Mothis Vela UniPd at Foiling SuMoth Challenge

The members of our team all come from an already existing team named Mètis Vela UniPd, which is a group of research established at the University of Padova. As a team, we have been working on boat design for a long time now, with our first project dating back to 2008; in Mètis Vela we designed, built and sailed five skiffs, three of which are made of composite material. Our goal is to design and realize competitive sailing boats focusing on innovative materials and working techniques while paying attention to their environmental impact, learning how to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Every year in September, we attend the “1001Vela Cup competition”, a regatta specifically organized for students of universities from all over Europe. The team took part in almost every edition, always finishing the race with at least one boat, sometimes even more, on the podium. In July 2019 we finished building Athena, our latest boat which has the peculiarity of being almost 100% recyclable. Athena scored the 4th place in the regatta mentioned above and this represents a proof of the possibility of building a skiff with both high-performance level and recyclability. This achievement was a huge success for the team, but we are not done yet: we want to test our skills to the limits for design, construction and sailing. We needed an even harder challenge and the foiling world caught our attention.

We have joined the SuMoth Challenge as it is a great opportunity to experiment with state-of-the-art technology related to composite materials in a challenging environment; therefore we want to use the expertise acquired during the years in Mètis Vela and starting from there we are going to try to explore new possibilities with the foil appendix. The work of the team will focus on fluid dynamics studies for the best foiling experience by using our 10-year-long knowledge with sustainable composites. We are also going to integrate leftover materials used by third party industries in the construction process to further improve our sustainability factor. This is a very important aspect among the members of the team: it has been years since when we first started to be involved in life cycle assessment researches. We are committed to improving this topic as much as we can and we are highly motivated in doing it: the team is already investigating about innovative construction techniques, focusing on biomaterials that hopefully will be ready to use for the moulds. All of that will lead to further improve the sustainability and economic factor.

We perceive this challenge as an opportunity to increase our knowledge on a multiscale level. We want to develop a solid knowledge about foils, a field of research in which no member of the team has previous experience and that brings the concept of sailing on a completely new level. Moreover, we are aware of the fact that meeting students from all over the world, confront them and race against them is a chance to grow as a team and individually as scientists.

The strengths of our team are our background in different areas of expertise and our practice of working together, as in the last years we have become a close-knit and motivated group. Our team line is composed of:

  • Mirko Juretic, captain and skipper. He is now attending a master’s degree in material science. He already sailed for the Métis Vela and with him, at the helm of the boat, the podium is always assured.
  • Marianna Peditto, she is our second skipper, biomedical engineering with a huge passion for sailing. She competitively sailed for 8 years and her determination brings a useful contribution to the team. Starting from 2019 she is part of the team Mètis, not only a member of the sailing crew but also as a construction team member. With this new competition, she wants to test herself and proves that she is up to the situation.
  • Alessandra Pierantoni, communicational officer. She is attending a master’s degree in pharmaceutical biotechnology. She has prior experience in both hull construction and social managing. With her enthusiasm and desire for learning new skills, she is fit for this role.
  • Giovanni Pagnon, material engineer. He has years of experience as team leader of Métis Vela, as well as in boat construction and design. With his firmness and analytical approach, giving him the role of the logistic officer is the obvious choice.
  • Michele Cracco, life cycle assessment officer and a part of the shore team. He already worked on a life cycle assessment for the latest boat of Métis Vela as a thesis for his bachelor degree in environmental engineering. Therefore, we are sure that he is the perfect choice for this suMoth challenge. Thanks to his expertise, Michele is a key member of the team for both construction and sustainability-related problems.
  • Simone Scuccato, the shore officer. He is the mechanical engineer that will be the meeting point between the design and the construction of the moth since he has great experience in both fields. He will supervise the design of all components, but he will lead the building process.
  • Sergio Caramel, our rig officer. He is already team leader of the Arkanoè sailing team, skipper of Melges 24. With his aerospace studies and wide sailing experience, he is an important addition to the team. He is deeply involved in the nautical sailing world, with great awareness in all rigging aspect so he will surely fulfil the task.
  • Alessandro Campice, chief designer. He is an aerospace engineer specialized in structural design. For the last four years he worked as a designer for Métis Vela, he tested his capabilities as a designer facing increasingly challenging problems and is now ready to face the complex challenge of designing a flying boat.
  • Nicolò Zacchettin, structural officer. He has been involved in the boat’s design for three years now. Thanks to his studies in mechanical engineering, he was often in charge of solving the most complicated structural problems. He is a crucial addition to the team, as he will help us to build the lightest boat.
  • Nicola Benvenuti, aerodynamic officer. He is an energetic engineer, chief of designers for Métis Vela and he has a strong interest in foils and wings. Nicola is a right and appropriate choice for this job, thanks to his great knowledge in computational fluid dynamics as a design tool. Indeed, he will be the one that will let the boat fly.
  • Professor Andrea Lazzaretto, the team manager. He is a professor in the energetic engineer degree course and a very skilled sailor. He has been team manager of Métis Vela since the very beginning of the project. He has been fascinated by the foiling world as much as all the team, so he has decided to guide us again in this new challenge.

As a team, we feel connected to the meaning of the Greek word métis, that means the combination of wisdom and cunning. This talent was considered highly admirable, and Odysseus was its embodiment. That is the reason why we decided to recall our link with the past both in the name and in the flag. Therefore, we evolved from Métis to Mothis. As for the flag, we started from the Métis Vela symbol that represents a boat sailing off the wind at sunset, and we figured out that the mirrored image results in a moth-like figure.

Mothis Flags

We set the work on a structured approach split in five stages to get the sailboat on the water by the 15th of April. First of all, we went through a Planning stage. Definition of the team members, understanding the class rules and risk analysis were the main points of this process. As soon as we identified our value proposition, in September, the Product Design & Development could start. The design of the hull is optimized to reduce drag while sailing in displacement condition.

Then the preliminary FEM analysis pointed out where and how to set internal structures, wings and spars. Indeed, the foils are the core of this project, so we decided to pursue an iterative method. By December we are crafting a set of foils whose geometry was an object of a previous study in our team. This will be a test to achieve an optimized design until March. In the next weeks, we are focusing on Process Design & Development. Given the date of launch and other constraints like our manpower, the output is going to be a flow chart of the whole process. Following a make-or-buy decision, we will be able to get

a precise schedule of time and costs. Production will be performed in our internal building site since we manage techniques of wood and aluminium crafting and composites realization. The experience of our team members allow us to accomplish activities in short time, also the project itself is not that complex so we don’t expect this stage to be so long. Testing & Corrective Actions stage will take place after the launch. Working on reports from our athletes we know we can improve our Moth performance and fix potential issues.

This will be a complex project, but we are thrilled about this possibility, we wanted to test our self on a higher level from the design to the construction techniques, also because this experience will enrich our backgrounds and will allow us to specialize in a field that we have never approach before. This is a unique opportunity also for our future since the expertise that we will acquire during these months will shape our mind even for future jobs. Our highest aim is to create a skiff with composite material and a high percentage of recyclability and yet competitive. We want to get at Garda’s lake aware to have done everything possible in the best way and then we will try to win also on the battlefield.

The Foiling SuMoth Challenge was created by Foiling Week™ to support and promote sustainable boat building practices. Sponsored by 11th Hour Racing, the SuMoth Challenge will challenges students to construct competitive Moth class-compliant foilers while also considering the environmental, social, and economic impacts of the manufacturing process. The teams will compete in their full designed boats at Foiling Week 2020 in Lake Garda, Italy.

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