Welcome to the 2009 World Robotic Sailing
Championship and International Robotic Sailing Conference. This
is the second edition of the WRSC/IRSC launched in Austria in
May 2007, as a spinoff of the Microtransat initiative. The WRSC
is a competition open to fully autonomous and unmanned sailing
boats up to 4m in length and will be organised as a series of
fleet regattas at open sea and demonstrations of sailing
maneuvers. The notice of event and detailed sailing
instructions will be posted soon in this website.
The International Robotic Sailing Conference will
be held in parallel with WRSC, in a
format similar to the 2008 edition. The aim of the conference is
to promote the dissemination of works worldwide on the various
engineering challenges around the development and operation of
unmanned fully autonomous sailing boats.
Participants intending to attend the 2009 WRSC/IRSC are invited to
pre-register by sending an email to wrsc(at)fe.up.pt. Please
include the team name, affiliation and main data of the boat (a
photo and a weblink would be appreciated). The participation in
the WRSC will require the submission and presentation of (at least) one
paper reporting the latest developments of each team's boat.
Registration fees are listed in the table below.
WRSC and IRSC
before May 3rd, 2009
before May 24th, 2009
after May 3rd, 2009
The registration in the WRSC
includes the utilisation of a chasing boat, refreshments, and the participation of
the team member's in the IRSC.
The registration form is available as an
Excel spreadsheet and a
PDF file. The registration form
should be sent by fax to +351 225081443 or by email to
email@example.com. For security reasons, if sending the
registration form by email, the 3-digit credit card security code may be sent as a text SMS message to the
chair's personal mobile phone +351 919339372.
IRSC welcomes paper submissions on a wide range of
topics around autonomous sailing, including (but not limited to):
- mechanical design and advanced materials
- hardware and software organisation
- energy and power management
- control architectures and algorithms
- route planning and optimisation
- machine learning and adaptation
- applications of autonomous sailing boats
- legal issues for autonomous vessels
Authors are invited to submit papers up to 8 pages in length,
according to the IEEE conference proceedings format as set by
the IEEEtran package for Latex
Papers should be formatted for A4 paper, two columns and 10 point typeface.
If using other document formatting tool, please format
it as close as possible to this sample paper (PDF,
How to submit a paper
Submissions should sent as a single PDF file by email to the address
firstname.lastname@example.org or to the conference chairs
Please state in the mail subject "IRSC2009 submission" and include in the text message the paper title and the name, affiliation,
and email of a contact author. If submitting multiple papers, please send each one in a separate email.
A confirmation reply will be sent to acknowledge the reception of submissions.
Our email server limits the file attachments to 10 Mbytes. In the case the PDF file exceeds 10 Mbytes,
please send it archived in smaller volumes, using any freely available file archiver for Windows or Linux.
- Full paper submission: March 27th, 2009April 5th, 2009
- Notification of acceptance: April 10th, 2009May 8th, 2009
- Registration and final paper submission:
May 3rd, 2009
May 24th, 2009
José C. Alves - Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto, Portugal
Nuno A. Cruz - Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto, Portugal
The WRSC regattas will be held at
the Atlantic Ocean, near the harbour of Leixoes.
This is the largest commercial harbour in the north of Portugal, located in the cities of
Matosinhos and Leça da Palmeira, about 1 km to the north of Porto.
Inside the harbour, in the north-east corner of the basin,
Marina Porto Atlântico offers approximately 240 berth places, various services and hosts 4 sailing clubs.
The Clube Naval de Leça will be the organising
club of WRSC2009.
The marina is at walking distance of several restaurants, hotels, beaches and public transportation.
A list of reccomended hotels will be added soon to this page.
Image below shows the approximate regions normally used for sailing regattas
at Leixoes. Inside the harbour and close to the marina
there is also a small restricted area that may be used for
testing (see next image).
A 270º view of the marina, taken from the red spot above (click the image)
Coming to Matosinhos
Matosinhos is located at the north of Porto, the second
largest city in Portugal. The city is served by three main highways, the
International airport "Francisco Sá Carneiro" and also the marina "Porto Atlântico",
where the WRSC will take place.
