The Microtransat Challenge


Rules

Section A: Safety

  1. Safety should take priority over winning.
  2. Competitors may not attempt to inhibit other competitors by intentionally colliding with or obstructing their boat or by interfering with radio and electronic equipment.
  3. All radio equipment must comply with appropriate International regulations.
  4. Each boat should be equipped with a navigation light which is turned one during the hours of darkness. It is up to competitors to decide on their lighting setup and is their responsibility to ensure that their boat meets any legal requirements for lighting in all countries which the boat might visit. Based on informal advice from the Irish and US coastguard we suggest that either a single white light or tri-colour red/white/green light should be used. This should be visible from all directions at a distance of at least 2 nautical miles.
  5. Boats must take appropriate precautions to avoid collisions. This might include the use of radar reflectors, brightly coloured panels, warning labels/flags or AIS transponders and avoiding known shipping lanes. Each team must decide the exact precautions they wish to take.
  6. The boat owner is liable for any damage caused to their boat or by their boat. The organisers take no responsibility for any damage caused.
  7. Boats must remain outside any defined exclusion zones.
  8. Competitors must arrange permission for the boats to operate in the waters of their chosen country of departure. Competitors are also responsible for arranging permission for their boat to enter the waters of their destination country and other countries along the way. Competitors are recommended to remain in international waters where possible.

Section B: Tracking of boats and transmission on data

  1. Each competitor will be required to provide their boat's position to the organisers via a web or email interface at least once every 6 hours. Competitors are free to decide how this information is obtained and transmitted. A map showing each boat's position will be provided on this website. Any boat which fails to transmit for more than 10 consecutive days or a total of more than 15 days will be disqualified.
  2. In addition to transmitting position data, each boat must keep a record onboard of its position at least once every 6 hours. A copy of this must be emailed to the Microtransat mailing list upon completion. It is recommended that competitors should log data much more frequently than this, ideally at least once per hour.
  3. Competitors may transmit status information such as battery state from their boats.
  4. During the race competitors may not transmit any information to their boats, including new waypoints, weather information or software updates. Any competitor which does will be disqualified. However if a competitor wishes to implement such features for use in an emergency or after the race, then they may do so on the understanding that their use during the race will result in disqualification. The jury may request to examine satellite phone bills, log files or computer code if they suspect data has been sent to the boat.
  5. Each boat must carry the contact details (address, email and/or phone number) of its owner for anyone who might happen to find it. This could be be through writing them onto the boat itself or by writing on paper that is laminated or stored inside a water proof container. All competitors are advised to include in this a short explanation of what the purpose of the boat is and where it is supposed to be going, as this may help to avoid confusion and wasted time by anyone who might find it.
  6. In the event that a boat completes the race but has not fulfilled the requirements of rules B1 and B2. Then the jury will consider other evidence and decide if this is sufficient for the boat to be deemed to have completed Microtransat. Evidence submitted may include:
    • Regular transmitted tracking reports, considered by the jury to have been sufficiently frequent. e.g. remotely received reports every 6 hours, without long periods of loss.
    • Position estimates from Iridium Short Burst Data transmissions that did not include a GPS data embedded inside them. These should only be considered where the Circular Error Probable (CPE) radius is less than 10. See page 20 of the Iridium Short Burst Data Service Developers Guide for a technical description of this system.
    • Recovery of a GPS log, either via remote communications, or physical recovery.
    • Photographs, video or written evidence by trusted observers. e.g. maritime patrol aircraft or Coast Guard ships.
The jury will decide if the evidence, and the source of the evidence is sufficiently trustworthy. This rule does not negate the requirement to conform with rules B1 and B2. Boats which do not have remote tracking systems or data logging capabilities capable of transmitting/logging once every 6 hours and having a reasonable chance of functioning for the entire race will not be allowed.

Section C: Criteria for entry

Every boat entered must fulfil the following criteria:

  1. No source of propulsion other than wind.
  2. The sailboat must be fully autonomous, no operator control is allowed.
  3. The sailboat must be energetically autonomous, carrying on board any required batteries and electricity generating equipment.
  4. The load water line length (LWL) of the boat must not exceed four metres.

