Students battle it out at Balmedie

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Balmedie Beach was once again turned into the venue for a hotly contested land yachts race featuring young engineers from Robert Gordon University (RGU) last week.

Over 130 students, divided into 19 teams, went head-to-head at the beach on Friday, April 15, to put land yachts they had designed and built to the test.

The third-year engineering students had been hard at work since February designing, constructing and assembling their yachts as part of a student project aimed at encouraging mathematical, analytical and team working skills.

The land yachts are comprised of a two-metre go-kart style body with brakes, steering and a sail, and were conceived and built entirely by the students within their teams.

No pushing or pulling of the land yachts was allowed, regardless of wind conditions, so the yachts had to be augmented by either pedal or mechanical power.

The teams were given three attempts to complete a 100m time trial across the beach weaving through obstacles to test their manoeuvrability, brakes, steering and the pilot’s handling skills, with gold, silver and bronze trophies presented to the three fastest teams.

Team K were crowned the winners, with a time of 22.46 seconds; followed by Team J in 26.58 seconds; and Team I 35.45 seconds.

Certificates will also be presented to the best three teams following assessment of build quality, functionality, safety features, performance timings and structural integrity of the yachts after the race.

The students carefully researched and designed their yacht designs before setting to work on the fabrication process with a budget of £200 per team.

The teams primarily use recycled materials such as old bikes, tarpaulins and wheels, assisted by university technical services staff with any required welding.

Dr Sha Jihan, module co-ordinator from the School of Engineering, said: “The wind speed was good throughout the race event amidst the cold rain showers which delayed the start of the race at Balmedie Beach.

“All teams arrived with high levels of motivation and braved the weather condition to test their land yachts at the beach. It was a challenging task for students to have tested their land yacht to their full potential and they have experienced the effect the forces of nature have on their land yacht design and built.