For those travelling by car from the north of Europe, the suggestion is to
cross Spain via San Sebastián-Burgos (A8-AP1-A1), then
Burgos-León (A231), León-Benavente (A66) and Benavente-Verin
(A52). Take the A52 exit no. 160 towards Verin/Portugal and enter
Portugal. After a few kilometres of regular road the highway
heads first to Vila Real/Chaves (A24), Guimarães (A24/A7),
Porto/Braga (A7), Porto (A3) and finally Matosinhos (A4).
A variety of hotels and residences has been
selected to serve different tastes price ranges and and styles of accommodation.
At just 5 min walking distance from the
marina, the "Stella Maris de Leixões" offer simple but
comfortable rooms and a familiar environment for very convenient
prices. All rooms have private bathroom, cable TV, a mini fridge and free
wireless Internet. Other facilities include a private garden,
Table below lists the special prices for
this event and do not include breakfast (there is no restaurant
service). The residence has double rooms and quad rooms with two
individual beds plus an additional bunk bed (two "stacked"
Stella Maris - room type
price (in Euros, VAT included)
double room, one person
quad room, three people
Reservations should be made directly to the residence via the email address
email@example.com or telephone +351229952756 (English speaking).
When making the reservations, please refer the participation in the World Robotic Sailing Championship because
the residence is not open to the general public.
Also at walking distance from the marina (~10 min), the
Leça da Palmeira offers single and double rooms for prices
between 40 and 50 Euros, including breakfast.
Still in Leça da Palmeira, ~2 km east from the marina, there is the Holiday Inn*** hotel.
Special rates have been negotiated with a local travel agency
(LuxTravel): 50 Euros for single or
double room and 65 Euros for a triple room (large bed plus a sofa-bed), breakfast included. Reservations
should be made directly to the travel agency by the email geral(at)luxtravel.pt (please indicate
the participation in WRSC, organized by FEUP and Clube Naval de Leça).
At the south side of the harbour, in the city of Matosinhos, we
Porto Mar. It is located in a
busy commercial street, close to the tramway, and offers single
to triple rooms for prices ranging from 45 to 75 Euros, including breakfast. Walking distance
to the marina is 2 km.
In the centre of the city of Matosinhos,
close to the central garden and the city hall (Câmara Municipal),
there is the
Amadeos with prices from 60 to 70 Euros (the marina is at 3 km).
A Camping site is also available near the
sea and 9 km to the north of the marina (Camping Orbitur Angeiras).
It has bungalows and allows mobile homes and caravans. Using
secondary roads by the sea the distance to the marina can be easily
done by bicycle.
Electronics and fibreglass workbench
The organisation will provide at the WRSC site a workbench with some electronic laboratory equipment to be used by the teams (multimeter, oscilloscope, signal generator, soldering stations, breadboards and basic tools). As the marina is only at 20 min from the University, we can also provide access to additional test and measurement equipment, including facilities for fast prototyping of small printed circuit
Another workbench will be set at the sailing club with composite materials required for small repairs in the hulls and spars. Limited quantities of fibreglass, carbon fibre, and polyester/Epoxy resins will be available there.
Real-time tracking during the competitions
During the WRSC regattas the organisation will provide one GPS/GPRS tracking device for each boat. This complete tracking solution is supported by Inosat (www.inosat.pt) and allows the real time visualisation of the position of each competitor on a webpage. The data communication over GPRS is offered by a Portuguese mobile operator, Portugal Telecom (www.tmn.pt). A
public site will be set on shore to allow following the races on a video
The actual size and weight of the tracking devices will be announced soon, as well as specific requirements for installation in the
The WRSC competition is open to
autonomous unmanned sailing boats up to 4m in length. The
general rules are the same adopted for the 2008 WRSC and the Microtransat competition:
boats must be fully autonomous, either in terms of energy and their
decision and control system; each boat must be capable of carrying or
generating enough electric energy for a whole day of operation;
remote operation may be allowed temporarily only for collision avoidance;
the only source of propulsion allowed is the wind; any type of motorised propulsion system will be
physically blocked prior to the races:
Portuguese regulations require that all the boats must be under
human surveillance all the time. Each team will be responsible to
intervene in the risk of collision and will be liable for any
damage caused to any other boat or equipment. Autonomous
navigation will be authorised only within a closed region
established by the organisation and the local maritime
authorities. The geographic coordinates of the allowed navigation areas will be
announced some days before the event.
