College students gear up for a regatta in Gloucester, Mass., but rather than practicing roll tacks and starts, they’re perfecting boat design and coding.
Mentors like Bennett help facilitate the experimentation. “We rely heavily on our mentors to help us through the design phase of the project,” says Vik Hansen. “The design comes from all of us having ideas on how to make the boat faster and lighter. Then we go through those ideas with our mentors and see which one is reasonable to do and feasible with the time we have. We go straight into doing sketches; sketches turn into drawings; drawings turn into 3D modeling.”
UBC does a final float test before the deck goes on. Photo: UBC Sailbot
Even when a boat does break down during a competition, the teams pitch in to help each other out, which creates a congenial racing atmosphere. Bennett says of last year’s event, “When one team had a problem with their electronics, other teams were running up with soldering irons, spare components, and advice, offering to help in any way they could.”
This year, high school teams will also participate in the event with 1-meter boats. In fact, a separate team at Olin is creating a boat kit to pass off to US Sailing, which the organization will then support and subsidize to get more high school students involved in sailing and robotics.
Currently, 11 colleges and eight high schools are signed up to sail. You can check out the action at this very different type of collegiate regatta on Gloucester’s waterfront in early June. Maritime Gloucester will be the primary base of operation.
Check out this introduction to the Olin Sailbot Team for more information, and go on board UBC's boat below:
Go on board UBC's sailbot at the 2012 competition: