Over the last three years, our boats have tripled in speed. Imagine facing a 600 kmph tennis serve. Or a Formula One car racing at 900 kmph.
The way we see it, Extreme Sailing Series™ competitors have two goals. The first one is obvious and is an objective that all professional athletes share: win. The second one is unique to sailing: to improve the fan experience. Watching a sailing race from the shore is challenging – you need a view, you need context, and you need data.
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Those two goals are extremely difficult to accomplish without any help. After competing in the Americas Cup, Rasmus and I wanted to create our own professional sailing team. So, we bought a boat with our own money and presented our vision to potential partners that could help us win. It was also important to help fans watch the races with a better understanding to the complexity of sailing. In 2012 we chose SAP.
Initially it was a sponsorship solely with us as a team, but quite quickly SAP saw an opportunity for a partnership with the Extreme Sailing Series™. Now, the sport is more competitive than ever and the fan experience is improving exponentially with technological advances.
All the teams, all the fans, the commentators – everyone shares SAP Sailing Analytics. There are sensors on buoys in the water, and combined with sensors on the boats, everyone can access:
- GPS coordinates – for precise location, speed, distance sailed, etc.
- Wind and foiling height data – for heading, angle to the wind, and more
SAP also provides added foil sensors. The hydro-foils on the GC32 lift the hull of the boat out of the water, to reduce drag and increase speed. By measuring different aspects of foiling, like the angle of the foil, we can learn about how it affects our performance and ultimately improve.
Enhancing the Fan Experience
As competitors in the Extreme Sailing Series, we want to see a constant improvement in the fan experience. Our sport is growing. Over the last three years our boats have tripled in speed. To put that in context, imagine facing a 600 kmph tennis serve. Or a Formula One car racing at 900 kmph! The evolution of our sport is amazing and the media attention continues to grow, so we need to continue helping our fans access our races.
SAP has responded to this challenge. With fans in the grandstands and boats in the water, the additions of massive screens and 3D visualizations of the boat tracks have brought the fans much closer to the action. SAP Sailing Analytics allows the public to watch the race, but also to receive insights into how the boats are performing, and make comparisons between teams. We often say that without this data, it’s like watching a soccer match without knowing the score.
The next big thing for our fans is the launch of SAP+You: The Smarter Skipper. It’s a virtual reality sailing experience that puts fans in the shoes of the crew members. Sitting in a life-like replica of the GC32 catamaran with a 360° VR headset on, the fan gets a fully immersive experience, as if they were on the boat sailing themselves, in the beautiful waters of Muscat, Oman the venue for Act 1 of the season. As part of the experience, the viewer will also be fed SAP data throughout the race. It will allow them to understand all the factors that are considered by the sailors when racing in the Extreme Sailing Series. For us, we’ve always embraced technology and are excited to test out ways to incorporate this into our training.
These are thrilling times in the sailing world and we’re eager to see how future technological advancements will continue to reimagine the sport that we love, extreme sailing.
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Jes Gram-Hansen is co-skipper of the SAP Extreme Sailing Team