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GJW Direct 2020

Fluid Composites Maverik International Moth

by Phil Oligario, Fluid Composites Ltd. 18 Oct 2022 18:15 BST
Maverik International Moth © Fluid Composites

The Maverik is one of the latest generation Moth designs, from UK startup company Fluid Composites, who aim to bring innovative new technology to the marine industry. Fluid Composites Ltd was formed in the spring of 2020, and the company has rapidly become a specialist in high performance components, producing parts for many different sectors, including Formula 1 race cars and the International Moth.

Fluid Composites is a partnership between Phil Oligario and Andrew Whapshott. Phil brings 15 years of moth build and sailing experience, with a highlight being putting his 2013 home-build into Gold fleet at the 2014 Hayling worlds. Andrew graduated from Plymouth university in 2017, and brings experience in fluid dynamics and composite production, after time working in the automotive and motorsport industry.

After a design and development phase in the midst of the pandemic, Fluid managed to deliver the first of the Moth 2.0 designs from the UK, the Maverik International Moth. To complement their combined skills for the Maverik project, Fluid also had the CAD and computational support of the Solidworks Entrepreneur scheme - this provided access to industry leading computational fluid dynamics and Finite Element Analysis software to aid structural design. This partnership was critical in the development of the boat.

Andrew's extensive study of foils whilst at University led on to a selection of aerofoil projects, including analysing the flex of a very complex composite structure ("fluid-structure interaction study" for those interested in the terminology) Phil previously led the Lithium moth project, and whilst an excellent platform, the boat was extremely complex to bring into production. However, experience gained with this design was extremely useful, and it became a structural proof of concept for the later Maverik design. Using automotive industry standard (Advanced Product Quality Planning) Fluid mapped out a process for the next few years of development.

"To sit together at the same table and have the time and experience to design and deliver the Maverik from a blank sheet was a breath of fresh air for us both; Taking technology in design, manufacture and development from the automotive and F1 industry, we approached the project using a very different philosophy to a normal boat building exercise. Specifically, the Maverik is built on data, and it's current stage is in correlating the theoretical data to the real world, using a combination of sensors which will feed into the next iteration of design."

At the start of the project, Fluid benchmarked the current crop of boats; It was clear from the start that the Bieker (Mackay, NZ) was developing in the right direction with a shorter wing and decklevel foredeck. Results on the water confirmed this, with an increase in speed especially upwind. After designing some mock-ups, Fluid exercised the Solidworks CFD capability and confirmed this; reducing the presented area of the wings hugely improved flow attachment, and aided a clean airflow entry to the deck sweeper sails.

CFD simulations were completed on the 'airborne' hull, and it was possible to refine an optimal hull shape, without foredeck or sharp edges. The bow shape was particularly critical in aiding flow attachment to the leeward side; by sloping it back, the frontal area of the bow is reduced at the yaw angle which the moth sails at, permitting flow to attach across the top section of the bow and foredeck. This yaw angle used is worth a mention, it has been found by real world testing, so it is known to be correct and therefore both real world and simulation data can be compared for correlation. This will continue as the project progresses as it has also exposed further opportunities to reduce drag.

To aid flow attachment (leaving the minimum disturbance behind the boat) Fluid learnt that air travelling under the hull must stay attached as long as possible to reach clean airflow under the leeward wing. This is different to an Americas cup boat because of the yaw angles to the apparent wind, along with flying height etc - a very different scenario.

A key objective of the Maverik design process was to keep it simple but adaptable.

On the manufacturing side, the Maverik moved away from the traditional wing frame method of using sockets, and opted for the modern approach of a drop in frame. This enabled the hull to be manufactured as a sealed monocoque. Fluid work to ISO9001 and now use a selection of composite processes, dependent on the component. Having tight build control and perfecting processes was a major objective to reduce build times and improve consistency. So far, Maverik hulls are proving to be robust yet still on target with weight. Gurit helped to refine this area and Fluid have been fortunate enough to have their technical support throughout the project. This included championing a new resin system which provided excellent performance and compatibility with a lot of Maverik components.

At Fluid the foil design process was an extensive process - After defining shape and sections, a dynamic structural analysis under load was completed, including using a selection of flap angles to arrive at the first iteration of the Maverik foils. Future development includes a gearing system tailored to the new foil design and flap ratio, with flap angles tailored to provide minimum drag at running speed.

Testing is well under way, with time on the water already providing useful feedback on the platform. Conditions have varied with anything from non-foiling conditions to winds of 25 knots plus in waves. To date the Maverik has had no real surprises in production, in terms of robustness all areas appear to have met our expectations. The latest 2022 Maverik is complete and will be the lead development boat. With new partnerships forming daily for production of various new components, this boat will be the cutting edge of their offering for the 2023 iteration.

Sustainability is an area which Fluid have been focused on from the start, thanks to extensive previous experience with Recycled Carbon fibre, Flax fibre fabrics and recycled composites cores. After some lengthy development work, Fluid have pioneered a new process which has been successful enough to enable us to incorporate recycled carbon in to the Maverik, which is a world first in a production moth.

Coupled with assistance from Gurit and their increased bio content resin, Fluid have been able to reduce their carbon footprint by 15% and are seeking to improve on this over the coming years with alternate manufacturing methods looking promising.

Now that the build process is fully sealed, Fluid are operating a Formula 1 style set up, with specific upgrade packages delivered throughout the year. The goal of this is to reach their performance objectives and fully understand every element of the platform and foils, in the build up to next year's world championships to be held in Weymouth, UK and beyond. The International Moth is a constant development class and to be true to this, the Maverik has been designed with change in mind. Within its structure, Fluid allocates time for research and development time to stay ahead of the curve. Once the data is fully understood, changes can be monitored much more closely, and revisions implemented based on a proven design philosophy. Long term, Fluid feel this iterative process is the only approach to take in a competitive environment, and it is a proven system in the motorsport world.

The Maverik project has drawn attention to Fluid Composites and we have been fortunate enough to have been invited into the DASIS Partners group where we are working alongside some of the best names in the UK precision engineering and composites industry.

Fluid have a strong team in place to push development forward and with our novel approach to the Maverik and how we handle the events, the next few years will be exciting for Fluid Composites. To follow the journey and see what Fluid Composites are working on, find them on Linkedin, Facebook and Instagram.

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