Even in high school, math
doesn’t have to be boring. That’s
what Christopher Skiba and the
Virginia chapter of the Society of Naval
Architects and Marine Engineers hope
to get across with their annual ship-design contest. This year, the competition’s fourth, 50 teams of high schoolers from across the state took part in
a scaled-down version of the big-ship
When he was a student at Newport
News Shipbuilding apprentice school,
Skiba was part of the group that came
up with the contest as a way to impart
the exciting aspects of engineering by
using math and physics to build a boat, and race it against other boats. The contest
is a lot of work, says Skiba, but “when you meet the students and see the passion
they have for it, and they say ‘Wow, this is cool, I didn’t realize how much was
involved in designing boats,’ that’s what makes it worth it for us.”
Over its brief run, the contest has grown to the point where they need to enlist
judges from across the country to winnow down the designs to the top finalists,
and it has become a year-round hobby for the organizers. Along the way, students
have to meet project deadlines, calculate weights and waterlines, and consult with
professional shipbuilders to make their projects seaworthy.
Designs are limited to the use of two sheets of 1/8-inch steel measuring 5x10
feet and a team of professionals at Newport News Shipbuilding builds the top
four. Once the four boats are built, they must be tested, and the most important
criteria are maneuverability and, of course, speed. Powered by a radio-controlled
trolling motor, the small craft must navigate a course with cargos ranging from two
50-pound bags of sand, to 800 golf balls. This year, a team from Jamestown High
School in Williamsburg, Virginia, took first place with their design, christened
Anchor Management. For info about the contest, check www.sname.org/SNAME/
DesignCompetition/Home/ Default.aspx. — Chris Landers
The boat from Granby High School, Norfolk, VA.
Budget To Dim “Eyes in the Sky”?
Rescuers pulled sailor Abby Sunderland
from the Indian Ocean in June 2010 after she’d
capsized and dismasted her 40-foot sailboat, and
activated two EPIRBs aboard. Those signals initiated a successful, four-nation search-and-rescue
operation made possible by NOAA’s polar-orbiting and geostationary satellite network, but the
system itself could be in trouble now.
The federal budget compromise worked
out in April 2010 and due to expire at the end
of September will have the unintended consequence of delaying the launch of replacement
satellites, in 2014 and 2018, potentially leaving
gaps in time where there could be no operational polar-orbiting weather satellites. The spending bill to fund the federal government for the
final five months of the 2011 fiscal year holds
the polar-orbiting weather satellite system at its
2010 funding level, delaying both new satellites
by 18 months.
PHOTO COURTESY SOCIE TY OF NAVAL AND MARINE ENGINEERS
This could mean that response time to signals from distressed mariners and pilots could
double, according to NOAA. While the geostationary weather satellites now aloft have search-and-rescue capabilities, polar satellites fly at
lower altitude and receive distress signals more
quickly. They cover the globe versus the weather
satellites that stay over the continental U.S.
Polar satellites also monitor weather and climate
buoys that contribute to accurate forecasting for
severe weather events like hurricanes and torna-does. Congress and the administration are continuing to negotiate the federal budget for fiscal
year 2012, which starts October 1. — R.L.
The National Women’s Sailing Association and
BoatU.S. named Dawn Santamaria, founder of Sisters
Under Sail, recipient of its 2011 Leadership In Women’s
Sailing Award. Santamaria accepted the honor June
4 at the 10th annual Women’s Sailing Conference,
held at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead,
Sisters Under Sail is a unique program that has
taken some 400 girls “down to the sea in ships,” building confidence, enhancing self-esteem, and teaching
the value of working together through sail training. Its
classroom is the 110-foot, square topsail, gaff-rigged
schooner Unicorn, said to be the only all-female-crewed
tall ship in the world. Girls come from all over the country to learn new skills aboard ship and expand their lives
with accomplished sailors who quickly become female
role models. Santamaria founded the nonprofit organization in 2005 and Unicorn sails in alternate years on the Long Island-Maine route and in the Great Lakes.
The Leadership In Women’s Sailing Award, created in 1999, honors an individual who has a record of achievement in inspiring, educating, and enriching the lives of women through sailing. National Women’s Sailing Association founder Doris Colgate,
president and CEO of Offshore Sailing School and recipient of the award in 2004, served as featured speaker at the conference.
Read about Dawn Santamaria’s accomplishments as well as previous award recipients on the BoatU.S. Women in Boating website:
www.BoatUS.com/women/leadership.asp. — R.L.
Top Honor For Tall Ship Program Founder Dawn Santamaria (back row, second left), founder of Sisters Under Sail, is recipient of the 2011 Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award.