Foggy, Frank Gehry’s first sailboat with Germán Frers and Richard Cohen

Gehry_Boat_FoggyIn collaboration with Germán Frers and Richard Cohen, Frank Gehry designed his first sailboat – theFoggy’. Foggy, whose name is an acronym for Frank Owen Gehry, is fashioned out of traditional larch wood but accented with titanium and a glittering glass latticework, looking a hybrid of past and future.
Gehry is an avid yachtsman, and sailing inspires much of his most famous work—think of the billowing motif of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, for instance. He owns a ­fiberglass-hulled Beneteau First 44.7: yet only recently did he undertake his first sailboat design.”I never had the resources before, and once I did I was busy doing my buildings,” he says.
Finally, Gehry found himself thinking over the idea of designing a boat: he involved his friend and developer Richard Cohen who had been wanting to build a large racing boat, being himself a yachtsman, too. They agreed to work together and brought in Germán Frers, an Argentinean naval architect known for designing some of the most elegant fast sailboats.
When it came to choosing the material for the hull, Gehry and Frers did not agree at all. Frers suggested carbon fibre, commonly in use for racing boats, for its rigidity and lightness, while Gehry wanted to render it in wood, recalling more classical boat making techniques.
Contacting the Brooklin Boat Yard in Maine, a small operation renowned for its carpentry and its engineering, they found a compromise, one of the boatyard’s specialties being cold moulding, a modern process that ‘sandwiches’ wood around a high-tech core. The robust material is lightweight assisting the boat’s speed and manoeuvrability, yet offers a warm, traditional feel, which Gehry appreciates.
Steve White, the boatyard’s second-generation owner, was a bit concerned about the collaboration with such a famous non-boatbuilding architect as ­Gehry. Receiving ­the architect’s drawings for the lattice windows on the deck and the stern, he thought they were bizarre for its use of titanium, which few boat engineers have experience with: some of the unconventional elements could result very unpractical. To test the the glass components’ resistance to wave pressure, White and his team took sample panels to the technology laboratory at the University of Maine in Orono, where they hydraulically flushed the portals, and the windows turned out to be safe.
Frers and White were much relieved to verify that the boat works. Foggy was then tested in competition: stripped of any unnecessary weight and fitted with black carbon fibre racing sails, Foggy clocked the fastest time in last summer’s running of the 52-mile Round the Island race.
As for next designs to come, “We’ll do a spaceship,” Gehry jokes.

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