Most of us can only relate to Sailing as an adventurous activity which leads to massive adrenalin rush however "Sailing" also is related to the various activities which are specifically meant for cloud computing and data analytics. Sailing is just not restricted to the high yachts which can be seen sailing on the high and low tides. This sport offers a lot of technological aspects which is far beyond the human eye.
SAP (Systems, Applications, Products) is now responsible for designing a software suite which aims at helping the sailors and the audience for understanding the complicated software since SAP has now become the official technological partner of this series.
SAP has introduced the Sailing Analytics, which is a custom cloud-based data analytics service to the series, known as Sailing Analytics, this has been introduced by a Danish team sponsored by the firm.
Big data boating
Needless to say SAP products lays the foundation for the Sailing Analytics, which even encompasses the Lumira business intelligence software, HANA database platform, and processes data which has all been collated from the sea and the boats, and the Business Objects software portfolio.
A business intelligence consultant at SAP, Milan Cerny, stated during an interview with V3 that Sailing Analytics looks at designing a more comprehensive insight into sailing races. He further added "What we are doing in the world of sailing, and the Extreme Sailing Series in particular, is applying sensor based data". Milan also said "We're gathering data from GPS sensors on the boats and wind measurement units in the water, and this way we can produce a virtual picture of what's happening on the water in real time."
IoT on the water
Sailing Analytics is very heavily dependent on the Internet of Things (IoT), from a hardware aspect and provides information regarding the sensors with SIM cards on boats and in the water it also provides sends back the data related to the speed of the boats which are competing with each other and on the data on the coordinates. This has been the first time in the history of the series that one can see wind sensors which have been installed on buoys and they can help the individual track and trace the direction of the wind and even the speed for the race specifically.
Milan Cerny further commented "Getting a precise picture of the wind is really key, so that's why this year one of our projects is to improve on that and apply more wind units on the water and get more precise readings, with more sophisticated visualization tools".
Once the data is retrieved from the aquatic IoT network, it is later keyed in back in the clouds and then utilized for Lumira software, HANA platform's in-memory databases which can be utilized for analysis at a later date and time and even be used for processing in real time using the Business Objects.
Sailing analytics is readily available for all the team who aspire to use the data which is gathered from the various sensors and since SAP has become a sponsor in its own team in these series.
This enables the team to get information regarding the overall performance and ways of improving the strategies for sailing.
A co-skipper of the SAP Extreme Sailing team, Rasmus Kostner, mentioned about critical role which has been played by Sailing analytics and how this technology gave him a cutting edge in the competition. He further went on to add "When we spend one hour on the water, we spend one or two hours behind the computer just analyzing [our race] to make sure that all the small things we are optimizing can be better next time," he said.
Kostner goes on to add that going through all the data enabled his team to understand about the various courses which defined the position of the team on the start line, which were being challenged by rival boats, and helped them understand that it was definitely more critical for them than the speed of the boat off the line, which racing.
Kostner stated that Sailing analytics was used by the Danish team for improving their performance when they just ventured into this and had very little experience about the same. He added "It was a big translation for us to get into faster boats like this. Everything you do you almost have to relearn it, as your priorities on the water are suddenly changed. The right things to do in mono-hulls are exactly the wrong things to do in multi-hull." He stated that he would prefer to rely upon the data provided by Sailing Analytics, rather than looking at the various races for developing and horning up their skills as this data would enable them to study and know more about the areas of improvements.
Kostner is a very strong competitor in the Extreme Sailing Series, and is keen to use this new technology which is based on facts and makes it very reliable too and is not very keen to push the data analytics to one side and added "We can always lean back and use our experience, but it is so nice to use something that is fact-based," he said.
Once the data is processed in the cloud, from the sensors results are generated in just a few seconds and this data is then used by the coaches of the race team to see their overall level of performance of their respective boats on a more real time basis.
Kostner stated that with the help of this data his coaches could advise the sailors on their performance level in between the short breaks between races.
Due to the extreme activity on the boats the data is generally not given to the sailors which simply denotes the fact that the racing team get very little time to utilize the learning’s while they are in the middle of a race. It becomes easier to report the speed of the boat and it becomes difficult to focus on anything apart from the movement of the boat.
Analytics on shore
SAP has designed the Sailing Analytics not only for meeting the needs of the sailors but this will also enable the audience and the land-based commentators to figure out the latest happening
The yachts sail in a similar manner but some adopt different ways of sailing, many look out for a wider route which revolves around a buoy for increasing the speed of the wind, some even sacrifice their speed and cut short their distance. All of these things make it quite challenging for the audience to see what’s happening on the racing front and the practices being adopted by the sailors.
For resolving this problem the Sailing Analytics has introduced 3D visualisations which have been collected and collated from the data which comes from the races. These visualization make it very easy for the audience as well the commentators to comprehend and follow the races as they get to watch the live action which is made visible on the tablets and large screens.
Kostner added, "I think this is the beginning of a tendency you are going to see in a lot of sports. "Sailing is a complex sport and very difficult to understand, so it was obvious you needed technology to tell the spectators who's leading or not."
Apart from the audience those who alos get benefitted are the commentators of the race which get access to the additional 2D visual data. This helps them to understand and also converse with the audience about ways and techniques being adopted by the sailors during the races.
Milan Cerny further commented "The whole showcase is really end-user driven. We work very closely with the fans, spectators, organisers, sailors and commentators. "We take their requirements and incorporate them into our software. So a sailor has different needs to a commentator who needs have data to the point and in a very simple way."
Sights on sport
SAP is not only aiming at driving Sailing analytics but wants to pave its way forward in the world of sport. Apart from Sailing SAP is also looking forward to contribute in the field of horse riding, football, Women’s tennis association and formula one.
Milan Cerny added "Football is one of our strategic sports that we are looking into at the moment. We have a major partnership with FC Bayern Munich". He even stated that analytics will provide a deeper insight for the supporting the training of footballers rather than only monitoring their level of performance on the pitch.