Oracle Blogs, By charlie.berger on April 6, 2010
BMW Oracle Racing's victory in the 33rd America's Cup yacht race in February showcased the crew's extraordinary sailing expertise. But to hear them talk, the real stars weren't actually human. "The story of this race is in the technology," says Ian Burns, design coordinator for BMW Oracle Racing.
Gathering and Mining Sailing Data
From the drag-resistant hull to its 23-story wing sail, the BMW Oracle USA trimaran is a technological marvel. But to learn to sail it well, the crew needed to review enormous amounts of reliable data every time they took the boat for a test run. Burns and his team collected performance data from 250 sensors throughout the trimaran at the rate of 10 times per second. An hour of sailing alone generates 90 million data points.
Analyzing Wind and Other Environmental Conditions Burns then streamed the data to the Oracle Austin Data Center, where a dedicated team tackled deeper analysis. Because the data was collected in an Oracle Database, the Data Center team could dive straight into the analytics problems without having to do any extract, transform, and load processes or data conversion. And the many advanced data mining algorithms in Oracle Data Mining allowed the analytics team to build vital performance analytics. For example, the technology team could remove masking elements such as environmental conditions to give accurate data on the best mast rotation for certain wind conditions.
Without the data mining, Burns says the boat wouldn't have run as fast. "The design of the boat was important, but once you've got it designed, the whole race is down to how the guys can use it," he says. "With Oracle database technology we could compare the incremental improvements in our performance from the first day of sailing to the very last day. With data mining we could check data against the things we saw, and we could find things that weren't otherwise easily observable and findable."