Deckman Version 8 by B&G

This tactical and routing software achieves a new level of user-friendliness in a traditionally confounding field. "Gear Up" from our April 3, 2007, /SW eNewsletter/

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B&g

If you spend any time on big-boat racecourses, or plan on watching any of the Louis Vuitton or America's Cup racing this year, you're going to see navigators with their eyes glued to touch-screen computer displays. The screens display a wealth of information gleaned from GPS positional data, the boat's performance polars, and wind and current information, all of which is translated into usable data through tactical software. Just a few years ago, it took a degree in computer science and an understanding of programming basics to use the software. That's starting to change.As often happens when a large company sees software it likes and buys the company making it, the software (as good as it may be) improves as a result of the money and attention thrown its way. Such is the case with tactical and routing software Deckman for Windows by Sailmath, which was bought by B&G in late 2004. Deckman has always been good, especially if the user was able to spend time with it before using it in the heat of battle. But now, under B&G's aegis, Deckman has become more powerful and easier to use, and last November, it got enough of an upgrade to qualify as a new version.According to B&G, in Deckman Version 8 special attention has been paid to the start screen with new features including a toolbar for quick access to common functions like mark pinging and the timer, an overlaying grid that makes it easier for the user to conceptualize boat length distances, and improved labeling, which includes the text being displayed against a white background for contrast. Improved route listings now show clearer indications of range, bearing, and rounding directions. Other new features include changes to time plots-which include a toolbox for calculation of averages-database, and data extraction. Speed tests can now include the boat's polars, which can be overlaid on current tests. Deckman V.8 also provides options for obtaining weather files from both the OCENS Weathernet and Saildocs services (which used to be an option). This data can be used in the optimum routing function or displayed on screen as an overlay.Tweaks to the latest version that aren't so visible to the naked eye include an improvement of compatibility with B&G's processors (both WTP and WTP2), and improvements to NMEA, serial, and ethernet communications. For charting, Version 8 now supports both NT and MAX C-Map charts via a C-map cartridge reader. $1,645, www.bandg.com