“SSAB has done the impossible again”
December 21, 2016 12:43 CET 6 min read
When Ludde Ingvall, famous round the world yachtsman, needed a longer keel for his new CQS 100-foot super maxi racer, the combination of material properties required seemed impossible to achieve. SSAB proved him wrong.
Now his sailing boat, partly built by SSAB Strenx material, will compete in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race which starts on December 25. The story about how many people within SSAB worked together to develop a solution for this “super racer” is really a remarkable success story, showing the possibilities with Strenx performance steel.
Everything must be exceptional
Extreme yachting is a world of cutting-edge materials performing at their absolute limits, piloted by crews performing at their absolute limits, in the world’s most unforgiving waters.
It turns out that these are the perfect conditions for Strenx performance steel.
To maximize the speed of a racing yacht, every part must be optimized for its purpose. For structural parts, high strength allows the designers to reduce unnecessary weight and still reach the performance targets. Combining strength with toughness and flexibility enables the boat to cope with sudden and unexpected loads without catastrophic failure.
For the new 100-foot racer, it was decided that the keel should be about 5.5 m long with a 7500-kg bulb at the end to counteract the boat’s leeward tilt. The more upright, the faster the boat travels.
Moving the bulb far away from the hull is good for speed. The tricky part is the keel’s knife blade, which connects the bulb with the hull. The ideal material is as thin as possible to reduce drag, while remaining super strong and tough.
Ludde Ingvall was no stranger to the benefits of using homogenous steel for the blade. The new CQS 100-foot maxi racer is a redesigned and rebuilt 90-footer with a 4.5 m blade made from solid SSAB steel. Moving up to 100 feet and a 5.5 m keel is another story.
Calling SSAB – “Can you do it?”
Tomas Svensson-Brunstedt, Key Account Manager at SSAB, was approached by Ludde Ingvall in late 2015. The CQS team presented an ambitious wish list: Yield strength above 1000 MPa, thickness of 120 mm in one single steel plate, high toughness, easy to weld and easy to machine. The boat’s structural designer Brett Bakewell-White at Bakewell-White Yacht Design Ltd. was right on the money when he nicknamed the desired material ‘Unobtainium’.
That didn’t discourage Tomas. He went back to SSAB in Sweden and assembled a team of specialists from the SSAB Knowledge Service Center. Ros-Marie Stockman-Koch in product development was in charge of choosing the type of steel and process parameters. Torbjörn Narström, structural designer, gave valuable advice on design issues. Daniel Stemne, specialist in manufacturing technologies, provided his expertise in the welding of thick, high strength materials.
“Yes we can”
Making this particular grade of Strenx steel is not a run-of-the-mill production. However, it is a good example of SSAB’s willingness to push the limits of high strength steel, and to try new ways to meet the customer’s needs. And when the odds are this high, it is even more inspiring to beat them. And we did, as Brett Bakewell-White observed: “SSAB has done the impossible again.”
The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race starts on 25 December 2016. Follow the live coverage here.
Read more about Strenx
Before showing its colors in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on 25 December 2016, CQS warmed up by winning the Round White Island race from Auckland on 25 November, crossing the finish line 7 hours ahead of its closest rival.
The team designing this extreme yacht can choose practically any material the like. Still they went for steel, because it is both strong and tough – a combination hard to achieve with any other material.
After machining, this 2500 kg high-performance beauty is ready to blow them away on the other side of the world.