Week 3 – Unanticipated Learning

When you know Zeynep, you are presented with opportunities that arise from her boundless enthusiasm for life, her belief that all knowledge should be shared, and her extended network of friends. Friday, we visited Zeynep’s friend Can, who owns a custom sailboat facility to watch an “infusion” for a part of a custom sailboat they were building. Today’s job was to fabricate the single piece of fiberglass that would end up being the upper deck/roof of the cockpit (we think). The piece, fabricated upside down, was about 20 feet x 8 feet and would end up, once flipped right side up, fitting on top of the ~ 35 foot x 15 foot sailboat hull that had already been poured.

We just watched. This is what we learned.

How to make a multi million dollar racing sailboat in five easy steps

  1. Build one mold from plans outsourced to European designers and engineers.
  2. Hire at least two young men (Çan had about 10 on site) who will help to carefully follow your instructions for prepping materials, mixing plasticizers, patiently waiting as the materials cure, and attend to the 1000 other tasks along the way.
  3. Find three mixing chambers that can serve to help distribute the unpolymerized liquids into the wicking fabric that sits atop the fiberglass mesh and foam core that is supported by the mold.
  4. Use four 10 L metal cans of uncured resin – (startling to us that the cockpit head piece we saw for this 75 foot sailboat was constructed from only ~40 L of liquid).
  5. Consult with at least five engineers (plus three PHD chemists if your count us) to make sure temperature, vacuum, and time are controlled in the way such that the final boat will sail and not sink.

I’ve included in this post a photo of another one of Can’s sailboats that Zeynep had raced the previous weekend and that we had serendipitously ALSO snapped a picture of from our balcony.  It’s remarkable that these boats are made of stuff resembling cotton candy and glue, yet survive bashing through waves at 20 knots.  On the right, you see the care with which Can is overseeing the infusion process.

Can, we thank you so much.  Happy Sailing!

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