#VOLVO OCEAN RACE - It has been revealed that a new coastal radar system developed at NUI Galway was instrumental to the success of the PUMA team in the in-port races at the recent Volvo Ocean Race finale.
The radar system, which measures currents and waves throughout Galway Bay on the hour, is run by Dr Mike Hartnett’s research group in the newly launched Ryan Institute at NUI Galway.
The sophisticated system is normally used for advanced marine research, but PUMA Ocean Racing performance coach Robert Hopkins Jr contacted the researchers to see if their radar data could be used by his crew to get the edge on the CAMPER team, with which they were tied on points.
Maps of the currents in the bay over the past month were made available to PUMA and Dr Hartnett advised team on their sailing strategy for the important race.
PUMA went on to win in great style and win the series by a one-point margin. The win also marked PUMA’s first trip to the top of the podium for an in-port race in this round of the Volvo Ocean Race.
PUMA finished on the podium in nine of the 10 in-port races, collecting 45 total points to win the overall In-Port Race Series.
Hopkins was delighted with the result. “Currents in Galway Bay were a big factor in the in-port race, where tides, wind and river outflow make it all very complicated," he said. "To prepare for the race, we looked for surface current patterns in hundreds hours of data from the NUI Galway radar, took on-the-water readings before the start, and data from Mar Mostro’s own Doppler velocity log supplied by Nortek AS. It worked and we won the race.”
The NUI Galway radar data will soon be available online to the public, hopefully helping local sailors to improve their performance.
Dr Hartnett acknowledged the assistance provided by two local businessmen in enabling this advanced technology.
“The Spiddal radar site is sending its data back to the computers at NUI Galway via the broadband service of An Crúiscín Lán, thanks to the permission of owner John Foy.
"Similarly, Liam Twomey, general manager of the National Aquarium of Ireland, Salthill, provided access to their broadband to courier the Mutton Island radar data back to NUI Galway.”