Refit Recap from our Project Manager, Howard Gibbons with images by Kaia Bint Savage
Maiden was delivered back to Hamble in April last year, 27 years after Tracy Edwards’ crew had become the first all-female team to compete in the Whitbread Round the World Race.
The 36 year old aluminium boat had been languishing in a marina in The Seychelles for several years and was in a sorry state.
The first task for Hamble Yacht Services Refit and Repair was to strip the boat of every piece of equipment and removal structure both inside and out before shot and grit blasting the boat back to its bare aluminium hull, deck and structure.
Only then could surveys be made to determine the extent of the work that had to be carried out in the restoration of the boat for its new 21st century life.
The prognosis wasn’t good – there was a great deal of corrosion and thinning of the aluminium plate, but generally the structure was in good condition and plans were made for an extensive restoration and refit.
The boat was conceived to race around the world in the 1980s and had been prepared accordingly, but for the new concepts of the 2018-2021 Maiden campaign it had to be refitted as a fast blue water sailing yacht.
The naval architect soon arranged a 3D scan and survey as part of the re-design. Working with the project, it was soon decided to maintain the overall look of the boat above and below deck. In future, the boat will seem very much as it did in Maiden’s WRTWR days with a similar colour scheme, the distinctive cockpit shape and steering positions, and broad transom with radar mast. The main difference on deck will be a carbon rig of the same size and with the two spreaders, but also swept back to accommodate non-overlapping head-sails.
The new rig is under construction at the Selden factory in Gosport, and the retro look sails are being built at Doyle Sails in Auckland, New Zealand, and at their UK loft on the River Hamble.
Below deck, it is still very much a racing boat layout, but with the addition of a head and shower forward, and the engine position has been moved aft to sit over the keel, and with bigger fuel and water tanks to increase the range. The galley and nav station remain in their former places either side of the aft companionway.
As the boat is now having to conform to MCA Category 0 regulations the design includes new watertight bulkheads and doors and other safety features.
The next step was to appoint Alicat Marine Design and its affiliate company South Boats to be the structural engineers and carry out the aluminium fabrication work required in the extensive repairs. The team cut out nearly 30% of the boat in plate and structure and has replaced it with new aluminium. This was all over the boat, but mainly aft of the keel below the waterline, where the corrosion and thinning was particularly bad, and also across the transom. New chain-plates were installed and the keel structure and engine bed modified and beefed up to improve the structure.
This work has constituted the bulk of the time since it started in August last year. However, it is nearing its end now as we finish the additions and alterations on deck.
Work has also advanced in the fitting out with thermal insulation and non-structural bulkheads now installed and well advanced. Painters have also been able to fill and fair the topsides. Much of the boat’s equipment has been ordered and in many cases delivered ready for the next stages of the restoration.