(Source: East Bay RI) When it shipped a 218.8-foot mast on Tuesday, Jan. 31, Hall Spars broke a Bristol mast length record that had stood for nearly 109 years.
The mast, for a futuristic 165-foot Wally sloop, is now the longest ever produced in Bristol. It eclipses the 199-foot mast built for Reliance by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Co. to defend the America’s Cup in 1903. Hall’s previous longest mast is the 195-foot spar on Saudade.
Hall’s mast for the Wally 50m is constructed of high-modulus carbon. Because of its impressive length, the mast tube was built and shipped in two pieces. The company’s carbon technicians will travel to the Wally factory in Fano, Italy, at the end of February to complete the joining of the structure. Mast stepping and sail trials are expected at the end of March.
Even in a shop accustomed to working on big masts, this job was special. “Anyone who came into the shop was startled when they saw it,” said company Vice President Ben Hall. It is big enough “that you could have crawled inside and rolled from one end to the other lying down on a skateboard.”
Building it in a single piece was not an option, Mr. Hall said. The mast is much longer than the company’s bigger autoclave (carbon oven), which is 150 feet long. It is far longer than legal highway load-length limits and could not possibly be maneuvered down to the harbor for loading onto a barge as has been done before.
Even in two pieces, the long load needed flashing-light escort fore and aft and special permits for its truck trip to Port Elizabeth, NJ. Travel routes and times were also closely regulated. Just making the left turn from Broad Common Road onto Gooding Avenue was a good trick.
The two pieces fit together perfectly with an overlapping 10-foot sleeve (to test it Hall had to build a Quonset hut-type addition to lengthen the building) and the resulting joint will not be noticeable. Weight of the carbon used on the rig (mast and boom) is about 8,500 pounds, “which sounds like a lot until you put it into perspective,” Mr. Hall said. By comparison, a slightly longer aluminum mast was recently pulled from a megayacht in Florida. “With all the fittings, it weighed 42 tons, 84,000 pounds,” he said. The weight of Reliance’s steel mast “must have been incredible.”
Mr. Hall said he has never met the customer — doesn’t even know who he is. “In that world, some people tend to be careful about their privacy.” Price for the finished mast and boom is in the $3 million range.
“That we can do a project like this in Rhode Island — anywhere in the Northeast United States — is a real tribute to the talents of our people,” Mr. Hall said. “The efficiency of our workforce is really how we are able to compete with other parts of the world for jobs like this.”
Wally rig details
The four-spreader mast is a custom design by Hall’s in-house engineering team, tailored to meet Wally’s criteria of high performance combined with high style and built to “handle some pretty ridiculous loads.” The double mainsheet is led forward from the boom through the mast, then down through mast-mounted turning blocks located just above deck level. This allows the mainsheet reels to be located farther forward in the boat. The system will be completely covered for the crew’s safety. In addition, care was taken at the halyard entries at the masthead, as well as at the mainsheet entry, to reduce line chafe. Custom rollers were designed by Hall for both areas.
The Hall-designed mast collar with turning blocks is a signature on Wally masts. Placing the turning blocks (for the halyards, and in this case, the mainsheet) on the mast eliminates the need for tie-rods and the reinforcements needed for deck-mounted blocks.
The Wally 50m crew will also enjoy simplified mainsail handling with Hall’s carbon-fiber Oceanfurl boom. A carbon “ramp” on the mast positions the track close to the boom and facilitates a smooth, compact furl of even this enormous mainsail.
The boat’s hull is also built completely of composites. The freshwater tanks will do double duty as ballast, and it has a lifting keel with a depth of 4.2m for entering harbor with an additional 6m for sailing performance. Designed by Tripp Design (designers of the Hall-rigged Wally 148 Saudade and Wally 130 Esense), the Wally 50m is the largest yacht built by Wally.
Hall Spars & Rigging operates three manufacturing centers on three continents: Bristol; Breskens, Holland; and Auckland, New Zealand. Hall has been manufacturing high-performance spars since 1980.