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Developing an innovative product for high-performance sail rigging

Tom White Composites Ltd (TWC) is based in Penryn, Cornwall. The company specialises in developing top quality composite components for yachts and superyachts. Recently, TWC has been working on an innovative Loopeye product, which is designed to be used with high-performance yachts.

TWC Director, Tom White, explains:

“We have developed a unique ‘Loopeye’ component for high performance sailing applications. In high performance sailing, it is vital that all components on the yacht are as lightweight as possible, as this makes all the difference to performance. Our ambition is to create a next generation Loopeye product for sail rigging, which is the lightest and strongest product available in the market. The new product is designed so that Dyneema rope is embedded within a carbon fibre composite baseplate.  This unique product is both lightweight and exceptionally strong.

“The product has been developed at three different scales: 30mm, 40mmm and 50mm. Having developed prototypes for each of the sizes, we needed to carry out some exhaustive testing to ascertain the ultimate tensile strength of each size of prototype. This required us to seek out some specialist research support.”

TWC engaged with the Marine-i project to get help with this testing and, through Marine-i, were able to gain access to state of the art test facilities. The Loopeye prototypes were independently tested by Research Engineers from the University of Exeter at the Dynamic Marine Component Test Facility, Falmouth Docks, Cornwall. 

The Dynamic Marine Component Test Facility (DMaC) is a purpose built test rig that aims to replicate the forces and motions experienced by marine components in offshore applications. The test rig consists of a linear hydraulic cylinder at the tailstock that applies the tension and compression forces or displacements. At the other end of the rig, the headstock with three degrees of freedom can apply bending moments (torque) and angular displacements. 

Dr Tessa Gordelier, from Marine-i partner University of Exeter, says:

“We put together a structured testing programme for the three different sizes of Loopeye prototypes. The equipment at DMaC allows us to apply high tensions to these components in a controlled environment, so that we can carefully assess their performance. These tests allowed us to accurately measure the ultimate tensile strength of each size of prototype. The Loopeye products performed extremely well in these tests, and the consistency of their performance is an indication of the high quality materials and manufacturing processes that have been developed by TWC.”

Tom White adds:

“The expertise of Marine-i has been a huge boost for this project. It is great to have access to these outstanding test facilities in our local area, and the research support that we have received is invaluable. This testing has confirmed that the product performs as expected and has allowed us to move to the next stage of the project with confidence.”

TWC are now finalising the product specification and expect to launch the product to market in late 2022.

Prof Lars Johanning, Programme Director for Marine-i, says:

“It is excellent to see companies like TWC who are innovating and pushing the boundaries of what is possible within their particular field. We are delighted to be able to help them pioneer new product solutions - ones which could have worldwide applications in the high performance sailing industry.”

[Image: DMaC Facility, University of Exeter]