Tech Talk: students' insights and experience (Day 4)
Friday, 17 July 2015

Tech Talk: students' insights and experience (Day 4)


Every evening, races are followed by Tech Talks during which students share, oppose and compare their innovative ideas. Meeting with 3 teams of this second HYDROCONTEST: Universidade Nacional de Colombia Sede Medellin (Colombia), ENSM Marseille (France) and Haute Ecole Arc Ingénierie (Switzerland).

For their second participation in the contest, the former team manager took up the task again for Medellin University. He gathered 3 of his 2014-team mates and 12 new students. In order to build an innovative and competitive prototype for the HYDROCONTEST, and because they didn’t benefit from any training in naval architecture or engineering in Columbia, they had to learn from scratch in the many fields they needed for the project. Using the experience acquired by the previous team to conceive a brand new boat, they imagined a catamaran long and thin enough to decrease the water resistance. With static and dynamic simulation, they worked on acceleration phases and built a small dynamic simulator. From that, they designed a stability control system with a sensor to measure the roll and trim and correct it with automatically driven flaps. It gives the best lift/drage ratio at critical phases – acceleration and turn.

The Hydrometra team managed to make up for the late arrival of their boat (almost two days after the beginning of the competition), and its members are proud to have passed the finish line on Sunday. In any case, the experience that they gained by competing in the HYDROCONTEST is a big reward for them.

In a context where access to higher education is not as simple as in Europe, the candidates to the HYDROCONTEST were selected according to their motivation and the aptitudes that they could offer to the project. To truly test their motivation, the team manager and the university only informed the team members of the trip to Switzerland 2 months before the competition… just in time to get the visas!




The ENSM Marseille team of 2015, composed of former and new participants, was reduced by half during the preparation of the HYDROCONTEST. The large amount of work required for the project was difficult to manage in conjunction with the courses and compulsory sailing trips of the school’s curriculum. Five ambitious naval enthusiasts were left and persevered, finally succeeding to bring the project to the banks of Lake Geneva for the second edition.  

Making good use of the lessons learned in 2014 and their knowledge in the maritime fields, the team worked on two prototypes: the first is an improved version of the 2014 lightweight boat and the second is a brand new heavyweight boat. The students from Marseilles arrived at the HYDROCONTEST with two great innovations applicable to the reality of the industry. The first one relates to the T-foils’ electronic regulation on the Light Transportation boat. After giving up the V-foils because the lateral component is not relevant for a motorboat, the team wanted to solve the in-water stability issue and found 2 ways of improving it: they first set up a gyroscope to control the roll, and then, and this is a great innovation, an ultra-sound system to measure the height to the water.

The second innovation, on the heavy boat, is a deck allowing to raise the swath to water level when loading merchandise in a harbour or when navigating without charge: a perfect example of innovation to serve the maritime transport of tomorrow.

The team had a few fabrication problems, for example the fact that the homemade linen fibre hull was not watertight at first trial. But they remain confident that their concept is novel and promising, and will begin to perfect it as soon as they return to Marseille together with the 2016 team, which is already mostly formed!




Team HE-Arc is composed of several students in mechanical systems conception from Neuchâtel and Jura Bernois. They have come back after a very successful 1st participation in 2014 with two boats rather than one. They have optimised their 2014 hybrid boat, “Big CHArc” to make compete in the heavyweight category. In the lightweight category, they chose to create an entirely new boat, “Little CHArc”, in order to be even more competitive in fast races.

With the help of their professor, a specialist in aerospace engineering, the students of HE-Arc chose propellers that are particularly innovative on two fronts. Firstly, the blades’ angle can be controlled with the remote control according to the navigation phase: acceleration or cruising. This constitutes a clear advantage compared to teams that cannot change the angles or can only do so by taking the boat out of the water. Secondly, the shape of the propeller blades was specially designed for the contest and is inspired by the winglets of an airplane, increasing the lift and reducing the drag on the propeller.