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...long way to make carbon booms

 

In 1980 the 16-year old Greek windsurfing addict /prepubescent shaper, envisioned a life in the tropics with hair and eyebrows bleached by equal shares of sunlight and Clarkfoam dust. He somehow rationalized with the futility of this goal and decided to become an engineer, because engineers too can make boards among other more respectable stuff.

He packed and spent a good seven years schooling abroad in carefully selected institutions which offered financial aid and their location afforded house for his windsurfing passion. In brief this spanned: Portland OR, Pasadena CA and Houston TX. Thereon, The Gorge, Leo Carillo and Port Aransas became theoretically accessible. The curricula at the schools were quite heavy and no time management scheme could suit his windsurfing appetites. Inevitably, he became a closet windsurfer and an accredited nerd who literally gulped every piece of information available on composites and polymer technology. At one of the schools, owing to its affiliation with aeronautics and aerospace institutions, he came across the evolving prepreg technology of the time and enjoyed the privilege of fooling around with the black stuff in proprietary lab facilities. This was enough to make him the 'builder'.

At some point he took an ME design class and built one Kevlar49/S-glass board in the context of this course and a second one just to make sure how much is much with concaves. As a true advocate of the total quality management doctrine, he pursued and managed to test his contraptions in Cabrillo Ocean Beach on a borrowed sail rig for a number of weekends. At the apogee of the last of those research excursions he experienced the breaking of his makeshift boom and had to swim for life from the "uncharted" oceanic vastness outside the Long Beach harbor to the Cabrillo beach jetty. While swimming and crawling back on the jetty well into the night he had plenty of time to evaluate life decisions in retrospect and reestablish priorities in what appeared  to him as mature fashion.

This derailed him from the initial plan of becoming homo shaper and beach bum. He spent the next few decades in service to the plastics industry. But the seed had set in deep and kept giving jolts from time to time.

Decades later, in a tiny workshop which housed his passion for making, the builder developed and validated a line for the fabrication of unidirectional carbon prepreg cloth, an autoclave apparatus and other equipment pertaining to various  forms of manufacture with composites. In possession of an arsenal of knowledge and hands on experience on tool design and process automation he leaped from project to project driven by a spell to meet with windsurfing again. It started with some ultralight slot boxes for his freak trailer finned boards, a quiver of sandwich fins and finally a carbon boom. It went good, so he made some more booms for the local windsurfers. Each time he tampered with the stiffness, the weight and the responsiveness. The challenge for the  builder was great and not without passion as the subject raised skeletons from that sensitive incident in the distant windsurfing past. Sailors from a broad range of body types and physical ability pitched in with excitement driving the builder closer to the median of acceptance. All along, he fiddled with various types of carbon and mold layup schedules in search of a sweet spot among performance, safety and price under the conviction that...

... no reimbursement policy can delay the onset of hypothermia at midsea.

Thessaloniki, Greece