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For Immediate Release Sept. 20, 2005

Contact: Jan Harley, Media Pro Int'l

Tel: 401-849-0220

Email: [email protected]



Westlawn Alumnus Makes Waves Sailing on Land

Rodger Martin Yacht Design Makes Waves In Boston


September 20, 2005, Newport, RI: The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is currently host to an outdoor installation that not only illustrates the principles of sailing, but also defines it as art. The winner of the 1992 Americas Cup in San Diego, America3, and the Italian yacht she beat, Il Moro Di Venezia, appear to be "sailing on land" through the concept designed and executed by Rodger Martin Yacht Design (RMYD), a Newport, R.I. based firm with over two decades of design expertise. RMYD was also part of the America3 design team in 1991-92 when she won the Cup.



Rodger Martin Yacht Design (RMYD) was tasked with providing options for displaying the boats that are part of the exhibit "The Things I Love: The Many Collections of William I. Koch." The firm's response to the display requirements -- highlighting the sculpture of hull form and the artistry of their applied engineering while creating a support system that was as minimal as possible so as to not visually detract from the boats -- is a stunning success. RMYD has fashioned a museum-quality, thought-provoking design that, notably, is able to sustain winds up to 96 knots (110 mph) which meets building code. At 124 feet high, nearly twice as tall as the museum, the boats are displayed as if racing with America3, the 1992 Americas Cup defender that was skippered by Koch, in the lead. They will remain outside the museum for the duration of the exhibit, which opened on August 31 and continues through November 13, 2005.


"Design is beautiful when it works as intended and when properly executed with efficiency in its engineering, " said RMYD Design Engineer Ross Weene (Newport, R.I.). "The awe of passersby tells us that we have succeeded in creating an amazingly surrealistic sailing sculpture, a work designed to educate and inspire."


The supporting architecture for the boats was designed to be as light as possible in aesthetic, and, for the most part, invisible at first glance. Approaching the museum from the east one can almost miss seeing the network of wires and support masts RMYD designed to work around, and blend in with, existing trees. The firm drew inspiration from Gnter Behnisch and Frei Ottos 1972 Olympic Stadium in Munich in taking the main "windward" supporting wires (one per boat) to the top of compression spars then down to ground.


The Layout: The two boats are heeled over at fifteen degrees, set on opposite tacks, and sailing upwind to the east, the direction of strongest anticipated winds. Heeling the boats also allows better viewing of the decks. Cyrus Dallins 1909 sculpture "Appeal to the Great Spirit" provides interesting juxtaposition and a "windward mark" which America3 is rounding to starboard, leading Il Moro which is ducking astern to then tack and round. Due to the constraints of the display area (in size and numerous underground utilities) - it is a close and exciting mark rounding!


Design and Installation: Suspending the boats is a system of tensioned stainless steel rods and hardware -- the same type as used in the rigging supporting the boats masts and thereby staying true to form -- solid Nitronic 50 stainless steel rods with 316 stainless fittings. The largest rod, at Il Moros port side, can take 91,000 pounds load. After drafting several suspension systems involving different numbers of wires and attachment points, RMYD then reduced the options to the best solutions. Structural engineers then reviewed the options with Finite Element Analysis software to assess stability and help optimize the system. The final wire locations reflect optimal structural stability with the minimum number of wires.


The 43 custom-woven carbon fiber spars each weigh only 300 pounds, minimizing additional stresses in the wires, and are built of the same high strength and stiffness/low weight material used in the yachts masts. Within the boats, the main supporting wires attach to the keel fins. The bow and stern tethers on both boats stabilize against pitching and yawing in heavy wind, and are attached to the forestay, runner, and mainsheet bulkheads via custom chainplates designed by the team that originally engineered America3.


Under 96-knot winds, the loads on the yachts and rigging require a substantial anchoring system. Fourteen helical piles, essentially giant corkscrews, were used extensively for the tension wire anchors and can be installed and removed without vibration -- an important consideration as RMYD could not risk damaging the museums exhibits by jack-hammering concrete anchors of equivalent strength. The helicals are driven 15-20 feet below grade to engage a layer of clay. They are also used to anchor the concrete footings below each boats keel and below carbon support masts. Loads in the rigging are monitored realtime via load cells in the main windward wires pins. Pretension in all other rigging elements is determined by measuring their harmonic oscillation.


Below each ballast bulb is a ball-and-socket joint that allows the yachts to pivot if hit with a blast of wind, rather than bending and stressing their structures, and also take 70 tons compression experienced in a 96 knot wind gust. These joints were also essential to the installation process each boat was placed in its socket and atop two custom tipping cradles. Then the cradles were tipped fifteen degrees to the boats final positions and the rigging attached. Everything fit perfectly, even over the 230 square-foot footprint of the installation made possible by three-dimensional computer aided design.


Rodger Martin Yacht Design: Westlawn alumnus Rodger Martin established his own firm, Rodger Martin Yacht Design, in 1984, after honing his skills while working for two industry leaders: Robert E. Derecktor (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) and Pedrick Yacht Design (Newport, R.I.). A life-long cruising and racing sailor, Martin's first design was for racer Mike Plant who won his class in the 1986 BOC Single-handed Around the World Race aboard Airco Distributor -- the first of Martin's many winning designs.


Ross Weene was project design engineer on the MFA design. A graduate engineer from Brown University and a graduate of The Landing School yacht design course, Weene has been an associate at RMYD since 2001.


For more information, please visit: www.rodgermartindesign.com



Founded in 1930, the Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology is the only nationally accredited and state certified distance-learning school of small-craft design in the United States. As the not-for-profit educational affiliate of the American Boat and Yacht Council, The mission of the Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology is threefold:

■ To provide our students with the skills knowledge required to build a rewarding career in the profession of yacht and small-craft naval architecture.

■ To support continued growth of the recreational and small-craft marine community through the development of well-trained, safety oriented, boat designers developing better products for the benefit of the boating public.

■ To provide continuing education to marine industry professionals.

To learn more about Westlawn, please call (860) 572-7900 or visit the Westlawn website at www.westlawn.edu.