WEST SYSTEM: Building boats and dreams on the shores of Lake Constance
The cutting-edge Arrow 1360 is a stunning 13.6m sailing cat that’s being built for the youth of Switzerland, by the youth of Switzerland. Damian Ruppen of Ocean Youth Sailing tells us more about this unique initiative to sail the world from the shores of Switzerland’s Lake Constance.
“It all started about 10 years ago. I, my brother Lukas and four friends founded the Youth Sailing Steckborn club in our hometown,” says Damian. “Our aim was to share our passion for sailing and to educate and train young people in the sport. We taught children, as young as five years old, how to sail Optimist dinghies and older children how to sail Lasers. As they progressed, they’d move on to the 29er then the 49er.”
Before long, Damian and co had over 100 young people sailing every year on their fleet of 35 sailing dinghies. However, the whole idea was for these youngsters to train their peers – so three years ago they decided to let a new generation of sailors take the helm. “Basically, we had grown up!” he laughs. “However, we wanted a way to continue what we’d started. One night, over a couple of beers, we came up with the idea of building a sailing ship and we just couldn’t let it go!”
“We want to give young people the chance to travel the world.”
The six friends met up once a month for the next year to discuss what to build and what their goals should be. In spring 2014, the not-for-profit Ocean Youth Sailing initiative was born. “We decided on three goals,” says Damian. “To build and operate a sailing catamaran with, and for, young people; to provide sailing courses for young people; and to support local non-profit projects with a focus on young people, the environment and the sea.”
So, why a sailing catamaran? “We want to give young people the chance to travel the world,” says Damian. “Our idea is to have eight to 10 people on board at any one time. A cat allows the space – both for people and for storage. We’ll also have a mobile workshop on board as we’d like to be able to help other young people in ports around the world on their youth projects.”
Room for two more
Following intense discussion, the team chose their design: the brand-new Arrow 1360, a 13.6m long composite catamaran kit by Australian company Schionning Designs.
“We wanted a top-performing cat capable of world cruising,” says Damian. “Given our focus on youth, she also needed to be a light, strong structure that would be easy to build in sections and could be moved by a group of young people.” The Arrow 1360 multihull kit ticked all the boxes – albeit with a few tweaks. “She comes with three double beds as standard. We added one more, plus two extra bunk beds to give us enough living space for up to 10 people at a time.”
“A team of more than 100 locals aged 8 to 30 are working on the project every weekend and during the holidays.”
M.u.H. von der Linden from Wesel, Germany, produced our composite panels for the pre-cut kit in early 2016. “The Arrow 1360 comes with everything you need to build the hull as a pre-cut kit,” says Damian. “This should save us around 1,000 man hours – which means we can get her out on the water sooner.”
The kit comprises pre-produced, lightweight sandwich panels with a balsa wood core, sheathed in 600g/m2 of fibreglass on each side. “To build the hull, we just need to shape the panels using a jig saw, before joining them on their long edge with epoxy resin to form full-length hull panels,” explains Damian.
With plans and the pre-produced kit in place, construction began in earnest in spring 2016. Today, a team of more than 100 locals aged 8 to 30 are working on the project every weekend and during the holidays.
Easily the expert’s choice
For Ocean Youth Sailing, WEST SYSTEM® epoxy was always a clear choice for the critical bonding. “It’s the designer’s preferred product for its strength and moisture resistance,” says Damian. “What’s more, the president of Ocean Youth Sailing, Jürg Hochstrasser, is a sailing captain who has worked with WEST SYSTEM epoxy a lot; he’s even completed a WEST SYSTEM epoxy training course in the past. My brother and I were also familiar with it. Basically, we’re all huge fans because it’s just so reliable and easy to use – and that’s a major benefit when showing young people how to work with it.”
To join the sandwich panels, the team mixes WEST SYSTEM 105 Epoxy Resin® with WEST SYSTEM 205 Fast Hardener®. “WEST SYSTEM epoxy dispensers are calibrated pumps, so it’s easy to measure out the correct quantities,” says Damian. They then thicken the mixture with WEST SYSTEM 409 Microsphere filler to bridge gaps and fill any voids. “It’s just so simple and the result is a much stronger and longer-lasting craft.”
The team has opted to apply the epoxy to the panels by brush and press the panels together by hand. “We just find this approach to be the most efficient,” explains Damian. “We check the alignment before closing the hydraulic press. This heats up to 60°C and the epoxy cures in just 10 minutes,” says Damian. “With about 200 panels to glue, we had quite the production line going on!”
To treat the hull and other large areas, the team is using PRO-SET LAM-125 Resin® in conjunction with PRO-SET LAM-226 Hardener®. “Laminating just gives you more time to wet out a large area,” says Damian.
The team is on course for a spring 2018 completion. “We finished the port hull this summer and are halfway through the second hull now,” says Damian. “We plan to marry the two hulls in the autumn before moving on to the floors and furniture.”
In the meantime, skipper training is underway and some members of the team have already started training for their Royal Yacht Master qualification. Over the next two years they will cover at least 2500 nautical miles in British tidal waters to gain as much offshore experience as possible to bring to Ocean Youth Sailing. “Our intention is for these skilled skippers to pass on their knowledge,” says Damian. “We want to be sure our youth club can keep going and that it always has enough trained skippers – 10 or even 20 years from now.”
To find out more about Ocean Youth Sailing and chart the Arrow 1360’s build progress, visit their website or contact them at email@example.com.
Wondering whether WEST SYSTEM or PRO-SET epoxy products are right for your project? Explore the full range on the West System International website.