After many years’ dominance by a ‘well-known Australian design’ the Kevin Ellway-designed and Simon Maguire-built Exocet Moth took the top 17 (sic) places at the 2018 Moth Worlds in Bermuda…
Simon Maguire is a perfectionist. Every Exocet Moth he and his team of eight build in their UK facility is the result of almost obsessive attention to detail. From the moment the hydrofoils start life as strips of ultra-high modulus (UHM) carbon fibre to the time the 10kg hull section is released from its mould tool, every aspect of these high-speed racing dinghies is honed to minimise weight and maximise performance. As we toured the modern building in Hampshire and saw four new hulls under construction, we asked Simon why his boats have become so sought after that they cost more to buy second-hand than to build new.
Despite a waiting list of owners impatient to get hold of a brand new £29,000 Maguire Exocet there are no plans to boost production, and the logic is reinforced by the results.
Maintain the standards
Each Exocet Moth is built to a design by Kevin Ellway and made by using PRO-SET LAM 125 epoxy resin and LAM 226 hardener to laminate a very thin lay-up of carbon fibre. PRO-SET epoxy has been formulated to completely saturate advanced fabrics with a minimal amount of epoxy to create mouldings that are exceptionally light and strong.
The hydrofoils, for example, are created in aluminium moulds, preferred as they are longlasting and free from warping. The finished mouldings are then post-cured at 75°C for seven hours in a modern, computer-controlled oven. ‘You can feel the difference this makes to the quality of the finish,’ Simon explains. ‘You get a really strong product and it needs to be, with the forces it will be handling.’
Maguire Boats are now in their third and most modern facility since being founded in a 500ft2 garage in 2012. Despite the high-tech facility providing a mezzanine and 5,000ft2 of shopfloor Simon has resisted efforts to increase output beyond the current 24 boats a year, as he feels this could lead to a reduction in standards. ‘We have found ways to make the facility more efficient in terms of layout,’ Simon says, ‘but there is no substitute for the sheer number of skilled man hours needed to ensure that every boat – and every fitting – is as perfect as we can make it. There are no production shortcuts, so they can be raced long and hard.’
This was confirmed when two of the boats that finished in the top 10 at the last Moth Worlds were four and five years old respectively.
Support the client
Owning an Exocet will involve thrills and face-stuffing spills, as the solo high-performance craft can achieve 19kt upwind and just over 30kt downwind. (The record 31.09kt). Some damage is inevitable. ‘From the outset we offered full customer support throughout ownership,’ Simon says. ‘We have a technical team on site at all the international events, with a full complement of spares and a mobile workshop. Due to the lightweight and compact nature of these boats, they are easy and inexpensive to airfreight. Using the local WEST SYSTEM oxy dealer we have everything we need to keep the competitors racing. If a customer has a spectacular crash we can fix the boat while they are propping up the yacht club bar and have them back in action for the next race. Some boats have come in with fish impaled on the foils.’
Make upgrades easy
As with any machine, there are constant small improvements and performance tweaks. As such, Maguire Boats offer an ongoing programme of upgrade retrofits. ‘Customers can bring their boat in to us, and we will factory-fit the new parts,’ Simon explains. ‘This not only retains the resale value; it also means a customer has a boat that is still at peak performance.’
Keep spares available
Maguire Boats now have their own online shop where items as diverse as a turnbuckle to a complete foiling system can be ordered and quickly despatched from a dedicated on-site store. ‘We manufacture if needed to always have stock available,’ Simon adds. ‘This system not only guarantees the right spares for our own support team at events, but allows customers to have a one-stop shop for genuine Maguire parts.’
Limit the colours
With the strength-to-weight ratio a key element in winning races, Maguire have a policy of limiting the colour range to six shades. ‘There is no official guide to how much an Exocet Moth should weigh,’ Simon says. ‘However, we allow 1kg for the finishing filler, primer top coat and deck grip. We have the boats painted offsite in Awlcraft, a twopack paint that is remarkably tough even when sprayed in very thin layers. The limited palette makes it much easier to colour-match repairs.’
The final ingredient? ‘While we are always looking at small design advantages each boat has to be as consistently light and as strong as possible,’ Simon concludes. ‘We sail them ourselves, and have direct contact with enthusiastic owners at international events. Our passion for our product never diminishes. The customer feedback and the racing success we’re seeing keep our small team fully focused.’
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