America’s Cup: Technology keeping game fair and safe
Published on June 23rd, 2017
As the regatta director for the 35th America’s Cup, Iain Murray is eager to avoid controversy, which is aided by the umpires using a state-of-the art combination of GPS, electronics and graphics to ensure decisions are accurate.
“Essentially, it’s the same technology that sends a missile into someone’s lounge room,” said Murray, though his right-hand man Richard Slater, who is chief umpire at the event, has had some tough calls to make during the racing leading up to the America’s Cup final.
Slater was on the receiving end of some vocal protests by Artemis Racing’s Team Manager Iain Percy during the Swedish team’s semi-final races after imposing penalties on them, but said that was to be expected given the intensity of racing.
“You’re dealing with the heat of the battle and that’s one thing, as umpires, you have to remember,” Slater told Reuters, adding that the sailors were in the “red zone” physically and this was bound to result in them reacting strongly to decisions.
The umpires are armed with a graphics system called “UmpApp”, which allows them to make calls based on information that is accurate to millimeters and milliseconds, and are focused on that to make sure they make the right call quickly.
“If anything, when he was yelling at us we weren’t even listening at that point,” Slater said, adding that the teams have access to the same information within seconds, so that they can see why a decision has been made.
“UmpApp is kind of like a game,” said Murray, but with closing speeds routinely above 50 knots, it is a vital tool to keep the racing both fair and safe.
Emirates Team New Zealand (3) vs ORACLE TEAM USA (0)
* Scoreboard: While the Challenger has won all four races, their match score is 3-0. The Defender, which won the Qualifiers held on May 26-June 3, began the series with a one point advantage. As the rules detail, the Challenger would carry a one point disadvantage (ie, minus 1), meaning they will need to win eight races to take the trophy whereas the Defender need only win seven races.
Schedule: The dates of the Match extend from June 17 to 28, though will end earlier when a team scores 7 points. The next race day is June 24 and will continue daily thereafter until there is a winner.