35th America’s Cup



Earlier this month, Bermuda was announced as host of the 35th America’s Cup, scheduled to take place in 2017.  Though there are mixed feelings about the viability of the remote island hosting the event successfully, the America’s Cup has taken an important turn with an increasingly promising future.

From its inception in 1851, when the American (and only non-British) contender won the trophy, the America’s Cup’s home was New York.  Through nearly a century-and-a-half of advances in naval architecture, the US maintained their solid lead.  In 1983, however, an Australian challenger broke the longest winning streak in the history of sports, 132 years.   While the developments in maritime engineering before the fateful 1983 race were significant, the revolutionary winged keel sported by the Australia II set a precedent for America’s Cup contenders leading the charge for faster and stronger boats.

Since 1983, no country has been able to successfully defend the Cup more than twice.  Court battles over the Deed of Gift, drastically different boat designs competing against each other, and record numbers of challengers have dominated the America’s Cup for the past 21 years.  The introduction of the AC72 marked a sharp turn that the entire sailing industry would take.  It became clear that hydrofoiling catamarans were not only fun and interesting for sailors, but for non-sailing spectators, too.

Ever since the first glimpses of the AC72s foiling, we have seen hydrofoiling catamarans cropping up in more and more places.  The Nacra 17 was adopted as the newest Olympic class, the Great Cup 32 Racing Tour was introduced, and both the A-Class and C-Class Catamarans adapted their older designs to incorporate foiling.

The slightly smaller AC62 that will be used in the 2017 America’s Cup is being designed specifically to foil and is expected to reach speeds similar to the AC72s’.  The AC45 that debuted in the first ever America’s Cup World Series, and made a second appearance in the first ever Youth America’s Cup, will be used again for the second edition of both events, only this time they will be foiling as well.  While there are many design constraints in place for both classes, there is plenty of room for variability.  The next few years are sure to be full of secretive designing and trialing processes and we can’t wait to see the results!

Land Buoy at Pier 53

Photo Credits – Photographer: Bradley Maule and Artist: Jody Pinto


Less than a year after the project’s groundbreaking, the Washington Avenue Pier (Pier 53) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania opened to the public on August 15th.  In conjunction with the Delaware River Waterfront Commission and designer Jody Pinto, Goetz Composites fabricated the translucent FRP beacon that serves as the park’s focal point.

Paying homage to the 19th and 20th centuries’ large scale immigration via Pier 53 is a public boardwalk featuring an installation called the “Land Buoy.”  It stands 55 feet tall and looks east over the Delaware River.  Though only one third of a nautical mile wide at the Land Buoy’s location, the river – and Pier 53, specifically – served as the gateway to well over 600,000 immigrants from the time of its opening in the 1870s, until it was demolished in 1915.

In designing the Land Buoy, it seems Jody Pinto envisioned a final navigational marker after a long journey from Europe.  The solar-powered blue light topping the installation provides a unique beacon on approach to Pier 53.  The Philadelphia Inquirer commends Pinto for “simultaneously conjuring a ship’s crow’s nest, a lighthouse, and the spiral stairs of an immigrant rowhouse – approach, arrival, settlement, all rolled into one powerful form.”  The newly restored wharf provides an appropriately simple setting for peaceful remembrance of the site’s eventful past.

2014-2015 Volvo Ocean Race – Leg 2 Update

Medical TestingFollowing our post last month on the kick-off of the 2014-2015 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, Team Alvimedica arrived in Cape Town, South Africa and secured a fifth place finish.  Despite being on terra firma once again, their hard work did not stop (except maybe for a quick round of showers that I can only assume were much needed).

During the team’s time in port, they underwent medical tests performed by researchers hoping to make developments in the field of heart health.  By allowing the doctors to run the tests immediately before and after the leg from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa, they are hoping to learn about how stress can manifest itself in cardiovascular system functioning.  Findings will not only help to prove (or disprove) the researchers’ hypotheses, but will also provide information to the sailors that could help them to perform more successfully.

November 19th marked the beginning of the Volvo Ocean Race’s second leg as the sailors set out for Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in some exciting conditions.  With breeze ranging from 5 knots to 40 knots, it’s hard to imagine there was not a significant effect on the sailors’ heart rates.

Click here for related video.

Rhode Island Composites Alliance

In Our Backyard LogoThe movement toward modern composites emerged in the marine industry in the 1960s and 1970s.  Carbon fiber was first patented in the latter decade and has been used experimentally and commercially in boatbuilding ever since.  Composite manufacturers in Bristol, RI are responsible for much of the improvement and innovation in the field, and Eric Goetz has been a key player along the way.

Click here to check out last week’s spotlight article on the Rhode Island Composites Alliance – including a video interview with Eric Goetz – on the RI Foundation’s In Our Backyard to see where the composites industry is now.


Composites in Architecture: Fuller’s Neo-Futuristic Design Realized Through Modern Composites




When Buckminster Fuller first designed the Fly’s Eye Dome, he was imagining a highly efficient – in terms of energy and materials – housing solution.  The many circular openings would serve as windows and doors, as well as collectors of solar and wind energies.  In addition, the concave composite frame was carefully designed to collect rainwater runoff.

