Formula Sailing – a CDIO project at Chalmers

​Conceive, Design, Implement and Operate are the keywords of the CDIO initiative, an educational framework proposed by MIT and developed in cooperation with Chalmers and two other universities. A good example of a CDIO project is Formula Student, where students from Chalmers design and build a racing car with which they race against other European Universities in a competition once a year. The present proposal outlines a similar project in Marine Technology – Formula Sailing.


In 2005 Paolo Procesi from the Roma3 University and Yacht Designer Massimo Paperini proposed the 1001 Vela Cup, a competition in yacht racing between Italian Universities. The boats used in the race were to be small dinghies, which had to be designed, built and raced by students from the participating Universities. The idea was immediately adopted by several Italian Universities, and since then the races have been held annually under the auspices of the Roma3 University. Around 10 Universities have participated every year. Foreign Universities have taken part only twice. In December 2016 Chalmers was invited, and preparations for participation in the 2018 races were made during the spring semester. The project is now underway.

The competition

The competition is split into two parts. In February each year all participating boats compete in Mid-Winter Race, where the hulls are tested in a towing tank in Naples. Based on results from tests in flat water and in waves the hulls are ranked.

In September each year all boats compete in a three-day race, this year held in Palermo 21-24 September. Chalmers is invited to come and watch the races and two of the supervisors will attend.

The boat

The boat is designed according to a “box rule”, with very few restrictions on dimensions: max length 4.60m, max beam 2.10m, max sail area: 33m2. It must be a monohull. 70% of the hull weight must come from wood or other material “of vegetable or animal origin”. For the appendages (centerboard and rudder) the number is 50%. The mast/boom must be in aluminum and the sails in Dacron (i.e. no exotic materials). External suppliers are permitted for mast/boom and sails. Wing sails are allowed, and so are hydrofoils.

The crew

There must be two crew members, which must be students at the University. They are not required to participate in the design/building of the boat. Former Olympic sailors cannot participate and the maximum age is 30.

Planning for 2017/18

Formula Sailing at Chalmers will be hosted by the 2nd year course “Marine Design Project” within the Naval Architecture MSc program. This course spans the entire fall semester and yields 15 credits. More time is likely to be needed, but discussions with students indicate that they are willing to spend the necessary time. This is the situation also in the car race project Formula Student.

The time plan is as follows:

28 Aug 2017    Project start

30 Oct     Design of hull finished, building started

15 Jan 2018     Hull completed

15 Feb (ca)    Mid-Winter indoor Race, Naples

1 May    Entire boat completed

1 May – 15 Sept Sailing practice

20 Sept (ca)    Final Races, Sicily

At present, 8 students from Naval Architecture are engaged in the project. In the spring, more students are expected to be engaged through BSc and MSc projects.


Professor Lars Larsson


Published: Mon 18 Sep 2017.