For almost any sport, especially those in which the man does not intervene alone, many parameters must be taken into account in order to design the winning strategy. For this reason, it is increasingly common for many teams to use technology to try to analyze all the data.
One of those sports is SailGP, a catamaran competition that many compare to Formula 1 at sea. As with cars, the championship is divided into several regattas (Cádiz will host one of them in October). In these competitions the skill of the crew comes into play, but also other aspects. It is calculated that, in addition to the wind or the tides, more than 20 variables are valued to achieve victory.
With the challenge of being able to better understand how they impact and what decisions must be made in each case, in the category of F50 catamarans it has been chosen that each component of the boat incorporates thousands of sensors, responsible for recording all kinds of information. This data can be consulted in real time by the crew, which allows them to know the behavior of the ship and, with it, to decide.
On each of those eight catamarans there are 30,000 data points. These IoT (internet of things) sensors offer large sets of binary data, which are transmitted in real time to the cloud and stored. As explained by the technology provider in charge of the project, Oracle, through a high availability link and in just 80 milliseconds they reach its data center in London from the point where the race is being contested.
To get an idea of the amount of information transmitted, the platform in charge of handling this information has registered 40,000 million requests for data for each browsing session. And all of them are used for different purposes. For example, to make 2D and augmented reality (AR) graphics, perform analysis during the test that helps to optimize the statistics of the teams, to monitor the movements of the boat and even to offer race data to fans.
Finally, the data is stored in a self-contained repository. In addition, an analytical tool (Oracle Analytics Cloud) is run as the basis of the simulator that allows calculations of speed with respect to the distance traveled in a scalable way. This allows teams to determine the difference between competitors, see an F50 (the fastest racing sailing boat in the world) in the water or test the boat in different weather conditions.
In competition and design
The data extracted from the sensors is not only used to improve the results of the teams competing in regattas. They are also crucial for the engineers working on the design of the boats, allowing them to know more about how the ‘foils’ (the wings or sheets on which it rests) work and their optimization according to the wind. Likewise, they serve to detect possible weights that prevent moving at a higher speed and, of course, to improve the safety of the crew.
Lately, more sensors have been added to boats to collect data related to wind, load, the proportion of the boat that is out of the water, and so on. And all to make the catamaran sail faster. In addition, in the middle of the regatta, artificial intelligence and machine learning tools are used with which the crew can maneuver.
These tools also make calculations, in real time, of the probabilities that each boat has of winning, analyzing the way it navigates or the marks it reaches. It is expected that all the information collected this season will help to improve the simulator that will reproduce the waves and the real conditions of the sea to know the behavior of the sailboat at different times of the day.