March 24, 2018

The New Digital Compass for Lasers

The ILCA has finally approved digital compasses. I plan to use it but not the way a sailor recently used his in Florida. He had it mounted on his mast and, sure enough, every time he let out the sail he was on a lift! Here’s some great info from Andy.

by Andy Roy
It’s been a long wait, but Laser sailors can finally choose to use a digital compass.  I’m pleased about this progressive rule change for several reasons, including:
  1. Technology has enabled new digital compasses to be reliable, solar powered, lightweight and produced at a similar cost to an analog compass.
  2. Integral countdown timer (on two available models) – and this can effectively make a digital compass less expensive than buying a traditional analog compass when you factor in the cost of also needing a separate timer on the mast or wrist.
  3. Easier to read your heading and to recognize changes compared to an analog (i.e., easier to read wind shifts and to determine favoured end of starting line).
  4. Simple to click in/out of the mounting bracket (can leave the bracket Velcro-ed to the deck for extended periods, and simply remove compass after sailing).

There are three different compasses that meet the new Laser class rule. I raced at the 2018 Masters Midwinters East in Florida and tried the Nautalytics Simple compass. I like the large digits and the stable readout, as the digits do not tend to “bounce around” (ideal amount of dampening).  I’ll also add that the folks at Nautalytics are great for answering any questions.

The Nautalytics features an integral timer that is easy to use and has similar features to the Optimum/Ronstan timer many sailors use strapped around their Laser mast (e.g., it includes “sync” function, etc.). Once the countdown hits “0:00” at the start the digits auto switch to heading. The compass can also be switched easily from timer to heading to enable quick head-to-wind checks during the start sequence.

I really like the timer’s location, as I no longer have to reach forward to the gooseneck to start the watch and then to sync at the 4:00 minute mark. With the timer on the mast, before the sequence or when trying to accurately get the 4:00 gun, I often find myself on port tack and have to either rotate the timer around my mast or else quickly flip on to starboard to get ready to start the timer. This new compass removes all that hassle.  I also no longer need a second timer to check the countdown when on port tack during the sequence (although I’ll still likely wear a backup timer on my wrist).

Nautalytics Compass: The two white buttons at left of compass used for starting timer,
synching and to “switch” back/forth from countdown to heading. 
The Raymarine TackTic Micro digital compass is a well know compass used on many other racing classes, and is already being used by a few Laser sailors. I noticed several Miami OCR Laser sailors using one; some mounted behind the mast and some forward (see photos below).  I can see advantages to having it forward of the mast (out of the way of the C/B shockcord and vang), but aft of the mast is better for access to the timer.  The TackTic has a dual readout, although this is not really necessary when compared to the Nautalytics with its larger, easy to read digits even when hiked out, in direct sunlight or if wearing polarized sunglasses.

Nick Thompson at the Miami OCR using a TackTic digital compass. Note Nick’s is mounted forward of the mast
(Copyright: Jesus Renedo/Sailing Energy/World Sailing)

Pavlos Contides at the Miami OCR using a TackTic digital compass. Note Pavlos’ is aft of the mast
(Copyright: Jesus Renedo/Sailing Energy/World Sailing)

Here is a price comparison on the 3 legal Laser compasses from a quick Google check. Prices in USD and may vary with dealers:

Listed Price
Deck bracket

The Nautalytics and TackTic both include an integral timer, whereas the Velocitek does not.  The Velocitek looks like it will be the lightest available compass by a few ounces.

1 comment:

  1. Superb article, thanks and we want more! Added you to FeedBurner.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...