Question asked by Dan:

I noticed that the Great American III is made of carbon fiber. How does your vessel handle compared to similar vessels that are made of aluminum or any other traditional materials?


Dear Dan,

Actually, Great American III is built of fiberglass over Divinycell core. However, nearly all of the other boats in the race are built of carbon fiber. We have some carbon in the bulkheads that support the keel and mast.

The fact that the boat is fiberglass means that it needs additional stiffening, and so it has two fiberglass bulkheads that run from the bow to the stern, located about one meter in from the port and starboard edges of the boat. This divides the boat into many compartments. Having lots of compartments is both good and bad at the same time. It is good from the point of view that we have more water compartments than other boats. But it is bad in that it is more difficult to move around the boat. In particular, the two bunks for sleeping are located outside this bulkhead, and so entry into the bunks is via an opening that is difficult to get through. And with my current back condition, it makes it very, very difficult to get into the bunk. In fact, I haven’t been in the bunk since the start of the race.

The boat is heavier than the others, and so is less responsive, but it was built early in the carbon construction technique era, so wasn’t a bad choice then. Norbert Sedlacek’s boat is aluminum I think, and I’m not sure if any others are.