The Formula for Success:  Pete Cumming decodes Act 2 Muscat, using the SAP Sailing Analytics

Winning on the Extreme Sailing Series™ racecourse is never easy, and finding the right formula for consistency in changeable conditions is a challenge for even the most experienced teams. Over four days 11-14 March, Muscat hosted Act 2 of the Extreme Sailing Series, and threw all it could at the eight Extreme 40s, with conditions dropping from a blustery 16 knots to a shifty 8 knots. Add a big sea state to the mix, and the teams were having to reset not only their rigs and boat settings but also their mindsets daily.

With the SAP Sailing Analytics at each Act the teams get the chance to replay the action, study their starts and see the cold hard facts on how they performed. We caught up with former Extreme 40 sailor, 2009 Series winner and now live race broadcast commentator, Pete Cumming, to delve into the statistics and discover the key to success.

“For me the three front runners (The Wave, Muscat, Red Bull Sailing Team and SAP Extreme Sailing Team) are really in a league of their own,” Cumming explains. “In Singapore the race course had an element of luck; any team could have a good race if they picked up a shift, but Oman was a pure racecourse and it was the experienced top three that really sailed well, eventually claiming the podium positions.”

The main tools used by SAP Analytics are GPS modules, installed on each of the eight Extreme 40 catamarans and sensors installed on buoys on the racecourse conveying all-important wind information. Submitting real time information on a boat’s position, the computer algorithms use this information to work out and display boatspeed, headings, distance sailed, manoeuvres and mark roundings. The wind sensors, meanwhile, continuously update wind direction and speed.

“When we look into the stats, SAP Extreme Sailing Team and The Wave, Muscat are sharing over 50% of the race wins, that really shows their dominance in the fleet.”

The highest scoring team The Wave, Muscat finished the Act with 20 podium positions and eight race wins. Hot on their heels were SAP Extreme Sailing Team who closely matched the Omani teams stats. A difference between the two boats of just 0.02 knots in speed, 15 manoeuvres on the racecourse and SAP Extreme Sailing Team hitting the start fast, with on average a one meter lead resulted in just a two point difference after 29 races.

“The nature of the racing is all about the starts, The Wave, Muscat and SAP Extreme Sailing Team are really well matched. Some teams show rocket ship speeds through the start but are reaching in from miles away trying to find a gap and that just doesn’t pay,” Cumming explains. “The form teams sit 14 or 15 meters away from the start line (closer than most) their boat speed and acceleration into the reaching start is fast as they take control of the first beat.”

The Wave, Musat and SAP Extreme Sailing Team battle it out in Muscat
The Wave, Musat and SAP Extreme Sailing Team battle it out in Muscat

Although SAP Extreme Sailing Team won eight races they only achieved 17 podiums, compared to The Wave, Muscat’s 20, losing their rhythm half way through the Act. “Day three seemed to hurt SAP Extreme Sailing Team, they didn’t have a great day. Their starts were off and when you look at distance sailed they went a lot further than the likes of Red Bull Sailing Team - if you’re having a bad day in the office and you’re not getting off the line correctly you’re going to be struggling mid fleet rather than hitting seconds and firsts.“

But it’s not all about winning. The SAP Analytics allows teams to break down their performance and see where they excel and where improvements can be made. The stand out team for Cumming during Act 2, Muscat were Team Turx powered by Kaya Ropes, “They have the best average speed upwind and for a new team that’s impressive. I think the big thing for those guys is to get more experience in the fleet so they start to get the consistency they need, when you’re learning you can’t replicate a performance in every race.”

The Series will now go on to Qingdao, China, from the 30 April – 3 May where the teams will once again face an completely new set of conditions set against the city scape of Fushan Bay.

Overall Statistics Act 2, Muscat

◦ The Wave, Muscat have the shortest distance sailed: 128.3 km

◦ The Wave, Muscat and SAP Extreme Sailing Team are the only boats having an average speed over 12 knots

◦ The Wave, Muscat are the best ranked boat at 1st mark: 3.17

◦ Team Turx Powered by Kaya Ropes are the fastest boat on race start on average: 10.55 knots

◦ Red Bull Sailing Team are the fastest downwind: 13.85 knots (in 23 races)

◦ The Wave, Muscat: 20 podiums, 8 wins

SAP Extreme Sailing Team : 17 podiums, 8 wins

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