Offshore Challenges explains the construction and history of Skandia's keel

Offshore Challenges explains the design, construction and history of Skandia’s keel

The keel of Skandia is made from high tensile steel, to a relatively conservative design by Roger Scammel. In design safety terms, the keel was an evolution from the original keel that was fitted to Skandia in her original configuration as Kingfisher, that successfully completed the Vendée Globe in 2000.

The keel was replaced with a new one for the Route du Rhum at the end of 2002. The boat has since raced the Transat Jacques Vabre and The Transat, and in between each race the keel has been carefully and meticulously inspected. The inspection that was completed successfully in March 2004 including taking the shell plates (the outside skin) off and fully checking the internal structure of the keel visually and with dye penetration tests.

The keel was well within the mileage limit of this type of design and construction. The design and construction of the keel was in no way cutting edge in terms of performance, but rather a solid and well-tested solution. This was the choice of the campaign and skipper, even though lighter and higher performance options were available.

Just over a week ago (night of 17-18 January) Nick suffered a collision which almost brought Skandia to a standstill. It was a violent shock, but the keel is designed to withstand this kind of impact, in safety terms if not in terms of performance damaging disfiguration. There is no evidence to suggest there is a link, and at this stage it is not possible to make any clear case for why this has happened. Further inspection on arrival in Brazil may possibly shed more light.