Arkema 3 - The Most Innovative Boat of the 2017 Mini-Transat?

Arkema 3, will definitely be one of the most interesting boats on the start line of the next mini-transat this October.

Foils and Wing Mast on Arkema 3

The boat follows the scow trend started by David Raison on Magum in 2010 and one cannot fail to notice it’s foils – which are very long – over 3 m once deployed - and which also incorporate a pendulum mechanism to adjust their orientation… The telescopic wing – the first of its kind on an offshore boat – is another major development and it will be very interesting to see how it performs in the race.

The biggest innovation on the boat, however, is one that cannot be seen. The boat has been made with a new type of resin to infuse the carbon fiber – Elium. It’s developed by the boat’s sponsor Arkema, and offers many advantages over epoxy or polyester which are traditionally used in boat construction. Elium is a thermoplastic resin and not a thermosetting resin like epoxy and polyester. Unlike a thermosetting resin which cures irreversibly to a solid, with a thermoplastic resin the process can be reversed…

This means it can be easily recycled. The hull of a boat built with Elium could be chopped up into little bits and used to make chopped fiber reinforced composites. This would help to address the massive end of life problem with plastic boats.

The fact that Elium is a thermoplastic resin also means that it has exceptional post-thermoforming properties. It can be easily and effectively welded and glued. This is great for boat construction, boat modification and especially boat repairs…

It’s also a lot faster to make composite parts with Elium as the long curing times of conventional resins is eliminated – reducing costs and enabling faster iteration on parts. As such it is an innovation enabler…

All of these advantages means that the Elium resin used on Arkema 3, is certainly the innovation in the 2017 mini-transat with the greatest potential to have a big impact on regular sailors.