All the activities on the sea with the autonomous boats and the auxiliary chasing boats will be
subject to the recommendations and restrictions established by the organisation
and the local maritime authorities. Special attention will be given to safety and security issues.
Teams bringing (or renting) their own chasing boat must certify they comply with the Portuguese regulations,
in what concerns to the safety equipment required aboard and the personal
qualifications needed for driving a boat.
Rules of sailing
As the sailing boats are not required to identify obstacles by themselves(including the other
competitors), the official
Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) will not be fully applied at WRSC.
However, when two (or more) boats are detected to be in risk of collision, the
team members or the organisation should manually
modify the course of the boat with no right of way. Only rules 10 (right of way on opposite tacks),
11 (on the same tack, overlapped) and 12 (on the same tack, not overlapped) will be applied.
The basic racing rules that will be used during the WRSC are summarized in the
"Introductory Rules for Racing"
. This is a two page document with some explanatory diagrams,
produced by ISAF in order to help newcomers to sailboat racing without needing the knowledge of the full RRS.
- boats may touch the marks, as long as they pass the buoy by the correct side of
the course (point 8);
- a boat with right of way do not have to give space to a boat with no right of way, when maneuvering to
avoid colision (point 6);
Scoring will be based on the low point system (the score is the finishing place).
The finishing place will be determined by the compensated time
calculated for each boat using a simplified version of the
KLR formula (considering the spinnaker factor, underwater factor and rig factor equal to 1).
A time limit may be established for each regatta.
The WRSC competition will comprise a maximum of 4 regattas. Each regatta will be set for
an estimated duration of 1.5h for the slower boat.
July 8th, 09:30
Briefing with teams
July 8th, 12:00
Start for race 1, followed by race 2
July 9th, 09:30
Briefing with teams
July 9th, 12:00
Start for race 3, followed by race 4
The regattas will be set around a triangular or trapezoidal course, defined by 3 or 4 physical buoys.
The geographic coordinates of each buoy and the sequence of passing will be announced at least 1 hour before
the start of each racing day. The coordinates of each buoy will only be obtained after the buoys are set
and stabilized on the sea, to ensure their coordinates are as accurate as possible.
Each regatta consists on a fixed number of turns, in a order that
will be announced once the course is set. The boats should round the
buoys counter-clock-wise by the outer side of the course.
The course will be maintained for the two regattas planned in each day. If the position of
buoys change during the day due to the tide, wind or current variation, the organization will
do its best to relocate them in their original position.
Figures below show the configuration of a possible course
with 3 buoys; the actual number of turns
and the position of the finish line will be
defined according to the planned race duration.
The start procedure is discussed in the next paragraphs.
The start line will be defined by two boats of the race committee, a few hundred meters downwind
of the first buoy of the course. Prior to the start signal, the autonomous boats should
be held manually behind the line by each team in their chasing boat. At the start signal,
boats should be released in autonomous mode. To prevent collisions at the start line, the chasing
boats should space as evenly as possible along the line.
The start line will be set as balanced as possible with respect to the wind direction and the first buoy.
The position for each team along the start line will be drawn during the initial briefing at the beginning of
each race day.
The protocol before the start signal will be the usual in fleet regattas:
- 5 min: class flag (Microtransat flag, TBD)
- 4 min: P-flag up (dark blue with a white rectangle in the middle)
- 1 min: P-flag down
- 0 min (start): class flag down
The finish line will always be placed on a course buoy, prependicular as possible
to the direction from the previous buoy. The line will be defined by two race
committee boats or by one boat and the course buoy. The finish line extends
to 50 m to the inner side of the course and to the infinity to the outside of the course.
Each team should have means to provide the race committee a track log of its boat during the courses.
Minimum data to be recorded is the time of day up to the second and the geographic position (lat/lon)
at regular intervals not longer than 10 seconds.
The organisation may also provide standalone individual devices for real-time tracking via the GSM mobile network.
Hitting a buoy does not incur in any penalty, as long as the boat ends up rounding the buoy
by the correct (outer) side of the course. If any part of the boat gets stuck in the buoy, it can be
released manually, providing that the operation does not affect the other competitors.
