This summer, the Premiere Sailing League will debut and test a new, fully robotic course mark for its stadium racing.
Premiere Sailing League USA (PSL) has found a partner to help elevate stadium style sailing to the next level of technological sophistication. MarkSetBot, located in Detroit, will provide the league with the world’s first robotic race mark, which allows a Race Committee to set up or change a race mark on a course more quickly and accurately than ever before.
“I am thrilled by this idea and happy that Premiere Sailing League USA is going to be the first to use the MarkSetBot,” said Premiere Sailing League USA President Benjamin Klatzka. “The engineering and programming that has been developed for this unique piece of equipment are synergistic with the innovative thinking we are bringing to PSL events to give sailors and regatta spectators an entirely new way of experiencing sailing.”
The MarkSetBot unit is approximately 8’ x 4’ in size, self-propelled, and uses GPS technology to zero in on a specific location and remain there until told to move. Best of all, it is controlled with a smart phone. A course can be set by pointing the connected phone at the wind or by using add-on wind instruments to research trends and then set the bearing based on that info.
Premiere Sailing League USA will use MarkSetBot at this summer’s stadium sailing event planned for the Great Lakes Boating Festival at Michigan’s Grosse Pointe Yacht Club (GPYC) on May 20. The regatta will be sailed in one-design J/70s, promising “adrenalin-fueled action” over a four-hour timeframe. The format is based on the concept introduced by Premier Sailing League USA and tested last Fall at the club.
“Our May 20 event is going to be a new experience for the race officials, the sailors and the audience, said GPYC Sailing Director Wally Cross, “and it’s great that we will have associated the innovation of stadium sailing with the invention of MarkSetBot.”
More About MarkSetBot
Founder and creator Kevin Morin conceptualized MarkSetBot while racing on Cass Lake (Michigan) at Pontiac Yacht Club, where he was a member. “It’s a challenging place to do Race Committee work, as the wind is very shifty, and there are many areas that are too deep to set an anchor,” said Morin. “Often the Race Committee is forced to set a course that isn’t ideal, because it’s the only location where a mark can be set. Additionally, every racer at the club must volunteer for Race Committee twice a year; I figured if we could replace the mark set boat, each racer would only have to volunteer once a year, which would mean one extra day of racing for everyone!”
Morin gives credit for his inspiration to continue the project to a retired engineer and old family friend, the late Bill Margolin. “He had a way of dissecting problems, and during the months before he passed away, we talked about the concept for MarkSetBot. He was fragile, but he still loved to solve problems, so I brought a prototype to the hospital one day. He suggested that I ditch the preliminary prototype and create a way to provide thrust via a propeller on a pivot. At the time, I thought he was crazy, but several weeks later, I saw a GPS-based trolling motor and I knew that was the way to go.”