An interesting new technology feature was tested at this year’s Spring Gold Cup – real-time GPS tracking for racers in the top Sabot A fleet.
In recent years, race organizers have been using GPS race tracking at top offshore events like the America’s Cup, Transpac and Cabo Race. At the end of the Islands Race last month, NHYC decided to test out this new technology from Kattack at the Spring Gold Cup in the Junior Sabot Class. This is the first time GPS race tracking technology has been used on the tiny, 8-foot boats in the Sabot classes.
It should be understood that the Sabot A sailors tracked in the Gold Cup are generally very talented, competitive sailors – every sailor in the class has won several major sabot events just to qualify to sail in this fleet. For parents and spectators, it’s nearly impossible to distinguish what separates or differentiates good Sabot A sailors; there is great parity in this class, and even the boats that finish at the back of this fleet are all fast, smart and talented sailors.
After racing, each of the races was replayed at NHYC on a large video display screen. Both coaches and top sabot sailors were fascinated by the very detailed information GPS tracking provided.
For example, it was interesting to see that the top boats in each race generally sailed a more efficient race, with a winning racer sailing a total distance across the course that was 100-200 meters shorter than their competitors’ tracks. Top finishers also maintained better boat speed, but not by much; top boats were often only a tenth of a knot faster than other boats in each race. At the end of the event, it was clear that even slight tactical or boat-speed advantages directly led to better overall finishes in the regatta.
As the GPS tracking technology gets progressively smaller and cheaper, look to see this technology moving into smaller and smaller classes, and Kattack is already working on their “Next Generation” GPS tracking devices. These new technologies are going to bring a higher level of technical sophistication to all levels of sailing, training and coaching.
To see this Gold Cup data first hand, go to www.kattack.com., and click on the link to the “Islands Race.” There are links to each of the four Sabot A races in the Gold Cup, and there is additional access to a replay feature that allows playback of all the racers on the course.