Animation Research, the Dunedin based company behind the Virtual Eye technology used at the Americas Cup, has just completed successful testing in Dubai for what is arguably one of the richest yacht races in the world.
The annual Sir Bu Naair Dhow boat race off the coast of Dubai featured over one hundred of the traditional sailing boats with prize money in excess of $2.5 million. The wooden dhows are capable of speed in excess of 20 knots and this year, for the first time, they were tracked using the technology that has been used by ARL since 1992 on a variety of sailing events, including the Americas Cup, The Volvo, and the World Match Racing Tour.
'It was a real eye opener,' says Paul Sharp the ARL programmer who co-developed the Americas Cup software. 'You think you have seen it all with an event like the Americas Cup and the wealth that surrounds it, and then you experience an event like this. The dhows seemed to turn up out of nowhere, line up at the start line out in the Gulf and 6 -7 hours later they are handing out prize money in excess of $2 million! It was amazing.'
The experience was definitely a first for the two person team of Paul Sharp and Brent Russell. In temperatures in excess of 40 degrees, they found themselves working from a barge sailing alongside the dhow fleet - complete with a full Outside Broadcast Truck and mobile satellite links - delivering live television coverage of the race back to shore.
'It would certainly be the most unusual OB I have worked on' says technical engineer, Brent Russell. 'We were 40 – 50 miles from shore, trialing a system we had never used before, on boats we had only seen in pictures until a day before the race start. I have to admit to a few nervous moments until we saw the first of the tracking animations go live to air.'
The trial came at the request of the Dubai International Marine Club after a team from ARL had earlier completed successful tracking of 12 off shore power boats at the WPPA Class 3 Power Boat Championship, another major international event staged by the DIMC.
'The team had to pull both trials together at very short notice but they went extremely well' says ARL Managing Director Ian Taylor. 'We have now been asked to gear up to track a combination of 30 Class 1 and Class 3 power boats at the end of this year as well as the entire 100 plus fleet of dhows for next years race. '
There is little rest for the Virtual Eye sailing team, this week they are in Seoul to cover the Asia Cup, part of the World Match Racing Tour. More the latest in cool animation and graphics click here?nid=45239