Putting theory into practice: Organizing the Spi West-France Regatta with Gilles Bricout

Gilles Bricout is one of the Race Committee members for the Spi West-France 2017, directed by Chistophe Gaumont. We got in touch with Gilles to find out why TIMEZERO helps in both preparing and in real-time to ensure the smooth running of the race.

“For an event like the Spi West-France Destination Morbihan, it’s important to be able to quickly position oneself in the area given the different race circles so that it is possible to make a quick decision.

This is why being able to use a software like TIMEZERO is so important. It really gives you a time window.

Planning Phase

The first step is choosing a zone for the race and to display each race zone on a chart. One stumbling block for the Spi is creating the 4 race circles within a reduced area so that the smaller boats don’t have to travel too far. These circles need to be placed in the funnel like geographic area of the Quiberon bay to avoid the shipping channel, rocks to the rights and the oyster farms to the left.

Then one needs to prepare the official documents such as the race declaration to maritime affairs. The zones of the course must be clearly defined but also provide the coastal route which will be used during the event.

For the coastal course, we use the software to get an idea of the race completion time for both large and small boats given the weather forecasts. Another factor to take into account is trying to limit as much as possible giving a certain boat category an advantage over others based on the route and weather forecasts.

Finally to create a starting line we must observe the area with vigilance. A successful start will only need 4-5 tries but more can be necessary when the boats need to be recalled after a false start. This is where TIMEZERO data is key. Once the race zone and other elements are configured in TIMEZERO, we can go again.

On Race Day

During the event, TIMEZERO software is also used for briefing the Race Course Director each morning with the outline of the race for the day:

  • Evaluating the time that is required for the Race Committee fleet to arrive at a given zone at least one hour before the start
  • Weather forecasts for the day and the progression of the currents throughout that day
  • Position of fleet boat given that they are assigned a circle for the duration of the race
  • The movement of the fleet within the circle each day
  • Choice of coastal route and length based on the characteristics of each class

Every day, once I arrive at the race circle (blue round) I’m in charge of, I confirm my position to the Race Course Director as well as the winds and whether the circle should be adjusted so that the boat will not leave the circle and thus not encroach into the other circles.

Taking into account the depth given the tides and the currents so as to have enough water is critical. We have to make sure that the race and lay lines are not dangerous. Also, so that there is more wind than currents.

We follow the competitors throughout the day, giving an estimate for the arrival of the first as well as the last boat in order to see if we can add in another race.

We are in charge of both the race and the safety of the competitors which is why having a marine navigation software such as TIMEZERO allows us to react quickly. It allows us to get to a GPS point where an incident has occurred or to find the zone based on information provided by the boat in no time.

Along the coast, following the fleet is even more important because if we see that the time to complete the course will not be possible given a lack of wind then that gives us very little time to reflect and make a decision. A decision such as taking away a mark under the “Sierra” flag if we deem that no one will make it to the finish line. Or to send the competitors directly to the starting line under the “Oscar” flag, along a coastline which would mean no marks. The challenge is then to place the steward boats so that they act as marks and just like in chess, to always think two moves ahead.

All our decisions must be given the green light by the Race Course Director and then, where necessary, race circles will be re-assigned so that none cross over.

In my opinion, the cherry on the cake is when there is the possibility of displaying the AIS positions of the competitors on the race course. The Race Committee can then see the boat positions as well as their speeds.

Since I started using TIMEZERO, the choice of race routes and coastal routes has become more simplified and so is the creation. It also makes distinguishing between the different routes much easier.

A big thank you to TIMEZERO who have provided a way to take my work to another level on the Race Committee.”

Gilles BRICOUT – Race Committee: Spi West-France Destination Morbihan

About TZ Professional:

Gilles Bricout has showed how by harnessing zone creation, position report and AIS targets he is able to manage a race in an area that provides little margin for error.

There are various ways of creating zones in TZ Professional such as the case with this race where identified areas can be created and then color coded. There is also the possibility to create mooring alarm zones, which will let you know when a boat is getting close to the boundary of a zone by turning from green to red. Inside TZ Navigator, it is also possible to create zones in which you can navigate as well as see tidal currents, tides and weather forecasts.

TZ Professional has fleet tracking and position report, meaning that all boats connected with an AIS A or B can provide race officials with their position every 10 minutes. This report can be relayed and shared using online sharing tools such as Dropbox.

Find out about all the solutions provided for racing in TZ Professional v3: