Yacht engineering students make waves

Noah McWatters from the UK has won this year's model yacht race - an annual event that began more than 40 years ago as a bit of end of term fun - for Solent University’s yacht engineering students. 

Noah McWatters, winner of the model yacht race

The first-year BEng (Hons) Yacht and Powercraft Design student won with a model inspired by previous winning designs. Second place was Elias Paakkinen from Finland, with Felix Trattner from Austria coming third.

Elias Paakkinen was also named as the winner of the 'Concours d’Elegance’ – for the best model, voted for by lecturers.

This year, 27 first-year students competed for the coveted title on a breezy Friday in May at Gosport Boating Lake, under the scrutiny of their lecturers.

Giles Barkley, course leader of yacht engineering at Solent, says: “This year we had a very competitive fleet and the standard of construction, build finish, and racing was as high as ever.”

The annual race now forms part of the first-year unit assessment for students on Solent’s BEng (Hons) Yacht and Powercraft Design and BEng (Hons) Yacht Design and Production degree courses.

The winners with their classmates

Students spent 100 hours designing and building the vessels to conform to the yacht design rules, with 85 per cent of the unit mark awarded on their computer aided design, and the build quality of their models. They then race them upwind and downwind to pass their design unit. The last 15 per cent of their mark is awarded on how their yacht performs on race day.

Previous winners of this annual race are now responsible for designs of Open 60 race yachts and Ben Ainslie Racing’s Americas Cup campaign.

With a reputation for leading the world in maritime education and technology, Solent continues to produce graduates who shape the world of sailing, including: Jason Ker, designer of many famous race yachts including Americas cup yachts; and Guillame Verdier, who designed the yachts that came both first and second at 2012 Vendee Globe.

On the sailing side, world-class alumni include: Helena Lucas, who won Great Britain’s first ever sailing gold at the 2012 Paralympics; Paul Goodison who took gold at the 2008 Olympics; and Herve Piveteau, who sailed to victory in the Production Boat Class at the Mini Transat 2008.

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