My Experience as a Land Yacht Engineer: Part 3 – Race Day

In this final entry, I am going to give an overview of the race day, which was a great lesson in the difference between ideal testing areas, such as the university, and the harsh, real-world conditions the land yacht had to function in.

The weather conditions on the day were unpleasant to say the least, with pouring rain, bouts of snow and the odd ray of sunshine. The wind speed was also unexpectedly high relative to previous years—and considering the increase in the design specification was to accommodate lower wind speeds as seen in previous years. The combination was to prove interesting.

Part 3

One consequence of the increased wind speed…

engineering part 3.jpg

Photo Credits: Press and Journal

The wing we had designed and fabricated worked well insofar that when lying flat on the beach, it had to be weighted down lest it take off; and when assembled onto the land yacht, it maintained a rigid structure despite experiencing significant drag force coming from the crosswind.

Unfortunately, the wing worked too well as a drag device and a section of mast that was not supported by PVC deflected significantly and failed. However, with the aid of some on-the-spot thinking, we were able to reduce the surface area of the wing, hence reducing the drag force, and successfully completed the race with the aid of some mechanical propulsion (albeit, not at the project speed). The structural integrity of the chassis remained sound and we were awarded an A grade for the overall fabrication and race day assessments.

Following the race, the final deliverables for the module were individual logbooks from team members (an easy task for those of us that kept them up to date…) and a group report detailing the entire project, which serves as a gentle warm-up to the substantial fifth-year M.Eng. group thesis.

On reflection, the module managed to encompasses engineering analysis, design and management skills and place them within the context of a real project, allowing for the gap between textbook and practice to be reduced. It was in the inevitable mistakes made along the way that significant learning occurred.

In summary, I would imagine that most engineering students preparing to enter their fourth year of study, undertaking internships or applying for graduate positions, do so feeling more confident as a result of this module—I know I do.

Read part 1- My Experience as a Land Yacht Engineer– Design
Read part 2- My Experience as a Land Yacht Engineer – Fabrication

jordan davidson


Jordan Davidson is a third-year Mechanical Engineering student on the Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) course. In 2014, he was awarded the BP STEM Scholarship and has interests in materials science and engineering mathematics. In a previous life, he was a musician and holds a B.A. (Hons) degree in Music.




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