Lono

NPT-BDA 2018 Communications and Nav

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Its that time again. I started a fresh topic for communications and Nav for the 2018 race so that it didn't get bogged down by all the other topics regarding the race. I am interested in what people have used in the past and what they are planning this year.

We are a 40' r/c operating with B&G Triton and Zeus, not quite top of the line, but effective and reliable navigation suite, though it has some limitations. We have not moved up to Expedition or OpenSource CPN and are not bringing laptop, so we are trying to make weather and routing work, recongnizing our limitations. Last race we carried both sat phone and Iridium GO. Used the GO to access weather and routing through i pad using Predict Wind Offshore. It worked reasonably well, though cumbersome. We do not want to rent both the GO and a phone (phone is required by race) so we are planning on iridium phone with sidekick from Ocens. Also the Ocens Grib Explorer for iPad. The interface seems to be very slick, direct download of gribs into the viewer for weather. Also, planning on using PW Offshore for routing, on download file per request so not too cumbersome. Anyone have experience with Avalon's ipad app?

Still considering using an outside weather router and/or gulf stream specialist. We did not and have not previously, but welcome thoughts on those as well.

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Lono,

  On the Transatlantic and the lat Newport-Bermuda we used the Iridium + AxcessPoint (prior to the Sidekick). This is the most reliable solution for up to date weather information. We connected with both an iPad and Expedition. Both are reliable for getting gribs, but Expedition is preferred for all other functions including plotting Yellowbrick tracker data. I'm not sure the plotting function is possible on an iPad. Another huge advantage that Expedition brings is the ability to log conditions direct from the instruments over the period of the race, which means you can rotate/move the gribs to better align with reality. One can also load the boats polars/sail inventory and at least give the on deck crew a solid estimate of % polar currently being utilized without a whole lot of pre-race prep. Couple that with computer generated routing estimates and for me its a no brainier-to the point that we will likely have a second laptop with Expedition loaded aboard.

The commanders weather briefing can be worthwhile if you don't have time to watch the weather and download your own Gulfstream data. I will admit that in general, this race is pretty straightforward until you get to the end. On a fast boat you have other considerations, namely pressure and angle, but in general I try and not veer too far from the rhumbline on the 39' I'm taking this year as the extra mileage isn't worth much, maybe <10 miles for a better eddy to have a smoother ride across the stream. Most of that data is open source if you know where to look, Predict Wind might even have the eddies.

I'm not sure what Avalon is...

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1 hour ago, samc99us said:

Lono,

  On the Transatlantic and the lat Newport-Bermuda we used the Iridium + AxcessPoint (prior to the Sidekick). This is the most reliable solution for up to date weather information. We connected with both an iPad and Expedition. Both are reliable for getting gribs, but Expedition is preferred for all other functions including plotting Yellowbrick tracker data. I'm not sure the plotting function is possible on an iPad. Another huge advantage that Expedition brings is the ability to log conditions direct from the instruments over the period of the race, which means you can rotate/move the gribs to better align with reality. One can also load the boats polars/sail inventory and at least give the on deck crew a solid estimate of % polar currently being utilized without a whole lot of pre-race prep. Couple that with computer generated routing estimates and for me its a no brainier-to the point that we will likely have a second laptop with Expedition loaded aboard.

The commanders weather briefing can be worthwhile if you don't have time to watch the weather and download your own Gulfstream data. I will admit that in general, this race is pretty straightforward until you get to the end. On a fast boat you have other considerations, namely pressure and angle, but in general I try and not veer too far from the rhumbline on the 39' I'm taking this year as the extra mileage isn't worth much, maybe <10 miles for a better eddy to have a smoother ride across the stream. Most of that data is open source if you know where to look, Predict Wind might even have the eddies.

I'm not sure what Avalon is...

Thanks Samc, I have used Expedition before and understand the big pluses for sure. My thoughts are the same and we used the same approach in 2016. Point at the damn mark. Appreciate your insights.

