Rafale, formerly known as Rafale Class-C, is a student design team of the École de Technologie supérieure, ÉTS, in Canada. The team designs and fabricates sailing vessels with a focus on technology and innovation, as there is no limit to progress, even in an area that has been around for more than 10,000 years. Our ambition is to compete with experienced teams, in order to demonstrate the strong skills of our university.
Emerging in 2015, RAFALE I was a real success, a catamaran Class-C having participated in the 27th Little Cup world championship which took place on Lake Geneva, in Switzerland. A pure machine made entirely of carbon fibre, introducing the most innovative technology on the nautical market, hydrofoils. RAFALE II, the improvement of the catamaran RAFALE I, qualifies for the Miami Foiling Week 2018 and participates among all passionates and professionals. Truly, the most inspiring competition one team could participate in.
Due to the dismissal of the Little Cup, as well as the lack of student competition, the École de Technologie supérieure could no longer afford to finance a project of this magnitude without a concrete goal. The project was no longer, the disappointment was great, however, the motivation to build flying ships was, nonetheless, well present. Thus, on the other side of the Atlantic, a student competition rises from one of the great organizations in the sailing industry, the Foiling Week. Launched by a former member of the Rafale I team, Bruno Giuntoli, in partnership with Luca Rizzotti, the competition includes exactly the three main pillars of our club: Innovative design, Sustainable design, Energy-efficient manufacturing. The competition is called the Foiling SuMoth Challenge. Greatly attached to all of what this competition can offer, the team headed right into it.
From across the Atlantic Ocean, the team tacked around to head full time into this new and exhilarating competition. Being a group of 4, much needed to be done in order to be able to compete. A few posts and a whole lot of advertisement later, the team was complete, 25 new members joined the team. Surprisingly, not more than fifty per cent of the team had sailed before. Why did they decide to jump aboard this crazy adventure? The thrill and desire to be part of something new. Plus, the overwhelming curiosity to know-how in the world a sailboat could possibly fly a foot above the water. In addition to this wave of new members, the Rafale team signed a merger with a group of McGill university students. This partnership aims to combine the skill set with a neighbouring university, as well as to permit McGill students to take part in this competition.
Following the recruiting phase, we headed straight into brainstorming and planning. Thoughts burst out, questions emerged, and concerns arose. “How should we make our vessel? What kind of materials should we use to fabricate this? How should we fabricate this? How much does this cost in SuMoth $? Does our boat have to fly, or can it just be ecofriendly?” From these questions, answered slowly came up to finally shape the canvas that will be used to direct the following eight months.
All hands on deck
After the master plan was settled, the team split into specialized groups: Hull, Hydrofoil, Rudder and cassette, Ladder, Embedded electronics, Rigging, and Communications. Everyone started working on their own parts in order to maximize productivity. The first step is to design each piece of the boat by computer. The computer design makes it possible to calculate the stresses in each of the pieces, thus making it easier to choose the right materials and the manufacturing methods in order to combine performance, costs, and sustainability. In concordance to the performance, the design teams have imagined various innovative manufacturing methods and have reflected on the use of unconventional materials. For example, to limit the number of moulds, thus the waste of materials, the hull has been designed in a symmetrical profile. This way, the shell will be manufactured with a single mould, unlike two in the case of conventional manufacturing methods. In terms of materials, teams are studying the possibility of using alternative composite materials: flax fibre, basalt fibre, biologically sourced resin, etc. Refurbishing parts from Rafale I and II is also a solution to reducing the cost, as well as the total environmental impact of the project.
The stage from January to the end of April is the manufacturing phase. During this period, the team will have to leave offices and computers to spend time in the workshop to make each piece of the boat. It will be a time where more experienced members of the club will take the time to teach others about the ropes of the manufacturing methods. Considering only four members were part of the previous Rafale, the new ones will have to learn quickly in order to respect the schedule. In addition, reckoning the composite will be the most challenging aspect, it will need to be the priority on the list. This will be a time-consuming period for all club members: infusion, sanding, glueing and drilling will be daily activities. For the first year, as indicated in the rules, teams will be able to purchase a used mast; however, for the following years, it will be mandatory to implement it in the production line.
The final goal is to have a boat fully ready to sail early May. In Quebec, Canada, sailing is certainly not the national sport. Residents do not all own an Optimist, nor is it common to have a legacy of sailing in the family. This is mainly due to the fact that the sailing season is quite restricted. Docks are set in the water at the beginning of May and are taken out by the end of September. This allows sailors to navigate to a maximum of 5 months a year. In this case, the team will have time to finish building Rafale III, and the sailing season will just be beginning. It will be necessary to maintain this schedule, in order to test the boat, as well as to allow the skippers to train before the boat is sent to Italy in early June for the regatta that will take place in early July. Indeed, since the regatta is held in Italy, the vessel needs to be shipped a month prior to the competition.
The main goal is to participate in the competition in July 2020. It is clear that designing and building a boat in 9 months will be a real challenge. Indeed, since, not only does it have to float, it also has to fly! The objective is to be able to design a foiling sailboat, fabricate it with the knowledge and skillset of the team, train on the bodies of water that surround us and race Rafale 3 among all the other universities who will have come so far to be part of such a great competition.
Another goal for this year is to create a cohesive Rafale team that will be able to sustain the project for years to come. The various Rafale teams went through many phases since it has been created. Many of which were caused by the absence of development in the Class-C organisation. Moving on to this new competition brings hope to the older members and new opportunities to the new ones. The idea is to develop a team who will not only participate in the first Foiling SuMoth Challenge, but it will also grow among this new organisation. It is then essential to building a strong community who will work together in order to preserve the development of the project throughout the years.
Finally, we want to make our project shine as much as possible. Without needing to emphasise on that aspect, it is clear that Rafale I & II is what made our team shine. However, designing and fabricating a Moth is nonetheless quite an impressive achievement. It is with pride and excitement that we will present our new project to our surrounding community. Throughout the upcoming months prior to the race, we wish to participate in several events, including various sailing fairs, innovation exhibits, as well as composite symposiums. We also aim to publish articles and actively post on social networks. The goal is to carry the image of the school and our project, moreover, it will be an asset in our search for sponsorships.
The Rafale team is particularly motivated to carry out this project. For most members, it is the biggest project they have ever taken on. We recognize that much needs to be done in order to accomplish our goals. However, we recognize that it is with the help of many that we have progressed all this way so far. Special thank you to our primary sponsors Texonic, FDDAEETS, ÉTS, as well as all our other sponsors for supporting us throughout this adventure.
Do not hesitate to follow us on social networks to have regular news of our progress!
Presented by Team Rafale
Written by Antoine Carignan-Turcotte
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.