OpenSailor: wind and sun as engines!

3689415566?profile=originalHi all!

I came a few months ago to talk about VRC-A class, a class for autonomous sailing boats (without crew).

I will come to you today to talk about OpenSailor, the first sailing boat that will meet the VRC-A class measurement rules.

OpenSailor is an autonomous sailing boat - unmanned - capable of covering several hundred nautical miles in complete autonomy (nautical and energetic) ... This is a monohull of slightly more than three meters which has forms similar to an Open 60. Because we are enthusiasts with a limited budget, we build it from a canoe that we have cut and constrained.

From the energy viewpoint, OpenSailor will carry the equivalent of 200 Ah battery wich will be refilled by wind and solar energy.

OpenSailor will carry everything needed to be aware of its environment (wind,atmospheric pressure, wave,...), position (GPS) and its physical behavior (speed, drift, heel, trim,...). It will be able to adapt to weather conditions (sail trim, reefing, cap,...) to go to a point defined in advance.

The yacht is currently under design and construction, and all the design documents (available under a CC: BY-NC-SA license) will be on the site progressively following our steps forward!

We are at the beginning of the project, but here's a first provisional schedule:
  • July 2012: first navigation in "radio controlled" mode on Lake Geneva
  • July 2013: first autonomous navigation, probably St Malo -> Jersey -> St Malo or Les Sables d'Olonne -> Douarnenez

Sincerely yours.


E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • Pierre, 

    <-- One picture of my boat (my avatar). Sorry Not much else.  I will have to get some photos up soon. 

    I'm not too far along (not enough time). I have a 1m boat with Adrupilot, GPS, and wind vain.  Started with 2.7 code and added in stuff for wind vain.  Bit stumped right now with finding a way to average readings from wind vain (rolling average doesn't work around a circle).  I've found some ways to do it with trig but I want something that uses less processor. Average set of angles

    Once I come up with a averaging I like the 1st test (water test) will be letting adrupilot trim the sail as I steer by radio.

    Nice video from IFREMER.



  • By the way, I forgot ... For those interested in this subject, I posted a video of an autonomous sailboat built by IFREMER. Really impressive ....
  • Hi and thanks to all!


    @Philippe : I'm not from Switzerland but from north of France (near Belgium), but yes, i know their website. Very impressive project, but I don't know what they do for the last year…

    @Troy : Have you some photos or tips to share on your project ? I've seen nothing in your profile and i'm very interested…



  • I am very interested to watch as the project progresses.

    I to am working on an an autonomous sail boat, although no where near as big as yours. I hope to have something floating around by the end of the summer.

    Looking forward to updates. Keep up the work.



  • Hey guys,
    As I am very enthusiastic about sailing I really like your idea! As you are obviously from switzerland, I wondered whether you are aware that a group of student had a similar project about two years ago: Well now as I am searching for the link, they are infact still active here is the link
    However I really like your work! Keep it up!

    SSA | Students Sail Autonomously
  • Hi all!

    Thanks to all of you for your interest...

    @William: on micro-transat, there are two important points. The first is the measurement rules: the VRC-A class is a "box rule" that is natively designed to be compatible with the micro-transat one, there is no problem on that side. The second point concerns the teams that can participate to the micro-transat. There is, for now, one problem: the micro-transat is opened only to teams of students (universities, engineering schools,...). The OpenSailor team is not composed of students :-(. Maybe they change the rules if enough teams are in our case ...

    @Mike : sorry for that :-(

    @Kevin : Our idea is to share everything we do. This is also why we publish the documentation under a Creative Commons license. So you are welcome on our site to explore our documentation, depending on how we move forward, what we do and how we do it. You are also welcome to participate, through your comments if any ...

    Even if my English is far from excellent;-) I'll try to post here regularly, the progress of our discussions and work ...

  • A very interesting project Pierre! I'll be interested in seeing how programming handles sail trim and reefing (physically with motors, I know, but programming the autopilot could be difficult (as in situation like "in irons", with the bow into the wind and the sails blowing straight back down the centerline). Thanks for sharing your project info.

  • Not sure I like this idea at all...
  • Amazing project!

    Perhaps you could include an AIS system and just declare it as an autonomous vessel.

    Do you have any thoughts on the Microtransat Challange? (

    Thanks so much for sharing this,



  • Hi!

    You're right, Marc. It's a potential problem we are conscious of... The VRC-A class provides a number of things to ensure that our boats are considered, in the sight of international law, as a marine beacon (a kind of buoy) which is not subject to the code of the navigation nor the COLREGS... But it is a subject that will certainly further at some point...


    Thank you very much for your interest in our project!


This reply was deleted.