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environmentally friendly foam for surfboard blanks

July 7, 2006 Sandia National Laboratories prides itself on provifind technology solutions to the most challenging problems that threaten peace and freedom for our nation and the globe. It’s accordingly highly appropriate that it has developed an environmentally friendly foam that may also be the answer to surf industry crisis. TufFoam was originally conceived by Sandia materials scientists for NNSA as an encapsulant material to protect sensitive electronic and mechanical structures from harsh weapons environments. It is a water-blown, closed-cell, rigid polyurethane foam that features formulations as low as 2 lbs.-per-cubic foot density. But beyond its use as a structural material, the foam likely has other applications. Clark Foam, the leading manufacturer of foam for surfboard construction, unexpectedly closed its doors late last year because of the impact of ever-tightening environmental regulations on the manufacturing of their polyurethane surfboard blanks. The move led to near-panic, particularly in California, by manufacturers and sellers of surfboards who fear they will not be able to find the high strength-to-weight ratio surfboard blanks necessary to make the boards. Surf historian Matt Warshaw, in an article in the Santa Barbara NewsPress, said “it’s the equivalent of removing lumber from the housing industry.”  Read More

Orange II shatters PlayStation's Transatlantic Sailing Record

July 7, 2006 Of all the ocean sailing records, the Atlantic crossing is without doubt the most famous and most sought after. In 2001, legendary American adventurer Steve Fossett sailed across the Atlantic in PlayStation faster than anyone else in 4 days, 17 hours, 28 minutes and 06 seconds. Today, Frenchman Bruno Peyron and his Orange II crew smashed Fossett's record aboard the maxi catamaran Orange II, finishing the course from Ambrose Light near New York City to Lizard Point off the southwestern tip of Great Britain in just 4 days, 8 hours, 23 minutes and 54 seconds - more than 9 hours faster than Fossett. Halfway through the 3,100 nautical mile trip, Orange II hit a submerged iceberg and broke one of its two steering rudders. The team had to slow down considerably to keep from capsizing but managed to maintain a boat speed average of over 28 knots. Peyron and his veteran team already hold numerous sailing records including the fastest ‘round-the-world time. And on this trip, they broke their own 24-hour world speed record twice -- making Orange II the fastest sailboat in the world. Our report on Orange II and its preparations for this event in depth can be found here.  Read More

Orange II sails 752 miles on the first day, and 766 on the second

July 5, 2006 If you’ve been reading Gizmag regularly over the last month, you’ll know that there’s a significant attempt on the transatlantic sailing record which started earlier this week by Orange II, the world’s fastest sailing boat which already holds the round-the-world record and the 24 hour record. As predicted, skipper Bruno Peyron and the crew are sweeping all before them, and in their first 24 hours on the water the boat demolished its own 24-hour sailing record by covering 752 miles in one day. That’s 60 miles more than the previous record. This is already something that will enter the history books and it may just be the start. On the second day it covered 766 miles, creating a new record again. At the end of the first day, the maxi catamaran was 133 miles ahead of where PlayStation was on the charts at the same time. After the second day, Peyron’s catamaran had built up a lead of 199 miles over the route taken by PlayStation. At the halfway point, (at 11h42 GMT today, there were 1380 miles left to go to cross the finish at The Lizard), the situation is looking good for a new record.  Read More

Transatlantic sailing record attempt poised to begin (live on the web)

July 2, 2006 Five weeks ago we ran a story on the World’s fastest sailing boat, the 36.8 metre Orange II catamaran (amazing image library here) which holds the round-the-world record (50 days, 16 hours, 20 minutes) and the world 24 hour record (706.2 miles at an average speed of 29.42 knots), indicating the boat and crew were on stand-by for an attempt on the trans-Atlantic record of four days, 17 hours, 28 minutes and six seconds. In terms of sheer speed, it is certainly the fastest sailing record in the world. To beat Steve Fossett’s time, skipper Bruno Peyron’s men will have to keep up an average speed of almost 26 knots throughout the Atlantic crossing. That means that the boat will have to be sailed continually at 30 knots to ensure this average is kept up throughout the voyage. The news is that after five weeks of waiting for the ideal conditions, Orange II is now making final preparations to leave New York today. Having a sponsor such as France Telecom enables the whole world to sail with Bruno and the boys during the four day sprint, and not only is it possible to follow the attempt live , there is a live video streaming conference planned for the mid-point of the voyage at the attempt web site. This story includes an interview with Bruno Peyron and is written on the eve of his Atlantic record attempt.  Read More

New affordable wristband device prevents drownings

June 21, 2006 A new wristband device could significantly reduce drownings and near-drownings in swimming pools. The device checks individual swimmers via a small worn wristband, monitoring depth, motion and time. If a bather approaches preset limits the wristband issues a wireless alert via radio and/or ultrasonic transmission. The wristband alarm sounds and the LED lights flash, prompting the swimmer to return to a safer location. If they fail to respond appropriately, the unit issues a full alert to supervisory staff - a feature which reduces 'false-positives', a major problem with many alarm systems. Pool supervisors are highly effective once they recognise that an 'event' is in progress but they are human, and the device gives them and distressed swimmers that vital second chance.  Read More