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Race committee has amended the rules and the routing info from Predict Wind is no longer allowed during the race. This does not make sense to me as there is no interpretation of the data, only a computer model crunching the info. This seems no different than downloading the gribs to my laptop and crunching it with Expedition. In fact I think it is much more accessible to the public because it's far cheaper and easier to use than Expedition. But that is the new rule... 

http://bermudarace.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Amendment-1.pdf

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1 minute ago, squiby said:

Race committee has amended the rules and the routing info from Predict Wind is no longer allowed during the race. This does not make sense to me as there is no interpretation of the data, only a computer model crunching the info. This seems no different than downloading the gribs to my laptop and crunching it with Expedition. In fact I think it is much more accessible to the public because it's far cheaper and easier to use than Expedition. But that is the new rule... 

http://bermudarace.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Amendment-1.pdf

Well shit, I had missed that. They put in that line last race in the spring for exactly the reasons you stated. Thanks

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30 minutes ago, squiby said:

Race committee has amended the rules and the routing info from Predict Wind is no longer allowed during the race. This does not make sense to me as there is no interpretation of the data, only a computer model crunching the info. This seems no different than downloading the gribs to my laptop and crunching it with Expedition. In fact I think it is much more accessible to the public because it's far cheaper and easier to use than Expedition. But that is the new rule... 

http://bermudarace.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Amendment-1.pdf

Do I agree that it isn't any different than Expedition? In principal yes, in reality I think you have to argue that it is different from having a professional shore based router and that is tough. By generating a route, there is interpretation of the data and since the route generated isn't available to all competitors its effectively outside help right?

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22 minutes ago, samc99us said:

in reality I think you have to argue that it is different from having a professional shore based router and that is tough. By generating a route, there is interpretation of the data and since the route generated isn't available to all competitors its effectively outside help right?

PW routing is generated shoreside by computer from raw grib data instead of generated by Expedition with raw grib data on my boat. This was recognized and allowed in the past. I wonder why they've changed their minds. Commanders Weather and other onshore routers are taking data and then giving you a human interpretation of it.

There is no human interpretation of the raw grib data for PW routing and it's available to all for a relatively modest subscription price. I consider it MORE accessible to the public as it's much cheaper than buying a copy of Expedition and then setting up your computer to connect to the boats instrument data. I use Expedition and time and money I've invested to connect, learn the program, calibrate the instruments and polars etc.. is extensive. If Expedition route optimization is allowed, I see no reason why this isn't. Grib files from PW, Ocens and Tidetech are all subscription services and allowed in the race. Semantic argument in my opinion. 

I might enjoy the race more if Expedition and grib data were no longer allowed too. I'd be fine with just the macro scale, synoptic charts for safety purposes. Sorry for the thread drift...

Any cheaper routing software than Expedition out there? Not for me but for the OP.

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I’m very sorry to hear the PW news. I missed that on the notice board. I don’t see any benefit. As far as I know PW has no human interpretation (please correct if I’m wrong). I typically look at both PW and Expedition, but for lower budget programs, PW is a great option. I think this is a prohibitive move discouraging participation. All raw data is public, no human interpretation. Only differences is in where the processor is.

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All they've banned is use of Predict Wind routing, which is only available in their two top-tier subscriptions. If the routing were available free of charge, I'd expect it would be permitted. Sure, you can argue that Predict Wind routing is relatively cheap (US$249 per year for 8km resolution & US$499 per year for 1km resolution), but that's a super slippery slope not worth exploring.

This is the right choice for the sport.

 

 

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Hi Moon, I do understand why PWs routing does not comply with the "outside assistance" rule but the NOR or SIs were amended to allow for it in the 2016 race. PW is even cheaper than you quote, a one month subscription to pro is only $100. The 8km res i only $50 I think. It is interesting that they only mention PW in their amendment. There are several other services that include a Grib viewer, some sort of Nav program and a weather router. Squid and Avalon both have routing similar to PW and neither were singled out for approval or ban.

