The high tech that drives the gold rush
THE HAGUE _ When the 2014 HISWA Amsterdam Boat Show closed its doors March 9, one exhibitor had a tough time closing up. Youngsters remained all over its unique sail simulator well after closing time. “As we tried to pack up, they kept getting into that thing to score better times,” says Cees van Bladel, manager of the InnoSportLab-The Hague.
Its sail simulator is the world’s most advanced. In the last 3 to 4 years it has traced and tracked the skills and decision-making of talented Dutch racers measuring a growing number of performance criteria. At the Amsterdam show, the simulator was shown for the first time in public. Over 200 people _ seated in a stationary cockpit “steering” into waters shown on a wrap-around film screen _ sat in the contraption that is part of a drive to put the Netherlands into the global Top-10 of sports. To get there, Dutch industry and knowledge institutions contribute cutting edge technologies to hone talents in sports in which the Netherlands expects to excelling such as sailing, skating, gymnastics and swimming.
In recent years, 6 ‘InnoSportLabs’ have opened. The knowhow that the private sector gains benefits their own research and marketing. Universities’ role in an InnoSportLab is a boon for their overall research. And as for flag-wrapped athletes, that photo of them mock-biting into a medal is a joy forever!
Van Bladel says the sailboat simulator is more complex than the airplane cockpit version. Its virtual reality software tracks a vast range of physical responses to such things as rudder pressure, trimming actions and sheet tensions. Performance data can be read in real time. The simulator also stores complete race records that can be re-run later. “In recent years, 3 to 4 people have been developing the simulator.” says Van Bladel. Their work is not done. “We plan to add more criteria like noise, wind and more varied boat motions.”
- A high-tech coaching RIB that transmits a sailboat’s behavior on the water in real time to shore.
- a ‘Mobile Eye’ program of glasses that record a sailor’s eye movements.
- training sessions recorded by drones showing a sailing team’s behavior from above.
- weather telemetry studies, begun by Kalle Coster, an ex-sailor peeved by the complexity and prohibitive costs of existing equipment on the market.