Instruments for racing - What should I buy?

KAB1242

New member
6
1
Annapolis
I'm ready to go to the electronics toy store! I'm looking to outfit a 35 ft race boat for around the buoys regattas and some distance bay races.

What capabilities am I missing? It would be nice to have:

  • SOG
  • Speed through water
  • COG
  • Mag compass
  • Apparent wind
  • True wind
  • Distance to start line
  • Chart plotter - Tracking, Bearing to mark
  • Heel
  • Post race analysis (is Sailmon the only good option for this?)
  • Apple watch integration

Can I get away with one vendor for all of the above?

Has anyone had luck with the combination of these B&G Units? Vulcan 9, Nemesis 9, Triton 9

Thanks for the advice!

 
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Grrr...

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Waste of time and money.  If you can't sail a boat without them, you can't sail a boat with them.  Especially for around the buoys.

But, you're gonna drop a cool $10-$15 grand on a solution that does all that unless you're doing a lot of the stuff on the cheap.  If you're paying someone else to do the install, call it $20 - $25k.

Frankly, at 35 feet unless you're doing serious distance racing, a Tactic or the like, a chart plotter, and a laptop running routing software is all you need.

 
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Monkey

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Waste of time and money.  If you can't sail a boat without them, you can't sail a boat with them.
Who says he can’t sail his boat without them?  I hate that horseshit canned response everyone loves to throw out to feel special. You might want to ask for a little more info before being a sanctimonious dick. There are right instrument packages for the right people. 

 

Grrr...

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Who says he can’t sail his boat without them?  I hate that horseshit canned response everyone loves to throw out to feel special. You might want to ask for a little more info before being a sanctimonious dick. There are right instrument packages for the right people. 
I suppose it IS sanctimonious.  But it's true.  The % of sailors whom those instruments will actually help improve their race results is vanishingly small.  I've seen many, many people think that a huge instrument package like that will suddenly improve their performance - and it doesn't.  And for those people whom it actually would help, I can't think of one that would come on a forum like this to ask about them.

If being a sanctimonious ass saves someone $15k, then yay me.

 
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If you sail in a lot of current the differential is helpful. But other than that it's more fun to race without info overload - speed through the water, a compass, a hand bearing compass and a watch with a note pad and pencil leads to a more enjoyable head-out-of-the-boat experience imho.

 

PaulK

Super Anarchist
AWI is good for overnights.  Putting flashlights on the telltales wears out the batteries and tells the competition more than necessary about your progress. It's also nice for determining the best downwind spinnaker angles.  Windspeed over time helps determine actual, rather than perceived, trends,  so you can decide when reefing or unreefing is in order. Boatspeed through the water is always helpful. It tends to be more fine-tuned than GPS boat speed, so you can see more readily how trim is impacting you.  Inclinometers are not generally super accurate, but add data to decisions about reefing and where to put crew weight. 

 

Monkey

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I suppose it IS sanctimonious.  But it's true.  The % of sailors whom those instruments will actually help improve their race results is vanishingly small.  I've seen many, many people think that a huge instrument package like that will suddenly improve their performance - and it doesn't.  And for those people whom it actually would help, I can't think of one that would come on a forum like this to ask about them.

If being a sanctimonious ass saves someone $15k, then yay me.
It’s true nice instruments are a waste of money for the average beer can racer, but they can be priceless on a distance race if they’re well calibrated and you have a decent set of polars. 
 

I’ll confess, through no fault of my own, I have a decent financial interest in one of the big instrument companies, but am perfectly happy with the ten year old competitor’s version that came with my boat. I’m just saying that perhaps it’s makes sense to ask someone’s situation before making a glib remark. 

 

neilmac

New member
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3
Melbourne
While you might not need them, it's good to have them. A B&G system - Vulcan 7" triton 2 wind compass, depth, network  etc would cost you around $3K and is easy to install. To calibrate them you have to know what the instruments are doing, so you need to know about different wind speed direction etc, currents and a lot more... As a newby to racing after a while I rely on them less but find it useful for them to confirm what I feel is happening. i also like to know that I am actually heading to the right mark.

