Projects: “If you want top quality, epoxy is a no-brainer.”
The creators of the Ocean Explorer C-60 catamaran value quality above all else – and PRO-SET® epoxy products play a central part in their vision.
Peter Granholm was visiting a shipping interiors company in his native Finland recently when a poster caught his eye.
“It was a quote from Benjamin Franklin,” he says. “’The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten’. I believe that this is true – and this sort of thinking has been at the heart of the Ocean Explorer project right from the start.”
The Ocean Explorer C-60 catamaran was born in 2010, when the worldwide economic downturn was hitting boatbuilding hard. With fewer new orders on their books, Peter’s own engineering company, PolyPoint, joined with three other Finnish marine companies – carpenters Riskas Snickeri, electronics specialists Acu-Elektro and metal components supplier WiBo – to form Ocean Quality Systems (OQS). Together, they began to explore how best to negotiate the stormy economic waters.
Focus on quality – and epoxy
With the single-hull powerboat market already well catered for, OQS targeted their efforts instead on producing a fast, powerful and luxurious multi-hall craft. Rather than attempting to compete with the mass production manufacturers, they decided to set themselves apart by creating a custom-built premium catamaran fit for the most demanding clients.
“Our focus is on top quality – top quality design, top quality performance, top quality safety,” Peter says. “Our goal has always been to build a top-quality boat that lasts forever.”
To help turn that goal into a reality, the OQS team turned to PRO-SET epoxy products, looking not only to enhance performance and guarantee reliability, but also to reduce weight and improve efficiency.
Four years on, the first Ocean Explorer has covered 16,500 miles in its first year – and Peter now says that if a client insisted on using an alternative to epoxy, he would politely decline the commission.
A number of design features were introduced to set the Ocean Explorer apart from other catamarans and from mono-hull powerboats, and to guarantee both performance and luxury.
Curved carbon dagger boards are used instead of a standard keel to improve handling, reduce draft and make it easier to explore shallower waters. “If you have a fixed keel, it affects upwind performance because you don’t point as high in the wind,” Peter says. “When you go downwind you don’t have the same speed because you have resistance from the keels in the water.”
“Our daggerboards, which are operated by a single button, are more efficient when you go upwind and can be easily lifted up when you’re travelling offwind, so the boat performs almost like a surfboard. The hull draft is also only 80cm, whereas a mono-hull boat of the same size would create a draft of around 2.5m.”
A reversed bow also enhances performance and minimises pitching, making for a more comfortable ride. “My wife always get seasick,” Peter says, “but she was in the Ocean Explorer with me in choppy seas and felt fine.”
A reinforced hull even makes it possible to beach the Ocean Explorer. It’s one of a number of features – like the solar panels that ensure critical systems can be maintained even during a generator failure, and the electronics that mean the boat can be run from an iPad – designed to ensure passengers have as little as possible to worry about during their voyage.
The role of epoxy
So what part do PRO-SET epoxy products play in the Ocean Explorer’s quest for excellence? As Peter explains, the team was committed to epoxy from the start.
“If you want to create a boat that lasts forever, that immediately rules out using polyester resin or vinylester,” he says. “That’s not only because of the possible risk of water osmosis, but also because when you compare those materials to epoxy, epoxy is much lighter, much stiffer and supports the idea of building a light boat with enhanced performance. It enables you to save fuel and to reduce the engine size without sacrificing performance.”
“Everybody acknowledged that epoxy is far superior in terms of quality and features. If you want to go for real top quality, it has to be epoxy. It’s a no-brainer.”
The Ocean Explorer hull and deck is built from a sandwich laminate of fibreglass and divinylcell, vacuum-infused and post-cured using PRO-SET epoxy products. Structural features such as bulkheads and the stringer are made from carbon, and these are also infused with PRO-SET epoxy.
“The carbon elements provide ultimate stiffness in the hull,” Peter explains, “but we haven’t used a full-carbon design because it increases noise levels and contributes to weight gain as you need to insulate the carbon elements.”
“OQS is the only builder in the leisure yachting industry that combines titanium, epoxy, carbon and e-glass that I know of,” says Peter. “Our rooftop beam structure is made in titanium and then attached to the epoxy hull. This also adds to the structural stiffness between the hulls ensuring no flexing that could cause cracks in the windows. During the last service we removed some of the panels to investigate how it looks after so many miles sailed and all was perfect!”
The only way is epoxy
Peter admits to feeling “quite emotional” when he stepped aboard the Ocean Explorer in Port Adriano in June 2014, one year after its launch and at the end of an epic journey that had taken in St Lucia, Miami, the Greek islands and Cannes.
“She looked like new!” he laughs. “It’s emotional to see your baby one year on.”
That first craft has since set sail again, and the OQS team remain committed to their vision of producing high-spec. custom-built catamarans for discerning buyers – with epoxy still very much part of their plans.
“I would never go back from epoxy to polyester or vinylester,” he says. “If a client came to us and asked us to build in polyester, I would say that they should look at another boatyard.
“There’s no point for us to do that on a project where we set ourselves apart on quality. I would rather leave the project.”