SAP Sets Sail for Innovation

Real time data analysis can give teams the competitive edge (Foto: Fotolia)

Like businesses, sailors need the latest information to make strategic decisions – but they need it even faster. One wrong tack, a false estimation of the current, or the slightest wind shift can cost the skipper the entire race. As premium sponsor of the Kieler Woche 2011, and co-sponsor of Sailing Team Germany (STG), SAP is showing how innovative IT solutions providing real time data analysis can give teams the competitive edge.

Multimedia Sailing Experience Puts Spectators in the Cockpit

Watching a sailing race has often been compared to watching grass grow. At the Kieler Woche 2011, the world’s largest sailing regatta, held June 18-26 off the shores of Kiel, Germany, SAP will show how software can help improve the live experience for the spectators of sailing races and also provide teams with greater insight into sailing tactics in order to make strategic decisions for performance optimization and improvement.

Following sailing competitions is more complex than with other racing disciplines because skippers often take tactical decisions based on wind, current, and position that take the boats far afield from each other. Clarity about who is ahead, gaining, or losing ground usually comes only at the rounding of the racing buoys or at the finish line. SAP will deliver the technology to support real-time tracking of the boat locations with respect to each other and the race buoys, enabling determination of which boat is ahead at any time.

To achieve this, a majority of the boats will be outfitted with GPS transmitters that broadcast their position every 1.8 seconds, enabling real time determination of their direction and speed. Because changes in wind direction directly influence the relative position of the boats, data about wind direction and strength will also be collected from motorboats positioned at fixed locations around the race course.

Live analysis of the data will enable a three-dimensional visualization of the position of the boats to be presented in real time, making possible live reporting of the event in the Internet and on television. The 3D tracking in combination with cameras, plus the analytics data will provide sailing fans on land and on the water greater insight and a new way to experience the racing action.

According to Stefan Lacher, head of technology for the SAP Sailing Program, “the data evaluation software is based for the most part on standard solutions and technology from SAP, which has been adapted specifically for competitive sailing.” Data collected from the regattas will for example be analyzed after the races with the help of SAP BusinessObjects business intelligence solutions.

At the end of each racing day, sailors, coaches and spectators will be able to access a series of interactive dashboards and reports to assess how each team performed at any stage of any race. This Race Analysis Suite will enable the sailors to evaluate and optimize their strategy for the next race. “Those who want to win have to do a few things better than the rest,” says STG Academy director Marcus Baur. “And SAP provides us with just the solutions we need to perform better every time.”

SAP Solution Showcases for Sailing Team Germany

The showcases that SAP and STG are developing together prove that the requirements of professional sailing team match or exceed the innovation requirements of a fast growing small to medium size business. “This cooperation with Sailing Team Germany enables us to demonstrate the performance of our software under extreme conditions while helping the team to succeed,” says Jim Hagemann Snabe, SAP Co-CEO and member of the SAP Executive Board.

Cloud-based solutions with mobile access and rapid data availability are an absolute must for the team.  Because the sailors need to travel to training and competitions, a majority of the solutions for STG are built for mobile devices. Because of the large amount of data points collected, in-memory capability is invaluable for providing the throughput for data analysis in real time.

SAP is working together with Sailing Team Germany to develop the following solution showcases:

  1. Current Prediction Tool: Enables reliable conclusions about the influence of current on specific sailing areas at specific points in time.
  2. Race Analysis Suite: Used to model regattas, virtual data can be supplemented by cameras and microphones on board the boats, and can be used in the analysis and optimization of strategy and tactics after the race. Tracking systems also make regattas more enjoyable for the audience, turning them into a multimedia experience.
  3. Online Sailing Academy: A database that can be fed historical data about boat control, physical and mental fitness, rigging optimization and tactics and can propose solutions for specific competitive situations.
  4. Trim & Race Venue Database: Fast access to high-quality sailing area and trim data requires the most state-of-the art technology, but notebooks still dominate Olympic sailing. The SAP sailing area and trim database will collect all relevant trim and sailing area data for sailing for the first time via intelligent and simple data surveys, then will structure it logically and store it centrally.