About the project

On Saturday 17 March 2012 the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) began a week long trial to select the new women’s skiff for the 2016 Olympics. They are looking for a boat that is a test of skill rather than strength, is fun to sail and to watch and is affordable and accessible for ‘grass roots’ sailors.

Arup (www.arup.com) has entered a boat – the ‘Arup Skiff’ – into these trials. Hydrodynamicist Kevin Ellway provided hydrodynamic design (i.e. the shape) and Arup the structural design.

A strong contender

The Arup Skiff is a fine example of technology transfer. The skiff is a carbon fibre composite construction and though we haven’t designed a lot of boats, we do have a great deal of experience of carbon fibre in other contexts. We have used it to strengthen buildings and bridges, for light weight demountable structures and for geometrically complex sculptures that could not be realized any other way. We have also developed methods of analysing the non-linear performance of carbon fibre for our work on high end sports cars. So, actually, it seems quite logical that we would apply this experience to the structural design of boats.

Technical detail

See more information about the project, including technical and design details for our skiff, onArup’s website.

Class information

  • Class is owned by the boat owners.
  • No external interference from designers. Arup will not interfere with the class or push design alterations.
  • Arup Skiff class will publish the the 3D master geometry and own the master tooling sets.
  • 3D computer geometry will govern no quibbles about plug deformation or remoulding over time.
  • Arup Skiff class will publish the registration price of each component.
  • Manufacturers will be able to sell direct to sailors at direct prices and with the registration fee invoiced separately (thus avoiding third party markups – i.e. a mast a supplier sells for £800 is therefore not sold with a class badge for £3,000).
  • Arup Skiff class will vote on the registration fees for components annually.
  • Open comparison one design – multiple suppliers. Critical characteristics (mass and stiffness) are tested for each component on registration. The class boat list is public allowing open analysis of performance and component life of each manufacturer supplying the class.
  • Olympic regatta boats supplied by a single manufacturer. The supplier is chosen democratically from an ISAF pre-approved list.

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