A boat passing by the inner side of the course
but within a 50 m distance of the buoy will incur in a 10% penalty in its final
compensated time. In the case of doubt, the actual track log of each boat will be
analysed for confirmation.
Previous rule also applies at the finish line: if a boat does not cross the finish line
but reaches the 50 m circle around the buoy at the finish line, it will be considered
finished but adding a 10% penalty to its final compensated time.
If during a leg from buoy B0 to B1 a boat does not reach the minimum distance of
50 m from the destination buoy B1 and decides to route to the next buoy B2
it will be considered it did go directly from B0 to B2, missing buoy B1.
The time penalty in this case will be a fixed 20% plus the
percentage of distance saved for not passing that buoy. Upwind legs with real distance
L will account for 1.5xL and downwind legs with just L.
The organizing sailing club, the National Authorities
their officers, members and volunteers do not accept liability for loss of life or property,
personal injury or damage caused by or arising out of the World Robotic Sailing Championship.
A competitor team is wholly and exclusively responsible for third party liability insurance on the boat
they are sailing. Competitors take part in the regattas entirely at their own risk.
It is the responsibility of each team to decide to participate in a race or to continue racing.
A boat can carry signs that identify it as unmanned, autonomous or robotic. However,
this is not legally recognized and will always be considered an informal indication for any other vessel
navigating in the race area. Thus, any type of such unofficial sign will not reduce in any aspect
the liability of the competing team, in what concerns personal injuries or material damages caused by
Hull: adapted Laerling (Linge design)
LOA: 3.72 m
Beam: 1.38 m
Draft: 0.55 m
Displacement: 315 Kg
Energy: 3 x 95 Wp solar panel
Batteries: 4.6 KWh Li-ion batteries
Computer: Mini ITX 800 MHz, 512MB
Operating system: Linux
Year of construction: 2006
Hull: glass fiber foam sandwich
LOA: 3.99 m
Beam: 1.60 m
Draft: 2.00 m
Displacement: 450 Kg
Energy: 4 x 90 Wp solar panel, fuel cell
Batteries: 2.4 KWh Li-Mn batteries
Operating system: Debian Linux
Year of construction: 2009
Hull: glass fiber sandwich
LOA: 2.40 m
Beam: 0.50 m
Draft: 1.00 m
Displacement: 35 Kg
Energy: 70 Wp solar panel
Batteries: Li-ion batteries
Computer: C167 microcontroller
Year of construction: 2006-2009
Hull: designed to the SailBot Class Rule
LOA: 2.00 m
Beam: 0.30 m
Draft: 1.50 m
Displacement: 27 Kg
Batteries: Rechargeable "C" batteries
Computer: Programmable logic board
Year of construction: 2008-2009
LOA: 72 cm
Beam: 21 cm
Draft: 12.5 cm
Displacement: 4 Kg
Energy: 400 mW peak solar panel
Batteries: 187 Wh (12x NiMH F cells)
Computer: PIC 18f4550 Microcontroller (optionally a Gumstix SBC)
Operating system: none (optionally Linux)
Year of construction: 2009
LOA: 3.65 m
Beam: 0.86 m
Draft: 0.65 m
Displacement: 280 Kg
Energy: 90 W peak solar panel
Batteries: 2.8 KWh lead-acid
Computer: Gumstix Single board computer
Year of construction: 2006-2007
Hull: carbon fibre-honeycomb sandwich
LOA: 2.50 m
LWL: 2.48 m
Beam: 0.67 m
Draft: 1.25 m
Displacement: 50 Kg
Energy: 45 Wp solar panel
Batteries: 2 x 95 Wh Li-ion batteries
Computer: FPGA-based computer
Operating system: uCLinux
Year of construction: 2008
From a strictly sailing point of view and after applying the low point system as
planned in the rules, the final classification just defines 3 positions because only two of the boats
did conclude the course autonomously, within the time limits established by the jury and race committee.
Below are the results that have been validated by the jury:
However, the aim of this competition is to stimulate the development of fully autonomous sailing boats and the final results
should reflect the actual ability of each competitor to perform a pre-defined course under fully autonomous control,
even if this is only partially done.
