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Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

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Displaying items by tag: tracking

Afloat reported in August that the Irish duo of Kenny Rumball and Pamela Lee aboard RL Sailing had been denied a podium position in the Fastnet Race despite crossing the finishing line ahead of her class rivals.

The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) race jury later found that RL Sailing had unintentionally entered a commercial shipping TSS (prohibited zones under race rules) and awarded them a 10% penalty dropping them to last place.

Despite the team's protest and redress requests, the jury apparently relied on the screenshot of the Yellowbrick tracker that showed RL Sailing inside the RSS.

However, an Afloat investigation identified several other vessels that the Yellowbrick tracker put inside the TSS that were not penalised by the race jury.

Furthermore, screenshots from the tracking app appear to show boats missing out on rounding the Fastnet.

The yacht in this picture is clearly in TSS, but recorded as a legitimate finisher in 162nd place.

A screenshot from the tracker apparently showing Challenger II inside TSSA screenshot from the tracker apparently showing a yacht inside the TSS (displayed in a red tint) 

In the screenshot below the yacht, Horus seems to not only be in the TSS but her track suggests she failed to round the Fastnet. Results show her as a genuine finisher in 118th place.

A screenshot from the tracker apparently showing Hourus in TSS, not rounding the Fastnet RockA screenshot from the tracker apparently showing Hourus in TSS, not rounding the Fastnet Rock

The J/125 Magic Wind was recorded finishing in 76th place, but the tracking screenshot suggests that she too missed the Fastnet and entered the TSS.

 A screenshot from the tracker apparently showing Magic Wind in TSS, not rounding Fastnet A screenshot from the tracker apparently showing Magic Wind in TSS, not rounding Fastnet

Afloat is not suggesting that there was any wrongdoing by these vessels, but rather that the source of evidence relied on in the protest room - the Yellowbrick tracker - is questionable.

If this evidence was available to RL Sailing in the protest room, would the outcome have been different?

RORC did not respond when Afloat put these questions to them.

UPDATE: October 16 2021: RORC Racing Director Chris Stone responded as follows:

1. Was any action taken against these boats for what appears to be infringements of the SIs?

No further action was taking with regards Magic Wind, Horus & Challenger I (not Challenger II as you had referenced). Race Committee (RC) had concluded that none of the boats in question crossed into a TSS zone. For your information both Magic Wind & Horus had tracker failures (water ingress after a heavy couple of days) prior crossing the Celtic Sea and were put on AIS transmission. Both boats had received positions outside the TSS zone (clearly closer to land) and were then reported further down the course south of the Isles of Scilly and again when in AIS range closer to France. Both boats appear to have cut the course due to the dead reckoning between actual AIS positions. In the case of Challenger I on the western side of the Fastnet TSS, a failed satellite report and variations in boat speed meant that dead reckoning place them within the TSS zone while actually being outside. In cases where the RC cannot find evidence to prove a boat was outside the TSS zone, boats are scored with the standard penalty and asked to provide proof of their course, speed and heading to the international jury at the event, should they wish to.

2. If so was it a DSQ and reinstatement on the basis of evidence supplied?

None of the 3 boats identified were given a penalty because the RC had already determined they hadn’t breached the obstruction.

3. If not, was this because of any malfunction by the tracking system?

As noted above two boats had failed trackers and we were using AIS positioning as a safety precaution (which as we all know has very limited range). The third boat had a failed satellite transmission.

4. If the tracker malfunctioned on these three occasions, would it not be appropriate for those boats that were disqualified to request reinstatement?

No – individual tracking units failing or a failed satellite transmission doesn’t represent a failure or malfunctioning tracking system. In all cases, boats who have an issue with their penalty have the right of reply through an international jury. The jury is onsite at the event and open for this very reason (and other protest matters as well). In all cases where competitors wish to take the matter to the International Jury, they are asked to provide satisfactory evidence that they weren’t in the TSS zone (which is easy enough to do with ALL modern navigation technology) or alternatively show evidence that through no fault of their own they breach the TSS zone. For your information, all competitors are also made aware that taking a matter to an International Jury gives them no right of appeal after the decision of the international jury, as laid out in the Racing Rule of Sailing.

Some other points that may help in publishing further facts in relation to the matter around RL Sailing;

  • Satellite tracking is extremely accurate. YB trackers report multiple GPS fixes in a single satellite transmission, meaning that in one transmission (which is every 15 minutes at that point of the race) they can have up to 90 GPS fixes, if requested to do so.
  • The YB tracking system is set up specifically for Rolex Fastnet and the TSS zones are set up within the system as ‘poly-fences’. Any time a boat comes close to a poly-fence the YB tracking unit automatically requests higher frequency GPS reporting to monitor its approach into the TSS zone.
  • The RC also use a two box theory to identify boats within a TSS zone. 1 - being the outer box that is the actual TSS coordinates and then 2 - an inner box set some distance inside the outer box to allow for a higher degree of accuracy for a breach. Any boat with multiple GPS fixes inside box 2 will receive a standard penalty.
  • All penalties and protests for all boats can be found here https://www.rolexfastnetrace.com/en/competitors/race-documents/race-documents . Hearing 8 is the matter in relation to RL Sailing.
  • For your information there were only 4 boats in the Figaro III class, RL Sailing came 3rd after the penalty.
  • RORC and the RC made every effort to help RL Sailing after receiving a penalty, including allowing Pamela Lee to review the RC data about the breach and distances involved, and specifically identifying information required that would be useful in pleading her case with an International Jury.
  • From the hearing decision, RL Sailing appear to be unable to provide sufficient evidence that they did not cross into the TSS zone or provide evidence that any breach was through no fault of their own.

