A tide of innovation on Lake Geneva
Thursday, 16 July 2015

A tide of innovation on Lake Geneva


The intense qualification phase for both « Light Transport » (LT) and « Mass Transport » (MT) categories of the HYDROCONTEST has drawn to a close last night at Pyramides de Vidy in Lausanne. During three days, the participants did everything in their power to get the best rankings possible with their light and heavyweight boats in order to be one of the 8 teams to compete in the quarterfinals. Right from the start, the competition has turned out to be full of stress, surprises and emotions for the competitors who had to dive into the deep end of energetic efficiency. Different levels of preparation of the prototypes, race strategy, and the heatwave – for both the students and their equipment… These are a few examples of the numerous factors that have tipped the scales in favour of results varying from success, sometimes unexpected, to complete failure.

On Tuesday morning, the team ENSTA Bretagne / ENSA Paris La Villette achieved the first lap time of under a minute for the LT category. But the team HEIA-FR, which ran with foils on its boat for the first time, soon beat this record. It was a good surprise for the Fribourg students, even though they did not keep their title for long. The Centrale Nantes team, in turn, removed its foils just before the race, landing the first place in the qualification rounds.


While some teams clearly failed their entering the competition, they could nevertheless count on the remarkable fair play of their already-qualified competitors, who accepted that they try their luck again… despite the risk to their own rank. This was also the case for the Columbian and Brazilian teams, as their boats arrived only Wednesday afternoon after a few customs issues. A great wave of solidarity came over the HYDROCONTEST village where everybody was lending a hand to carry the boats from the trucks to the paddocks, where the Brazilians and Columbians then worked all night long to make up for the delay.




The qualifications for the TM category – ballasted with 200 kg – were split between Wednesday and Thursday. Far from easy sailing, this first day gave the students the opportunity to face the grim reality in extreme heat conditions. Putting theory into practice sometimes proved to be complicated regarding the various parameters: buoyancy, stability, structure and electronic component overheating. Five teams were nevertheless able to qualify as soon as Wednesday. After a whole night of work, some clear improvements were seen on Thursday, the last day of qualifications. Overthrowing the feeble ranking from the previous day, the teams from Paris-Brest, Polytechnique and EPFL stole the first positions, with an exceptional laptime at under 1’30’’ for Paris-Brest. Among the 8 qualified teams, HE-Arc, Centrale Nantes, Le Havre-Lille, Australia and Fribourg will also take part in the quarterfinals of the TM category.


Unfortunately, the performance of the Columbian and Brazilian teams today did not allow them to qualify for the rest of the competition with their tests in LT and MT yesterday, but they might be allowed an exceptional second chance today... A great demonstration of the HYDROCONTEST spirit!