During the Memorial Day weekend, hundreds of boats and their sailors will disappear over the horizon as they compete in the Swiftsure International Yacht Race. In the past, those wishing to watch the boats as they traversed the Strait of Juan de Fuca and its hazards could only do so with their imagination. In recent years this is no longer the case as fans of the Swiftsure are able to access the Swiftsure Race Tracker to watch the races and the progress of each boat online. Through the much-improved version of the Swiftsure Race Tracker software the Swiftsure International Yacht Race has become practically a spectator sport.
The ability of the Swiftsure Race Tracker to present live Swiftsure races has allowed the popularity of the race to expand from an audience restricted to the Pacific Northwest of Canada and the United States. The Swiftsure Race Tracker is very popular; users from countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Mexico and even as far as Australia, Turkey and China log on to watch the races. Where once one could only follow the races by listening to a local Victoria radio station for updates, now people from across the world can experience Swiftsure’s races live through the Swiftsure Race Tracker.
Functionality that Gives Users Immediate Access
With its beginnings as a simple grid-data system, the interactive Swiftsure Race Tracker system is remarkably evolved. In its present form, the Swiftsure Race Tracker is comprised of multiple technologies working together to allow users from all over the world to track the participating boats from the comfort of their own homes.
The system begins with a Globalstar SPOT GPS transponder located on each boat, which communicates its position every 10 minutes to the Globalstar satellite network used by Swiftsure. From here the information is sent to a database server and onward to the Swiftsure Race Tracker software, which then displays the location of the boats in a Google maps-based layout that allows the public to track Swiftsure live. Now, not only can Swiftsure fans watch any and every race but also the Swiftsure Race Tracker allows them to track individual and multiple boats as well as to select favourites that they can track at any time during the race.
The Swiftsure Race Tracker provides two major benefits: race management and public access. Transponders on every Long Course boat linked to the Swiftsure Race Tracker software enables the Race Committee to keep track of the location of the boats. As a race management tool the Swiftsure Race Tracker provides the Race Committee with information when the boats are approaching various rounding marks and as they near the finish line (an imaginary line across the race course), ensuring that the finishing crew can establish preliminary results which are then posted immediately to the Swiftsure website.
As a resource to the public, the Swiftsure Race Tracker provides, via the Internet, ongoing access to the various Long Course Swiftsure races. Followers worldwide can see the location of every boat, follow their tactical manoeuvres, as well as receive the updated status of the various races. Online viewers can cheer on their favourite crews as comfortably as from their armchairs at home.
Other yacht regattas began employing the Race Tracker in 2012, including Southern Straits, Oregon Offshore, Patos Island, Van Isle 360 and Northern Century. It will be used again in future for races in the Pacific Northwest. So far Oregon Offshore Race, Van Isle 360, Southern Straits and Patos Island races have signed on and the 2017 R2AK Race will again use this system. Given the cost of operating this system it is only financially feasible if used for a large number of races.
When all the boats are lined up at their starting positions in May the Swiftsure Race Tracker will also be in position. For online viewers worldwide the website www.swiftsure.org will provide ongoing and immediate feedback on the status of each boat as well as all of the various races. Once the race has started, log in to the Swiftsure Race Tracker using your desktop computer or mobile phone, and follow your favourite boats!