 

Left Shift

Super Anarchist
10,532
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Seattle
What I'd put on your boat is a digital compass, a knot meter with a countdown timer, a depth sounder, a masthead hawk with a light and a GPS enabled iPad with Navionics.  The iPad/Navionics will give you COG and SOG, tide/current info and exceptionally accurate charting.  

And one of those $20 inclinometer gadgets.  

Deleting wind instruments from your package, you thus will not only save money, and weight aloft, you will not have to spend hours doubting and fiddling with your instruments calibration and no longer be puzzled by its TWA and TWS calculations, which are rarely accurate and slow to update.  And you can spend more time looking at the water, where analog wind information is there for your edification.  

And I'd look at the Garmin readouts  They are crisp, large, easy to read in any light or at night without glare.  

If you really want to be slick however, you could look into one of those French Ultrasonic windspeed units like LCJ Capteurs.  Very cool, no moving parts and quite accurate.

 
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shaggybaxter

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I, for one, love the data and numbers side of sailing. I think it brings a veritable war chest of information to your decision making when making calls on the race course. W/L's are different as everything is short and visual. But for passage racing I find it invaluable as another resource. 

But any system will suck unless they are calibrated properly. If you are looking at the quality vendors like B&G and NKE, I think you have to be doing proper calibration. It's not that onerous a process that I would argue a large majority of us suck at doing properly. Or the level of precision the quality vendors give you is just going to waste.

The one thing I would get if I was in the market again is having adjustment tables for upwind/reaching/running for calculating wind speed and angles. Mostly to counter the variance in upwash over your masthead instruments from the different angles, especially with fat headed roaches.

 
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10thTonner

Hazard to Navigation
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Round the cans, I’d say that many instruments will distract you more than they help. If there is no current, you’ll need nothing more than a compass, a start watch and SOG…Hell, on short courses even the compass is not really important. As long as you are within sight of some landmarks and /or the top mark, shifts will be pretty clear to see. OTOH, a depth sounder can win you a leg in shallow waters. 
Distance racing is different. You’ll need a chart plotter anyway, so upgrading it with all the racing gizmos might not be that much more expensive. 

(All this assuming you have a clean bottom and new sails.) 

 

sailman

Super Anarchist
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Portsmouth, RI
Boat Speed, Depth, GPS (Compass and SOG) and Windex.  If you do not have any current you can skip the boat speed and just use GPS

 
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sailorman44

Member
281
71
CT/FL
If you sailed every day you wouldn't need instruments. DC once said that the best instrument was a fresh haircut. But we don't sail every day, at best we sail once or twice a week during the season. 

 
The best reason to have instruments is a sanity check on what we think is going on. You don't need super expensive instruments to accomplish this. All the manufactures make starter packages that will give you 90% of what you want and don't cost an arm and a leg. They are loss leaders to get you to buy the upgrades. They are relatively accurate and plenty good enough for your level of sailing. Unless your racing budget is north of $50,000 you don't need anything better.



 


 
Waste of time and money.  If you can't sail a boat without them, you can't sail a boat with them.  Especially for around the buoys.

But, you're gonna drop a cool $10-$15 grand on a solution that does all that unless you're doing a lot of the stuff on the cheap.  If you're paying someone else to do the install, call it $20 - $25k.

Frankly, at 35 feet unless you're doing serious distance racing, a Tactic or the like, a chart plotter, and a laptop running routing software is all you need.
yeah yeah... just get a compass! Actually, fuck that. Just look at the shoreline! Who needs to compare SOG to BSP to see if there's current, you can obviously feel it even when you're offshore, right?! 

That said.... anything more than whatever the rebranded raycrap tacktick micronet is offering these days is probably overkill unless you are serious about calibration. 

 
It’s true nice instruments are a waste of money for the average beer can racer, but they can be priceless on a distance race if they’re well calibrated and you have a decent set of polars. 
 

I’ll confess, through no fault of my own, I have a decent financial interest in one of the big instrument companies, but am perfectly happy with the ten year old competitor’s version that came with my boat. I’m just saying that perhaps it’s makes sense to ask someone’s situation before making a glib remark. 
didn't you once try to make a fluxgate compass competitor to tacktick back when they had non-user replaceable batteries? 

 

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