For the second year in a row, UBC Sailbots scored a perfect 50 out of 50 winning first place at the 2014 International Robotic Sailing Regatta held in Vallejo, California. This third-straight victory makes the UBC Engineering team the most successful team in the competition’s history, with the US Naval Academy in second place.
Five teams from around the world competed at the 2014 Regatta held at the California Maritime Academy June 7-13, 2014. Each team navigated a robotic sailboat through a series of dynamic challenges including a 10km race in 20 knot winds – The UBC Sailbots are the only ones to do it perfectly—two years running.
UBC SailBot won the last two International Robotic Sailing Regattas held in Gloucester, MA in 2013 and in Vancouver, BC in 2012. The team has close to 50 members – this year Serena Ramley (ISCI), Kurtis Harms (MECH), Josh Andrews (CPSC), Arek Sredzki (CPSC), Jian Lik Ng (MECH), Tu Anh Le (EECE), Tobias Kreykenbohm (EECE), Jamie Lee (EECE), Bryan Luu (ENPH) and Kristoffer Vik Hansen (IGEN) competed in California.
Team Captain Kristoffer Vik Hansen is proud of his team’s incredible success in the IRSR stating that, “Every project is possible as long as you have the right people. UBC SailBot has been very fortunate to have incredible people for the job for the last three years.”
The UBC Sailbots competed in two fleet races, a long distance race, a station keeping challenge, a navigation challenge and a presentation, achieving flawless scores in each category.
- Navigation challenge– sailboats were tasked to round one windward mark and then thread the needle through a three metre-wide gate. The Thunderbird 2013 pulled off a perfect 10/10, passing through the gate easily thanks to their incredible Hemisphere GPS.
- Long distance race– 10 km long, this gruelling challenge was done completely autonomously. Despite the strong winds the UBC Sailbots were able to finish emergency repairs in an hour, successfully completing the course with a final time of 1 hour and 50 minutes – a time that placed them easily in first place.
- Fleet race– despite high winds, UBC managed to land first in both races for a combined score of 10/10.
- Presentation– in 30 minutes, the team answered questions about the design of the ship’s hull and keel as well as its electronics, control systems and user interface. The judges awarded them a score of 10/10.
- Stationkeeping– boats were tasked with the challenge of sailing autonomously within a 40 x 40 metre box for five minutes, with an extra point awarded to the boat that exited the box quickest. The team implemented a failsafe strategy to ensure the boat would not leave the boundaries when faced with changing currents and winds.
For their next challenge, the UBC SailBots are taking on the Atlantic Ocean. The Microtransat Challenge, a transatlantic race of autonomous sailboats, was created by Dr. Mark Neal of Aberystwyth University and Dr. Yves Briere of the Institut Supérieure de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace in Tolouse, France. Since its conception in 2010 none of the six entrants have completed the challenge. The UBC SailBot team plans to launch from Newfoundland in the summer of 2015, estimating that it will take two weeks for their boat to cross the Atlantic and reach the west coast of Ireland.
The UBC Sailbots have received strong support from marine and engineering communities and would like to thank the Daniel Kim and Youssef Basha for their help in Vancouver preparing for the competition and the rest of the SailBot team for all of their hard work. They would also like to thank their sponsors who have supported them along the way, the UBC Sailing Club and the Hollyburn Sailing Club who have helped during their many training,
The International Robotic Sailing Regatta (IRSR) began in 2004 when UBC Engineering students designed an autonomous sailboat as a fourth year capstone project. Based on this project, SailBot Competition rules were created to foster friendly competition and innovation among university teams. The first IRSR was held at Queen’s University in 2006.
For more information about the UBC SailBots, please visit: http://ubcsailbot.org/.