Composite specialist, Magma Structures has delivered the world’s largest carbon composite freestanding masts. The Portsmouth-based company, responsible for the Millennium Falcon’s Dynarig technology, has taken more than three years to complete the latest editions to its increasingly complex portfolio of projects.

While the final destination of these Dynarig behemoths remains under a shroud of non-disclosure agreements, believes they are headed for the Nobiskrug shipyard in Germany and White Pearl, a vessel that recently became the world’s largest sailing yacht.

The rigs will stand at an imposing 100m-plus tall, withstand forces in excess of 40 meganewtons (Mn) and support sails greater in area than a standard football pitch. Their load limit will be twice that of a Boeing Dreamliner aeroplane.

A high-grade carbon composite, akin to the material used in motorsport and aerospace engineering, was required to guarantee the strength/weight ratio, as well as an exceptional fatigue and corrosion resistance required to assure the safety and longevity of the project. Despite their height and strength each mast weighs a ‘mere’ 50 tonnes.

Damon Roberts, technical advisor to the project noted, "The high strength and fatigue-resistant nature of carbon has been the key in enabling us to develop and manufacture a free-standing structure much larger than anything currently built, including the current generation of wind turbine blades, and with much higher bending loads. The embedded fibre optic monitoring data is invaluable in giving us real-time data to optimise the sailing performance, as well as verify the design concepts and give us load case data to minimise the maintenance."

Projects Alpha and Delta

Conceptually designed by Dykstra Naval Architects, the load analysis and engineering,
automation technology, deployment, setting and reefing, prototyping, testing, controls and monitoring systems were all designed, engineered and managed at Magma Structures. Each mast is able to rotate using systems mounted on ‘wings’ at the side of each mast, adding to both the design and complexity of the build challenge.

As well as modern materials and technologies related to strength and durability, each rig has also been embedded with fibre optic sensors to provide real-time data relating to the rig's condition, history and information pertaining to optimum sailing performance.

Clive Johnson, managing director of Magma Structures said of the project, "These rigs are amongst the most technically challenging free-standing carbon composite structures to have been manufactured, due to their size, design load requirements and the marine environment in which they will be used. The skills developed and experience gained from building these rigs are already having a direct impact on projects we are developing in other sectors including composite bridges, stadia and buildings where the benefits of manufacturing in composites can be significant."

Profile links

Magma Structures

Dykstra & Partners Naval Architects

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