Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is mature technology that has been in use for several decades as a tool to optimize structures for a wide variety of applications. Its application to composite structures is not new, however the technology for modeling and analyzing the behavior of composite structures continues to evolve on several fronts. This paper provides a review of the current state-of-the-art with regard to composites FEA, with a particular emphasis on applications to yacht structures. Topics covered are divided into three categories: Pre-processing; Postprocessing; and Non-linear Solutions. Pre-processing topics include meshing, ply properties, laminate definitions, element orientations, global ply tracking and load case development. Post-processing topics include principal stresses, failure indices and strength ratios. Nonlinear solution topics include progressive ply failure. Examples are included to highlight the application of advanced finite element analysis methodologies to the optimization of composite yacht structures.

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