For the past three years, the Royal Norwegian Yacht Club (KNS) has conducted research in new regatta technology, with goals to organize regattas more efficiently, save resources, and be more environmentally friendly. To this goal, the club has purchased robotic marks and a tracking system.
In 2021, KNS received financial support from the Norwegian Ministry of Culture of two million NOK in preparation for the ORCi European Championship 2022. This provided the opportunity to use some of the funds to invest in new technology for the benefit of this event and future regattas. With great enthusiasm, KNS purchased ten robotic marks/buoys from the supplier MarkSetBot, and a tracking system from TracTrac.
“For the upcoming season, the race officials can lay courses faster and with greater precision —both sailors and officials will benefit greatly from this technology. With the use of robotic buoys, we can reduce the crew on the water. This does not mean that we no longer need volunteers, but the work tasks and functions on board the mark boats will look somewhat different in the future than we know it today,” says Regatta Manager Karl Kjørstad.
In essence, volunteers who were once a mark setter might instead become a buoy operator.
Numerous opportunities for robotic buoys to be used throughout the club
“With ten buoys we will have the opportunity to handle most course configurations, whether for dinghies, keelboats or boards. The robotic buoys will be used in all contexts in the club, both in regattas and in training,” says Kjørstad
This investment in technology means that KNS must build new competence within the team. The hope is that this growth can appeal to existing racing officials, and also lead to recruitment of new volunteers. Experts from MarkSetBot are coming to Norway in March to provide training to the team.
From an environmental perspective, the robotic buoys will contribute to a sustainable implementation of racing events, as there will be less need for the use of motorboats.
Selecting the right organization
KNS studied and evaluated several relevant suppliers, and eventually selected the US-based MarkSetBot due to several benefits that they offer. MarkSetBot is a large organization that works closely with other important players in international sailing, and their system is used by SailGP among other large international regattas. While MarkSetBot was already competitive on price, MarkSetBot also offers integration with the tracking system TracTrac, which was a key deciding factor.
Through the research and purchasing process, KNS kept in close dialogue with their Danish and Swedish sister clubs – Royal Danish Yacht Club (KDY) and Royal Swedish Yacht Club (KSSS) – with a goal to find a common supplier so that expertise and equipment could be shared. KDY and KSSS have also purchased equipment from MarkSetBot.
A market-leading tracking provider
TracTrac is the market leader in the live tracking of sporting events. KNS has directly purchased 120 trackers from TracTrac, eliminating to need to rent equipment and service for each regatta, which is common practice. This agreement boosts the club’s technological possibilities, as by outright owning the tracking system, KNS can train on the system in between tracking regattas and build strong in-house expertise.
TracTrac was enthusiastic to partner with KNS on their ambitions to use the tracking system in club activities, and therefore tailored a club package specially adapted for KNS.
TracTrac is a leader in tracking sailing races. The system will be used in Færderseilasen (the world’s largest overnight race), ORCi European Championship 2022, and is planned to be used during Grundig Hankø Race Week.
KNS’ goal is to use the tracking system throughout the club for both training and regatta. The officials will be offered training in the system, which will be provided in conjunction with the training on the use of the robotic buoys.
“Together with the purchase of robotic buoys, this is a big step forward towards becoming an international, leading regatta organizer. We look forward to using the latest in available technology,” says Karl Kjørstad.