The ‘Mineurs’ in Saint-Tropez

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Vendée Globe, America’s Cup: the new fame of these races, which in bygone days were only followed by a few connoisseurs, is without a doubt linked to the beauty of these futuristic boats on their foils, flying over the surface of the oceans, which are slowly replacing the displacement boats. Leisure sailing is going to develop considerably in the coming years, offering numerous work opportunities for young engineers. In this context, the Swiss Hydros foundation organized the fourth edition of the Hydrocontest, an international student competition which sees engineering schools and universities from the whole world meet up around the design of tomorrow’s boat – innovative, energy efficient and respecting the environment. At the end of a year’s work, our little Hydrocontest team, Mines Paristech, was proud to present its boat, alongside prestigious teams which already knew the ropes. We had built our boat in a few months in the garden of the ‘Ecole’, with no prior experience in boatbuilding or hydrodynamics, but driven by great determination. We came in by the side door as outsiders, and left with our heads held high, satisfied that we had held the Ecole’s flag high. We faced 23 teams coming from no fewer than 12 different countries - France, Switzerland, as well as Greece, Serbia, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Indonesia. We discovered that the projects varied, as from one school to another there is a great difference in the budgets, the tools and the materials available to design tomorrow's boat. Thus the Swiss teams were overtrained, with impressive foiling boats, full of electronics, thanks to sizeable budgets. The other teams not only had to cover the cost of construction of the boat with their budget, but also its shipment to the competition site. The Hydros foundation strongly encourages mutual aid and sharing between the participants. In this spirit, Tech Talks were organized every evening – oral presentations during which each team introduced the specific technical features of its boat. That way, the event took place in a very relaxed atmosphere; the competitive spirit remained on the waterfront pontoon. It was then possible, by wandering round the tent containing the stands, to talk to the other students and teachers about their creations. We displayed the banners of CNB, our boatbuilder partner, and Multihulls World, of which we distributed copies. Amongst these disparate teams, our trimaran, called Billy, qualified for the ‘last sixteen’ in the heavy and light categories by being placed in the 16 best times in each, before being eliminated after defeats conceded to the Norwegian team (heavy category) and the Serbian team (light category). Another year’s work on the project awaits us now, so we can return stronger in 2018!

Who: The student engineers from Mines ParisTech

Where: Saint Tropez, Mediterranean

Boat: Billy, prototype trimaran

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