About the Microtransat
The Microtransat Challenge is a transatlantic race of fully autonomous sailing boats. The race aims to stimulate the development of autonomous sailing boats through friendly competition.
So far this year two teams have attempted the challenge. A map of both attempts can be seen on the tracking page.
On May 16th the team from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, USA began their attempt from Cape Cod in Massachusetts. On May 22nd their boat was run over by and caught in the nets of a trawler. The crew brought her onboard and she has only sustained minor damage and will be returned to the team. You can read more about their boat on the USNA boat details page.
On September 6th 2014 Team Joker began their attempt from Barton-on-Sea, England. They experienced very light winds and a very strong tide, ultimately ending up being washed ashore on the Isle of Wight during the morning of the 7th of September. You can read more about their boat on the Team Joker boat details page.
On November 30th 2014 Team Joker began a second attempt Boscombe, England. They initially sailed south to their first waypoint, about 12 nautical miles ofshore. They then turned west to sail along the English Channel, towards the start line. At around midnight on the 30th they began travelling backwards and this was believed to be due to a strong tide. Around 6 hours later the boat continued on it westward track. At approximately midday on Decemeber 1st the boat neared the Portland Island and became caught in strong tidal currents. After following two complete tidal cycles on the eastern side of the island, the boat crossed to the south of the island narrowly missing the most southerly point of the island. It was then dragged north by the tide before finally running aground on the western side of Portland Island at approximately 7pm on December 2nd. At around 2am on December 3rd the boat was recovered and found to be mostly intact. For a more detailed account of what happened, see the team's page.
You can view the route taken by all the boats on the tracking page.
A spin off competition, the World Robotic Sailing Championships (WRSC) was created in 2008 and has taken place annually since then. This consists of a series of short races and other challenges for competing boats to undertake autonomously. Many teams who take part in the Microtransat (or who plan to) also attend the WRSC. Also attached to this event is the International Robotic Sailing Conference (IRSC), which allows researchers in the area a chance to meet up and discuss the scientific issues related to robotic sailing.
The SailBot competition is another competition for robotic sailing boats, which has taken place in North America since 2006. This is targeted at student teams and focuses on high performance short distance racing.
Microtransat teams are encouraged to attend a WRSC or SailBot event to meet other teams, exchange ideas and test out their boats and compare against others.