Projects: Diana: the boat that changed everything
Sometimes, a boat comes along that changes everything. This was the case with Diana, a classic sloop built by Walsteds Boatyard in 1998, which used modern epoxy construction techniques from top to bottom. It was a major breakthrough and proof that epoxy could help boat builders deliver faster, stiffer, stronger, more durable boats.
epoxycraft asked HF Industri & Marine’s Hans Fokdal, founder and Managing Director, about his role in the Diana build and about Diana’s enduring legacy.
“After I founded HF Industri & Marine in 1992, I was working extremely closely with local boatyards to help them adopt modern, epoxy boat-building techniques,” says Hans. “In 1998, a project came along that would change my business, and epoxy boatbuilding, forever.”
The project Hans mentions is ‘Diana’, a 62-foot classic sloop designed by Bill Dixon of Angus S. Primrose Ltd. and subsequently built by Walsteds Boatyard in Denmark. “Diana mixed a classic design with the latest boat-building methods,” says Hans.
With the construction guidelines for the build carefully defined by Bill Dixon, the technical team at Walsteds was on a steep learning curve and the support provided by Hans was critical to ensure the build’s success.
“Diana was the first time we’d been able to apply epoxy construction techniques on this large scale,” says Hans. “Working together, we were able to meet and surpass the client’s expectations and deliver a truly unique boat.”
Diana’s strip-planked hull
Hans worked with Walsteds to overlay imported cedar strips, creating Diana’s strip-planked hull. Once the required shape had been achieved, the hull was laminated using glass cloth that had been pre-impregnated with PRO-SET laminating epoxy – a mixture of PRO-SET 125 epoxy resin and PRO-SET 229 hardener. This approach allowed the team to ensure that the glass to epoxy ratio was perfect for all sections of the hull.
“We passed the glass cloth through a lamination machine to impregnate it with just over two kilograms of epoxy per square metre,” says Hans. “We then placed the impregnated cloth onto sections of the hull and used vacuum bagging to consolidate the laminate – that gave us the excellent, even finish we needed.”
Even though the epoxy had a long ‘open time’, the team had to laminate Diana’s hull in quarters over four consecutive days. “We laminated the hull in sections, but it went very quickly,” says Hans. “It proved once and for all that strip-planking and epoxy laminating is a very quick, cost-effective way to build a boat of Diana’s size.”
“It proved once and for all that strip-planking and epoxy laminating is a very quick, cost-effective way to build a boat of Diana’s size.”
With the hull’s exterior laminated with glass and epoxy, it was turned over and the same process was followed inside. “We finished up with a hull that was completely laminated with epoxy and glass, inside and out,” says Hans. “It was strong, light and extremely durable, showcasing all of the excellent marine qualities that epoxy can deliver.”
FRP sandwich anyone?
Many of Diana’s structural components were made from RFP sandwich panels: cut foam laminated with bi-axial and UD glass cloth and PRO-SET epoxy. This approach ensured that Diana’s sub-structure was extremely light, as well as strong and durable.
“Diana may look like a completely classic sloop but that’s just an illusion that’s skin deep,” says Hans. “Because all of the boat’s structural components are made using FRP sandwich composite materials, Diana is far lighter, stronger and stiffer than other sloops built with traditional techniques and materials.”
The build that changed everything
As the first boat of its size to be built in Denmark using the latest epoxy techniques, Diana was one of the most influential projects in Denmark’s long and venerable boatbuilding history.
“Diana had a huge impact, both in Denmark and around the world,” says Hans. “Once other boat yards could see what we’d achieved with epoxy, they were much more open to adopting epoxy techniques in their own workshops,” he continues. “In particular, strip-planking really took off as a fast, efficient way to build hulls and the technique is still widely used.”
While Diana brought epoxy boatbuilding to new audiences, Hans is still pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with epoxy in the marine environment.
For one new ground-breaking application, he is working with Quorning Boats of Denmark to deliver next-generation epoxy-carbon masts for the company’s unique family of Dragonfly Trimarans. “PRO-SET epoxy continues to be highly sought after where quality, strength, stiffness and durability are critical. These are exactly the qualities Quorning has achieved with its new Trimaran masts,” says Hans.
The applications for PRO-SET epoxy are so many and varied, that Hans is busier than ever. “I’d like to have more time to go out in my vintage Italian powerboat, but I’m too busy helping boat builders get the most out of their epoxy,” he says. “For the moment, that old Italian V8 motor is silent, but as long as I get to be involved in innovative boatbuilding projects, I’ll be happy.”
Hans Fokdal is the founder and Managing Director of HF Industri & Marine, the authorised distributor for PRO-SET® epoxy in Denmark. He delivers consultancy, epoxy resins and related products to clients across a range of industries, from boatbuilders to wind-turbine manufacturers.
Walsteds Boatyard has been building, restoring and repairing premier vessels with first-class workmanship and high quality products since 1949. They continue to deliver innovative work within the Danish boatbuilding industry.
Image credit: Walsteds