The CYCA and RORC will introduce yacht tracking devices for this year's offshore races 21/7/06

Offshore racing organisers, the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, have joined forces that will modernise communications to RORC’s race programme by introducing yacht tracking to events such as the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race beginning 7 August, and the 750 mile race to Cascais in Portugal beginning 1 September 2006.

The 1,789 nautical mile Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland race, organised by the RORC, will be sailed clockwise around Britain and Ireland starting from the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, and for the first time all competing yachts will be fitted with tracking devices to allow for greater viewer participation across the media channels.

Commodore of the RORC David Aisher commented: “Embracing modern communication tools is vital to the ongoing success of RORC’s classic offshore races and it’s certainly something we have pursued and will continue to pursue vigorously.”

The CYCA launched its website, incorporating the Yacht Tracker and a unique standings engine to allow for real time updates of predicted line honours and handicap outcomes, four years ago. The website has allowed audiences around the world to track every boat in the CYCA’s major offshore events, including the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

“We spent thousands of hours developing this technology,” said CYCA Commodore Geoff Lavis. “Part of the original concept was to create something that could be exported around the world for other yacht clubs to adopt for their offshore events.

Implementing such a system may solve problems which arose during last year’s Rolex Fastnet Race when the RORC was criticized for the irregular tracking of competitor’s positions on the website during the race – See news story here . Commodore Lavis of the CYCA adds that the joining together of the CYCA and RORC using the tracking system will give audiences the benefit of following the progress of boats in offshore races like the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race and Cascais Race and potentially, next year, the Rolex Fastnet.

The satellite units for the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race have been provided by OC Technology, part of the Offshore Challenges Group, in partnership with RORC. The unit is a self-contained, battery-powered, lightweight, tracking device capable of reporting a boat’s position, speed and course at predetermined intervals, and is programmable remotely. The device works on battery power alone and is capable of sending over 4,000 position reports on one battery – the equivalent of every half-hour for 80 days at sea or almost 14 days at 5-minute intervals suing the Iridium system.

So far 26 entries have been received for the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race, which is open to IRC, IRM, Open 60s and multihulls and is designated as a Category 1 race under ISAF Special Regulations.