How fast is each boat moving, which team has the best foiling? SailGP Insights gives fans answers.
By Rob Preston | December 2021
SailGP, the world’s premier sail racing league, is bringing fans even closer to the action with a new online dashboard that pulls in massive amounts of data from each team’s F50 catamaran to give viewers a wide range of race statistics and alerts.
Accessing the dashboard, called SailGP Insights and powered by Oracle Cloud technologies, fans will be able to follow every second of every race for all eight national teams. During each of the 15-minute races—starting with Season 2’s seventh event, on Sydney Harbour December 17 and 18—the dashboard will feed fans unprecedented amounts of information drawn from millions of data points generated by 30,000 sensors on each boat.
Not only will SailGP Insights render typical stats such as a boat’s time from the start of each race and its position relative to the other seven catamarans on the water, but it will also show current wind and boat speeds, current boat direction, and the maximum speed of each boat during a race, which can exceed 92 kph (57 mph). Another important set of stats is each craft’s ride height and “flight time”—measures of how effectively the crews keep their 50-foot catamarans foiling above the water in order to reduce drag.
In addition, dashboard users will receive alerts of penalties, collisions, crew injuries, and other key race incidents. Onboard video feeds will complement the worldwide broadcast coverage of each race.
30,000 sensors collect information on each boat. That data feeds into the fan dashboard.
The SailGP Insights dashboard will serve mainly as a browser-based “second screen,” letting TV viewers with internet-connected devices drill down into additional information that’s not part of the race broadcast, explains Warren Jones, SailGP’s chief technology officer. “We look at the dashboard as complementary to our great TV partners,” including CBS in the U.S., Sky Sports in the UK, Fox Sports in Australia, and Canal+ in France, Jones says.
SailGP is using a variety of Oracle Cloud technologies to collect, transmit, analyze, and organize the billions of data points generated each race afternoon by all eight boats competing on the water. Sensors attached to various parts of the F50 catamarans send that data over a bespoke LTE mobile network to an onshore landing area, where the data is transmitted over Oracle Cloud Infrastructure FastConnect to the Oracle Cloud London region. All the data generated is managed in a cloud-based Oracle Autonomous Database.
Using Oracle Stream Analytics, SailGP then turns that raw data into the dashboard metrics pushed to sailgpinsights.com. For example, boat speed is ascertained by combining and analyzing data generated by five different sensors, Jones says.
A similar process applies to the data generated by and shared among each of the SailGP national teams. Heading to Sydney for event #7, team Australia stands in first place, followed by the teams representing the U.S., Japan, Great Britain, New Zealand, Spain, Denmark, and France.
The SailGP league is unique in that all the teams’ F50 catamarans are designed and engineered to be identical—in part to minimize development costs, but also to place a greater emphasis on tactics. Every team has access to everyone else’s live and historical data, which they can use to improve their maneuvers during future races in order to gain a competitive advantage. Did the team that won the latest race gain an advantage because of the angle of its wing twists in certain tacking situations or because of the movements of its crew members during key race moments? Each team can customize its dashboard to capture the data it determines is most relevant to improving performance.
Season 2 marks the first time that SailGP, which takes pride in being the world’s first climate-positive sports and entertainment franchise, is coordinating all data and production activities for each race remotely, reducing the costs and environmental impact of sending large crews and equipment to each event.
The races are even officiated remotely, by three umpires in London and another three in other parts of the world. Thanks to Oracle Cloud, officials viewing each race can also view the relevant data that’s generated to make calls in near real time. The chief umpire’s communication of a penalty reaches the skipper of the affected team almost instantaneously, and each boat is remotely monitored to ensure that it’s then being slowed as each penalty dictates. “It all happens in the blink of an eye,” Jones says.
What’s next for the SailGP-Oracle partnership? One compelling feature—to be available on the SailGP mobile app and Insights dashboard sometime next year—is a real-time rating, on a scale of 1 to 10, of each team’s tacks into the wind, calculated using Oracle AI technology.
A longer-term joint project is a cloud-based simulator, on which teams in different parts of the world will be able to virtually practice against each other. The computer’s AI algorithms will provide the athletes with real-time feedback on their maneuvers, factoring in simulated tide, wind, and other conditions.
“I remember when SailGP started, when it was a blank piece of paper and we had the ability to move into different realms,” Jones says. “I spent six months looking at Oracle’s incredible amount of technology advancements in so many areas. We try to utilize as much of that cutting-edge technology as we can, and ML and AI are where we see an even brighter future with Oracle.”
Photography: Courtesy of SailGP and Oracle