"Pinta" shortly after the start off the coast of Western Ireland
She should be on her way across the Atlantic to the Caribbean by now. But shortly after taking off off the coast of Western Ireland, the “Pinta” developed by scientists from the UK University of Aberystwyth went off course as a result of a storm.
Until last week, the autonomous robotic sailing yacht was still sending position data. But now there has been radio silence for days.
Apparently after a short time the on-board computer, which was supposed to control the sailing boat independently, was not able to withstand the weather. After a few days at sea, the boat encountered violent storms. "Pinta" initially sent detailed position reports via a satellite connection. That was also quickly over.
After all, "Pinta" continued to transmit its position for a few days via a second tracking system that was installed on board for emergencies. During this time, the keel dinghy of the Topper Taz type, which had been converted for the transatlantic cruise, was already hopelessly off course off the western Irish coast.
Initially, project manager Dr. Mark Neal also said that “Pinta” would find its way back to a coast somewhere where they could have been salvaged. In the meantime, however, the fears that the emergency tracker has now also broken down seem to have come true. The last position report of the "Pinta" is dated September 29th. There has been no trace of her since then.
Position data by September 29th. The last course of the "Pinta" was northwest - towards Greenland!
It is true that individual position reports had not been received before. But never over such a long period of several days. Dr. Neal has since given up hope of being able to save "Pinta".
There are several possible reasons for the failure of the emergency tracking system, according to Dr. Neal. The electronics could have failed, or "Pinta" could have capsized or sunk as a result of rough sea conditions or after a collision with another ship.
With the failure of "Pintas", the race for autonomous sailing yachts across the Atlantic that was scheduled for this year ended prematurely. "Pinta" would have been the only participating boat anyway after a French competing team withdrew its entry shortly before the start.
For more information see www.aber.ac.uk/en/cs/research/ir/robots/pinta/ as well as www.microtransat.org/2010.php