We use the Velocitek mainly for a quick way to see how changes in sail trim affect boat speed. With the single screen only the helsman can actually see it if the rest of us are hiked out on the rail.
I think the Racemaster is a more valuable tool, in that it can determine the favored side of the start line, has a large number display and beeps when used as a countdown timer, tacking angles, and instantly show wind shifts which can be another tool in calling tacks and jibes. The angled split screen is great so that the entire crew can be on the rail and still see it clearly. What is appealing about either device is that one does not need to have an electrical system to operate them which is nice for small boat racing. The Racemaster has been flawless.
The Velocitek worked for about three outings and then on an especially rough day with every damn wave breaking over the bow and soaking everything on the boat, it leaked, causing the display to fog up. During the race the next day it stopped working at all. The unit was sent back and eventually a new "upgraded" version was returned in it's place. The customer service was slow but they didn't put up a fuss. Being a pessimist I have a feeling, not based in fact, that this was not the first time a "wet dead" unit was returned under warranty. They said that they were sold out and that the replacement they sent us was an upgraded factory rebuild. The electronics appear kind of rudimentary to me. As if some electronics wizard threw the parts together in his basment and then, as an afterthought, tried to find a way to use it in the marine environment. The case appears to be just a modified tiny Pelican style case. My biggest pet peeve with this design is that the case has to be opened everytime you want to turn it on or off. When opening the case all the electronics are exposed to the environment, you literally are operating a microswitch on the circuit board as an "on/off" switch. There has got to be a better solution...
Both tools are great for diagnostics, for example, if we don't feel like we are pointing well, when setting up the Tacktick one can manually input your tacking angle like 90 degrees or 45 off the wind. In an instant it is clearly visible to all on board after a tack if we are haveing a trim problem or maybe we are pinching etc... Maybe the boat feels slow, a glance at the Velocitek can confirm if we really are slow or if the sea state just makes it feel that way.
What kind of boat would you be putting it on? Does your boat have an existing 12v system? What kind of racing are you doing?
If I could use only one, it would be the Racemaster.
Electronics like these can't be a substitute for actual sailing skill and racing tactics. One should look at items like this as just another tool, like a Windex or telltales to assist in sailing better. Do they help...yes. but I have no idea how to measure it.
Thanks for info, and another suggestion for an equal/similar "tool". I saw the velocitec in a WM add that came out the other day, and thought it could be an interesting tool to see in the end how well we were really doing, how we could improve what we are doing etc. In the end tho, good sail trim in general will improve us more than an electronic toy/tool. I noticed this with my wife, as she steers, she looks at a ST60 wind guage a lot, and try's to keep the boat at a certain degree off wind, that does not work as well as looking at the sails, a point in the horizan where heading, speedo too, along with that guage.
Looks like it might be better than nothing, but a purpose-installed unit might offer more features and be more useful. Since the speed and direction are based solely on GPS data, it will be difficult to see if you're in a favorable or unfavorable current. That can be a good thing to know. If your speed drops to zero, (even though it looks like you're going fast, perhaps because of a counter-current?) you will lose any compass heading as well, since there will be no differential for the unit to track direction. It might be better to put the $500 towards a more complete system that could be integrated with others. The open-the-box-to-turn-it-on also sounds like an open and shut problem case, especially on a boat.
Turn the damn thing off or cover its display until she gets out of that habit. Seriously.
When The Admiral and I were taking our ASA-101 and 103 courses, the instructor was adamant about us not even looking at the Windex. He told us to learn to sail by the feel of the wind on our faces, the feel of the helm and the shape of the sails. And you know what: By the time we were done with that course nobody ever looked at the Windex anymore, except perhaps to double-check how high we were pointing. The last season our brand-new Windex (the last one's somewhere on the bottom of the lake in the vicinity of the "A" mark) got one of its tabs bent up when the mast was stepped, so the vane would get hung up on it. Guess what: It took us all of about a couple hours to learn to live without it again.
I'm almost of a mind to just leave the damn thing off. I half suspect it sometimes does more harm than good. But it is handy for a quick double-check on what the other things are telling you.
One just has to learn not to use the thing as a crutch.
We once wanted an ST-60. Not so much anymore. What I'd really like is something that could give me both apparent and true windspeeds and angles. Apparent wind direction and speed alone no longer seems all that useful to me.