Nissan Design America designs, builds a catamaran for World Championship Race

NISSAN AMERICA - If you think the Nissan LEAF is the only zero-emission Nissan "vehicle" garnering attention these days, think again. There is a new model hitting the road this summer – or, more accurately, setting sail - and this creation doesn't even require batteries. Truly harnessing the "power of nature," a Nissan-built Catamaran soon will be sailing high in the Danish ocean, the latest non-automotive design and development project by Nissan Design America (NDA), based in San Diego, California.

Matt Struble, who led the design and modeling team at NDA, will be racing in the 2011 Class A Catamaran ("A-Cat") World Championship from August 13 through 20 in Skødstrup, Denmark. Originally from Michigan, Matt was the 2009 ice boating world champion. After moving to San Diego, Struble turned his passion to ocean sailing. His athletic achievements quickly translated into the new sport, as he holds the current title of A-Cat U.S. Champion. The Class A Catamaran is controlled by a single sailor and is the smallest in size in all Catamaran race boats.

As a Model Realization Lead, Matt is engaged daily in creating three-dimensional realizations of designers' ideas for future Nissan and Infiniti products. Earlier this year, Matt was presented with a unique opportunity to design a race boat for the upcoming championship race himself and build it while training his relatively new team of modeling specialists based at NDA's Mexicali, Mexico facility at the same time.

The boat's composite structure was designed and built entirely in-house. Improving all aspects of aero- and hydro-dynamics, the team looked at every piece, leaving no stone unturned, achieving cleaner, smoother form and surface that are efficient to add competitive edge, according to Matt.

"We weren't trying to create something that already exists, but something groundbreaking," Struble said. "This has truly been a great experience and great project for us. This one in particular was quite unique because you have to create it in your mind, but also physically manufacture it and follow through. It was great for our team to see the project from start to finish."

In creating the boat, the Mexicali modeling team was able to gain valuable experience and knowledge with new materials, spraying techniques and model finish applications and learned how to achieve more accurate models, as well as new techniques and processes. NDA's Mexicali facility opened in March 2009 and handles design model milling, surface data processing, painting and shop work.

"This has been a great opportunity and experience for the Mexicali team, whose core business is model building, data development and digitizing. The goal for the team is to timely achieve accurate models to enhance the overall business of design," said Rich Plavetich, General Manager, Design Business, NDA. "The knowledge and skills acquired from this experience will be incorporated into the future Nissan and Infiniti vehicle design development process," Plavetich said.