Wave Chaser Development

Date: 24th Jan 2019 | Author: Nigel McBride

In 2012; I became seriously interested in beach catamarans, with a view that owning one would provide plenty of enjoyable moments out on the water with family and friends. For some reason, I began to envisage what it might be like to sail a windsurfer-catamaran with twin rigs, one on each hull. I researched the concept and learned about the performance advantages of twin rig and planning hull catamarans, mostly on larger racing and cruising catamarans. 

I then decided to undertake the precarious challenge of designing and building a windsurfer-catamaran. Thankfully, a diverse group of qualified industry professionals were willing to provide crucial R&D support, particularly renowned surfboard shaper Sam Tehan, who’s been an amazing co-designer from the beginning. 

“We've created a totally unique watercraft…the Wave Chaser Hydraero 400 is a twin rig, planning hull, catamaran with paddleboard & windsurfer features. This craft is designed to maintain stability at speed and is built to handle extreme wind loading and wave slam.” Waver Chaser Founder & Managing Director – Nigel McBride

By 2015, after extensive prototype testing, our Wave Chaser development team had achieved its design and performance objectives and more. The hulls can be ridden individually as Touring or Downwind Stand Up Paddleboards and with purposefully designed modular parts, the craft transforms into a high performance catamaran.

Today, Wave Chaser is dedicated to the evolutionary design and development of a diverse range of watercraft and equipment, including; Stand Up Paddle BoardsSailing SUP CatamaransSUP Surf BoardsSurf Foil BoardsSUP Surf & Downwind FoilsWater WearEquipment & Accessories.

WAVE CHASER, HYDRAERO & EVAGLIDE are Registered Trademarks of Wave Chaser Pty Ltd.

Kye Nigel on Wave Chaser Prototype No2

Prototype to Production

Jesse Keith, Director of Vivid Origin, shared his creative design ingenuity for the original prototype 2D and 3D models.

Warren "Skip" Miller, from CCG Composites, conducted extensive structural analysis on the design to determine required material and layout composition. Skip is a leading marine engineer and has worked on many world class and record breaking vessels, including Wild Oats Xl.

Mark Sterbic, Chris Dickson & Clynton Wade-Lehman, from CST Composites, provide their expertise and advice for the core elements, mainframe, masts and steering system. CST Composites use the highest quality aerospace grade towpreg carbon and unique filament winding technology and patterning to produce the strongest and lightest windsurfing masts in the world.  

Jim Lucas & Sam Tehan, from Force 9 Surfboards, share their many years of knowledge and experience of surfboard development. Force 9 Surfboards are constantly evolving, staying on top of current shaping, manufacturing trends and technologies to deliver the highest quality surfboards available. 

Neil Tasker, from Barracouta Sails, draws on over 30yrs experience to help design and manufacture Wave Chaser sails and trampolines. Neil continues to provide valuable sailing advice and is involved in ongoing testing and development.

Max, Ross & Greg, from Maxy Boats, are all highly reputable boat & yacht builders & repairers. Max helped piece together the Wave Chaser from a performance yacht builder’s perspective and continues to be involved in testing and development.

Dario Valenza, Founder and CEO of Carbonix, is keenly interested in fluid dynamics and vehicle design and brings an unrivaled level of advanced composites knowledge to the next stage of Wave Chaser development. Dario was part of the first wave of composite material developers. First on a small scale, then as part of larger teams in professional yacht racing, including the America’s Cup.

Tom Brewer, Director of Brewer Performance Sailing, is an advanced sailing instructor and performance coach for Australian Team members in junior classes. Tom has represented Australia at world championship level and has helped Wave Chaser test and evolve our performance sails.

Marc Veenendaal from MPV Design, transformed our original prototype shape files into the new Hydraero 400 fully rendered model from which we were able to make complete part moulds for a production level SUP Catamaran. 

Mark Rowed & Greg Cavil, from Innovation Composites, have given their expertise to the development of the Hydraero 400. Innovation Composites provide high quality composite manufacturing and repairs to the marine industry, including the highly acclaimed Superfoiler fleet. 

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Wave Chaser & Carbonix

Carbonix Founder & CEO Dario Valenza writes, When Nigel McBride approached us with his Wave Chaser project, he had a well thought-out brief and a concept proven on a working prototype. Our task was to refine the concept, design the mechanical systems and production/assembly methods, create tooling, and make provision for fitting and testing various optional foil packages.

It is really interesting to consider that Wave Chaser arises from a unique brief, outside any racing class rules, for a clearly identified purpose and market segment. Therefore it makes sense that the design does not resemble those coming out of traditional theaters of development. Instead the concept and layout are unique responses to the intended purpose, though the execution borrows tools and materials proven in competition. Namely, the requirements were for a demountable platform that could be stacked or car-topped conveniently, and also double as a pair of SUP boards for a couple to enjoy when not sailing. 

The planing boards are joined by a modular elevated cross-structure and powered by twin free-standing rigs using carbon masts and windsurfer style wishbone booms. Twin sails keep the centre of effort low, limiting heeling and pitching moment. Mounting the masts outboard allows the cross-structure to be relatively unstressed.

The hulls are made using a prepreg carbon/Nomex honeycomb sandwich, giving great rigidity for minimal weight. They incorporate a longitudinal stringer and partial bulkheads in way of the mast steps, but are otherwise unsupported, relying on the stiff panels of the shell monocoque instead. The cross-structure uses filament-wound carbon tubes connected via elbows and joiners which are custom made in closed metal moulds using internal bladder pressure to consolidate the laminate.

The carbon foil case and mast step mouldings are also made in CNC machined metal moulds to ensure accuracy and a consistent surface finish. They are designed for quick assembly and dis-assembly, as well as allowing adjustment for testing and refining the geometry. We designed and machined custom fittings for the rudder hangings and foil bearings, making sure these were light, strong, and easy to use. From the prepreg carbon structure to billet machined fittings, the overall technology and look borrow heavily from automotive racing and aerospace. The sails and rigging package, as well as the trampoline, incorporate lessons and techniques from the racing world, applied to the particular mission that Wave Chaser is meant to fulfil.

“The development process was all about balancing performance, durability, and cost. Many areas required careful consideration of competing factors to minimise weight without giving up toughness and without blowing the budget”.

Good tooling is a key factor since it allows the parts to come out with consistent dimensions so all the components go together well. However, arriving at shapes that could be tooled up for quick production and assembly required a long iterative process. For example, given that the hulls are essentially boards, without the freeboard of a traditional hull, it was necessary to raise the platform to get wave clearance on the trampoline. However, raising the entire platform would have negatively impacted weight, windage, and aesthetics. So the outboard joiners were made with a 2D bend to give an upward kink to the outer ends of the crossbeams. This solution is elegant but was only possible with good understanding of how to reliably mould complex shapes in tooling with non-planar parting lines. Similarly the mast steps and rudder hangings had conflicting engineering requirements that had to be resolved. Commonality was important to reduce the unit cost of each fitting. So all four trampoline foot attachments are identical, and the gudgeons on both sides are also the same.

Performance is expected to be geared toward stronger wind as the flat bottomed boards do carry a wetted area penalty. But the idea of Wave Chaser is to take it out and have fun when the wind is blowing. In the light stuff you can go SUP instead! 

Similarly, the low-down power delivery of the twin rigs and high righting moment should allow the boat to be driven hard in breeze.