Future Olympic champions, or just having fun with friends?
Future Olympic champions, or just having fun with friends?
Ready to start infusion.
Ready to start infusion.
Demoulded boats.
Demoulded boats.

LaserPerformance (formerly Vanguard Sailboats) of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, has long been the leading manufacturer and largest North American supplier of recreational and high performance small sailboats. It dedicates itself to producing the finest racing and recreational one-design sailboats in the world. LaserPerformance produces one-design classes as competitive and as diverse as the International Optimist, the 420, the Olympic Class Laser, the Vanguard 15, and the high performance 49er. In addition, LaserPerformance produces purely recreational sailboats such as the famous Sunfish and Zuma.

The concept behind the ‘one-design’ sailboat is to remove as many differences between the boats in that class as humanly possible. All the boats in the class must be identical, with minimum variation in total weight, weight distribution, hull stiffness, or hull shape. The race should be won by superior sailing skills and better preparation alone, and not be influenced by differences in individual boat performance.

It is also important the older boats be just as competitive as newer boats in the fleet. Therefore, it is imperative that the builder employs manufacturing methods which reduce inconsistencies in production in order to produce boats as identical as possible. It is also important that when new production processes and materials are introduced in the production of a one-design sailboat that the new boats do not obsolete the older boats.

For both these reasons LaserPerformance has switched the Vanguard 15 production to vacuum infusion, using Lantor SORIC® SF Flexible Core as the core and infusion medium in its hulls and decks. Infusion eliminates the variations in both the hull weight and weight distribution that are possible in hand lay-up, even in a vacuum bag application. With infusion, only the exact amount of resin is used and evenly distributed throughout the whole boat each and every time. Each and every hull weighs exactly the same as all other hulls.

By using the SORIC SF Flexible Core as a thin core as well as an infusion medium, the hull stiffness is maintained and performance of these new boats matches the performance of the older boats. In addition, the consistency achieved with vacuum infusion and Soric SF Flexible Core improves the quality of the laminate by eliminating air voids. The elimination of voids goes a long way in reducing the number of quality control repairs required, especially related to air bubbles in the laminate next to the gel-coat, which in essence gives you both a technical-design advantage as well as an economical advantage.

The introduction of closed mould lamination techniques with vacuum infusion utilising SORIC SF Flexible Core has also helped to reduce the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) in the air, greatly improving the workshop environment and the environment of the surrounding neighbourhood.

With the use of SORIC SF Flexible Core, LaserPerformance has successfully introduced a new economical production method that produces more consistent, well matched racing sailboats, with fewer defects, and with an improvement in the shop environment.

Lantor Soric® Flexible Core

In infused laminates, the use of Soric Flexible Core helps to improves overall product performance, and process efficiency. Its use as a thin core (XF, SF, LRC products) and print barrier (TF product), as well as an interlaminar infusion medium achieves substantial time savings and a significant reduction in disposables.

Soric Flexible Core is a polyester nonwoven material with a compression-resistant hexagonal (XF, SF, LRC products) or random dot-printed (TF product) cell structure. These pressure resistant cells, which are separated by channels, contain synthetic microspheres. The cells do not absorb resin and therefore limit the total resin uptake. Since these cells are pressure-resistant, they create thickness in the laminate even when pressure is applied by vacuum: thickness/stiffness without the penalty of extra weight. The channels facilitate resin flow and form a pattern of cured resin with good mechanical properties and excellent bonding to the outer skins.

Because of these properties and characteristics, the core can be used as:

  • thin core (bulker), XF/SF/LRC products, adding stiffness while reducing weight;
  • interlaminar resin flow medium, eliminating the need for other (disposable) flow media; and
  • print blocker (liner), TF product, that meets the most demanding cosmetic and finish requirements.