In the Press


FEA-Optimized Carbon Fiber Anchor Arm

March 2, 2017 · Posted by kate


Anchor arm stowed in anchor locker (R/P) and deployed (Peter Schreiber)

Here’s another great example of Reichel/Pugh’s highly-refined engineering and optimization: the FEA-optimized carbon fiber anchor arm on the custom RP90 built by Southern Wind.

Even though today’s superyacht owners continue to push boundaries in yacht performance, they remain firm on maintaining an uncompromised level of cruising comfort. For an all-out racing yacht, many of the features of comfort go by the way-side to reduce weight and directly improve sailing performance. What an owner is left with is a racing machine built for the sole purpose of winning races, which quickly becomes less practical for the enjoyment of family and friends. From decades of developing racers, cruisers and hybrids, Reichel/Pugh understands that the key foundations for a successful Performance Superyacht are comfort, speed, and utmost safety.

In addition to highly-refined naval architecture, Reichel/Pugh has also developed robust engineering optimization methods to satisfy safety and comfort while shedding excess weight from the yacht’s hardware and structures. Adopting leading software tools and advanced composite materials allows R/P engineers full authority to efficiently use material only where it is needed for stiffness and strength. Reichel/Pugh has decades of experience optimizing hull structures and appendages. The team extends its expertise into the design of custom components to further amplify weight savings and advance component quality. R/P works closely with builders to identify new opportunities for optimization and to ensure proper build execution.

One example of this engineering capability is the stowable anchor arm for the R/P designed and engineered RP90 Custom Performance Cruiser, Design No. 251, launched in 2017 by Southern Wind Shipyard. A previous version of this anchor arm had an assembled weight of approximately 75kg. A detailed study using Altair Hyperworks advanced finite element solvers and optimization codes has enabled R/P engineers to develop the optimal shape, orientation, thickness, and stacking order of each individual carbon composite ply that makes up the next-generation anchor arm.

FEA optimized laminate thickness (left) and thickness for specific orientation (right) (R/P)

Using this laminate baseline, the plies are further refined to meet manufacturing requirements developed in close collaboration with builder of the arm Isotop Composite.  Using industry-leading CAD software with advanced surfacing capability, R/P also designed the arm’s manufacturing moulds to ensure that the final product will have the expected structural integrity and premium aesthetics.

CAD model of arm mould (R/P)


Anchor arm base composite out of mold (Isotop Composite)

The final result is an anchor arm that is stiffer, stronger and much lighter than its previous version, with a total assembled weight of 35kg – a savings of 53%.  This commitment to detailed design and optimization ensures that each Reichel/Pugh Performance Superyacht is built to the highest standards achievable and delivers safety, comfort, and speed for its owners, guests and crew.  For inquiries and more information about detailed component design & engineering at R/P, contact

Launch at the Southern Wind Shipyard, South Africa

by AJ Sawyer, Reichel/Pugh Structural Design & Materials Engineering

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