I am trying to determine if either does the calculations on the boat. Perhaps the laptop based programs might while the ipad based ones do not? Open CPN has been discussed, however I get the feeling that one needs to have an IT consultant on board as opposed to a middle aged finance type. I recognize that none will offer the sophistication of Expedition, and I have used Exp a few times, but having access to the PW routing is a helpful illustration of  tactical opportunities and issues coming down the track. I found it gets me looking at other competitive alternatives when naviguessing.

I do not think it is a slippery slope and I think banning PW is the wrong choice. It is a cheap alternative, truly available to everyone, providing no advantage over the expedition based system but offering to close the gap a little. I think most agree the "arms race" mentality is one of the barriers to participation in our sport. This routing is more readily available than Expedition, it is a mathematical driven route without human interpretation.

I think that is why Organizing Authority allowed it in 2016 and I hope they reconsider their decision.

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When I last used OpenCPN, some 2 years ago, it wasn't any more difficult to sort out than Expedition. I don't know how the route optimization is now in that tool, at the time it was very weak and I suspect has a long way to go compared with the paid software versions. Still, it is a big step up compared with iPad routing IMO, though with wireless instruments and a router I suspect that bridge can be closed and the ipad on deck is nice.

The reality is unless you are on a pro program or fast multihull (also pro program), the naviguessing for this race is pretty straightforward and unless timing a front you can probably route with predictwind the morning before race time.

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There is no possible way that allowing outside pay-to-play analysis to be used when competing makes any sense for our sport. Selecting a single vendor to provide such information leads to poor behavior from those organizing rules and regattas. Allowing a free-for-all leads to a serious advantage to those with deeper pockets. To allow decision making to be done by those not on the yacht is so out of bounds I don't even know where to begin with those who suggest otherwise. 

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7 hours ago, Moonduster said:

Allowing a free-for-all leads to a serious advantage to those with deeper pockets.... To allow decision making to be done by those not on the yacht is so out of bounds I don't even know where to begin with those who suggest otherwise. 

We don't see this the same way. The predict wind (or squid) routing is not done by "those not on the yacht." It's done by a computer program but remotely instead of a computer program on your boat. There is no human interpretation. I see no arms race there. Expedition is the arms race, not the relatively affordable routing from PW or squid. And if I want European model gribs, I'm still going to be spending money for a subscription with one of these companies even if I can't use the routing feature. So I think this rule change is a mistake that widens the gap between the Expedition haves and have nots.

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On 3/29/2018 at 9:02 PM, squiby said:

And if I want European model gribs, I'm still going to be spending money for a subscription with one of these companies

RRS Case 120 is worth a read.  

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2 hours ago, Cirdan said:

RRS Case 120 is worth a read.  

From the 2018 NOR...

RRS 41, OUTSIDE HELP, will be changed to add (permit): “(e) Help in the form of in formation freely available to all boats even if that information is only accessible at a cost.  However, such ‘at a cost’ help shall not include private forecast or tactical advice or  information  customized  for  a  particular  boat  or  group  of  boats  and/or  her/their situation.

The PW routing prohibition ... may hang on the words "information"  i.e. GRIBs versus "information customized" i.e. a route.

We are not using PW routing.  Someone that is ... send a question to the RC.

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As I read that, we are safe to access Predict Winds ECMWF gribs offshore? The only free service I know of that provides this data is Windy.com and I don't think they have grib files suitable for Iridium. Other access generally requires paying the European Met Center or other download services.

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To be clear, I am not trying to make the case the PW or Squid Routing is allowable under the rules... Just that I appreciated and agreed with the rule change for the 2016 Race that allowed it for the reasons Squiby outlined. Moon, I normally agree with you, but on this I think there is a big difference between what PW provides and a custimized solution provided by someone off the boat. I think allowing a routing system like PW evens the playing field and reduces the arms race.

 

That being said, working on speccing a computer and buying expedition this weekend.

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Lono I was looking through my old copy of the 2016 Bermuda Race "Crew List" magazine. I saw an ad at the end for Sailfast LLC. Going to the site I found an affordable routing program priced at $269. I have Expedition and will continue to use it. But this may be a good alternative for significantly less money. 

http://www.sailfastllc.com/Default

From their FAQ page

"How does SailFast compare to other routing programs?

