Construction has begun on Canada’s entry in the 5-Oceans Challenge, one of the sailing world’s most grueling and prestigious racing events. Spirit of Canada Ocean Challenges today announced the laying of the keel of the new Open 60 “Spirit of Canada”. The boat will be built in Canada as part of this country’s entry into the 5-Oceans Challenge solo boating race in 2006-07.
“Today is the first stage in our bid for victory,” says Derek Hatfield, Skipper of the new Spirit of Canada. “The Spirit of Canada team, its sponsors and grass roots supporters have worked very hard to make this day happen, and this keel laying ceremony is the first step in building what will be one of the most sophisticated boats of its kind, anywhere.”
Years ago, when ships were made of wood, the laying of the keel – the long timber forming the ship’s “backbone” – was the first step in building a new vessel. The current ceremony maintains the tradition, but has been modified to take into consideration updates in materials, technology, and techniques.
The Spirit of Canada Open 60 will require 18,000 hours of labour, and feature cutting-edge materials and technology, including global satellite communications and Kevlar honeycomb hull material previously used only in aerospace design. The highly technical canting keel mechanism, which includes the keel fin and lead bulb, will be built with materials and labor donated by various Canadian sponsors.
Sorel Forge of Sorel, Quebec, supplied the specialized steel for the keel fin. Tycos Tool & Die, a Division of Decoma International, has started the milling of the keel fin; using its CNC cutting expertise. Another Canadian company, Mars Metal Company, Burlington, Ontario will be casting the 2730 kg. (6000 lb.) lead bulb for the fin bottom.
Last January, Hatfield announced that he would build a new Open 60 Spirit of Canada sailboat for the next race around the world. Spirit of Canada is Canada’s entry in the 5-Oceans Single Handed Round the World Race in 2006. Hatfield will be at the helm of the new boat but not alone. He has received unprecedented support from thousands of individuals and hundreds of companies.
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