Sustainable Moth Challenge - PoliMi Sailing Team


Since 2007, we have been designing and producing more and more advanced sailboats from year to year, built with innovative materials and with the goal of getting better and better performance to be part of competitions around the world.

As Politecnico di Milano, we can boast a very large departments of Materials Engineering, Mechanical, Aerospace, Management, and Chemistry; but also students from departments of Design and Architecture

With a team of 100 young Engineering and Design students who are passionate about sailing, we will be able, thanks to the professors, the means of the Politecnico di Milano, and the sponsors, to have a great chance of success in the competitions in which we participate!


What is the SuMoth challenge? The Sumoth challenge is a competition that aims to develop more efficient and sustainable sailboats. It is one of the pivotal events in the new world of flying sailing. The 2021-2022 edition was attended by 150 boats, 200 skippers, 50 coaches and more than 500 athletes from all over the world. Even some members of the America's Cup teams were present! Mainly The teams try their hand at designing and building prototypes that meet the characteristics of the moth sailing class.

In the 2019-2020 edition we achieved the 2nd place overall

In the 2020-2021 edition we achieved the 2nd place overall


The PoliMi Sailing Team has a long experience in design and research with and on bio-composite materials at Politecnico di Milano.

Scarliga Merluss and Crapabusa are the first Moth4two designed by PoliMi students in 2013 and 2016. Crapabusa, on the other hand, is the first boat in the world to use common denim as a reinforcing material for hull construction.

The new SuMoth 2023 challenge will sum up more than a decade of application experimentation in the field of bio-composites and foiling in just 3.30 meters in length, 8 square meters of sail plan, and 18 kg in weight.


1st place in Design and Engineering Stage

2nd place in Manufacturing and Performance Stage


The strategy focuses mainly on four points:

  • Design for high performance
  • Modular and sustainable manufacturing with life cycle analysis
  • Bio-composite and recycled materials for both the boat and production tools
  • Digitisation of navigation and design data with real-time analysis
  • Flight system design and implementation


This year, the Politecnico di Milano team decided to look for new ways to minimize the emissions of the produced boat. For this reason, numerous criteria were adopted during the design, following the different phases of a component's life cycle: production, service life, and predicting its end of life. Attention to environmental issues led the team to design a Moth that combines versatility and eco-sustainability at the same time, without sacrificing industrial production technologies. In fact, a fully recyclable hull mold was made, based on an innovative material consisting of recycled source. During the design of last year's prototype, Teti, it was necessary to work with uncertain forces, loads, and sailing conditions. For the reasons mentioned above, it was deemed essential to work and make components with higher than average safety coefficients in order to be more cautious and ensure that the structure could withstand even the most critical contingencies if needed. In order not to oversize even future prototypes, it was considered to equip Teti with sensors that would provide sensitive data to obtain useful information for future projects. As a result of this introduction, the Febe project, turns out to be more performant both in overall performance and in the expenditure of non-core materials from a structural point of view. The approach used was guided by the desire to design the most innovative boat possible, respecting all the constraints imposed by the competition and always paying close attention to the environmental impact of the finished prototype and its end of life.


The main problem the team faced was the lack of information and a state of the art as far as this category of small foiling boats was concerned. For this reason from the beginning the guys decided to equip Teti and in the future also Febe with a series of sensors that would allow them to acquire telemetry in real time and save it for future analysis on the gait and stress states to which, as a result, the various components of the boat are subjected.

With the acquired data, one is able to make increasingly timely optimizations with a good degree of affi- dibility and also provide skippers with information on their sailing conditions.

The students of the Milan Polytechnic aim to combine the classic way of sailing, the passion for sports and nature, with their advanced studies in the field of engineering, consequently it was decided to develop a more modern technology of electronic control of the boat's flight to be able to integrate in racing on their prototype.

The purpose of using these technologies is to have on the one hand a more stable boat that can be easier to use even for less experienced sailors and on the other hand an attitude control capable of increasing the boat's performance.

The most innovative feature of the control system that is implemented is to be able to have a time prediction of the boat's dynamics that allows it to choose a control routine suitable for the current and future state of the boat.

In order for the control system to have a view of the boat's state with sufficient accuracy to have a prediction of its progress, the boat is equipped with several sensors such as: a GPS, an anemometer, several IMUs, and encoders.

All the data collected by the sensors are saved, filtered and compared with each other through the use of some numerical estimators in order to extrapolate from their readings as true a view of the boat's state as possible. A number of electronic boards are mounted on board the boat which, by communicating with each other, are able to manage data storage, shore communication and the calculations necessary to reconstruct the states not observed directly by the sensors, the latter being connected to two actuators (servomotors) that act on the flap angle of the drift and the angle of attack of the rudder, respectively.

The different configurations of the control system are first tested virtually through the use of a Multibody model of the Moth and then move on to an experimental testing phase on the craft itself, this methodology allows for a priori selection of the best logics and greatly shortens the testing phase required to fine-tune the system.





SuMoth Competition:

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Mar 24,2023
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