PlanaTech, an Italian design firm, is making waves in the Flying Dutchman class with a newly constructed hull that is radically different than any FD before.
Yesterday, I took the chance to ask PlanaTech’s chief, Luca Ungaro, a few questions about his new FD, why he believes his design could be the fastest FD ever, and how he uses a ProStart to analyze the boat’s performance.
Velocitek: Provide us with a brief introduction of PlanaTech? What does your logo symbolize?
I think our logo is an excellent way to briefly introduce PlanaTech.
Our logo depicts a traditional Drakkar – Danish for “longship.” The Drakkar represents the Danish half of my family that has a long tradition of ship building and worldwide navigation.
The left half of the Drakkar is a technical CAD design. CAD is a cornerstone of PlanaTech’s operations.
It allows us full control of both shapes and functions, ensuring the optimization of the systems that define a race boat. The other half of the Drakkar is a stylization dedicated to Italian design and beauty.
The union of the Drakkar with the CAD design is a perfect representation of PlanaTech’s philosophy: we are a group of people who firmly believe that only the right balance between tradition and modern technology can generate valuable products.
Your past work has mostly been in large, racing yachts (TP-52, GP-42). Why switch to the FD dinghy?
TP-52s, GP-42s, the construction of these large race boats belongs to the esteemed Latini Marine shipyard where I worked for many years. In that time, I learned the use of advanced composites and became proficient in racing sailboat design. PlanaTech and Latini have now joined forces with the mission of incorporating everything we know about designing large, racing yachts, into the design of new dinghy hulls.
Why begin our quest with the Flying Dutchman? Two reasons – the FD is an open design class that allows the use of advanced composites and many other innovations. It is also the class on which I have always raced. So, why not choose it as our debut in the world of dinghies?
What technologies were central to your design process?
The project was carried out in-house with 3D CAD software. All of the boat’s parts were designed in CAD: hull, deck, cockpit, structures and all the fittings of the deck hardware. The 3D design was then exported for the CNC milling of the individual boat plugs.
Your stated goal is to make PlanaTech’s FD design the fastest FD ever. What are the key innovations and advancements in your new FD that will allow you to realize this goal?
The key innovations are the entire design and construction process. We decided not to build a prototype that was to be modified after testing. The boat was designed and the performance was tested through computer simulators . These tests was repeated for X number of times with different shapes. Before arriving at the final version, 13 iterations were designed. Finally, when we reached the desired targets, we proceeded with the construction of the hull.
Another key innovation in our FD is the boat’s materials. The boat is built entirely of prepreg carbon fiber with the use of unidirectionals and multiaxials.
We have now constructed the first two hulls. The amazing thing is that they are not separate prototypes, they are identical. They are the first two hulls in the series of the new PlanaTech Flying Dutchman!
You’ve sailed the new FD a few times now, how has it performed? Any surprises?
The first time we tested the boat was an incredible experience.
The combination of the hull’s water lines and extreme stiffness has given birth to a boat very different from any Flying Dutchman I have sailed in the past. The helm is much more responsive, the sail controls are very sensitive, the acceleration is impressive, and when the wind strengthens and the sea state worsens, the boat rises to the occasion.
It has performed above and beyond our expectations.
Usually, very stiff boats are difficult to sail because the margins of error are very small. However, our boat is very easy to steer and maneuver. It’s truly a boat for crews of all levels. This was definitely our biggest surprise.
Using our Velocitek instruments, we completed some speed tests between our boats and those of other yards. The results speak for themselves:
The polar graphs of the two PlanaTech FDs circumscribe the one of the competitor boat … this means that our boat is considerably faster on all points of sail and also, it has the best angles to the wind!
How does Velocitek aide your testing?
Our Velocitek tools have opened many windows of opportunity for us. I believe that even if these boats have shown their superiority on the water, they still can have hidden potential. You can discover this hidden potential faster by using a data-centric approach to testing. We owe Velocitek our thanks for giving us a way to easily acquire data and store it for later analysis.
Where do you hope to be in a year?
This year will be long and intense. We hope to establish ourselves and bring home our first victories. There is a good chance that by next year, the FD will not be the only dinghy we produce. In fact, we are already working on a new project! But as for right now, we are excited about bringing our new Flying Dutchman to a few big regattas and showing our creation to the world.
Thank you on behalf of the whole PlanaTech team for giving us this space!
- Luca Ungaro
Velocitek: A big thanks to Luca and PlanaTech providing us with such an in depth look into their operation. Wondering what PlanaTech will do next? You can keep up with PlanaTech by visiting their website: http://www.planatech.it/ and FaceBook page: http://www.facebook.com/Planatech