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The University of Southampton

Students design mechanism that could reduce water pollution in the sailing industry

Published: 28 June 2012

A group of Ship Science students from the University of Southampton have designed a lifting mechanism that could help combat water pollution. The mechanism is intended to reduce the need for antifouling paint to be used by limiting the amount of time that sailing boats need to be submerged in water when in their marina berth. The project was conceptualised and supervised by University Ship Scientist Dr Stephen Boyd.

The standard practice in the sailing industry is to keep boats moored in individual berths in Marinas. This means that sailing boats are constantly submerged in water and antifouling paint is needed to prevent micro-organisms growing on the boat’s hull. This bio-fouling poses many problems in the sailing industry. Not only does it reduce the performance of boats, it requires time and money to remove, a process which often includes use of toxic antifouling paint.

With the help of Tek-Tanks, the UK’s leading supplier of standard and custom built water, waste and diesel fuel tanks to the marine and vehicle industries, the students have designed and built a prototype lifting mechanism for sailing yachts suitable for use in a standard marina berth. It is hoped that the prototype model could be developed for general use in marinas and could help to reduce the need for toxic antifouling paint and help to prevent water pollution.

The students have investigated material selection, structural calculation, stability assessment, control systems and risk assessment of the yacht lift system. Masters student Elie Amar says: “This project was primarily developed to offer all sailors, professionals and amateurs, an efficient and affordable solution to the performance, environmental, and economic issues associated with current berthing and dry-sailing techniques. It is our hope to see the widespread use of floating berthing docks in all marinas around the world. The use of this system would help sailors to save time and money whilst having a reduced impact on the fragile environment surrounding marinas.”

Hampshire based company Tek Tanks says: “It’s always refreshing to meet enthusiastic and innovative students and to work with them in developing their ideas and technology, especially where the environment is concerned, as we see marine regulations ever-tightening. We’ll certainly be here to help them take their concept into production, and wish them every success”

Ship Science at Southampton


Notes for editors

For more information about Tek-Tanks, visit To read about the floating berth project, visit

  • The students involved in this project include Elie Amar, Constantinos Chaelis, Maïlys Ecoffet, Piotr Laszczak and Stavros Santis.

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