Previous Boat Design

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Main Sail & Tail Sail

Our sail and tail sail designs are different than a normal sailboat in that they are rigid airfoils. We make our sails out of balsa wood and cover them in monokote. The skeleton of the sail is made from aluminum rods, and provides a frame for the sail as well as connecting the sail to the tail.

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Deck & Hull

The deck and hull are made of carbon fiber and are designed to be extremely aero- and hydrodynamic. The deck contains the hatches, which are a system designed to be easily removable while remaining completely waterproof.

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LiDAR Sensor

The LiDAR sensor uses a concentrated beam of light to detect objects up to 100 meters away. Using motors, we can move the sensor rapidly to create a 3D map of the boat's surroundings. This is used for obstacle avoidance.

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Motor Control

The motor control system includes all mechanical components inside the hull of the boat. It acts as the structural support for the keel and the sail skeleton. It enables our navigation algorithm to reliably turn the sail in response to the wind.

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The ballast is the bulb at the bottom of the keel. It lowers the boat's center of gravity. When wind causes the boat to tilt, the ballast provides a righting moment to bring the sailboat back to the vertical position.

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Printed Circuit Board

We design our own PCB every year. The PCB is the heart of the electrical components of the boat. Our PCB connects to 2 servo motors, the LiDar sensor, the IMU, the GPS and XBEE, and the wind vane.

Our Fleet

Sailvane 4

SailVane IV, "Felicia"


SailVane IV was our second boat whose deck and hull exceed a meter in length. SailVane IV had multiple removable sail skeleton mounts, which was both more durable and optimized than SailVane III's removable sails. SailVane IV also featured a 3-D printed mast step, brass ballast, and stronger, sturdier keel.

Sailvane 3

SailVane III, "Fiona"


SailVane III doubled in size to 2 meters to increase the boat's speed. The boat also had increased modularity of parts and and better integration with the navigation team. In this new design, the ballast and keel could be removed for ease of transportation and freedom to change sizes or weights. Both the main sail and tail could also be interchanged easily to reflect the wind conditions.

SailVane 2

SailVane II


SailVane II was the product of CUSail's first year as a project team. For the first time, the deck, hull, and keel were made completely from carbon fiber opposed to fiber glass in order to decrease weight yet increase strength.

A new system of rubber-mold and acrylic-channel hatches were implemented to both increase waterproofing reliability and ease taking in and out the electronics boxes from inside the boat.

For the first time, a PixyCam was fixed to the front of the deck to give our boat vision and allow us to detect buoys and avoid other sailboats.

Sailvane 1

SailVane I


SailVane I was the first boat created by CUSail. This sailboat successfully implemented the idea to eliminate the need for a rudder by adding a second 'tail' sail.

Using a combination of sensors, such as GPS, inertial measurement unit, and a magnetic rotary sensors, and a short term navigation algorithm, SailVane 1 was able to take its maiden voyage.

A microcontroller allows for communication between the sensor array, the navigation algorithm, and the control system which communicates to servo motors that rotate the sail and tail to appropriate angles.