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So, you want to race a sailboat. Great, we do too, and if you’re anything like us, you want to do it in a clean, beautiful, and sustainable environment. But the race depends on having a well set course as well. This often takes loads of powerboats setting marks, frequently burning fossil fuels and consuming volunteer resources. A serious conflict arises, but what path do you choose?

This isn’t a tightrope that has to be tiptoed across. MarkSetBot offers not only decreased carbon footprinting, but also the pinnacle of race management technology. This means that you can have a fair, safe, and sustainable course without compromising the level of course-setting that sailboat racing depends on.

How bad is it, really, to use mark set boats?

RC Armada

Let’s run through some scenarios to consider the emissions of a sailing event on the water and how to break these trends. Much like the Race Committee Armada above, many regattas use 3-4 mark boats to quickly and efficiently change courses. These teams are usually stationed at the start pin, gate, windward mark (plus more locations for other types of courses!).

And, in most cases, these boats are idling and burning fuel, waiting to react to the latest change in wind conditions. Each boat could be burning between 3 and 7 gallons of fuel daily just hanging around, depending on current, wind, and waves! Couple that with the possibility of a drive to the racecourse, and mark boats alone could burn up to 30 gallons of fuel in a day, just running one course! Even more shockingly, as each gallon of gas burned produces 20 lbs of carbon dioxide, one day of race committee could produce 600 pounds of carbon dioxide and damage to our atmosphere.

Regardless of the initial pollution coming from burning all of this fuel, volunteers and volunteer time contribute significantly to waste from regattas. A mark set team may have up to 10 members, each of whom have to travel to the regatta site daily. Their combined emissions from this travel, even if done sustainably, only add to the footprint of your regatta.

What concerns us the most, however, is one of the methods used at extreme deep water venues to set marks. Since using an anchor and regular line is impractical in much over 200 feet of water, monofilament fishing line and cinder blocks must be used to get any sort of attachment to reach the bottom. The trouble in this, however, is removing the marks. The line must be cut, which leaves miles of fishing line and cinder blocks piled up in the bottom of venues such as Lake Garda and Lago di Como. This plastic pollution has been so drastic, local governments and organizations have been scrambling to reconcile lost animal life and damaged ecosystems due to sailing practices.

What can I do?

We understand that MarkSetBot isn’t the only solution to increasing sailing’s sustainability. But, we offer solutions to counter many of the problems listed above and maintain our sailing environment for years to come.

In short, we see eliminating the need for so many mark boats and volunteers as a great step towards cleaning up our sport. Up to seven MarkSetBots can be controlled by a single operator on the Race Committee signal boat. This frees other boats and volunteers to stay off the water or work as safety boats. 

Likewise, since the MarkSetBot is electric, the combined emissions from a whole course of Bots is just a small fraction of one mark boat’s daily carbon footprint.

And, since MarkSetBot does not need to anchor, no matter the depth, marks can be set safely and with the interests of our environment at the top of one’s priorities. Even a simple anchor disturbing a lake or ocean bed can be harmful, and MarkSetBot is aiming to stop this damage.

While there are a number of ways in which regattas may be made cleaner, we hope you’ll consider the environmental impacts of hosting a sailboat race next time you hit the water and recognize that There’s a Botter Way to keep your event sustainable and spot-on.

Want to try MarkSetBot?

Learn more here