University designs system to assess skill and reaction

The P1 Marine Foundation and Southampton University have teamed up to introduce simulator technology to powerboat racing in an effort to improve driver training.

The simulators allow drivers to experience course lay-out and boat handling without going near the water while also assessing performance in relation to a variety of human measures including eye movements.

“This project forms part of a wider research programme into the design of high performance craft that more effectively reduce human exposure to shock and vibration,” said a spokesperson for the university.

“We anticipate that the simulator will provide a valuable training platform for powerboat drivers and will allow them to gain experience at high speeds in a variety of realistic sea conditions without exposing them to the high levels of vibration and repeated shock.”

The university and P1 said they remain committed to pushing forward research into powerboat performance for improved safety and sustainability in the future.

Powerboat simulators are not new. A basic version first appeared at the 1968 London Boat Show when a 21ft (6.4m) Avenger Class III racing runabout was coupled to an electronic screen.

Drivers followed a mock course as the hull rolled and pitched in relation to simulated sea conditions. Although relatively successful it was later withdrawn due to lost sponsorship.

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