My first Marblehead – Project “Berlingo”

My first true racing Marblehead was given to me by Mr. Christos Lardis, a senior Greek boat modeller with an enormous experience and great knowledge.

It was an old French design from 1989 and the name of the designer was Paul Lucas, if I type it correctly. I am not very sure.

The name of this beautiful narrow hull is “Berlingo”.

The hull came in my hands as seen on the picture below.

It was made very well by Mr. Christos and he kept the total weight very low.

The first thing I did with the hull was to clean with my dremel tool the carbon/kevlar fabric excesses.

I made a plan in my head about how I wanted to build the boat and what would be my main criteria.

  1. I wanted to use both swing rig and conventional rigs so I would need two mast boxes.
  2. I could make my own foils to keep the cost low.
  3. I wanted to lower the rigs to deck level the most I could so I have to make a lowered deck layout. (this one is the most difficult part)

With these three main aspects always in my mind I started my project with the foils preparation.

I used the  layout and dimensions of the original design and I started with a 3mm balsa core trimmed to the desired NACA profile.

I laminated several layers of carbon cloth with different thickness for each side of the fins.

I continued with some endless wet sanding of the surfaces and then sprayed them with two part automotive primer before painting.

I then made the finbox by wrapping  carbon cloth on the upper section of the keel fin in which I had before applied several layers of P.V.A realease agent.

Next step was to properly align and glue in place the finbox…

Rudder shaft tube placed also and aligned accordingly.

After all of those almost straight forward works, came the time for the most difficult part of the project which was the deck design and construction.

I had to design a deck layout and then to find out how it could be attached to the hull. I liked very much the skiff type deck layout and I tried to make my version by lowering as much as I could the deck level.

The main idea was to have the opportunity of lowering the conventional rigs as much as I could and also place an electronics pot also lowered into the deck.

I started with the build of the deck layout by using carton paper and then transfer it to 3mm plywood.

When the wooden deck was ready I removed it from the hull and prepare it to make a negative polyester mould.

Mould got ready and an epoxy deck came out very nice and light.

Mast boxes for both types of rigs were ready in order to be placed together with the deck.

After a lot of measuring, trimming, aligning and much more I managed to glue the deck in place and the result was very satisfying.

As every part consisting the boat was placed the next step was to apply some putty where it was needed to…

I made a custom putty by using epoxy resin mixed with micro balloons which gave me a very light and high-density media.

Filling and wet sanding before spaying the primer was more than necessary.

I used a nice utility named “Bulb Calculator” to make the bulb of the boat. I made a wooden prototype and from that, I made two gypsum moulds in order to cast the two bulb halves from lead.

The final bulb weighted 3300gr with a total length of 42cm.

The boat was near completion and I had only to paint it. I was thinking to paint it all a pale white but when I did it the final look was too empty for my eyes. I was struggling to find a nice logo or an additional colour scheme for the boat.  For several days my mind was focused to this desired colour scheme I was looking for…

The Story behind the name:

One day I was listening to one of David Bowie’s greatest hit named “Starman“.  Immediately I imagined the boat like a white spaceship… The concept of David Bowie’s album from which this song was a part of, was about space and a fiction character named “Ziggy“. The title of the album was “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars“.

The boat’s logo was finally very clear to me and in front of my eyes. I was going to name the boat “Ziggy Stardust“. I made a logo on the computer and send it to a friend who was responsible for the painting and artworks of the project.

I always get very inspired from music and I like very much to use ideas that comes from songs into my projects.

The colour set of the fins were chosen to match the logo and the concept of “Ziggy”. The lighting which David used to paint in his eye, was printed as the main logo on the sides of the hull.

The colour scheme was painted on the hull on 13 of April 2014.  Who could imagine that David would leave us for heaven on January 2016…??? RIP our beloved Ziggy…!!!

Final steps for getting ready the boat to hit the water commenced by placing foils and rigging…

Construction of the various rigs and eventually sailing…

Initial sailing tests with B-Conventional and breezy conditions…

Rig caused modifications:

The boat was designed only for swing-rigs back in 1989. One of my main and most critical requirements was to use conventional rigs for the lower rigs. I had to face a crucial step during the building of where and how to place the mast box for the conventional rigs. After a lot of research and reading of various sources, I decided to move the keel fin closer to datum for about 4cm.  I then placed the conventional mast box as close to the leading edge of the fin I could and also move the swing rig mast box after a little bit. Below you can find a detailed sketch with all of my measurements.

To tell the truth I was worried about my modifications and I was anxious for the first sail tests. I didn’t receive a clear impression after the first sail tests and I thought that racing would give me the right feeling and correct conclusion.

My thoughts were correct and regatta by regatta the boat evolved to be a real winner. Upwind speed and angle were magnificent, downwind sailing like a charm with minimum nose-diving . My project was successful and manage to win several regattas and two annual championships.

Ziggy Stardust today continues to participate in the Greek championship and still continues to win regattas with his new skipper.

Long Live Ziggy Stardust…!!!




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