Oranges's mast repaired
Twelve days instead of the 18 planned were in the end all that was necessary to repair the mast of the maxi-catamaran Orange. A result obtained thanks to impressive mobilisation and organisation on the part of Multiplast.
As soon as the mast was declared "repairable" by the yard technicians, who still had the original moulds, the technical choice of rebuilding a 4-metre section was very quickly confirmed. Then a genuine race against the clock begun.
Whilst a team immediately started to process the raw material stored in the cold room – carbon fibre cloth pre-impregnated with resin (pre-preg) and kept at a low temperature -, another set off to procure the missing material almost 400 km away from the yard. In the meantime, they started the simultaneous operations of building the 2 half-shells. During the day the workshop technicians built up the sandwich by laying pre-preg cloth and the honeycomb core in the two half-moulds of the mast. At night, the design office staff took over to monitor the oven curing operations. After having made the two four metre long half-shells, they were bonded together by lamination both inside and out to form a finished shape. Then this section was grafted onto the end of the mast by lamination on the inside and out, then baked with the help of heating blankets at 120°C. Finally, the masthead was grafted back on in the same way, just like on a new mast. With the three parts assembled, the mast was ultrasonically tested before painting, to guarantee the homogeneity of the repair and to ensure that it will be as reliable as a new mast.
"If we've gained a week over the forecast time it is quite simply because a genuine spirit of enthusiasm surged through the whole company and the entire team was amazing, taking it in turns day and night so that Orange could report again to the starting line of the Jules Verne Trophy. All this was possible because technically the repair was relatively simple and that it all went ahead without a hitch" explained Gilles Ollier. Orange's mast will be re-stepped on Friday March 1st. That same evening, the maxi-catamaran will leave the Multiplast yard heading for the Jules Verne Trophy starting line off Ushant. Indeed, a weather window looks like opening on Saturday Match 2nd between 0600 and 1200.