Section D: The competition

  1. The aim of the competition is to sail an autonomous sailing boat between Europe and the Caribbean or North America and Ireland in the fastest possible time. The start lines for these two routes are specified below in sections D.1 and D.2.
  2. The competition will run between April 1st and December 31st 2014. Competitors may launch at any time during this time.
  3. Competitors are responsible for transporting themselves and their boat to the starting line.
  4. An approach of at least 40 nautical miles to the start line must be sailed autonomously.
  5. Before departing, each team must choose a circular target area of 25km in radius, centred along the finish line. A boat will only be considered to have finished the race when it gets within 25km of the central point of the target area. It does not matter which direction the boat enters the target area from. The boat must either add at least one point to its GPS log or transmit a position update that indicates it is inside the target area.
  6. A boat which runs aground must begin sailing again without any human intervention. If human intervention is required then the entry will be disqualified and must start the competition again. Human intervention includes physically moving the boat or remotely controlling it.

Section D.1: East to West competition route

Click here for a map showing the start and finish lines for this route.

  1. The start line is along the line between 51 degrees north, 16 degrees west and 45 degrees north, 8 degrees west.
  2. An approach of at least 40 nautical miles to the start line must be sailed autonomously.
  3. The finishing line is along the line of longitude at 60 degrees West, between 10 degrees North and 25 degrees North.

Section D.2: West to East competition route

Click here for a map showing the start and finish lines for this route.

  1. The start point is along the line of longitude at 47 degrees and 30 minutes West, between 41 and 48 degrees North.
  2. An approach of at least 40 nautical miles to the start line must be sailed autonomously.
  3. The finishing line is along the line of longitude at 11 degrees West, between 45 and 55 degrees North.

Section E: Judging Criteria

  1. How quickly the boat crosses the Atlantic between the designated start point and the team's target end point.
  2. A handicap will be calculated by the jury based on the boat's hull length using the following formula: Time Corrected = Time * square root(length in metres)/square root(4 metres). Length will be measured as LOA (Length overall), not including bow sprits, antenna masts and other attachments that are not part of the hull.
  3. In the event of no boat reaching the finishing line, no winner will be declared.
  4. The result will be given by the jury within one week of the a boat crossing the finish line. During this time each competitor will submit a complete log of positions (minimum of 1 every 24 hours) along with any contest or comment to the jury and to all other teams.

Section F: Notifying the organisers of your attempt

  1. Before departing please email registration@microtransat.org with the following details:
    • Organisation Name and location (town/city and country)
    • A link to your website
    • Boat Name(s)
    • Measurements (length, beam and draft) in metres
    • Weight in kilograms
    • Details of your power source(s), actuators, computers and communications systems
    • Details of your hull and rig design
    • Any other interesting information about your boat
    • A photograph of your boat
    • A link to a video of your boat sailing autonomously
    • Which route you intend to take (East to West or West to East)
    • The latitude and longitude of your target point on the finish line

    You may submit these details as a sign of your intention to compete, long before departure. This may help to improve publicity and show potential sponsors that you are registered.
  2. As soon as possible after you launch email the date, time and GPS co-ordinates of the position where you launched the boat to registration@microtransat.org
  3. Regardless of whether or not the attempt was successful, if the boat is recovered, then the following details must be sent to the Microtransat mailing list within 1 week:
    • Details of where and how the boat was recovered
    • A photo or video of the recovered boat and if possible of the recovery itself
    • Details about the physical conditions of the boat, any signs of collision/damage, biofouling, salt corrosion, water ingress etc.
    • A copy of any log files which have been recovered

Section G: The Jury

  1. The organisers will select a jury of 3 people. They will rule on whether or not a boat has completed the race.
  2. The jury will consist of one chair person and two ordinary members. The chair person will be responsible for communicating the decisions of the jury and gathering evidence from the teams.
  3. The jury members will be appointed before the first boat starts the competition and will remain in place until the last boat completes or is disqualified. If a jury member needs to discontinue their duties then the organisers will appoint a suitable replacement.
  4. The jury members will have appropriate background experience. They must be familiar with the Microtransat Rules, the International Rules of Sailing, the International Rules for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea (COLREGs) and with robotic sailing general. They should have prior experience of robotic sailing such as having made a previous Microtransat attempt, attended a WRSC or SailBot competition, been involved with the development of a robot boat or other robotic systems such as an autonomous underwater vehicle or unmanned aerial vehicle.
  5. Jury members will not be part of a team competing or intending to compete in the Microtransat (in the year they are appointed).

Section F: Future modification of these rules

  1. A review of these rules will begin in December 2014 for the 2015 Microtransat. It will be open to discussion from any interested party via a mailing list.

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