Matthew Sheahan

Yachting WorldOctober 2019

Matthew Sheahan
Could Autonomous, Self-propelled Race Marks Provide The Perfect Answer To Laying Fair Race Courses Quickly And Easily?

One of the tough tasks in our sport is being the race officer. Whether you’re running club racing at the weekend or setting the course for a world championships, at some point the fleet will be cursing you for setting a biased line, ordering multiple recalls, making the first beat a one-sided affair, or simply for taking too long to readjust the course following a wind shift.

Pointing to the weather data to justify your actions (or procrastinations) will carry little weight as the bulk of the fleet is still be smarting over lost places and/or getting freezing cold waiting for the marks to be re-laid.

Yet as anyone who has been a race officer will know, it’s hard to lay a perfect course and predict how a shift in the breeze might affect things. And it’s even harder nowadays with more complex trapezoidal or sprint-type courses that require more mark laying boats and people to staff them. The chances of setting a perfectly aligned course each time and keeping it there are slim, as are the odds on moving the course quickly between races.

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October 2019