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The ROCAT has to be extremely strong, and light – strong, to be able to operate safely in rough sea; light, so that anybody (even someone of small frame) can easily handle it for tranportation.

This strong and light combination can only be achieved by pushing the latest advanced composite technology. The boat is constructed of both glass and carbon fibre reinforcements, as appropriate, and epoxy resin is used throughout.

All the components are made in closed moulds using vacuum resin infusion. The hulls are hollow and, unusually (maybe uniquely), they are made in one piece. Hulls of this kind are normally made in two pieces, and stuck together – this is heavier than one-piece construction, and less strong. Before the sockets and skegs are added, each hull only weighs 7.1kg.

The crossbeams, footbar, and swingarms are made of carbon fibre and use cast foam blanks as their core.


Christopher Laughton built most of the SMART Micro-Project Award prototype in his workshop. ACMC (the Advanced Composites Manufacturing Centre at Plymouth University) made the two hulls, having shaped a plug from Laughton's lines. These first two hulls were made in the conventional way by moulding two halves and gluing them together – the production hulls are made in one piece.

The first ROCAT was launched on 26 September 2000, and there followed a period of development by trial and modification. After many months of thoroughly satisfactory sea trials, in a wide variety of sea conditions, and an enthusiastic reaction to the boat on the Concept Boat stand at the 2003 London Boat Show, it was decided to put the ROCAT into production. Most of the functional design issues had been resolved, but designing for manufacture brings its own problems. These were worked through and, having drawn the boat up in CAD, the files were sent to Rojac Tooling Technologies for the plugs to be CNC machined. Having machined all the plugs, Rojac then went on to make most of the composite moulds.

Following the delivery of the moulds, it took some time to learn how to use them. This may sound odd but, much of what we are doing has not (apparently) been done before, so we have had to learn as we went along. Having got the hang of making the one-piece hulls we are very happy with the results.