When talking about safety on board, everybody immediately thinks of lifejackets, emergency boats and flares, but what about repair kits? Álvaro Pipó, CEO of Composite Patch, explains why offshore sailors should all have one.
One great thing about most boats today is they are built of composite materials.
Composites are everywhere: airplanes, cars, windmills, oil industry, bicycles and, of course, boats. With composites you obtain characteristics of steel structures but with the weight of plastic. It is relatively cheap (taking account its advantages over other materials), strong, durable and easy to fix. But, of course, it can’t protect you against everything.
Structural damage while sailing offshore is a real danger and much more common than people think. There are a lot of objects floating in the water that can get you in trouble. A partly sunk container, a fishnet, illegal buoys, for example, can potentially hit your boat hard resulting in serious damage and a rescue call to the coast guard.
Obviously, there are also other well known risks like colliding with nearby boats if you are taking part in a regatta or hitting reefs while visiting a charming small bay far from civilization. These are just two of the most common accidents in recreational sailing.
Repair like a Pro
Offshore sailors should be well aware of these dangers and will no doubt face these problems more than once. A broken dagger board or rudder, say, can put you out of a race no matter if it is a few miles after the start or in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. That’s why a emergency repair kit must be on board rather than simply keeping faith in lady luck.
Having worked with seasoned crews of top yacht race competitions such as the Volvo Ocean Race and the Vendée Globe, all agree that a good repair system needs to work for every sailor, pro or not, and in any weather condition.
It means it has to be easy to use: the average sailor does not have any training in composites.
Composite repairs enable the full process of fixing a crack or delamination in three easy steps:
- Mixing the exact amount of resin and hardener to obtain a good adhesive.
- Spreading the mix onto a fibre patch.
- Applying it to the damaged surface.
On the other hand, the repair needs to be reliable. Emergency situations tend to match with tricky weather, cold/hot temperatures or wet surfaces. So the repair kit must be trustworthy under any of these circumstances providing a permanent, strong and fast harden repair, even if it is underwater.
Composite patch simplifies this process achieving four goals: error-proof system, a light small package, no additional tools needed and very fast repairs (repairs have been done under five minutes). This is why all boats racing the current Volvo Ocean Race use them!