Mark tech: No longer just a bag with air

Published on May 1st, 2022

It was a year ago when three-time Olympian Chris Rast provided an overview of the robotic mark industry, and in that time there has been more events and hosts that have invested in this new equipment. That list now includes the grand prix 52 SUPER SERIES.

During the 2022 five regatta season, TP52 teams will be racing around autonomous remote controlled marks from the German company Smartmark. The buoys were comprehensively tested at the 2021 Rolex TP52 World Championship in Mallorca.

“We estimate this will save us the need for two RIBs operating on the water each day and that means saving more than 100 liters of fuel each event,” said Agustin Zulueta, CEO of 52 SUPER SERIES.

Use of Smartmark will contribute to the circuit’s sustainability targets plus the elimination of anchors for mark buoys will protect the seabed. “It is important for us to be leading by example and adopting pragmatic new technologies which will allow us to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Lars Böcking, Sustainability Director of the 52 SUPER SERIES.

The Smartmark are built around a GRP hull – like a small RIB – and are positioned using 3-D Drone technology. Each has quadruple sensors – four gyroscopes, four barometers, four compasses and seven thermal sensors – and are positioned using two electric motors.

A web based interface system allows mark position to be adjusted from any location, with position accuracy tested in four knots of current and winds up to 35 knots, proving to stay within 11cm. Additionally, mark location can be interfaced into the race tracking and can be positioned into each boat’s navigation software.

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