You may have noticed that no magazine, book, video or manufacturer has ever identified how well a sailboat points. When talking sailboats, pointing means sailing into the wind. Since sailing into the wind is the most important function any sailboat can perform, you might wonder how this is possible? I think the answer may be that this function is variable to the extent that measuring it is difficult. We have been working on a program to measure sailboat pointing and tacking for the last year. The first prototype proved to be difficult to use so we modified the current version for easy use on the boat. This is how it works.
The current device being used is an Android Tablet. The 8-inch tablet has some good qualities like being able see the display in the sunlight. The included GPS is quick and accurate and gets the job done. In this part of the Country, the screen almost displays a 6-mile square. This is anywhere in the USA. If you sail off the screen, turn the boat around and get back on the screen. The idea is to sail as close to the wind as possible on a tack. Tack the boat after you get a green light and continue on the next leg. All of this is automatic and only needs someone to push the start button. What the software measures:
The first measurement is your speed into the tack and your speed out of the tack. The higher the speed out of the tack, the better the tack. The higher the boat speed into the tack will improve the speed out of the tack. Slow boat speed into the tack will give us a slower speed out of the tack. We measure the speeds as a percentage for an efficiency rating.
The second measurement is the tack angle. It's automatic and the tack can be executed anytime after the first green light. Make the best tack you can and then come back to a close-hauled position. When you get as close as you can, push the off button to keep your measurements. The software measures your initial course and then measures your final course. A comparison of the two gives us the tack angle.
While all these measurement are being taken, the software is also providing a track of the boats progress on the screen. The boat's track will verify the tack numbers you have generated.
All of this information is only as good as our ability to save the information. Pushing the button at the bottom of the screen will make a file containing a graphic of the tack. The file can be emailed or retained for record purposes. At some point, we will have a contest of who pointed the best by boat type. In the meantime, we will display the results of our boat's pointing abilities on this Web site