Valerio Corniani on Wild Oats XI and other PechaKucha Highlights

Three years ago, the design and engineering team for the 100′ (30.5m) Wild Oats XI faced a fairly common problem: how to update an old boat. Except the boat wasn’t at all common, and it was old in maxi-racer years only. Launched in 2005, the eight-time winner of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race tended to sail down by the bow at high speeds, and its design lacked stability compared to newer boats with wider hulls.

“They found that the boat was nose-diving. The boat didn’t have the righting movement,” said Valerio Corniani, global marine manager for DIAB. “It was getting old, if you want, and needed an upgrade.”

Their solution was to add side-lifting foils, a project that Corniani described at the 5th PechaKucha for boat designers, held in Amsterdam this past November. PechaKucha is a presentation model that directs speakers to follow a format of 20 slides at 20 seconds each to tell their stories. In his 6 minutes on stage, Corniani showed AutoCAD drawings of how the engineers found ways—using unidirectional laminate, strip laminate, shear plies, and solid laminate—to dissipate the extreme loads Wild Oat XI’s new foils would be subjected to:

Corniani was one of 14 speakers who shared their approaches to design challenges and other ideas at PechaKucha. Teun de Vries, for example, explained how he considered the work of the next person in line—“the guy with the dusk mask”—when designing the Sealander 55 by doing things like drawing a small red block underneath a tooling system, to make sure it’s not milled the other way around. “It’s a simple addition for a designer, but it saves a lot of time in practice,” he said.

Interestingly, a couple of the best presentations had nothing to do with boat design. Ken Hickling of AkzoNobel began by asking the audience what type of the four types of businesses they worked for, prospector, defender, analyzer, or reactor? It matters because three are successful while one is not (there’s a statement to grab anyone’s attention). Claudio Zimarino of PiSquared also got the audience’s attention while he made a persuasive and humorous case to think about lighting first in design.

Interesting ideas also came from Stuart Balfour, for a foldaway mast, and Florian van de Poel, who described working on a human-powered submarine. To watch these and the rest of the presentations, visit the YouTube page of the event’s producer and sponsor, VriPack Design.