Optimisation has established itself as a necessary tool when designing competitive high-performance yachts. The inherently complex material characteristics of composite materials mean there must be careful consideration of the effects of laminate design to meet loading and efficiency demands. Implementing an optimisation approach to the development of composite structures and their laminates will enable designers to design more effectively. This paper aims to investigate a more holistic approach to designing large multi-part composite structures using concurrent GA optimisation tools, investigating the effect of optimisation on the decision-making and design processes. Specifically, how can better design decisions be influenced by incorporating tools that augment an experientially based complex composite structural design process? A tool has been developed that concurrently optimizes laminate architecture and the arrangement and number of internal structural members to maximize structural efficiency. The purpose of the tool presented here is to allow designers to assess the effects of any ’design branching’ decisions. These are decisions that significantly affect the final structural arrangement of a racing yacht. The tool uses GAs to assess in-plane and pressure loading effects on hull plating supported at multiple locations. GAs are used as they offer a much quicker process time than more traditional brute force approaches and can be adapted to run a series of different objective functions.

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