Revolutionary service predicts and prevents equipment failure to keep high-tech F50s racing

SailGP, the world’s most exciting racing on water, and Oracle have been working together since the championship’s inception in 2019, a partnership that will last until at least the end of 2026.

Throughout Season 4, SailGP and Oracle will highlight the power of their work through a series of insightful case studies. The first case study will look at the Anomaly Detection service.

Setting the scene

SailGP has harnessed the power of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) to become one of the fastest growing sports leagues in the world. SailGP Season 4 is the championship’s largest ever with ten rival national teams competing across 13 events.

On the water, OCI’s high performance, high availability, and low cost enables SailGP to analyze more than 300,000 data points per second collected from 125 sensors onboard the high-tech hydrofoiling F50 catamarans. That’s more than 48 billion data points each race day.

A critical part of this Oracle-powered analysis is that it reduces the chance of equipment failure. SailGP racing is short and intense with drivers and teams constantly pushing the F50s hard in order to seek the best advantage.

Such persistent intensity puts strain on the onboard systems of the F50s, which increases the risk of equipment failure. This is where Anomaly Detection comes in, to predict and prevent that from happening and to keep all ten nations on the water to battle it out for event wins.

What is Anomaly Detection

The Oracle Anomaly Detection service sits in the Oracle Cloud and queries the huge amount of data after every sailing day. It has been trained to detect anomalies in the data from a number of key sensors and systems onboard the F50s.

This process is far more sophisticated than the standard threshold-based alarms on the F50. Through machine learning techniques, it has the unique ability to detect the early warning signs of what could lead to potential equipment failure.

The sheer size of data the Anomaly Detection service can process, and its rate of speed, is therefore invaluable for SailGP’s technology department and all ten teams.

Once the Anomaly Detection service has processed the data after a day of sailing, anomaly values that are of interest and above a predefined threshold are highlighted to SailGP’s technology team.

This allows for a targeted deep dive into the data for further investigation to catch any potential problems before they occur - identifying parts that might be about to fail and allowing SailGP’s engineering team to preemptively replace them. The Anomaly Detection service finds a future failure every second day of sailing.

What they say

Warren Jones, Director of Technology at SailGP, said: “It is protective maintenance. You are looking to the future and working out that if something breaks on that boat then everything else around the boat breaks. Therefore we have to fix that. We talked to Oracle and said we’ve never done this before, how can you help us?. I’m really, really proud of what we do with Oracle. Every challenge that I've ever brought to them, Oracle has said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this’.”

Scott Babbage, SailGP data analyst, said: “During a training day in Chicago earlier this season, there was a tank volume sensor with the hydraulic system on Switzerland’s F50. We looked at the data, compared it to some data from San Francisco and you could see that the trend was different. We compared it to other boats and you could see that the sensor was performing differently. That was a trigger to go and change that component.”

Australia SailGP Team driver Tom Slingsby said: “I remember at the start of Season 2 we had a hydraulics fail while we were over in Italy and we ended up missing a couple of races. We ended up finishing last for the event. Now, especially with Oracle’s support, the technology, the data and the detection of issues is becoming less and less. They come to our boat and say ‘we’ve noticed something is going wrong, can we get onboard and check it and fix it’. They do that ahead of time and we actually get to do the race instead of having to pull out with damage.”

ROCKWOOL Denmark SailGP Team strategist Katja Salskov-Iversen said: “It makes us feel safe that there are people managing and controlling the data all of the time. Sometimes we are told to stop because you can see that there is an anomaly. That makes you feel safe and that’s a nice feeling on these boats.”

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