The coastal radar system run by Dr Mike Hartnett’s research group in the newly launched Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, made a last minute entry into the Volvo Ocean Race. It has been revealed that the radar, which measures currents and waves throughout Galway Bay on the hour, was instrumental to the success of the PUMA team in the in-port races. The radar is a sophisticated system, normally used for advanced marine research.
The finale to the Volvo Ocean Race took place in Galway Bay on Saturday afternoon, with the Discover Ireland In-Port Race, with PUMA going into the race tied on the same points with CAMPER. On Friday afternoon, Dr Hartnett was contacted by Robert Hopkins Jnr., PUMA Ocean Racing performance coach, to see if the radar data could be provided to the crew of the PUMA boat. Maps of the currents in the bay over the past month were made available to PUMA and Dr Hartnett advised PUMA on their sailing strategy for the important race. As is now widely known, PUMA went on to win in great style and win the series by a one point margin.
The win 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. The crew was tied with CAMPER going into the final race and won the series by one point.
PUMA’s Robert Hopkins Jnr was delighted and said: “Currents in Galway Bay were a big factor in the In-Port Race, where tides, wind and river outflow make it all very complicated. 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.”