A revolution in boat-building spawned by Australian ingenuity has burst onto the scene, unveiled to the strains of AC/DC’s “Back in Black” at decibels loud enough to attract global interest.
The perennial quest of building game boats to be light, fast and efficient has challenged designers for decades. Advances in hull design and props made of titanium reduced weight and drag, but still owners demand faster boats.
Levi Duncan and the team at his new venture, Element Composites have devised a solution: a world-first, 100 percent carbon fibre towers, custom designed for game fishing boats; Not just stronger and lighter than aluminium or stainless steel, but foiled with an elliptical frame for aerodynamic advantage.
Levi Duncan and Josh Duke-Yonge, Directors at Ocean Degree Total Yacht Services, lead a team of 30 design and refit specialists. Managed by their highly experienced Production Manager, Mick Chaplain, they apply their considerable skills to some of the most complex superyacht projects in the country.
Ocean Degree Project Managers in partnership with The Boat Works, handle the region’s visiting superyachts, charter vessels and privately owned. The Boat Works lifts more than 3,000 vessels per year, with the yard’s 300 Tonne travelift, the largest on the Gold Coast, and is the only facility with 60 covered refit sheds including the highest superyacht-specific refit sheds at a height of 20-metres.
A partner at The Boat Works in the Gold Coast Marine Precinct for the past 10 years, and operating Ocean Degree for 15 years, Levi has assembled some of the most talented composite craftspeople drawn from automotive and marine industries for his new enterprise, known as Element Composites – Carbon Game Towers International.
These hand-picked specialists combine many years of experience and the pinnacle of expertise in the fields of boatbuilding and composite design and fabrication. Equipped with 20 years’ experience in composites design and fabrication, Rob Sabo heads the Composite Design Department leading the team with both energy and innovation rarely seen before in the marine industry.
A product of two years of R&D in the use of these materials, including rigorous modelling and testing, they have constructed an 8-metre carbon fibre tower for “Back in Black”, the 40-foot Black Watch game boat as part of a full refit project, which also included an impressive sound system for celebrating the catch!
An 8-metre tower, if built from aluminium, could weigh as much as a tonne. Carbon composite fibre is known and used for its combination of strength and lightness. It is five times stronger than steel and one third its weight. A 100 percent Carbon Tower is approximately 70 percent lighter than a tower built from traditional materials. A massive saving, as well as being strong and stable, and it looks sexy as hell!
“Our clients tell us they want their towers to be durable and practical, as well as eye-catching,” says Levi. “The carbon fibre tower is totally unique and a real head-turner.”
Using new generation epoxy resins which won’t corrode, fade or discolour, and a complex vacuum infusion process, the team at Element Composites fabricated all component parts of the tower, including hardtops for console, buggy floor and top are all fabricated from a composite integration carbon fibre.
“Back in Black” returned to the water Friday 7 October, accompanied by a huge Back in Black-themed party at The Boat Works, Garage 25 for the boat’s owners, contractors and media – its theme song blasting from the JL Audio speakers installed in the cockpit and tower.
With her glossy dark metallic grey hull, and boat name and rego mimicking the carbon fibre look, the 19-year-old boat has benefitted from a complete refit which took around five months.
The three owners, a father and his two sons, are “stoked” with the outcome, and ready and raring to head north to Lizard Island, Port Douglas and Cairns for the world-renowned marlin season, running from September to December when the giant black fish return to this section of the Great Barrier Reef.
“Back in Black’s” 100 percent carbon fibre tower is the tallest ever for a Black Watch game boat and is destined to be the first of many, once and his team pitch their Aussie ingenuity to US game boat builders at the 2022 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) in October.
Levi is travelling to the US as part of an Australian delegation that includes Australian International Marine Export Group (AIMEX) and City of Gold Coast. Following FLIBS, he will visit some of the 30 or so game boat manufacturers, both custom and production, within an hour’s drive of Fort Lauderdale, then he will head to North Carolina to network with other interested parties.
“Florida is the epicentre of game boat building,” explains Levi. “We’ve already had a lot of interest and several enquiries from Back in Black’s social media which has tracked the refit and the preliminary work on its tower.
“Once owners and boat builders see how superior our carbon fibre towers are, and how easily they can be packed and transported to the US, we’re hopeful we’ll be shipping a lot of them stateside.”
Link to Video: Carbon Game Towers – YouTube
7 October 2022