I tried out the new Velocitek ProStart at a recent J/70 practice session and I was quite impressed. Like the original ProStart, the new unit is easy to use, easy to understand and overall very intuitive. It still records your tracks for later viewing, still records your high speed so you can reflect on the best part of the day, and still has an easy to use and adjust timer.But wait, there’s more: I can’t wait to sail with the unit again and try out the “Pacing Guides.” In the final minute of the start the bar graph on the side of the display indicates if you are late or early to the start line at your current approach rate. In the meantime, let’s take a look at the mix of new and improved functions.
Battery: No more throwing away three AA batteries every day. The new ProStart has a built-in rechargeable battery. It comes with a standard micro USB cord that will plug into most any USB charger. Battery life can be over 75 hours depending on the backlight options with plenty of warning if the battery gets low.
COG vs. magnetic heading: In the case of the original ProStart you only had GPS based COG (Course Over Ground). That worked for some boats, but not all. Boats without other complimentary instruments would be better off tactically with magnetic heading—think Star class, etc. Well now you can choose magnetic or COG depending on your boat, your class, or your preferences.
Processing and refreshing speeds: The data output as a whole is faster yet seemingly less jumpy, leaving you with a confident feeling that the data you see is accurate and timely. In addition, the distance to the line is now displayed in tenths of meters rather than whole numbers. This allows you to get a better feeling of your rate of approach to the start line in addition to a less jumpy readout.
Heel angle: When using the magnetic compass function, you also get the added benefit of heel angle displayed in a bar format. One bar is 2.5 degrees. This is very helpful for boats with limited instruments or tight class rules.
Display: Another improvement is the display with the super strong Gorilla Glass. Even more importantly than the strength, however, is the visually crisp and clear optics even when using polarized glasses.
Menu options: Like the original ProStart, the menu options are very simple. Cycling through the various options and setting my preferences took less than three minutes: +12 degrees declination for Los Angeles California, check, Zero-feet bow offset (my preference), check, COG rather then magnetic, check, Dampening at 1 (also my preference), check.
Bonus data: After accurately pinging both ends of the start line, you can push two buttons and the unit will automatically display the wind direction that would be square to the start line. This helps verify your own findings and gives you confidence for finding the favored end.