Composite Inspection Solutions and ThermaLogix use advanced Thermographic and Ultrasonic Testing to validate integrity of Racing Yacht


When the owners of the 65 foot Farr designed racing yacht Equation approached Thermalogix in August of 2010, they had one question in mind – “What do we have here?” Equation began her ocean going life as Rosebud. Launched in 2007 as a Transpac STP 65 model, she served her owners well by achieving a remarkable record in multiple offshore racing series. Competing in Class 1 IRC, her record of 1st in the 2009 Cowes week class 1 IRC, 1st in the 2009 Block Island race, a tie for 1st in the 2009 New York Yacht Club annual regatta, 1st in the 2008 EYC Martha's Vineyard race, 3rd in the 2009 Rolex Fastnet, and 3rd to finish and 3rd overall in the 2007 Transpac, made her the envy of many a racing enthusiast. In September, 2009 while racing 44 miles off the coast of Sicily in the Rolex Maxi Series race she suffered seemingly catastrophic damage to her carbon fiber hull when she launched from a huge wave and suffered a significant rupture in the forward laminate structure. Rosebud retired from the race and retired from racing.
In 2010 she was sold and the new owner sent her to New England Boatworks to repair the hull and make modifications to the keel. In early 2011 she was sold to Bill Alcott and rechristened as Equation. He formed a crew with Stu Argo as the project manager and began to campaign her again. Equation was off to a great start and winning races. During the Port Huron to Mackinac Island contest she broke her rudder off at the hull on the last leg of a potentially record setting run and motored in. While Equation was at the Sassy Marina in Algonac, Michigan Stu Argo asked Thermalogix to help test her hull to evaluate how the repaired section was holding up and whether any new damage to the hull had occurred since her rechristening.
Thermalogix is a Troy, Michigan company which combines the thermographic imaging expertise of Thermal Wave Imaging, Inc., and the advanced X-ray and Ultrasonic imaging capabilities of Composite Inspection Solutions. Both companies are leaders in the cutting edge technology for nondestructive inspection of aerospace structures. Thermalogix was formed to bring these technologies to field portable situations exactly like that with Equation.
The owners of Equation asked that the integrity of the carbon fiber laminate structure of the repair area, the “slap zones”, keel mounting areas, and the rudder be investigated. Thermalogix employed their VoyageIR infrared imaging system and a portable ultrasonic flaw detector. The process involved putting heat into the inspection area with a portable heat source and then viewing with the VoyageIR as the heat soaked into the laminate structure. Using proprietary Thermal Signature Reconstruction (TSR) software to watch the heat “soak” into the hull, the team is able to capture digital data for various conditions such as delamination and voids, porosity, entrapped water, or foreign material from the initial construction. This data is then reconstructed into an image showing the internal condition of the laminate.
In some of the inspection areas the reflective qualities of the gel coat were interfering with the inspection and the team applied an easily removable, water based flat black paint to the inspection surface to aid in the uniformity of the heat soak imaging.
Areas with questionable indications were then evaluated with a secondary method of ultrasonic inspection and the precise depth from the laminate surface for each indication was provided.
The inspection required three days and a final report was issued. Thermalogix was able to combine each of the individual inspection exposures into a single image for each zone using their MOSAIC software. The inspection data showed only minor flaws induced in the repair process and no damage from the service life of the repaired area, the “Slap Zones”, Keel mounting area, or rudder. The data was archived by the team and will serve going forward as a baseline for comparison during future inspections to evaluate if any of the defects propagate and require additional repair.
After all of the repairs were completed, Equation was re-launched and went on to win the 2012 Gill Commodore's Cup in St. Maarten, and is entered in this year's Mackinac races slated for July.

Setting up VoyageIR System
Chalk lines show areas of individual exposure that
will then be combined using MOSAIC software
MOSAIC Thermograph of hull repair area

Composite rudder
Composite rudder root area
MOSAIC Thermograph of rudder
Root rudder Thermograph

Keel section radius
MOSAIC Thermograph of keel

Portable ultrasonic testing performed on Equation
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