Crash Test Boat Faces Final Test: Gas Explosion

After several months of abuse and extreme testing, the Admiral-supplied so-called Crash Test Boat, finally met all but her grisly end when she was subjected to a gas explosion which blew off her coach roof. Before you wonder why a yacht could be subjected to such pointless vandalism, we can assure you that there were some very valuable lessons to be learned. The yacht underwent a series of abuses – dismasting, capsizing, holing, and being set alight – as part of a series of articles produced by Yachting Monthly, each demonstrating the dangers, and how to cope with them if they happened.

“The boat, a 1980 Jeanneau Sun Fizz ketch, Fizzical, was starting to show her age when we first bought her, so she was nearing the end of her useful life,” explained Robert Holbrook of Admiral Yacht Insurance. “We recognised the fantastic opportunity to carry out these unique tests and chose our yacht accordingly.”

For those concerned about the waste of wanton destruction, there is no need to worry. The boat is being recycled. The hull of the yacht is being delivered to the International Boatbuilding Training College in Lowestoft where students will practice their skills on her.

The explosion took place off Bembridge Ledge in the Solent in September and was carefully planned.  The Royal Navy’s Fleet explosives experts were called in, plus an expert on gas installations. A 200m exclusion zone was set up under the watchful eye of the QHM Portsmouth. The gas was dispersed throughout the yacht’s cabin mixing with air. The explosion was detonated by a wireless remote trigger from the Navy’s RIB, and according to the Yachting Monthly report there was “a brief orange fireball” followed by the explosion which sent hundreds of pieces of GRP into the air. There was a fatality…. the onboard Crash Test Dummy had lost his leg.

Robert Holbrook stood by to watch the action, and the wreck of the boat was eventually towed back to Hamble by a Sea Start RIB.

Before it is submitted to the young would-be boat builders of Lowestoft, the Crash Test Boat will be exhibited at the Excel London Boat Show on F106, close to the Guinness Stand, from 6th – 15th January 2012.

A film of the explosion:


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