Sailor of the Week: February 28 - March 6
In January at US Sailing’s 2013 One-Design Symposium in Ohio, Mike Martin (Mill Valley, Calif.) was the recipient of the Creativity Award for his contributions in the development of the new electronic umpiring system used in the America’s Cup World Series. This innovative system uses positional data displayed in real-time to enhance the accuracy of race officiating, improving the performances of the Umpires and sailors. This technology is now positively influencing other sailing events around the world.
Creativity Award recognizes outstanding individual creativity and contribution in the year's most innovative one-design event of national or international significance.
The umpire application takes positional data from every boat, 10 times a second with 1 inch accuracy. This data is displayed real-time and can be frozen, rewound, fast forwarded, or stepped backwards in .1 second increments. Each incident that the umpires make a call on is recorded and then posted on a website that is open to the public.
This system has enabled accurate officiating, which is great for umpires as well as the sailors. It has also begun to influence other sailing events, such as the Olympics.
Mike was responsible for laying out the user interface and the block diagram of what the Umpire program required. He worked closely with Graeme Winn who created the algorithms and coding.
“Through the whole process we coordinated with team who was developing the TV side of things, including Ken Milnes, Stan Honey and Tim Heidmann,” said Mike. “Since its debut, I have been in charge of constantly improving it and updating it as the racing rules of sailing for the America’s Cup change.”
“Putting the umpires on the water in RIBs has worked well but relies on being in the correct position, and judgment of the umpires for distances,” said Mike. “This is much more difficult in catamarans that are doing 40-plus knots. We are struggling to find RIBs that can even keep up with the AC72s and when they do, it is a very rough ride.”
The electronic umpiring system supplies the facts with accuracy. The system can supply this data regardless of the speed of the boats. Additionally, the three hull length zones around marks and course limits are displayed and change colors when boats enter these zones, as do the color of the boats when they are overlapped. All this gives the umpires the ability to know exactly what happened so that they can concentrate on determining if any rules have been broken.
Mike is a decorated competitive sailor in multiple classes as a crew and skipper. He is the only sailor in history to win the 505 World Championships as a crew (1999) and skipper (2009). Mike is an 8-time 505 North American Champion. He is also the only American to win the 18 foot Skiff World Championship. He did so as crew in 2002 and 2003. Mike was a College Singlehanded Champion and All-American in 1989.
In his professional life, Mike works in research and development on products such as thermal inkjet print heads for Hewlett Packard, and instruments for retina surgery for Alcon Laboratories.