“This is incredible technology and will go a long way towards making our sport environmentally friendly by using less race officials and race committee vessels. It should also eliminate unnecessary general recalls, disqualifications and speed up race operations. It will result in fairer, more accurate racing for all competitors at less expense and will be a total game changer for sailing.”
– Russell Coutts, CEO, SailGP
The MarkSetBot team has been working for the last five years to create the building blocks for a fully autonomous race course. We started with anchorless marks that move with a swipe of the finger. Now, we’re launching RaceOS – complete course automation. Self-setting race courses with wind shift adjustments, sequence and course change signals, start and finish detection with automatic scoring, all fully controlled by the MarkSetBot engine. RaceOS handles every aspect of race management.
In October 2020, we ran the world’s first fully automated regatta at Crescent Sail Yacht Club in Detroit, Michigan. With one click in the MarkSetBot app, three MarkSetBots left the club and set the windward-leeward course using wind data collected by one of the Bots. With the course set, the Bots notified sailors to the start of the race. Using trackers on each boat, the Bots detected OCS penalties and alerted racers via horns and smartphone or smartwatch notifications. After all boats were cleared, the starting line Bots adjusted to become leeward gates and ultimately a finish line. Throughout the race, the Bots collected wind data and adjustments were made to keep the course square. As racers approached the finish, the Bots sounded a horn for the first to finish boat, recorded finish times, and uploaded racing results. No race volunteers, motor boats, anchors, or fuel were needed to run this regatta. It had zero impact on the environment, and every race was perfectly square to the wind.
Participants in the fully autonomous regatta had this to say:
- “We had an awesome day out with RaceOS. We were able to run three races with square courses. We had a bunch of course changes that were done flawlessly with no race committee, just controlled by a wind sensor on the weather mark. It was really impressive.”
- “We were over early in a race and my crew was able to look down at his watch. We got a notification and cleared ourselves immediately. I was able to start aggressively, and knew when I was over without having any of the confusion that normally comes with getting hailed for being OCS.”
- “RaceOS is probably the coolest thing in sailing since they figured out how to make boats fly.”
- “The last time I was called OCS in a ‘normal’ race, it took probably 2-3 minutes to get the notice. We were the last boat they called in a group of five that were over. With RaceOS, we got the notification on our phone in just over 5 seconds.”
- “I knew I was going to get notified right away if I was over early, and that let me to be a lot more aggressive at the start than I normally would be.”
- “Pretty impressive! The automated system was completely smooth. It was more accurate than I thought it would be. It was calling boats when they were over and making good course changes. I was a little bit skeptical, but now I’m convinced.”
While this regatta was fully automated, clubs and organizers can chose the level of automation desired.
Perhaps you’d use “Full Course Automation” for club racing when volunteers are in short supply. The Bots will run all aspects of the race, from signals to OCS detection, course changes to scoring. Leave the course management to the Bots and just sail!
For a championship regatta with a professional PRO, “Mark and Sensor Automation” is ideal. The Bots are under your command. At your instruction, they’ll sound horn sequences, signal course changes, provide constant wind readings and historical data, but the decision-making and competitor tracking is up to you.
No matter the level of automation selected, RaceOS will help you run exceptional races.