It’s all over (until next year?), and I am back at home in Newbury and have my email back up and running. I am still in need of a great amount of sleep which I hope I can catch up on before Monday.
Anyway, ‘what happened?’ you are all asking. Well for starters here is a screenshot of the final application with live data showing from last week for you all to gawp at.
It looks pretty funky doesn’t it, well other than the blue gel effect anyway. As far as how it worked other than a few user errors we had a pretty faultless week, we had to put a bit more validation in to the Weather Maker so that it doesn’t allow you to put the bearing and wind speed in the wrong way around; because the boat speed calculations interpolate linearly past the maximum polar ring (25kts) putting in 110knots and 18 instead of the other way around results in about 90kts of boat speed, so whilst not stopping you doing it in future, it now asks you if you’re sure.
There were also a couple of issues with the predictions for class 0, mostly because the IRC handicap rating doesn’t allow for the type of boat and despite their size ABN Amro, Maximus and Full Pelt sail like sports boats in the right conditions, whereas the rest of the IRC 0 fleet are displacement boats.
The graph on the right represents the X-332 class, which is a displacement boat, (the different arcs being different wind speeds (2,4, and 6kts)) and the one on the left the J-109 class, a sportsboat, (the first arc being 6kts wind speed). As you can see there is a marked difference between the two from 90 onwards, which represents how the boats behave as they get futher away from the wind. Sportsboats take off as they start to reach, whilst displacement boats are at their most efficient running before the wind. Now this is fine when you have two classes which each fit one of these diagrams, but when you have a class which contains both it becomes difficult to predict when the class will get home. On top of that ABN Amro has a canting keel, meaning she can sail in much higher winds with the same sail area without the corresponding increase in leeway. Amazingly however, discounting class 0 and the multihulls (again another really difficult class to predict for) we were pretty much spot on with our estimates. I haven’t checked all of the data yet, but I know we had at least 2 predictions that differed from the actuals by less than 5 seconds. Over 2 hours and 10-20 miles that ain’t half bad.
Linz has insisted that I immortalise the following story on my blog, and whilst equal parts name dropping and total embarrassment I have given in. Throughout the week we must have had 20 or so people ranging from media to friends of staff, from the Skandia Geelong week organisers to the small time Waymouth Regtta people come in and look at the Regatta Manager, sometimes I was there, others not. Needless to say by the end of the week I pretty much had the spiel down to a concise 5-10 min talk and was starting to relax whilst doing them. So much so that when a member of staff came in with what appeared to be his family I merrily went on about how wonderful it all was and everything was good. It was only after they left and Linz came over and said “You do realise that was David Gower don’t you?” that I started to feel like a prat.
Microsoft PR Event
I alluded in an earlier post to a PR event that Microsoft organised, they sent a film crew along to video the whole Regatta Manager Suite working, paying special attention to the Course Setter which makes use of the Windows Presentation Foundation aspect of the .Net Framework version 3.0. It was a fantastic 3 days actually, we had good wind, and it was the Royal Yacht Squadron’s triumvirate days and everyone went out of the way to accommodate the film crew. A special thanks to John Grandy the RYS Principle Race Officer, and to all the course setters on those days, as well as Chris Tibbs and Richard Saloman and his team for the intrusion on their time.
In terms of where and when the final product will be shown, I am not quite sure yet, but with the imminent release of Windows Vista hopefully it will feature along with that.
A lot of people have expressed an interest in how the Regatta Manager works, and whilst I am not about to reveal trade secrets I am planning on putting together a post explaining some of the concepts behind how we get such good predictions given the large variables we have to deal with.