Dial Up Your Performance With An iPhone
Dial Up Your Performance With An iPhone
I always store the coordinates of fixed racing marks in each of my regular sailing venues into my MotionX logbook. I have hundreds of waypoints named and sorted, and I even attach pictures to my favorite waypoints. I also store my tracks from all previous sailing venues for future reference, and I can annotate notable tracks with local knowledge information. For example, when we get to Key West Race Week, we won't have to guess where we need to go to practice. We'll simply follow our track to the previous year's racing area and practice by following the winning racetracks, which allows us to immediately focus on what matters in Key West-building on the previous year's experience.
For any practice session, we like to set marks by range and bearing instantly. Using the navigation screen we are able to take the guessing out of practicing. For example, if we want to set the top mark at 0.75 miles and a bearing of 225 degrees true, we set it as a waypoint and sail to it. Once there, we can drop the mark and start practicing. Yes, you can do this with a handheld GPS, but the touch screen technology of the iPhone makes entering marks far easier than with any handheld I've ever used. You can enter waypoints instantly and these waypoints can be shared instantly with another iPhone, your training partner for example, and made part of your logbook. You can't do that with a pair of handheld GPS units because they're not connected.
Because we sail a lot in San Francisco, we rely heavily on monitoring our velocity made good in order to understand what the current is "really" doing; tide prediction tables can often be slightly off. For this, the MotionX-GPS Sport's compass page has a live compass and displays all the fields we need to get VMG: Speed Over Ground, Course Over Ground, Heading, and VMG are all right there. It takes a lot of work to get all of this to display on a typical processor-and-mast-mounted display system. We use this page whenever there's current or when we're wondering whether we are better off sailing faster and lower or higher and slower and finding the mode with the best VMG. When sailing in current, people's instinct is many times wrong. You can't argue with the numbers.
Courtesy of FullPower
|The author's company, fullpower, developed he MotionX-GPS SPort application, with racing in mind. The compass page (left) has all the functionality of a high-end electronics package. The tracks page (middle) allows the user to access and manage tracks and data from past races and practices, and the map page integrates waypoints, tracks, and notes.|
Taking it offshore
While we've developed plenty of uses for our iPhone for racing around the buoys, the applications for offshore racing are equally compelling. As navigators and offshore sailors, our basic needs are to find our geographic position and show it on a chart, record and store our track for future use, measure our performance or speed-of-advance to our destination, follow someone else's track to gain local knowledge, store and share all this information, and have a simple safety system that can instantly pinpoint and share our position in case we require help or even rescue. We also want to keep our friends on shore up to date with what is happening on board by way of text messages, images, and videos, all of which can be gathered with ease by the iPhone.
The MotionX-GPS Sport application can share directly on Facebook, Twitter, and over e-mail. So when you're racing offshore you can create an automatic Facebook blog that Tweets every time you make an entry.
Geo-tagged pictures attached to your positions and tracks are automatically attached. This is how I built my log from the 2009 Transpac Race (www.pegasus.com), sending video clips, images, and updates.
But we weren't just using our iPhone to keep our friends entertained as we tore across the Pacific at record pace. Mark Christensen and I (we sailed the doublehanded division) each had an iPhone 3GS, and for the entire race, using MotionX-GPS Sport, constantly shared performance data waypoints, and optimized our VMG using the very same pages we would sailing on San Francisco Bay.
When racing doublehanded, though, we don't see each other much. As a result, we even found ourselves using our iPhones to analyze and share information when one of us was in the bunk and the other on deck. We were on the same boat, but we sent text messages to each other and exchanged ideas on a wide range of items, including, for example, whether to accept a slightly less favorable and temporary VMG to get further south and look for more wind. I never had to leave the helm. We had 12-hour watch rotation (he took the days and I the nights), so at each rotation we agreed on a new waypoint that we shared between our phones and then optimized VMG to that waypoint and kept tabs on each other-all from the palm of our hands. Using the MotionX-GPS application, we could simultaneously look at the shared information on each of our iPhones. The ability to constantly monitor VMG for more than seven days and easily exchange information made for a great outcome, not to mention we were remarkably rested upon arrival in Honolulu.