If you have investigated other software packages you know that there are various products available that will do optimized routing. In general all the top end programs employ polars and compute isochrones to find the fastest route. Some programs were initially developed as racing innovations with America's Cup contenders while others added routing as an optional feature to navigation and charting suites. When you look at pricing you should find that SailFast is only 20-50% the cost of alternatives. If your need is optimized routing for offshore racing and you don't need the other bells and whistles, SailFast is a great choice."

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On 4/5/2018 at 7:41 AM, Lono said:

To be clear, I am not trying to make the case the PW or Squid Routing is allowable under the rules... Just that I appreciated and agreed with the rule change for the 2016 Race that allowed it for the reasons Squiby outlined. Moon, I normally agree with you, but on this I think there is a big difference between what PW provides and a custimized solution provided by someone off the boat. I think allowing a routing system like PW evens the playing field and reduces the arms race.

 

That being said, working on speccing a computer and buying expedition this weekend.

If you allow any subscription data during the race, you run a risk of an “arms race” if for no other reason than higher resolution, more frequent downloads cost more bandwidth/money. If everyone is limited to every six hour GFS, it’s one means of capping  

Forcing all of the analysis to be done aboard, with the limited data, processing and display capability available aboard a moving platform at least brings the individual element back into play. 

 

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On 4/13/2018 at 10:16 PM, LionessRacing said:

If you allow any subscription data during the race, you run a risk of an “arms race” if for no other reason than higher resolution, more frequent downloads cost more bandwidth/money. If everyone is limited to every six hour GFS, it’s one means of capping  

Forcing all of the analysis to be done aboard, with the limited data, processing and display capability available aboard a moving platform at least brings the individual element back into play. 

 

I believe that there is plenty of subscription data allowed, as long as it is allowed to be accessed by everyone. To be clear the PW and Squid routing solutions are an algorithmic analysis of data, where the calculations are completed ashore and the route is uploaded. The subscription Grib downloads and viewers viewers are perfectly allowable.

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1 hour ago, Lono said:

I believe that there is plenty of subscription data allowed, as long as it is allowed to be accessed by everyone. To be clear the PW and Squid routing solutions are an algorithmic analysis of data, where the calculations are completed ashore and the route is uploaded. The subscription Grib downloads and viewers viewers are perfectly allowable.

As Moonduster, noted  there's always the question of "Help", and taken to the extreme, an "online continuous" link could be put in place to utilize massive shore side compute resources (e.g. Ventus corporate) to collect and consolidate information that are not sensible on a racing yacht with limited power, space and network . And even though that might be allowed per Question 2 of Case 120, it would be darn near impossible to police the exclusion of shore side assistance. 

 

(Disclosure: I have Exp and use it with a pro subscription to Predict Wind. I don't access PW from aboard because of default Rule41 and know what the routing results look like)  

 

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I was in last years Marion to Bermuda race on Selkie, luckily we were in the celestial class and didn't use Predict Wind but I didn't hear anyone discussing this rule change.

I'm in this years Newport to Bermuda race, does anyone have info on their rules regarding Predict Wind?

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On 4/27/2018 at 1:29 PM, SabreSailor said:

 

I was in last years Marion to Bermuda race on Selkie, luckily we were in the celestial class and didn't use Predict Wind but I didn't hear anyone discussing this rule change.

I'm in this years Newport to Bermuda race, does anyone have info on their rules regarding Predict Wind?

Amendment-1.pdf

You can download gribs via PW.  You can't use the PW routing.

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From the latest NOR Amendment at the end of April. http://bermudarace.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/18NoR-v6-4-28-18.pdf

I thought this was already settled in NOR Amendment #1, but it seems they wanted to clarify it further.

2.2 b. RRS 41, OUTSIDE HELP, will be changed to add (permit): “(e) Help in the form of information freely available to all boats even if that information is only accessible at a cost. However, such ‘at a cost’ help shall not include private forecast or tactical advice or information customized for a particular boat or group of boats and/or her/their situation.”

= PW gribs are ok. PW routing is not.

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