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The Trusty ProStart, Improved

Velocitek's updated ProStart unit provides racing sailors accurate GPS-based technology for more accurate starts and compass functions.

July 21, 2020
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Velocitek ProStart
The new Velocitek ProStart retains the same interface as the original, but the GPS, compass and processor are seriously upgraded for better accuracy on the starting line. Courtesy Velocitek

GPS-powered devices are now ubiquitous in the racing sailor’s daily life; it’s there to guide us to our destinations on our smartphones, to our fitness goals on our smart watches, and most certainly to better starts and strategies on the racecourse. Now universally allowed by most one-design classes, these basic GPS units improve our starts (while also reducing annoying general recalls).

Velocitek’s ProStart has been the go-to unit for more than a decade because of its reliability, simplicity and cost. Even with software improvements over the years, the unit wasn’t perfect, so it was due for an upgrade, long overdue. 

The California-based manufacturer released today it’s 2.0, citing design improvements driven by customers: “We kept the intuitive start-specific user interface that you know and love, and added a Gorilla Glass display, rechargeable battery, high-speed GPS, and a groundbreaking new magnetic compass,” they say, stating that the backlit and bonded display has “the best visibility of any self-contained instrument, in all conditions.”

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We’ll have to confirm that as soon as we can get our hands on one, but there’s other improvements as well including a faster 18Hz multi-constellation GPS receiver with a “72-channel, tactical-grade 3-axis magnetic sensor and a 100Hz, 6-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU).” Translation: better accuracy for precision starts and legit boatspeed reporting.

There’s also said to be a more robust “tilt-compensated compass,” which “precisely accounts for the angle of your bow relative to the startline” and “after the start, the unrivalled accuracy will also help you track shifts with single-degree repeatability.” That’s all fine and good, but don’t forget to keep your head out of the boat. 

A rechargeable 75-hour lithium-ion battery is re-juiced using micro-USB, and the unit records position, time, course over ground, speed over ground, magnetic heading and heel angle four times per second. The 8GB onboard flash memory, they say, is enough room for 1000 hours of sailing data. And speaking of data, you can simply plug the unit into your computer and analyze where your race when right and wrong using third-party software (the popular one today is Njord Analytics). For $895, you get a unit with a mounting cradle and neoprene storage pouch. It’s plug and play, or rather: plug, play and win the start.

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