In what is regarded as the greatest comeback in the 162-year history of boat-racing at the America’s Cup match races, Oracle Team USA recently placed first in the San Francisco competition. The team was sponsored by Oracle–which is one of our clients–and crossed the finish line with a 44-second lead, winning the Auld Mug—the oldest trophy in international sports—and led with a score of 9-8 over Emirates Team New Zealand. However, just a week prior to the final match, they were trailing behind their challenger 8-1, making this win even more significant.
It’s not just the win that’s impressive though; the boats used in the competition are fine works of craftsmanship. Larry Ellison, the owner of Oracle Team USA and founder of Oracle, made sure his team sailed on two AC72 class wing-sail catamarans at this year’s 34th America’s Cup. At 72-feet long and with 131-foot carbon fiber sails, the boats reached speeds of up to 40 knots (about 45 miles per hour).
More important, it was the technology behind the sailboats that was put on a pedestal. Oracle Team USA used prediction programs and post processing programs for their data. During the 32nd America’s Cup, they processed just 4 GB for the entire competition. This time around, the team amassed approximately 200 GB of data per day due to the fiber optic cabling throughout the boat and over 400 sensors onboard, which measured wind speed and strain. The server on the boat would gather the data and stream it via Wi-Fi back to the Oracle database on shore, allowing every department to have instant access to the day’s information.
The boat was followed around the bay by the team’s Performance Boat—a high speed, rigid inflatable equipped with an Oracle database—serving as a real-time analytical hub; it analyzed the data while the boat was still on the water. The sailors were also equipped with customized PDAs and the boat carried around 25-30 portable devices every day for data-gathering.
The key technologies used by Oracle Team USA are Exadata and Oracle Applications Express. Exadata increases the speed of report generation and query time while Oracle Applications Express is used to distribute data to end users in all departments. Everything is coded in Java to allow for easier exchange of hardware.
The ability to decipher data and increase the speed of analytical results proved favorable to the team’s campaign. However, the win they achieved did not solely rely on the technology; the win would not have been possible without the skill, teamwork, perseverance, and heart of all the members of Oracle Team USA.
“There was an energy and a ‘never give up’ attitude throughout the team,” said the team’s Skipper, Jimmy Spithill, on the team’s website. “Everyone just wanted it and would fight all the way to the end, and that is what produced the boat speed.”