So this is one of Alex's latest design creations. A paddleboard rack made in carbon fiber, mounted on a Goldfish 36, one of the fastest RiB dinghies in the world. I'm sure many of you know what carbon fiber is and what it is used for but for you who don't have so much knowledge, I'd like to explain what I have learned during this process and tell you why this fiber is widely used and loved by engineers and designers in many industries. Carbon fiber is composed mostly of carbon atoms which are bonded together in crystals. Carbon fiber is a super strong material, five times stronger than steel, two times as stiff yet weights about two-thirds less. The fiber is basically very thin strands of carbon, much thinner than human hair, which is twisted into a yarn or woven into a cloth and can thereafter be used as it is or bought in stiff panels. When building up a surface or a permanent shape from the cloth (or twill), it can be laid over mold and then coated with layers after layers of a bonding agent like epoxy resin, and sanded in between coats, all done in pretty advanced and time consuming manners as what you aim for is a super sleek and glossy surface.
Due to the lightweight and stiffness this fiber offers, it is incredibly popular in the sailing racing world, if not used for the complete boat, well enough for parts of it like the mast, boom, rudder and many other parts of the yacht. Compared to other common building materials like fiberglass, kevlar and wood, carbon fiber remains as the most expensive and not everyone can justify the high cost it is to produce from this fiber.
Just a little fact that I found out while doing my research, we all know that most components of a car are made of steel right, imagine if they were made of carbon fiber instead, the cars would decrease their weight by around 60% and in turn this would reduce the cars fuel consumption by 30%. While reducing weight, the cars could also be built with smaller, more efficient engines or have the engines completely replaced with electric engines resulting in massive fuel savings. Fantastic for the environment but unfortunately the material is way too expensive. The cost of carbon fiber per pound is around $10, compared to steel which goes for less than one dollar a pound. But given the fact that carbon fiber had a price of $150 only ten years ago, the price development looks promising for the future. Another downside is unfortunately that the material isn't as easy to recycle as steel, just another problem to solve before it can be put into widespread use in cars.
The dinghy which this rack now is mounted on, is made at the most part of carbon already, so of course they needed a paddle-surfboard-rack matched in the same material. The paddleboards (can carry eight at a time) are to be laid (with cover of their own bags of course) on top of this rack and shall be tied up with lines at the ends where there is a thin spectra hook where to fasten the lines. I think the final product is very sleek having been constructed by hand, what do you think? And no, I had no idea either, that Alex knew how to do these kind of advanced molecular things with such immaculate precision, I get to learn something new about him and his hidden talents every day. Now he tells me he wants to reinforce some important parts of the hull of our boat with a mix of carbon and kevlar, all to make it safer and stronger..