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Shaping the deck (Photo: Paul Schellekens)
Shaping the deck. (Photo's: Paul Schellekens)

Now that the design is finished, it is time to turn our dreams into reality. The production phase for the Hull and Body department is being done at the Rondal and Royal Huisman wharf.

Working at Rondal and Royal Huisman is an amazing experience and it’s a blessing to be able to share it with our teammates while we’re still students. Being there makes us realise that we are only a small piece of the company. It is sometimes intimidating, but to our surprise, we’ve found out that the people there are actually impressed with us! They like what we are capable of and the fact that we may all be different, but we share the same drive and passion.

Each day at Rondal and Royal Huisman is different, but always starts at 7 a.m. with a cup of coffee. Then the fun begins. We are building our boat layer by layer. At the end of the day, we are mostly proud of what we achieved that day. Unfortunately, setbacks are a part of life and it is the setbacks that will keep our project challenging and interesting throughout the seven weeks that we will be here.

Shaping the hull.
Shaping the hull.

So what are we doing? Well, we are making the hull and deck of the SolarBoat. The entire boat is made of carbon fibre to ensure that it is as light and strong as possible. Both the outer and inner skin of the hull have two layers of carbon, and they sandwich a middle layer made mostly of Nomex. Except for some areas which need extra reinforcement, these are the only materials on our hull and deck. The overall thickness of the boat is just under 9 millimetres.

Anna Boon and Paul Schellekens on the job.
Anna Boon and Paul Schellekens on the job.

The outer and inner skin both need to be cured and this will be done in an oven that was specially built for our project. The curing must be done under vacuum, so we are making a gigantic plastic bag to cover the hull and deck. The process of creating the vacuum must be done very precisely. It needs a lot of patience and will probably be the stage that makes or breaks the project, because once in the oven, only time will tell if it’s worked.

Being able to build our hull and deck at Rondal and Royal Huisman is so important to us. Not only are they facilitating us with a workspace and materials, but everyone there is truly happy to help us out when needed. Their knowledge and experience are invaluable, and it is these, combined with their goodwill, that is making this the best time of our production phase.

Rebecca Belmer, Solar Boat team

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