Kinetix AI, a deceptively simple and powerful analytical software tool, is now being used by sailors of all levels to up their results in a big way in what its creators say is performance improvement—simplified. It’s “video analytics software for sailors that helps you simplify your debrief and accelerate your improvement,” says creator Omer Brand, a professional sailor from Israel, who—like most innovators—created the application purely out of need. In the early days of his first Olympic 49er campaign, he didn’t have a coach or much of anything in the way of structured training, so Brand and his teammate relied on two GoPro cameras and a separate GPS tracker to analyze their training sessions.
“Every day after sailing, we would sit down and try to synchronize everything, and then try to make sense of it. Imagine for every two hours of sailing we had four hours of video and two hours of data. It was a process of up to six hours before we’d find something useful.”
His experiences as a professional sailor in the European big-boat scene and his work at a software startup eventually spawned an idea to employ the high-level data capabilities of the America’s Cup and grand-prix scene, but deliver them in a simplified format for the sailing masses. He took the idea to Roni Raviv, an avid racing sailor and tech entrepreneur with nearly 30 patents to his credit, and away they went.
“I built a first simple version with no automation, just a basic proof of concept, and went to him, and he said it was one of the most exciting projects he’s seen, so he joined me,” Brand says. “I went to him for advice and ended up with a partner. What’s great is that he knows how to build the software smartly. The result is an AI-based algorithm that makes complicated data simple to use and understand.” The algorithms are quite clever in their simplicity.
How simple? Very.
Using a single onboard GoPro camera to capture races or training sessions, RAW files stored on the camera’s microSD card are uploaded to the Kinetix AI cloud after sailing, where they are churned through Kinetix’s algorithm and then displayed on a feature-laden online dashboard. Other analytical software applications can do the same, Brand says, but Kinetix’s clever bit is fusing the camera’s data (GPS, accelerometer, etc.) with the video to reveal the user’s “golden moments.” These are displayed on a timeline and map/track overlay—and the video files are presented alongside it all to show what’s happening for real in those moments.
“The synching of the boat data with the video shifts the focus from the boat to the sailor,” Brand says. “The boat’s data measures the performance outcome, but the sailor is the cause. This is the limitation of traditional analytics tools or just relying on a GPS tracker. It tells you the outcome but doesn’t tell you the cause. Kinetix shifts the focus to the sailor, allowing coaches and sailors to see what caused any particular acceleration, deceleration or overcorrection, and focus corrections on the source of the problem.”
These golden moments are, he says, identified by the algorithm as abnormalities in your sailing. “The algorithm finds little nuances, things that are otherwise hard to find by simply looking at a video. If, for example, you’re sailing in a straight line for five hours and nothing happens, there will be no moments, but if you suddenly accelerate or decelerate, or there’s a sudden and abnormal movement, a moment is created around that. Tacks and jibes and mark roundings are easy to mark and see, but the little—and often critical—moments are harder to find, and that’s the level of our algorithm.”
The video element is the most powerful tool in the box, he says, in that it allows the user to see exactly what’s happening in each of these highlighted moments and, more importantly in a sailing team environment, allows for an honest team discussion.
“In a normal debrief, everyone tends to see or remember things differently,” Brand says, “but the video shows what’s really happening in the moment.”
Over the past two years, with the help of top-level coach Philippe Presti (America’s Cup, SailGP, etc.) and performance-sailing analyst Cyrille Douillet, Kinetix’s founders have continued to refine the application to serve a wide spectrum of sailors. One case study in particular, Brand says, was Maya Pilnik, a teenage ILCA 6 sailor from Israel, a client with whom he could relate. She hails from a small sailing club in the south of the country, and with a meager budget, she was stuck midfleet domestically. After using the software for a few months by herself and eventually with a coach, Brand says, she became a regular on the podium, and made it onto the national team and to the gold fleet at the World Sailing Youth World Championships—twice.
“Before, she could only see videos from the coach’s phone,” Brand says, “but suddenly she had another point of view that was easy to use. She stopped relying on feeling and memory, and started using data, and would watch the video and remember what she felt and thought.” Because she was sailing alone in the ILCA dinghy, she was talking to herself aloud—basically recording her own thoughts. “So, when she went to the software later, she could listen to her thought process—and her coach could hear her thought process as well. From then on, she took her self-training a lot more seriously.”
There are applications for club-fleet usage too. With a club account, all participating sailors and coaches are organized under the same umbrella. When a coach logs in, he or she can study the golden moments of all the sailors in the group, and even a club’s sailing director can see the interaction between coaches and sailors. “Basically, it’s also building a database for the club, and that’s a good thing,” Brand says. “Not a lot of clubs are logging a lot of data regularly, and most knowledge leaves when the coach eventually leaves. With this system, the data remains with the club.”
As a cloud-based subscription service, the application is accessible to dinghy sailors and keelboat teams with a $420 per year subscription ($775 for access to a fuller suite of analytics and features). Coaches and clubs can have access to the full suite and manage multiple teams and sailors under one umbrella. There’s also a companion app with additional features. For equipment, Brand recommends one GoPro (Hero 9 or 10), a tether line and a few mounting accessories for different parts of the boats, a spare battery or two for a day’s session, and a fast-processing microSD card. The software is also compatible with other sailing devices and GPS trackers that can be synced with the cameras. For camera settings, set to camera “never off” and as low resolution as possible to reduce file size and improve upload speed.