Please select your home edition
Edition
X-Yachts AUS X4 728 - 2

An interview with Wally Cross about running regattas with MarkSetBots

by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor on 6 Nov 2017
MarkSetBots in use at the recent Premiere Sailing League event at the Grosse Point Yacht Club Paul Rand
If you’ve ever volunteered for Race Committee duty, you well understand the racecourse-management headaches that are triggered by fickle, shifty winds that require marks and starting (and finishing) lines to be (re)adjusted. While some bigger yacht clubs have the paid and volunteer manpower to accommodate Mother Nature’s mood swings, smaller clubs and racing organizations are harder pressed to field enough mark boats and capable hands.

In an effort to ensure square courses, Kevin Morin at MarkSetBot created an ingenious, self-propelled mark system that uses a small motor, a GPS receiver and a cellular modem to drive the marks to user-specified locations and then maintain their positions until instructed-via a smartphone app-to relocate. Should the wind shift, the race committee only needs to update the MarkSetBot with new wind direction information and the marks automatically adjust.

To run a race using the MarkSetBot system, a club or organization needs just three MarkSetBots (one for the windward mark, the other two for the gates and/or starting/finishing lines), one RIB, and two volunteers.



While this system sounds great in the brochure and certainly holds a lot of potential for ensuring fair courses and reducing the amount of fuel that’s burned by powerboats during regattas (read: saved cash and bolstered environmental stewardship), the technology is brand new and hasn’t (yet) been widely deployed.

In fact, a recent Premiere Sailing League event at the Grosse Point Yacht Club (read: stadium sailing aboard J/70s), in Grosse Point, Michigan, was an early run for this ingenious-looking system, and-based on media coming out of the event-the MarkSetBot system impressed both the club’s racecourse-management team and Premiere Sailing League. I caught up with Wally Cross, Grosse Pointe Yacht Club’s sailing director, via email, to learn more about running regattas using MarkSetBots.



What do you see as the biggest advantages to using MarkSetBot buoys?
Proper use of time. A course can be set quickly and the course can be adjusted quickly based on a changing wind direction or speed. I want sailors racing and not waiting for committees to set courses.

[MarkSetBots allow us to use] less people to manage a course; less powerboats and a greener event, and less cost relative to volunteer expense.

As a regatta organizer, do you have any hesitations about using MarkSetBots in the future?
I do not. We always have a backup buoy or two if something go wrong.
To this date we have not had any issues, [but] we have back up plans in place, [for example, spare] batteries, etc. [just in case].

Can you quantify the number of people and boats that could stay ashore at the recent PSL regatta as a result of the MarkSetBots?
I believe the majority of people that volunteere for race committee work can stay ashore.

We ran the last stadium event with just two people. I am promoting just two controllers to make the race efficient.



From where I sit, MarkSetBots seem like a great way of greening up regattas, given that they can translate to fewer powerboats running around—do you agree?
We talk every year on how we can cut down on waste:
-Time (the time people spend waiting to sail races)
-Water (we require fill up bottles at our sailing center, never plastic bottles)
-Fuel (more efficient RIB type boats with smaller four-stroke engines)
-People (less people [equals] less waste, less food, less money)

Did the buoys struggle at all to stay perfectly on station in a breeze?
We’ve looked at the buoys in breeze, waves and current [three times] and they stay within five feet of [their] original location. I have seen big buoys with long anchor rode change twice that distance.
I was very impressed on how the buoy locked in a spot.



From your perspective, what, if anything, was the tricky/hard part about running a regatta with MarkSetBots?
The tricky part with the buoys is [that] the [human] controllers need to know how to operate the marks and adjust them quickly. The two people that learn the system also have to know how to repair or fix a problem. The buoys are also large in size and need to be assembled either out at the course or on land.