These are the final results:
Only two boats completed races under fully autonomous sailing. Roboat (AUT) won
all the four regattas and FASt (POR) did not complete
the first two regattas on July 8th and was second in the two regattas of the second day, July 9th.
For the boats that did not complete the course in any regatta,
the final classification was determined by the latest buoy reached under autonomous sailing. In the classification table above,
"DNF(bk)" means a boat did not complete the course (DNF=did not finish), but reached buoy k sailing autonomously
(b1 is the first buoy). The result "DNS" means a boat that did not start within the time limit after the start signal.
Owen Brooks, USNA team:
"The American Team learned many important lessons during the competition.
Our boat, "Luce Canon" was designed for the SailBot competition as a round-the-bouys racer,
but also capable of navigation and station keeping at a single waypoint.
At WRSC2009 we discovered the issues in durability and corrosion were our boat’s weakness,
especially in the oceanic conditions. We had always practiced in a calm river so
this was the first we experienced large waves and gusting winds above 20 knots.
Next year we hope to build a more durable hull that is offshore capable, reinvestigate
the rig stiffness, and re-think how we make thru-deck
connections. The rest is classified."
Yves Brière, ISAE team:
"The ISAE / Iboat team had a great jouney in Matosinhos. First day testing
was a surprise : the brand new controller was not tested before and it
took us one minute to understand that it will never work! During day
2 we could verify that our "hardware in the loop" concept worked fine
: we designed, tested in simulation and embedded a brand new control
algorithm. Unfortunately we finished too late to test it on the water
Day 3 was the first regatta day. Our controller worked perfectely
fine but it now was time for hardware problems! After buoy 3 there
was too much water into Iboat and the rudder actuator died... (Iboat1
is our old prototype and was not supposed to be used any more). By
chance we brought spare parts of everything. Unfortunately (again) we
were not in time for day 4 first regatta but decided to do it anyway.
The controller worked again fine but during buoy 4 to 5 final rush the
rudder died again... Loading Iboat on the zodiac, rush to the harbour
to fix the rudder and rush back to the last regatta. Too late again!
We did it anyway. The final test was the good one: we completed the
full regatta in 45mn approximately. All our tests were done in full
Finally we are 99% satisfied : the concept works fine, the controller
is good, the software environment is great."
Roland Stelzer, InnoC team:
"The testing days were very important for us, because we cannot
test on sea very often. We used these test runs to find out how the boat behaves
in waves under relatively strong wind conditions. Sometimes the boat needed a
few attempts for tacking and it tended to oversteer after the manoeuvres.
Fortunately we could finish our software improvements in time and the
manoeuvres worked perfectly during the races.
Under wind conditions of 5 or 6 Bft it turned out that our sail drive is too weak to
tighten the sheets completely. That's a point to be fixed in the near future. Either by a stronger motor,
or (what I prefer) by a balanced rig design in order to decrease the forces needed to control the sails.
To summarise, we had a great time in Portugal.
We have learned once more that Austrian lakes are much different to the oceans.
We are happy about the progress of all the teams.
More and more boats are able to finish a triangular course autonomously.
I'm looking foreward to WRSC 2011!"
Colin Sauze, University of Aberystwyth:
"Prior to our arrival in Portugal we had redesigned the motor controller in Beagle B.
Our previous I2C based motor controller suffered from crashes due to motor noise and we had
replaced it with a system using an 8-bit parallel bus. Unfortunately we had no time test it before
leaving. We found that the although new system was much more robust against electrical noise,
but it was too slow to keep the boat on course. We therefore spent a lot of time redesigning this
system to work, unfortunately this meant we did complete it until after the last race.
We also decided that our wing sail was too big and we cut off approximately 20% of it.
Despite not being able to compete properly in any races by the end of the week we actually had
restored Beagle B to a working state.
We also brought several of our new small boats known as MOOPs (Minuature Ocean Observation Platform).
As we only had access to one chase boat and Beagle B was not reliable enough to be left alone
we decided not to enter any of these into the races.
We did test them on the Saturday and were very pleased with their performance.
We also used the week to test some of our oceanographic equipment.
We tested a hydrophone and recorded lots of noise from within the harbour.
We also sampled the water quality with a multi-parameter water
monitoring sonde which we towed behind Beagle B."