability in all sea states as well as low speed manoeuvring for the boarding, recovery or disembarking of ships.

“These vessels needed to offer an unprecedented level of stability and high-end performance!”

The Whiskey co-founders, Darren Schuback and Ryan Carmichael assembled a formidable design and build team which included the lead architect from Farr Yacht Design; marine composites engineer and America’s Cup winner Brett Ellis, as well as Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) system and hull specialists from Navatek Hawaii, a research institute funded by the US Government to build military craft.

“Darren and Ryan were really motivated. They had the financial backing and a clear conceptual design brief when they approached us.”

With a similar ethos, Van Munster boats, established in 1988, is a second-generation familyowned and run business that has earned a reputation for innovative custom builds. Their “bread and butter” is 18 and 16-foot skiffs, for which they’ve been the international Class\ builder for the past 14 years.

“The reason we established the business was that we couldn’t find what we wanted in the market. We were seeking better technical construction in our boats, and that’s what we strive to achieve in our boats every time.”
Specialists in custom composite construction, Van Munster Boats had a clear build and test deadline for The Whiskey Project boat of the 2019 Pacific Maritime Expo.

“The timelines are never as long as you’d like them to be,” says Brett. “But we specialise in race boats, so we’re used to the environment of high performance and high expectations. That’s the culture of our business and how we operate. But it was a good challenge. There was no fallback, no wiggle room. The whole thing had an end date. It was a like a race from the start to the finish and we delivered.

“One of the key challenges that always arise on tight time frames is material procurement. Fortunately, we have good suppliers such as ATL that we can rely on to deliver. You can’t do this kind of project by yourself.”

Nicholas Cossich, Director at ATL Composites said the smooth process from brief to completion on the Whiskey Project was testament to the strong relationship between ATL and Van Munster Boats.

“It’s an immense privilege for us to work with such a dynamic and supremely talented group of people operating at the highest echelons of the marine industry. Brett and his team really demonstrated true ingenuity and focus in delivering the WA85 and we are very proud that he chose to use our Australian technology to deliver such a ground-breaking vessel.”

For two decades, Van Munster Boats has worked with ATL Composites on numerous projects ranging from classic timber construction in the early days, through to the high performance, advanced composite boats they’re renowned for now.

For The Whiskey Project, ATL Composites supplied Divinycell foam core to deliver the high strength structure required in such extreme operating conditions, and fast speeds, and custom DuFLEX panels for deck, cockpit and internal framing. ATL CNC machined components to the uniquely engineered requirements “and we just dropped them into the
boat” added Brett.

The Whiskey Project lead engineer Brett Ellis has been a friend and colleague of Brett Van Munster for decades and proved an invaluable part of the team, bringing his depth of experience as a structural engineer specialising in composites for Gurit, as well as Prada, Alinghi and Artemis.

The effort paid off and Whiskey Alpha eight five was the centre of attention at Pacific 2019, the biennial international maritime expo that attracts 22,000 visitors over three days, representing Defence, Government and Scientific industries from 48 nations.

“It was awesome for us to see the reception,” said Brett. “The Whiskey Project was the star of Pacific 19 and the Australian Defence Force all know about this vessel now!

“It was a whole new world and a real eye-opener for us as a niche business. We were very proud to demonstrate that we have the skillset, capabilities and craftsmanship that create a world-class product.

“There has been huge interest following the event from both domestic and international defence delegations as well as other government agencies and we are looking forward to the next phase of The Whiskey Project.”

MEET THE TEAM BEHIND THE WHISKEY PROJECT | Next up is Brett Van Munster, our Boat Builder

MEET THE TEAM BEHIND THE WHISKEY PROJECT | Next up is Brett Van Munster, our Boat Builder.

Posted by The Whiskey Project on Sunday, November 3, 2019