After having used the MarkSetBot buoys for a regatta, if you could change one aspect/feature of their design/build/software/user interface, what would it be and why?
I know Kevin [Morin] is constantly working on improvements. The next phase is a windfinder with [wind]speed. We need the information on our phone from the buoy, [for example] the direction [and speed] of the wind.

I also think in the near future [there] will be a 360-degree camera on the buoy.

Anything else that you’d like to add, for the record?
I believe yacht clubs could benefit from owning one buoy. I feel the best bang for the dollar will be hiring two guys to come with a trailer that contains the buoys, a RIB and all the necessary equipment to run a successful event.

For more information about MarkSetBot, email Kevin Morin at info@marksetbot.com, and for more information on race management using MarkSetBot, email Benjamin Klatzka at info@premieresailingleauge.com.

Rooster 2020 - Impact BA - AUS FOOTERUpffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW FOOTERTeam Windcraft 2021 - Dehler - FOOTER

Related Articles

2021 International Masters Regatta is back
12 legendary skippers set to compete in San Diego After a year without one of San Diego Yacht Club's most cherished and anticipated regattas, the Club is excited to welcome twelve legendary Master skippers to vie for victory at the 2021 International Masters Regatta.
Posted today at 6:22 am
Hempel Mixed Two Person Offshore Worlds overall
Italian team Claudia Rossi & Pietro D'Alì have been crowned winners Italian team Claudia Rossi & Pietro D'Alì have been crowned winners of the 2021 Hempel Mixed Two Person Offshore World Championship after a hard-fought final leg to Venice.
Posted today at 5:31 am
America's Cup: 38th anniversary of Australian win
Today, September 26th, is the 38th anniversary of Australia II's win in the America's Cup Today, September 26th is the 38th anniversary of Australia II's win in the America's Cup - handing the New York Yacht Club their first ever defeat since the first defence in 1870, here's a replay of a documentary marking the 30th Anniversary of the win.
Posted today at 4:03 am
2022 events supported by Warren Jones Foundation
Warren Jones Foundation is once again supporting the WA Tour and Development Program. The WA Tour will see a series of three-match racing events, targeted to youth sailors, sailed over January and February in Western Australia.
Posted on 25 Sep
52 Super Series fleet set to line up in Menorca
The five day event has drawn a fleet of 11 TP52s Knock on effects of travel restrictions mean that 52 Super Series leaders and winners of the Puerto Portals 52 Super Series Sailing Week, Takasghi Okura's Sled team will have a number of crew line-up changes to contend when they seek to win 2nd regatta.
Posted on 25 Sep
Global Solo Challenge: Pasquale, gentleman sailor
Pasquale De Gregorio embodies a dream, that of racing the most extreme solo race Pasquale De Gregorio is one of the closest sailors to all lovers of the sea and sailing. Pasquale is an example, he had to conquer the sea, he was not born near it, it was love at first sight, which lasted a lifetime.
Posted on 25 Sep
SSL Sailing Team SA wins SSL Gold Cup Test Event 1
The SSL Gold Cup was created to promote and position sailing as a spectator sport SSL Sailing Team South Africa wins the SSL Gold Cup Test Event 1, Grandson Switzerland.
Posted on 25 Sep
Entries open for The Race Around
15 places in solo, 15 places in double and five wildcards The Race Around's organisers 5 Ocean Sports Marketing and their US counterpart Manuka Sports Event Management are delighted to officially open registration, publish the event's preliminary Notice of Race and welcome three new commercial partners.
Posted on 24 Sep
Paris 2024 : The Numbers Are In
The continual push towards data-driven performance analytics Each Olympic cycle brings something unique. Classes are introduced and discontinued, formats evolve and new stars arise through incredible dedication, hard work, and smarter training practices.
Posted on 24 Sep
First GLOBE40 teams meeting in Paris
15 teams were represented on Thursday Fifteen teams were represented on Thursday 23 September in Paris for the first GLOBE40 project exchange meeting with the organization; projects officially registered or in advanced preparation
Posted on 24 Sep