Witch doctors for «geeks»
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Witch doctors for «geeks»

Electronic sorcerers: what are they and how do they work?

Michel Desjoyeaux is one of the most successful single sailors in the world. He has twice come first at the Vendee Globe (and the only one to have won it more than once), Route du Rhum and has won a number of other regattas. He has now almost quit racing and is more involved in the development of his company Mer Agitée in France. Michel and his partner Régine Bornens founded the company to develop and innovate in sailing in 1999. Their latest development is electronic sorcerers.

Working together with engineer Dimitri Voisin, Mer Agitée invented how to convert sorcerers' movements into electronic signals and created electronic sorcerers, calling their device TrimControl.

But how does it work?

Vuazen and his colleagues have found a way to combine a sufficiently sensitive sensor and a thin piece of wedge-shaped silicone, place them in a rectangular body and attach this structure to a canvas of self-adhesive sails. This device takes only a few cubic centimeters and is powered by electricity to convert the sorcerer's movement into hertz and transmit a digital signal to a local base, which can be installed in the boat's navigation station.

The base station in turn connects to an Android smartphone with the TrimControl application , which receives data from sorcerers in real time. For recording and statistical analysis, Adrena's navigation software is synchronized with your smartphone and the data processed by it is displayed on the screen. When the angle of the silicon sorcerer deviates from the set point, it means that the sorcerer is in a turbulent air flow due to the uncompleted sails, or that the boat is too steep to the wind. These values are displayed to the skipper or navigator, which is particularly useful at night. These sorcerers also show the wind blade when they are slightly repelled from the sail by the air flow and they stand up at an angle. According to Vuazen, the system will already work perfectly at ten knots of pennant wind speed.

«This invention will serve the offshore racers well," says Vouazin. - As you know, in offshore racing wins the one who makes fewer mistakes, not the one who has more speed. The role of electronic sorcerers lies in optimizing sails.

To test the reliability of electronic sorcerers, they were tested by fixing the ends of the blades of the windmill, where the speed reached 300 km / h. They can be twisted, crushed and folded without consequences. The adhesive backing attaches to any fabric or laminated surface and is perfect for both racing and cruising sails. Nowadays, electronic sorcerers are used more often on jibs, but they can also be installed on the mainsail, and - according to the manufacturer - even on lightweight Zero code.
Throughout the sorcerers' development, they have been tested on various types of yachts, including Pogo, and the first tests in the race took place during the Giraglia Race, where the sorcerers mounted the second number IMOCA 60 SMA on a stack.

«I think the Volvo Ocean Race or America's Cup racers can also appreciate my invention. Sensors are on their yachts throughout the rankings and my invention provides just as important information on the airflow around the sail," says Vouazin».

NKE also took part in the development process. They wrote the software to connect TrimControl to the autopilot so that it could follow the pennant wind not only through the weather vane on the mast top, but also the direct position of the sail relative to the wind.

The inventors of TrimControl are trying to find all possible applications for their invention. For example, Vousin and his development partner François Gabart, skipper of the MACIF Maxi Trimaran, worked with North Sails' Gautier Sergent to understand how data read from sorcerers could help optimise the shape of the sails.

Another problem that Mer Agitée's invention solves is the visibility of sorcerers.

The fact is that it is almost impossible to see sorcerers at night, and the weapons on some boats are so high that even in good weather during the day to see the thread or ribbon is problematic. In such cases, an electronic sorcerer will also come to the aid. Since all information is sent to your smartphone or onboard navigation system, all data is always at hand.

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