Installing a 45 tonne, 20 cylinder engine

June 21, 2006 Next time you’re belly-aching about the problems associated with pulling a motor out of the engine bay of your automobile, spare a thought for these guys. They are in the process of building the first of two new 107 metre vehicle-passenger ferries for Hawaii Superferry (HSF). The massive catamarans will be the largest aluminium vessels ever built in the USA and will be used to establish Hawaii’s first high-speed vehicle-passenger service. Each catamaran will carry 866 passengers and 282 vehicles and provide services connecting Honolulu to Maui and Kauai in three hours and from Honolulu to the Big Island in four hours. Each ferry has four 20 cylinder MTU 8000 Series engines, each weighing 45 tonnes and producing 8,200 kw (10,995hp) at 1150 rpm.  Read More

Proibito (Forbidden) Yacht Concept

At just 33 years of age, Christian Grande is very young for a yacht designer with a long professional career and some serious international achievements behind him. In 2005. Grande won the prestigious “Yacht 2005 European Trophy 50/60’Open” design award during the Cannes Boat Show with a nomination for the European Ship of the Year award for his Yacht C52 project for the Sessa Marine shipyard. Now Grande is pushing the edge of the envelope in nautical design again with his Proibito (Italian for “forbidden”) concept. The Proibito is designed to “disappear all the mechanical components of steering and navigation through the utilization of distinctive kinematic systems”, permiting a complete levelling of the deck and the consequent transformation into a completely open yacht. A word of warning – it may look innocent and relaxed and dinghy-like, but with 950 horsepower and a top speed of 60 knots, the Proibito is deceptive in its appearance.  Read More

The coreheat dry-on-the-inside wetsuit

June 5, 2006 The wetsuit was invented in 1951 by UC Berkeley physicist Hugh Bradner to help the U.S. Navy’s “underwater swimmers” who were experiencing difficulties thanks to the advent of the Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) putting them in cold water for long periods. Bradner recognised that divers did not need to be dry to be warm and that thermal insulation could be obtained by air entrapped in the material of the suit … and the wet suit was born. The wetsuit facilitated humans spending long periods in cold water in relative comfort and the protection it affords has been a key enabling factor in the evolution of a host of water-based recreational activities such as sail boarding, body boarding, canyoning, triathlons, swimming, water skiing, diving, sailing and surfboard riding. As the quality of neoprene has improved and wetsuit design has evolved in particular ways for particular sports, the global wetsuit market has grown to somewhere between three and five million units annually. Until recently, wetsuit panels were stitched together, allowing water to enter between the stitching but in recent years, glue-based systems have overcome this problem, though water still enters through the suit’s zipper, plus neck, wrist and ankle openings. Now a new system for preventing water entering the wetsuit altogether raises the possibility of an upmarket, premium drysuit. The coreheat system eliminates many of the problems associated with current wetsuits in that it offers a lighter, more thermally efficient and much more comfortable wet suit that is immune from the cold water flushing which saps the body’s core temperature.  Read More

Fantastic toys for the pool

June 5, 2006 The art of resting the mind is fundamental to replenishing life’s energies and lazing around in a pool on a floater just has to be one of the most potent , readily available and affordable methods of achieving said relaxation. Excalibur Electronics has built what must be the ultimate pool lounger for the playful-at-heart. The US $150 PVC extended armchair has two powerful electric motors driving independent propellers directed by the joysticks on either arm rest, enabling one to propel oneself around one's pool in comfort and style – a nudge here, a squirt there and you can maintain the exact position you wish. Each lounger comes with its own built-in drink holder, but there’s an optional US$50 radio controlled drink holder and snack tray and a US$30 floating radio to complete the suite. Along similar lines but designed for a different, more boisterous form of pool relaxation is the US$185 Ocean Scooter, which is an inflatable , battery-powered electric jet-ski for the pool. If you have a pool, both these toys could considerably enhance your enjoyment .  Read More

50 mph Quadski converts from Jetski to ATV in five seconds

Alan Gibb's Aquada and Humdinga high speed amphibious vehicles have been making the headlines for the last few years, partly because they work, partly because they have compelling feature sets and partly because the Aquada has set a few records, most notably in the hands of Sir Richard Branson. Now there's a new affordable Gibbs amphibian on the way that instantly becomes one of the most desirable recreational vehicles on the planet - it's both a quadbike and a jet ski and converts from one guise to the other at the touch of a button in under five seconds, using the 140 bhp motor to reach 50 mph (72km/h) on both land and water. The design offers a new class of recreational vehicle, along with a range of capabilities that make it ideal for life saving clubs, search and rescue, military, emergency services and aid workers who will be able to reach areas and people no two or four wheel drive vehicle could reach. Gibbs Technologies intends to license the design and technology for the Quadski and is seeking expressions of interest.  Read More

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