An Inside Look at the ILCA Technical Team – Production Audits

The goal of the ILCA Technical Team is to maintain the ILCA dinghy as the premiere one-design sailboat in the world. We want all ILCA dinghies to be built to the same high standards so that sailors can have confidence in the equipment that they purchase.

The ILCA Build Manual (IBM) is the basis for this one-design philosophy. It specifies the materials, procedures, and specifications that define an ILCA dinghy and the associated parts – foils, spars, and sails. Only ILCA-approved builders and suppliers have access to this document. This document has evolved as new manufacturing materials and techniques have become available, making the boat more robust, but the overall performance of the ILCA dinghy has remained constant over its many decades.

The Technical Team takes this a step further with the goal of OSEPODS – Off the Shelf, Equal Performance, One Design Sailboat. All ILCA dinghies should look and feel the same, regardless of which of the ten builders worldwide make them. The same holds true for ILCA-approved spars, foils, and sails. By working with the manufacturers, we aim to tighten the tolerances and continuously improve quality and consistency.

ILCA hull laminate – consolidation work in progress

Regular audits of ILCA Builders and Suppliers are an essential part of this process. These are on-site factory visits to observe boat and equipment production, often lasting several days.  We observe the entire production process and confirm that they follow the procedures specified in the IBM. It is also a learning process, where we ask how the production process can be improved and where specified tolerances can be tightened. All observations, photographs, videos, and measurements are documented. Relevant information is shared with the Builder/Supplier as well as with World Sailing, our governing body.

Communication with builders and suppliers continues throughout the year with regular online meetings, virtual audits, email communications, and phone calls. When ideas for improved processes or new materials suppliers are identified, these are shared with the Technical Team and other manufacturers. Again, the goal is not to change the one-design nature of the boat but to improve consistency, durability, and longevity.

Hull mould scanning

A significant advance in technology is the use of 3d scanning equipment. By scanning moulds and finished boats, we identified an opportunity to improve the bonding process. This led to the development of a standardized glue jig. Other improvements include standardizing measurement techniques for mast rake and sail measurements.

Our data collection has improved, as well. Builders and suppliers routinely submit confidential production data through a digital platform, and these are reviewed by the Technical Team. Some variability is inevitable in any production process, but ILCA is actively monitoring what is being produced and using data analytics to ensure that ILCA equipment is as consistent as possible.

Standardized glue jig

The result of an actively engaged Technical Team is that the overall shape, mast rake, and hull weight, as well as spars, foils, and sails, are now all more consistent than they have ever been. They are all still ILCA dinghies, but more uniform and more robust.

Centreboard case keel line opening gauge

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the ILCA Technical Team