Over the years, I have had many requests from nostalgic Contender sailors about going back to building beautiful wooden boats. But building wooden boats in the traditional way is both time-consuming and hard to do in our modern world with more strict environmental rules and where the safety for the builders also have to be ensured.
Therefore, I had to adapt and create an alternative way of building the Contender to be able to satisfy those who wanted the beauty of a wooden Contender.
Certainly, the wooden construction of the past could not be reproduced slavishly. In fact, years of experience in the development of composite techniques could not be abandoned, and rather I wanted to combine the best parts of both wooden and glass fiber construction.
The current construction of Epoxy fiberglass through the infusion technique allows you to build the boats in a way that does not compromise the health of the workers who take part in building the boats. With the fiberglass laid out dry in the mold, and with the resin infused only in the outermost ends of the boat without the builders having any direct contact with the material, it is ensured that they do not inhale or touch the resin.
This technique is not applicable in the construction of boats entirely in triple-layer wood due to the limitations of the wood itself.
Moreover, in the deck there are many differences between a construction in plywood and one in fiberglass.
The wooden deck is made by gluing finished panels that need a very complex structure to hold them together. For the bow and stern, the problem is quickly solved but the cockpit is made up of 7 elements: 2 bulkheads (bow stern), and 5 panels that need 5 transversal structures to keep them united.
With the fiberglass deck, you have a single piece, and once it is glued to the hull, it becomes a single body as if it were a tube. Obviously, structures where the greatest efforts reside (shrouds, stay, mast, centerboard case) are additionally reinforced.
Hence, I came up with a way to combine the best from the wooden boats with the best from the Epoxy glass fiber boats, namely:
-Getting the beauty of the wooden boats
-Stiffness of the wooden boats
-“Healthy working conditions”
-Weight optimization compared with a wooden boat
-Cockpit/deck made of a single strong structure.
By applying a single layer of mahogany to the mold and infusing in one single step, this guarantees the complete infusion of resin into both the inner glass fiber and to the outer wooden layer, which adds additional stiffness to the boat.
I noticed, from other builders of other types of boats, that having a deck with an outer wooden layer is a proven and tested practice, but it has never been applied to the hull also.
I am very proud of the result. The boat is beautiful, strong and more importantly FAST!
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