Luna Rossa: the Racing Software in America's Cup regattas
Wednesday, April 7, 2021 8:20 AM
During the regattas with the AC75, there was a lot of talk about the Racing Software. It is a program that provides information to the sailors as the boat sails in the race course. Specifically, it calculates and projects the time that the AC75 will take in the various phases of the regatta on a cartographic system, showing some boat performance data and the time to get to a certain point of the course.
Like all navigation programs, it works by taking in information relating to the position of the boat, speed, heading, which in the case of the AC75 comes from an internal system called ILS (Instrumentation and Logging System). In addition to this data, more values were also added from the local current here in Auckland, from an inertial platform installed inside the hull, as well as the polar data of the AC75.
The Racing Software also contains data on the coordinates of the buoys, boundaries and the geometry of the race course, provided by the race committee through another system, the Race Management System. The GPS points values are transmitted with a frequency of about 5Hz, i.e. 5 points per second.
The program is used during the regatta. Three fundamental phases are:
- the entry box, which calculates the time it takes to enter the pre-departure area;
- the pre-start, which calculates the time necessary to cross the line at the end of the countdown is foreseen with the correct speed;
- the part of the race in which the software determines the time that the boat takes to cover the course.
What makes it a highly sophisticated software is the information relating to the behavior of the boat in tacking and jibing ("rate of turn"), which allows to know in an extremely precise manner the trajectory and the speed at each point of the maneuver. This in turns enable to predict with extreme accuracy the time needed to reach the gate buoys, the laylines and the boundaries, which are the virtual borders that delimit the racecourse that must not be crossed.
Each team has developed a different Racing Software, which is able to receive and send data to the Race Management System within a precise exchange protocol.
The software development has not been easy: the team developers group had to start working from scratch on a protocol provided by the organization one year before the start of the regattas (November 2019) and simulating in-house the tools that would be used during the races by the Race Director through the Race Management System. The result has been an automated system that provides information to sailors in a very concise and rapid manner, without having one of the members on board to constantly monitor the data, as sometimes happens in normal regattas.
It is an extremely specific system whose peculiarity is the availability and accuracy of data on the boat's manoeuvres, and to exchange data in real time with the regatta management system coordinated by the race committee.
Like all the innovations brought by this America’s Cup campaign, in the future we will probably see some features of this software also integrated into ordinary navigation programs.