Google Earth application enables boat race replays

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The latest Google Earth application allows viewers to track boats or swimmers racing on the water.

"This track technology is something we've been working on a long time" at Google, Peter Birch, product manager for Google Earth, told the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.

Birch jumped on bringing Google Earth tracking to the sailing community. The application launched June 14.

During the recent demo race, Birch on his boat and crew on four other Catalina 30s recorded their tracks, using standard GPS devices. After the finish, it took Birch less than a minute to connect each GPS to his laptop and copy a file - called a GPX file - holding the precise path each boat sailed.

With all of the GPX files in a single folder, Birch opened them in Google Earth and typed in the boat name for each. That's enough to replay the race as if floating in a balloon over the course.

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