Although Fuller passed away before his concept of a portable, self-sufficient home gained much popularity, the 24-foot and 50-foot prototypes he commissioned have not been forgotten.  A replica of the 24-foot dome, built in our shop in Bristol, Rhode Island made its way down to Miami earlier this year, finding its new home in Palm Court in the Florida city’s Design District.

Through working with the Buckminster Fuller Institute (and the project manager, Dan Reiser), Goetz Composites reproduced the 24-foot Fly’s Eye Dome using modern technologies; technologies which Fuller surely would have employed if he were alive today.  First, a 3D parametric model was produced from the original design.  The complex tooling was then cut, using a 5-axis CNC machine.  The composite parts were engineered and laminated in accordance with Miami-Dade County Building Code, which includes careful regulation of flame spread, smoke toxicity, and hurricane durability.

An article published this week in The Wall Street Journal discussed a shift in luxury retail, focusing specifically on this district.  The appeal of open-air shopping (in comparison with mall shopping) for luxury goods stems from more than just the mass presence of retail’s elite.  The environment of ‘high-street’ markets (outdoor shopping areas like Fifth Avenue in Manhattan) is a significant factor in the entire shopping experience.  Craig Robbins, a developer working on the Miami shopping center, says that much of the Design District’s appeal comes from the fact that “you can walk around and see spectacular art and design.”  In the case of the Fly’s Eye Dome, visitors can experience the work of art from the inside as well; it will serve as a pedestrian entryway to the underground parking garage.

4D Printing

4D Printing Carbon Fiber

Recent developments in the way of what MIT research scientist Skylar Tibbits is calling 4D printing have been announced.  Because 3D printers are readily available and are increasingly well-understood by the general public, it must be time for something bigger and better.  The fourth dimension is a dynamic component that creates a changing structure over time.  We are now seeing a possibility that the futuristic wonderland Marty McFly introduced us to may not be far from materialization.

At a 2013 TED conference, Tibbits first presented his idea of “programmable materials that build themselves.”  He demonstrated how, with today’s rapidly advancing nanotechnologies, we can “program physical and biological materials to change shape, change properties and even compute outside of silicon-based matter.”  The impact that this could have on development at the human scale is vast; and ideas from increasingly diverse industries is just what Tibbits needs in order to keep his Self-Assembly Lab at MIT running at full speed.

Articles released by Wired and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) over the past two weeks have shown us just where those ideas, in combination with Tibbits’ team’s expertise, can take us.  4D printing uses meticulously constructed layers of material – nearly any material will do – with programmed design to alter their shape using passive energies.  Carbitex, a company specializing in the production of flexible carbon fiber, has begun work with printed materials on the fibers that make the fully cured carbon active and reactive to certain energy.  Applications in automotive, aerospace, and athletic industries (self-lacing Nikes?) are already in the works, and it is apparent that where we are going, we don’t need complex, expensive, and cumbersome electrical systems to control robotic movement.

2014-2015 Volvo Ocean Race

 Alvimedica11It has been an exciting year for local sailor Charlie Enright.  His public announcement in January of this year that he, along with friend Mark Towill, would be partnering with young Turkish medical technologies company Alvimedica for a campaign in the 2014-2015 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race earned him a prominent seat in the forefront of sailing media.  American sailors and under 30s, along with dark horses of various other shapes and sizes begun to follow team Alvimedica as they set out on their journey to the esteemed race around the world.

With almost half of the crew competing in their first Volvo Ocean Race, onlookers have been eager to watch closely as Charlie and Alvimedica work to tear down the stigma surrounding youth and inexperience.  In a recent interview, Charlie told Scuttlebutt, “We are good sailors with an understanding of the skills under our belts, and a reasonable understanding of what is ahead of us.  We are positive, hungry for this experience, and willing to learn as we go.”

The in-port race in Alicante, Spain on October 4 bore striking resemblance to any other one-design fleet race.  After many lead changes and seriously tight racing all-around, Alvimedica crossed the finish line with a comfortable lead.  Sponsors and supporters everywhere breathed a long-awaited sigh of relief as the boys proved that they may, after all, have what it takes to give the old guys a run for their money in this race.  You can certainly color me convinced.

Click here to follow the Volvo Ocean Race, as seven teams compete over the next several months on each of the nine legs.

2014 RIMTA Anchor Award

goetz-anchor-awardEric Goetz received the 2014 RIMTA Anchor Award at the organization’s Annual Industry Breakfast on September 13 in Newport, R.I

Peter Van Lancker of Hunt Yachts presented Eric Goetz with his Anchor Award. Van Lancker praised Goetz as an innovator who has built elegant composite structures with precision, accuracy, and engineering skill, and also as someone who has shaped an industry as a teacher and mentor to many in the field.


2014 Newport to Bermuda Race

Eric and the Verissimo crew are less than 100 miles to Bermuda!

Report from on board: “Spirits are good. Looking forward to getting on land and relaxing!!”


Photo Left: Verissimo (sail # 40047) at Start of 2014 Newport to Bermuda Race