Race navigation goes virtual

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Will be interesting to see racers calling for "buoy room" as they round a buoy that isn't there. The Ida Lewis Distance Race in Rhode Island will use a "virtual mark" for the first time when the race starts on Friday, August 15. Racers have been told that the lat/long position of 41° 06.00' north, 071° 23.34' west will be a turning mark on the course, which includes PHRF, IRC, One-Design, Doublehanded and Multihull classes. Race navigators will place an electronic marker onto their electronic charts. The other marks in the race (there are four courses for different classes) will be existing buoys. The idea of a virtual mark not only allows the race committee more flexibility, but can help them in laying out a course optimized for wind. 
More from the press release: A “virtual mark” adds an intriguing new twist to the 10th Annual Ida Lewis Distance Race (ILDR), which starts this Friday (August 15). Starting at 12:30 p.m. off Fort Adams in Newport, R.I., the popular overnighter takes its fleet of PHRF, IRC, One-Design, Doublehanded and Multihull boats on one of four courses – between 104nm and 177nm – that trace the New England coastline.
“This is the first time that we have used the concept of a ‘virtual mark’ at the Ida Lewis Distance Race,” said ILDR Race Chairman Simon Davidson, adding that the mark is similar to a traditional mark, as defined in the rules of sailing, except rather than being a physical object, it’s a position defined by latitude and longitude coordinates.
“Originally, this concept was born out of necessity, due to the Coast Guard’s removal of various traditional marks that we’ve used in the past. However, making this change actually enhances the race committee's ability to set an optimal distance course. If this experience proves successful, we expect to see it used for a lot of other events.”
This year, the mark will be located at longitude 41:06.00 north and latitude 071:23.34 west.
“This seems to be an emerging trend,” said Ed Cesare (Norwalk, Conn.), who is returning this summer to defend his 2013 win on Class 40 Pleiad Racing in the Doublehanded Division. “I know the RORC uses virtual marks and have been doing so for some time. Certainly the technology is there, so if it works for the race course, then let’s do it.”
Cesare has been racing in the Ida Lewis Distance Race since its inception in 2004. “I competed in this event on a variety of different boats, and what I love about it is that the organizers are constantly trying to modify the format to make it better for a variety of different teams. It also starts and finishes in Newport, making it a fun weekend for all members of the family.”     
By Ocean Navigator