Best sailing tool might not be a gps or amazing fitness – it may be post race analysis to see where you are poorest … tactics. This is fascinating for sailors wanting to improve. I was watching a series the other night on my my iPad and it was really interesting to see why the goog always rise to the top. Was watching on particular race series and enjoyed one were a guy who was pretty good had a bad second race start … was interesting to see how he tacked his way out of trouble on the first leg. See their home page here
We’d all like to improve our sailing, but often it’s hard to really know what to improve. On a typical weekend, the good guys are quickly in front and there is no way to tell what they are doing right and you wrong.
Sometimes a race is lost on a “bad leg”, but what actually happened and what went exactly went wrong? Often we never find out. How do we identify our current weakest point of sailing that we should be attending to first? What is needed is information; hard facts, that are often not available to you on the race course.
With the availability of inexpensive GPS tracking devices, such as the QStarz BT-Q1000X, it’s now easy to record a boat’s track around the course. And with TackTracker, you can play your GPS tracks and watch the race again, as it happened or navigate tack by tack.
But TackTracker is much more than just a player. It is a race analyser, and can give us leg by leg information on how far we have sailed, how fast we were going, and how high we pointed on both port and starboard tack.TackTracker can even deduce the ambient wind direction, and indicate which tack a boat is on at any time, and whether it was close hauled, reaching or running!
Its fun to play your track around the course, and there are plenty of things to learn. The real value is attained when a number of sailors get together and share their tracks with each other. Then you can ascertain who travelled the shortest distance on the windward leg, who was sailing fastest, and who highest. At moments in the race where you may have fallen back, you can see what you were doing in relation to the other boats you were competing with.
A Complete GPS Solution
TackTracker is designed to deliver a complete solution, streamlining and automating the entire process from uploading tracks into the software, archiving and managing tracks, to viewing and playing tracks.
The track browser maintains a library of your tracks organised by date, so you can easily find tracks from past races. You can select individual tracks, or an event (race) which may contain multiple tracks. As each track or event is selected, it is displayed in the track player.
The track player has a group of navigation buttons at the bottom, which you can use to drive your boat around the course. You can also press “Play” and sit back and watch. Then speed up and slow down the action as required.
The track player lets you pan and zoom with the mouse, or you can turn on “auto zoom” to have the player automatically track the race boats. You can also drag the mouse to create a distance and bearing meter allowing you to assess the separation between boats at any point.
Races are defined in the “Event Editor”, where you set the start time and lay the course marks. This is all done graphically, allowing you to define the course in a matter of minutes. Once the course is defined, all participating tracks are analysed and all race legs computed. The Legs table gives you a summary of all the key statistics for each leg for each competitor.
You can sort the table by any column to compare results for any leg or competitor. Powerful!
TackTracker also has a great range of interactive charts that provide additional insight into your boat’s performance. The speed chart shows boat speed over the course of the current leg, whilst the deviation chart shows how high or low you are sailing to the true course. Together, these charts are an effective visual summary of your sailing efficiency.
The vertical bar indicates your current location. As your boats progress through the leg, the bar moves to the right. Alternatively, you can drag the bar with the mouse, and the boats will follow. (My daughter says this is really cool!)
There’s lots more to TackTracker, but this will serve as a quick introduction.
To learn more, the best thing you can do is download and install the free race player from the Download page. You can watch and interact with races available online that have been recorded at regattas for a range of classes. You can also read the User Guide, available from here.
I hope you have fun using TackTracker and that it helps you improve your sailing.
For a limited time, the TackTracker Player App is a FREE download from the Apple App Store. Go to the App Store
New! You can now get a TrackTracker Player for your iPhone and iPad. You can browse the online races database and play and review all the racing from the convenience of your handheld device, wherever you are. You’ll be impressed by the full-featured player with multi-touch panning and zooming and all the familiar graphics from the PC players. Includes a full regatta browser, competitor selection, and leg by leg stats and charts. See stats and charts for any two competitors side by side.
This new player is the first manifestation of a significant investment TackTracker is making in the Apple platform. We now have all the core software running natively in Apple’s application frameworks. Stay tuned for more to come.
iPhone Screen Shots
Searchable Regatta Index. Tap any Regatta to see the Regatta detail, including a photo and list of races.
Player: Note you can tap in the player to hide the top navigation bar.
iPad Screen Shot
The iPad is a wonderful medium for TackTracker, with plenty of screen real estate for a compelling replay wherever you are.