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This is my first year of racing our new to us Precision 23 (1984 edition). We've done pretty well, but lack polish and could do a lot better. This post is about instrumentation, which I've found is a discouragingly vast topic. Someone showed me the ProStart unit by Velocitek. It would be very good for starts, having GPS-WAAS capability for marking the start line. I can't see in the literature whether it can plot a course or save waypoints.
I hope to learn the best choice or choices for my purposes, which may include plotting a GPS WAAS course that I can save. If this course could be overlaid on a chart, that would be so much the better.
I've seen that I could easily break my small budget in trying different units that look good, but out of so many dozens I get depressed just thinking about learning enough to make the buy decisions properly and only once.

Thank you all in advance for your experienced suggerstions and advice.
 

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I ended up getting a Lowrance chartplotter/fishfinder (Lowrance Elite-5 DSI) for instrumentation on our boat. It can plot your course as well as give depth and speed, all for ~$400. I had looked at things like the "Speedpuck" or other sailing specific instrumentation, but all of those tended to cost the same or more than the Lowrance with less functionality. Admittedly, the Lowrance doesn't have the sailboat racing functionality that you may be looking for, but it does work very well as a speedometer and depthfinder. You might consider a sailing app on your smartphone for some of the racing timers etc. as well. YMMV
 

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Depth sounder is nice but a handheld GPS is a must. You NEED boatspeed and speed over ground. Other than that, it's just getting Gucci.
 

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Yep, the depthfinder was icing on the cake. I just couldn't justify something like the SpeedPuck for nearly the same price as a decent, if basic, chartplotter with a depthfinder as a bonus. I also really didn't want to have to drill holes in my hull for a transponder.
 

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Check the Gear Anarchy forum on Sailing Anarchy. That forum has a stronger racing focus and this is a popular topic.
 

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Also, depth finder transducer can be installed without drilling a hole in uncored hulls. Just bond it with no bubbles inside the hull. Toilet bowl wax works well and is not permanent.

Depth can be useful if you are trying to avoid a tack and getting close to a lee shore.
 

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I used toilet bowl wax. Worked great for this past season. I have a cored hull, but fortunately there is a patch of solid fiberglass directly in front of the keel.
 

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The problem with starting a race is NOT were the line is :)

The problem is the chess match of putting YOUR boat in the best position VS the other X amount of boats that also want to be in the same position

The most important thing is a STRONG understanding of the racing rules so you understand how to be that boat

The rule book is not that much help compared to and APP like you tack pro which gives a much better picture of the rules in real life


We also have done many clinics by North Sails and the best thing we have gone to is a Dave Perry presentation
 

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Agree with that 100%..

..but if the OP is after some instrumentation, the Rockbox is well worth looking at. It's much the same as the Velocitek dinghy stuff only with a few more features especially for club racers.
 

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Depends rather on the kinds of racing your club does, windward/leeward round the buoys type stuff, or longer distance.
On our J24 we have some fancy startline box thing, but mostly we look at SOG and keep an eye out. The best instrument in a lot of racing is to just look out of the boat - look ahead at the faster boats, see which ones have good pressure, which ones are getting knocked or in an adverse current, keep your eye on the water for changes in currents, you might pick up a little river going the other way that gives you a knot or two lift and so on.
For longer stuff, VMG to the next waypoint is handy, and wind speed/direction to help you maximise your sail inventory.
 

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ALL the above plus one major one, "Binoculars" They work better than a gps, as the mark can move at times. So you can see the thing in the distance. Altho not having a gps for all but one race. I have done fairly well with binoculars, wind, depth and speed on the water.

Marty
 

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ALL the above plus one major one, "Binoculars" They work better than a gps, as the mark can move at times. So you can see the thing in the distance. ...
On that subject: I know 'Ol Fuzzy can tell you a great story about moving marks in a race he was in a couple of years back. ;)
 

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I know you are asking about racing, and what instrumentation.
Your choice of a Precision 23 puts you in a lower speed PHRF type race class... your own statement that you just started last year... I'm going to say that you don't need a lot of instrumentation, but I'll make some that'll help.

Get depth, sumlog/knot (for speed over water), and if you can an app for your phone with GPS (the sailing tactician does a LOT of what some of the HIGH PRICED sailing devices do)...

But honestly the others here nailed it for you. instruments will have you focused on them instead of where it SHOULD be which is the wind/waves/buoys and competition.

If you are only 1 year out racing this boat (I'll assume you have been sailing it longer)... you can improve your consistency tremendously, by keeping a whiteboard (you heard me)...

Write columns of data into it...
Windpeed, and direction (current speed, and in or outgoing tide)....
with settings you used for: genoa cars, sails used, rake, backstay, halyard, outhaul, traveler position, vang, mainsheet tension...

Do yourself a favor, put scales on outhaul, genoa cars, backstay, and marks on sheets, and halyards for "full on."

Then tweak from there, and change your whiteboard settings, looking at your KNOTMETER (not GPS this is important!). When you find settings that are faster, change the entry on the whiteboard.

If you sail in a bunch of different conditions, eventually you'll have the beginnings of "polars" and expected speeds you can get for given conditions. PLUS, you'll have great visual clues for your crew to know how to trim the boat for those conditions.

AS for starts? You need to learn to "win the start." The statement about tactics being MOST important for the start.. truer words are NEVER spoken. If you get across the start line first you get the cleanest air (because most clubs don't do downwind starts). This gives you the strongest chance to stay ahead. There are VOLUMES about racing and winning starts... also a good google search helps.

I only have 3 instruments... Depth, speed, and compass (that helps for headings and giving you degrees to windward).
 
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