RORC ‘s ongoing position remains the same, as it has done for more than a decade, the club elects for the purpose of safety and prudent seamanship, in what can be busy commercial shipping areas, to have TSS zones as obstructions within its sailing instructions. Those obstruction breaches receive a standard penalty and allow the RC to enforce any breach of an obstruction when there is suitable proof to do so. RORC regularly reminds competitors of the need to take a wide berth of areas of obstruction and allow for clearance when rounding marks or corners of any obstruction. These penalties and obstructions are clearly identified in ALL RORC race sailing instructions.

Additionally, Chris Stone emphasises RORC 'feels strongly' in representing the following facts;

  • For RORC this is a broad safety issue. The sailing instructions clearly state that TSS infringements will be penalised! This has been the case for a number of years and prior to 2020 the penalty was 20%.
  • YB Tracking (satellite tracking) is extremely reliable and the information is suitable any number of purposes, including determining breaches. As we are aware YB tracking is the industry standard for almost all major events (Vendee, Middle Sea, Hobart, Route du Rhum) and they all use YB tracking for similar purposes including identifying penalties.
  • The 3 boats raised in your email (and there were others) were all reviewed and identified as having sailed the course without entering an obstruction zone.
  • RL Sailing was NOT the only boat who received a 10% standard penalty for TSS infringement. There were several other boats across the entire fleet who received the same penalty.
  • RL Sailing did attend a hearing with the international jury and the jury found RL Sailing was unable to provide sufficient evidence that they did not cross into the TSS zone or provide evidence that any breach was through no fault of their own.
  • There was no failure or malfunction of the tracking system that had adversely affected RL Sailing’s position in relation to a TSS zone. There were individual tracker failures which highlighted areas of further investigation which were reviewed by the RC.

The RORC are aware that this is an extremely disappointing penalty for RL Sailing however RORC operates fairly and without bias for all competitors in relation to the rules within the sailing instruction and we feel in the case of TSS infringements we have conducted ourselves appropriately.

Published in RORC
Tagged under

#Fishing - Who's watching out for illegal fishing in the world's oceans? It could be anyone at the click of a mouse of the tap of a touchscreen – if a new satellite tracking programme takes off.

NPR's The Salt blog reports on the Eyes on the Seas project, that aims to help authorities the world over keep tabs on illegal fishing activity via a 'virtual watch room' that combines satellite imagery with real-time location data.

The inspiration for the project is the recently launched Global Fishing Watch system. As reported on Afloat.ie last November, this uses specialised software from a small start-up called SkyTruth, which maps AIS data onto satellite maps of the oceans to track the activity of fishing fleets around the world.

The project has the backing of internet giant Google, and now SkyTruth's John Amos has partnered with the Pew Charitable Trusts on the latest version of the initiative to use technology against the ocean's seafood pirates.

NPR has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing
Tagged under
A new EU-funded project is tracking the movements of seabirds along the Atlantic coastlines of Ireland, the UK, France, Spain and Portugal.
The Future of the Atlantic Marine Environment (FAME) project aims to pinpoint areas that are important for Europe's seabirds. This knowledge may assist in the selection of marine conservation areas to protect declining species.
According to Surfbirds News, the researchers are taping tiny GPS trackers to the backs of seabirds, allowing the scientists to accurately pinpoint their movements between the birds' nesting colonies and the areas of sea they use to find food.
"Up to know we've known very little about the movements of these birds when they venture out to sea to find food," said seabird scientist Dr Ellie Owen. "But now, just when these birds need our help, we're on the cusp of filling this information void with vitally-important data."
Surfbird News has more on the story HERE.

A new EU-funded project is tracking the movements of seabirds along the Atlantic coastlines of Ireland, the UK, France, Spain and Portugal.

The Future of the Atlantic Marine Environment (FAME) project aims to pinpoint areas that are important for Europe's seabirds. This knowledge may assist in the selection of marine conservation areas to protect declining species.

According to Surfbirds News, the researchers are taping tiny GPS trackers to the backs of seabirds, allowing the scientists to accurately pinpoint their movements between the birds' nesting colonies and the areas of sea they use to find food.

"Up to now we've known very little about the movements of these birds when they venture out to sea to find food," said seabird scientist Dr Ellie Owen. "But now, just when these birds need our help, we're on the cusp of filling this information void with vitally-important data."

Surfbirds News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Mini sailboats could soon be spotted in Irish waters if a US school project goes according to plan.
The Bangor Daily News in Maine reports on the Educational Passages programme, through which middle school students will equip miniature sailboats with GPS trackers and set them out to sea to follow their progress across the Atlantic.
In previous years the programme - which is designed to give youngsters hands-on experience in maritime professions and skills such as oceanography and chart reading - has sent its self-steering boats as far as Portugal.
This year's students are hoping to catch the Gulf Stream to send their boats to Europe. The boats will be launched by trainees on the Maine Maritime Academy's training vessel State of Maine, which will also be retrieving a boat from a previous project that was recovered in Ireland.

Mini sailboats could soon be spotted in Irish waters if a US school project goes according to plan.

The Bangor Daily News in Maine reports on the Educational Passages programme, through which middle school students will equip miniature sailboats with GPS trackers and set them out to sea to follow their progress across the Atlantic.

In previous years the programme - which is designed to give youngsters hands-on experience in maritime professions and skills such as oceanography and chart reading - has sent its self-steering boats as far as Portugal. 

This year's students are hoping to catch the Gulf Stream to send their boats to Europe. The boats will be launched by trainees on the Maine Maritime Academy's training vessel State of Maine, which will also be retrieving a boat from a previous project that was recovered in Ireland.

Published in Marine Science

Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

©Afloat 2020

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