UBC wins SailBot competition with first-ever perfect score

Congratulations to our fellow marine engineers on the UBC SailBot team, who won the 7th annual International Robotic Sailing Regatta with a perfect score of 50/50 — the “first in the history of the competition”!

The UBC SailBot team (from left): Yasmeen Akbari, Sirous Soltanolketabi, Alex Kroitzsch, Kristoffer Vik Hansen, David Lee, Josh Andrews, and James Lee.

The UBC SailBot team (from left): Yasmeen Akbari, Sirous Soltanolketabi, Alex Kroitzsch, Kristoffer Vik Hansen, David Lee, Josh Andrews, and James Lee.

Here is the story from APSC News:

The UBC Sailbots achieved a perfect score at the 7th annual International Robotic Sailing Regatta last week, successfully defending their championship and winning the 2013 competition.

Co-hosted by Olin College and the City of Gloucester, the 2013 Regatta was held June 9 through June 13 in Gloucester, Massachusetts. 16 teams competed, each tasked with the challenge of navigating a robotic sailboat through a series of dynamic challenges in the highly variable waters of the Atlantic.

After months of designing, building and testing, the UBC Sailbot competition team – Kristoffer Vik Hansen (captain), David Lee, Josh Andrews, Sirous Soltanolketabi, Alexander Kroitzsch, Yasmeen Akbari and James Lee – sailed their two metre, unmanned robotic sailboat to a perfect score of 50/50 – the first in the history of the competition.

Last year, the regatta was held at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club in Vancouver where the Sailbots unseated the defending champions, the US Naval Academy, achieving their first record-breaking score of 47/50.

The UBC Sailbots competed in two fleet races, a long distance race, a stationkeeping 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 – over 8 km long, this gruelling challenge was done completely autonomously. Despite a near collision that caused the backstay hook to shear off, the UBC Sailbots were able to finish emergency repairs in an hour, successfully completing the course with a final time of 2 hours and 15 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. Despite their underwhelming first attempt of 5:55, the UBC Sailbots were able to regroup, pulling off a near-perfect time of 5:01 to tie for first place with the Wales team.

The UBC Sailbots have received strong support from marine and engineering communities and would like to thank their incredible industry mentor and their fantastic sponsors.

“I believe the Sailbots have been established as a respected student team,” said Kristoffer Vik Hansen, the team’s returning captain. “We really believe that projects like this will be important for creating the next generation of maritime innovation at UBC.”

For more information about the UBC SailBots, please visit: http://ubcsailbot.org/.

Below is a photo of the winning entry, Thunderbird 2013, and its predecessor, Thunderbird 2012, which also won the 2012 competition with what was at the time a record-setting score of 47/50.

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Thunderbird 2013

Photo courtesy of the UBC SailBot Team

Thunderbird 2012