Sykes Racing is on a mission to produce the fastest rowing boats on the water at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Like all elite water sports today, innovative use of composites and new technology will play a key role in achieving their goal.
Like the America’s Cup, elite rowing success comes from a combination of an excellent crew and pushing the limits in design and composites technology to achieve minimum weight while achieving maximum speed.
For rowing, the challenges include the length and weight limitations on the hull and the fact it must withstand the forces generated by the some of the strongest athletes in the world. For example a one person (single scull) is over eight metres long but can weigh only 14 kilograms.
Geelong-based Sykes Racing has a team of leading designers, engineers, technicians and composite craftsmen, supported by new, high-precision technology, to work with top international competitors and coaches to research and develop boats that set new standards in the rowing world.
Since its first World Championship in 1974, Sykes Racing has worked closely with Australian rowing teams providing the platform for four Olympic and 17 world championship wins. In that time the company has introduced numerous performance boosting innovations that were revolutionary at the time to become standard in elite rowing boats around the world.
“For us, innovation comes through collaboration in design, construction and testing in partnerships with world leaders in technology and the sport, so that our boats evolve in every way possible to give the crews the competitive advantage.” says Managing Director Jeff Lawrence.
Sykes’ most recent investment in a five-axis head milling machine, will allow them to produce a finely finished product with greater precision and speed from design to manufacture. This new capability is the result of investment by the company and a Victorian government grant. The CNC technology can take a design directly from the computer to finished moulds in a matter of hours.
“Using advanced computer modelling we can now evolve and test designs faster than ever before”, says general manager Stuart Wilson.
While Sykes knows what to expect from the new technology in some areas, the company is keen to explore its potential for improvements in other areas of their production line and through partnerships and collaborations with other organisations.