Yacht designers have turned to ceramic technology to solve longstanding durability issues with winches in the Volvo Ocean Race. The nine-month event that covers 39,000 nautical miles during which competitors sail the world’s most treacherous seas demands robust equipment to survive the harsh, corrosive marine environment. The first winches to be coated using Zircotec’s extremely tough ThermoHold® based ceramic will be trialled in the event starting in October. The ceramic coating has been selected to minimize wear issues and enable the crew to switch to harder and smaller ropes that are easier to handle and grip better. Additionally, the coating has provided a means of rapid resurfacing in preparation for the race.
“Aluminium winches typically found on this class of yacht display a rough finish to enhance grip and friction,” says Lou Varney, managing director of Diverse Yachts. “This surface is rapidly worn away, leading to poorer performance and a safety risk. One solution is to refurbish them but this takes time and is expensive. We think that the Zircotec ceramic coating will solve these issues even in the harshest ocean race environment. Carbon composite materials are also used in this series, though these provide limited grip, are easily worn and are not easily refurbished. Zircotec can apply its ThermoHold® coating to composite winches, even used winches, and in this case the coating provides a very significant improvement to both grip and friction. The Volvo race offers the ultimate test for these products.”
With a temperature range that stretches from -5 to +40 degrees Celsius and constant exposure to salt water, Zircotec has developed an anti wear coating that is resistant to salt water and provides excellent adhesion to the underlying substrate, irrespective of whether it is aluminium or carbon composite. This adhesion is crucial as one of the key benefits of applying ceramic is to use harder and smaller diameter ropes that put greater strain on the surface contact area. “The technology has been tested in national yachting competitions but the Volvo Ocean Race will be a true test of its ability,” adds Graham.
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