Vakaros is working to make start timing and management a no-brainer. Starts are often high-action, split-second battles to be first over an imaginary line, usually between a committee boat and a pin mark, while other boats are simultaneously trying to beat you. Competitors individually set their timers as accurately as possible to indicate when they can cross the line. Meanwhile, they work to position themselves perfectly for a clear lane and accelerate just in time to cross the line in clear air before all of the other boats. While this is going on, the race committee is timing the start, flying the flags, checking in competitors and watching for, and tracking, boats that cross the line early. Vakaros RaceSense seeks to simplify all of this for racers and race officials. 2024 Update
Sometimes, you buy a product and the company just keeps making it more valuable along the way. That’s the case here. Recently, Vakaros introduced RaceSense to build on the Atlas 2 platform, adding powerful race management capability. This really raises the bar.
In 2022, I bought a Vakaros Atlas 2 because I was learning a new boat, the Melges 15, and found myself needing to understand more about acceleration rates, effective dinghy roll tacks and angles downwind with an asymmetrical spinnaker. The Atlas 2 seemed like the powerful tool that would feed me the data that I needed to progress. While I haven’t figured it out completely, and the third party analysis tools need some work, I love it so far. NOW, the Vakaros team has introduced RaceSense, an incredible race management system that brings awesome value to the sailor and race committee combined. At the 2024 Melges 15 Winter Series at Jensen Beach, Florida, competitors and race officials will get a chance to try this new capability. The co-founders, Jake Keilman and Todd Wilson, joined me to discuss what RaceSense can do and why it matters.
Vakaros RaceSense leverages the existing Atlas 2 platform to
- Synchronize start timers
- Share boat positions and show line bias
- Manage OCS infractions
- Auto-configure class rule compliance
- Simplify Race Committee (RC) duties, even down to club racing
- Bring partial “Gran Prix” experience to sailors
Problems being addressed:
- Reduce General Recalls – get more racing in
- Reduce penalties by racers being more cautious
- Auto timer feature reduces start time confusion
- Eliminate need to ping starting line ends
- Competitors check in their Atlas 2 at event registration (or receive a loaner). Make sure to mount the device and turn it on each day.
- Atlas 2 devices are attached to each end of the line (and possibly windward marks) to share their positions live
- Race Committee uses an Android or iOS tablet to manage race – Vakaros approved list (rugged, bright…)
- Each competitor must have an Atlas 2 (may be provided by the event – rented or owned)
- RaceSense ensures that all Atlas 2 devices are class compliant
- Starting line end positions are automatically provided to competitors
- Starting sequence is initiated by the RC for all competitors simultaneously
- Competitor Atlas 2 devices determine if each boat is over the line at the start and notifies about penalty and remediation status
- RaceSense uses hull shape models to determine if any edge of the hull is over the line
- RaceSense lets the RC know when all competitors have remedied their infraction
- RC doesn’t miss fouling boats or penalize boats in error reducing time in redress meetings
Have you ever experienced an Individual Recall and wondered if you were the one who was over the line? How distracted were you? How much time did you lose wondering? RaceSense notifies you immediately and decisively.
RC Tablet Interface
Convenient access to the competitor list, racing area map, and timer functions. To start a race, the RC just enters a time to start and the timers are activated automagically based on accurate GPS time on each boat. The interface provides guidance about which flag is up and how the sequence progresses, reducing the training required for RC members and building confidence.
Starting Sequence Assist
Input from top PROs (Principal Race Officers) helped Vakaros to create a starting sequence assist capability to walk the team through the start. This is especially helpful for part time RC members. Watch Todd explain the feature:
RaceSense will support the ability to feed the scoring system with flag type flown and penalty assessment and exoneration. They will also be able to support exoneration strategy experimentation – “VMG loss, sail away from the ends, do a tack or however you want to do it”.
Between races, competitors know how much time they have to eat, drink or other needs before the next race start.
Todd shared a story of travelling to Sardinia, transporting the boat and crew there, only to get two OCS in the first day, effectively ending their regatta and ruining the event for them. Maybe RaceSense could help to avoid that by making competitors more conservative in their approaches. Of course, RaceSense or not, the sailor still has to keep from going over the line early, so no guarantees there.
RaceSense Class Compliance Mode
RaceSense can automatically configure all Atlas 2 devices to comply with class rules. However, the RC can also change the settings to allow certain functions such as “time to line” during practice races, if desired. Jake explains the capability here:
- Auto line end pinging
- Instant penalty notification – save time wondering and possible quicker recovery
- Remediation guidance – know when you have remediated the penalty
- Finish place notification as you cross
- Gain knowledge of how other competitors sailed. More data, less anecdote.
Vakaros is still in the process of determining the license fee for RaceSense functions, but their goal is to make it not much of a factor. They envision rental arrangements for the Atlas 2 hardware and affordable licensing. “We don’t want the cost to really be a strong consideration as to whether you use this or not.” Vakaros believes that they could actually save clubs time and money due to reduced volunteer and staff load and possibly time in protest or redress meetings. The RC might even be able to get in more races, which is a gift back.
As of early 2024, Vakaros indicates that they’ve partnered with the Melges 15 class association, Melges 20, 69F Foiling, College Sailing, RS21, Foiling Week, Star Class, International M32 class association, VX One Class, Swiss Foiling Academy, 44, iQFOiL Class, and Royal Vancouver Yacht Club.