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Model yacht race makes a splash

by Southampton Solent University 18 May 10:36 UTC

Yacht and Powercraft Design students model yacht race © Southampton Solent University

A winner has emerged victorious at Solent University, Southampton following a high-octane race of model yachts at Gosport Boating Lake.

In an annual tradition that spans almost 50 years, BEng (Hons) Yacht Design and Production and BEng (Hons) Yacht and Powercraft Design students went head-to-head on Thursday 16 May to test out their hand-crafted model yachts and find out who would be crowned the winner.

With a reputation for producing global talent in the marine industry, Solent University’s model yacht race provides a glimpse into the skills students possess as they prepare for exciting careers on and offshore.

Inclement weather on the day posed a challenge, with 17 students setting sail to claim the top spot. Yacht Design and Production students took home the wins, with Jack Francis winning the upwind race and Sonny Day Bridger taking first place in the downwind race. Yacht and Powercraft Design student, Finlay Coyle, who built a beautiful looking model which sailed gracefully throughout the racing, won the Concours’ D’Elegance.

The racing hopefuls – all of whom are first year students at Solent – had their performance closely scrutinised by the University’s lecturers who have a global reputation in the industry. Giles Barkley, Course Leader Yacht Engineering, says:

“This tradition is a great opportunity to witness the impressive skills our students have – and at such an early stage in their university journey. Model yachts are not easy to get right, but this year’s cohort did a fantastic job producing well-designed models that performed well on the water.

“At Solent, we are proud that many of our previous winners are now thriving in the world of professional yacht design, and it is challenges like this that help to develop student skills, readying them for the competitive industry that awaits them.”

While the race has almost five decades under its belt and is notorious for being good fun, it is also about academic excellence. The race forms part of the students’ first-year studies, with lecturers assessing the standard of the yachts, as well as their durability on the day, following 100 hours dedicated to the design and build of the vessels.

Graduates have gone on to work on designs for many different Americas Cup campaigns, as well as Open 60 race yachts. With a reputation for delivering world-class teaching in the heart of one of England’s biggest maritime cities, Solent offers many different courses in yacht design, and recently introduced a Sustainable Marine Craft and Superyacht Design MSc – the first of its kind in the UK.

To find out more about the courses on offer at Solent, visit

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