Organic cashew boat wins sailing competition in Italy

​When Chalmers Formula Sailing participated in the student sailing competition in Italy for the first time, they really delivered. With the boat Linnea, built with a balsa wood core with flax and a cashew nut-based epoxy, the team won the entire competition in Palermo, Sicily.

​Since August last year, masters students from the Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering program have not only designed and built the sailing dinghy Linnea, but also made all the analyses and calculations that underlie the boat. The Chalmers Formula Sailing team has built the boat of 70 % organic material, and at the end of September, the students went to Palermo, Sicily to participate in the sailing competition. Their participation was possible thanks to funding from the Chalmers University of Technology Foundation.

Besides the team from Chalmers, the competition consisted of student teams from seven Italian universities and one German, all of which have built boats with the same restrictions regarding material. During six races, two elite level sailors in the Olympic 49er class, Fritiof Hedström and Otto Hamel, who are students at Chalmers, sailed the unique boat. 

“It is an extreme boat”, says Lars Larsson, Professor of Marine Technology and supervisor of Chalmers Formula Sailing. “It has a large sail plan for its size, and most people who would try to sail it would capsize immediately. The boat would probably overturn from just lying unmanned in the water.”

Dramatic competition

The Chalmers Formula Sailing team managed to hold top positions throughout the competition. One of the races suddenly became quite dramatic when the boat’s tiller broke. Lars explains that it did not withstand a hit from above and that it was due to a construction flaw. 

“To sail without a tiller is virtually impossible, but Fritiof laid down across the aft and steered the rudder – which is very heavy and hard to turn – using only his hands. The sailors still managed to score third in the race. You could really tell that they are elite sailors!”

Fortunately, the team managed to fix the tiller over the night, just in time for the next race and all in all they won the entire competition. Adam Persson, PhD student, has been the group's supervisor throughout the project, from creating the design to completing the boat. He explains how they won first place.

“The boat is built to be as adapted as possible to the wind conditions where we were going to sail. Together with talented sailors, we were faster than the other teams.” 

The team is looking forward

The win, he says, was celebrated traditionally by throwing the crew in the pool. Adam continues to say that the competition feels very successful and that the point of a contest like this is getting to compare with other universities and to continuously raise the bar.

“The win is really a testament to the hard work we put into this project. It shows that with an engineering approach you can make a very good boat. We are of course very pleased with the sailing and we can’t wait for next year’s competition.”


Read more: "Organic boat building in a nutshell".

Learn more about the project Chalmers Formula Sailing.

Learn more about Chalmers investment in sports technology, Chalmers Sports & Technology.


Text: Sophia Kristensson


Published: Tue 25 Sep 2018.