We are excited to feature another yacht club that has committed to the botter way of race management: Chicago Yacht Club!

We sat down with Tom Sublewski, Race Committee chair at Chicago Yacht Club, to find out what led them to MarkSetBot and what convinced them to purchase the World’s First Robotic Buoy.

Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago Yacht Club (CYC) faces several challenges when it comes to setting and managing a racecourse. Deep water, limited resources and a full racing schedule all contributed to CYC looking for a way to optimize their race management. It was not long before MarkSetBot caught the club’s eye as a potential solution. “The ease of course layout and mark placement are what initially interested us in MarkSetBot,” Sublewski said. Using GPS technology and a battery powered motor, MarkSetBots autonomously navigate to a given location, all without the use of anchors.

Bots being towed with Chicago skyline in the background

Bots being towed out at Chicago NOOD

Like many other clubs, CYC runs events of various scope and size, from National regattas to weekday race series. “We use the Bots on both big and small events, from an impromptu six boat training day for the youth sailing program, to one design fleet racing, to the NOODs,” Sublewski says. “[With Bots] we can respond to our sailors by getting a racecourse properly set up quickly and easily changed as the wind shifts.”

MarkSetBots allow for quick and easy course changes, while also reducing the workload for race committee members and volunteers. Traditional race management methods require several mark setting boats, fully equipped with anchors, tetrahedrons and volunteers to drop and retrieve anchors. Limited resources and lack of volunteers can make it difficult to manage all the races a club runs throughout the year. Sublewski explained how this played into their decision to purchase Bots; “it takes X number of dollars to put a boat and operator on the water for each event we run,” he says. “We calculated that we could easily justify the expense of the bots given the number of races we run each event.”

Aside from offering course setting and personnel solutions, Bots also provide a sustainable option compared to traditional methods, something that Chicago Yacht Club truly values; “in addition to the monetary benefits, the Bots aid in promoting ‘Green Boating’ practices,” Sublewski said. “We are able to remove one or two [power] boats from each racecourse, reducing fuel usage and emissions.”

When it comes to deciding his favorite feature, however, Sublewski has trouble deciding; “my favorite feature is either the MarkSetBot app, which makes it easy to lay out the racecourse, or the wind instrument at the weather mark, which allows us to capture data and readings without needing a boat at the windward mark.”

For Tom Sublewski and Chicago Yacht Club, the goal is to do more than just create perfect racecourses. “The Bots add a whole new dimension to running sailboat races and are a giant step into the future of running races.”

Learn more about Chicago Yacht Club here; and click here to learn more about how MarkSetBot can help your club learn the botter way!