Sailboat racing is a popular pastime on the waters around Seattle and Western Washington. Especially during summer, fleets of sailboats congregate on weeknights and weekends for organized races, often using inflatable buoys temporarily anchored to indicate the race course.

This summer, Seattle’s J/24 fleet made a notable change to its race course with the addition of two robotic race marks from Detroit company MarkSetBot.

“It’s great technology. Why didn’t we do it sooner? Because now it’s proven and it was time to bring them to the Northwest,” said Harry Dursch, a CYC member and longtime J/24 owner.

J/24 sailboats on Lake Washington for weeknight racing using the MarkSetBots. (Photos by Christina Travis)

Dursch is part of a group of longtime Seattle sailors who privately funded a lease for two MarkSetBots this past summer. They hope to purchase two or three MarkSetBots, making the “drones of the water” a permanent fixture for the CYC racing community on Lake Washington.