Stochastic Optimization Limited
Effective Management of Uncertainty
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Team Holiday Shoppe wins the 2003 Transatlantic Challenge

On the 28th of November 2003, Kevin Biggar and Jamie Fitzgerald rowed across a finish line in Barbados, and won the 2003 Transatlantic Rowing Race, setting a new world record of 40 days, 5 hours and 31 minutes.

The Holiday Shoppe Team's feat was helped by a number of technical innovations - hi-tech solar cells from BP, a special rowing seat, a cooling system for the rowers, and a map, provided by SOL, showing them the fastest way to row across the ocean.

The map, shown below, is a perfect example of SOL's technology. In a single page, it showed the rowers how to row every day, from wherever they are in the ocean, taking into account the weather each day. With this map, Team Holiday Shoppe was able to make better routing decisions than teams receiving daily weather updates and routing advice from their shore crews.



The map was compiled using only historical weather data, but nonetheless allows the team to easily find how to react each day to the weather they see. What's more, SOL was able to come up with a "paper copy" of the map (an enlargement of the above spanning 6 A4 sheets) that provided all the functionality of a computerised system, without the disadvantages of a computer on a rowing boat (salt water, power, and more salt water!)

A powerpoint presentation (8MB, .ppt.zip) about our work on the race can be downloaded here.

The technology behind the map has also helped a large client manage their inventory in the face of unpredictable supply and demand, and can help many other businesses manage strategic and operational decisions in the face of international markets, weather, and many other unpredictable factors.