A Sailboat to Go


April 2014

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FC-16 folding sailboat. Image: Regattable.com

In New York City to visit a young woman he had recently met, Anthony DiMare wondered what he should take her to do. Sailing seemed great until he looked at the rental rates. “I don’t know many people who could have afforded it,” he says. “I thought to myself, ‘If only I could just bring a sailboat with me…’”

And that led to working on the FC-16, a boat being designed to fit in two suitcases, hoping to make a person of limited means an unlimited sailor.

“There are inflatables but they don’t offer the performance aspect,” says the Syracuse mechanical engineering major. “I decided to make it with the concept of kayaks with rigid holes and carbon fiber beams—make it a sailboat you could afford, fold up and take anywhere.”

Durable and Lighter

The goal, he says, is to keep the cost between $3,000-$6,000 and even be able to store it under a bed when not traveling with it. According to DiMare, it was modeled after a Hobie 16—it’s 16 feet long, a beam with a width of 8 feet, a mast height of 22 feet and 115 square feet of sailing—105 for the main sail and a jib sail of 10 square feet.” The hulls right now are made of Tegris by Milliken, which he describes as a “type of plastic composite.” He’s also envisioning a second model at around $20,000 that can carry more people.

The entire sailboat fits into two large suitcases. Image: Regattable.com

The rigging is also different. “The current way most boats deal with rigging is through stainless steel cables which can bend,” he says. “They’re heavy and generally a pain. We went with Dyneema. It’s a polymer with extremely low stretch. It mimics stainless steel and is able to last longer and be more durable. The only downside is that it’s plastic rope so it’s easier to cut.”

Mass Manufacturing

The alpha prototype is heavier than he wants at 225 pounds but he is shooting for 150 for mass manufacturing. When building the prototype, the biggest barrier other than the price might have been finding the time.  “I did a lot of the design work at my off campus house in Syracuse,” he says. “I went to 3M to find adhesives to test materials together, looked at the molds, it’s fun but challenging, especially when you have a course load to keep up with."

Having learned to sail at Boy Scout camp and making extra money during high school at the local boat house, DiMare relishes the chance to use what he learned from his maintenance work on a fleet of 14 sailboats and 150 kayaks. In addition, his product development internship at Allen Medical Systems, which had him working on patient positioning systems for surgical beds, also helped build his skill set for this undertaking. “It was terrific to find a way to stay involved with boats,” he says. “And at least I could work on my project and, when I was done, just store it in my room. How many boat designers can say that?”

Eric Butterman is an independent writer.

I could work on my project and, when I was done, just store it in my room. How many boat designers can say that?

Anthony DiMare,
Mechanical Engineering Student,
Syracuse University

 
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