Simon Fisher: Improving Your Inshore Racing Navigation
Volvo Ocean Race-winning navigator Simon Fisher explains the role of the inshore racing navigator and shares some tips and tricks for getting the most out your yacht’s navigation system.
One of the best things about raceboat navigation, in my opinion at least, is that it affects so many elements of the yacht’s performance. The racing navigator’s role has an impact on tactics, strategy, performance and crew work. It also involves all sorts of interesting technology and information that, when used properly, can really enhance the overall performance of the boat and crew.
As a navigator there is always plenty to keep you busy and typically your work starts well before you get on board the boat in the morning, and if you so choose, can continue well after the race has finished!
There’s a lot to the navigator’s job. You need to manage the instruments, look after the navigation software and calibration, be responsible for the weather forecasting and tides, work closely with the tactician and crew to provide the right information at the right point on the race course, as well as being able to log all the data and analyse the boat’s performance.
All of this, on top of getting the boat around the course in the right direction and without hitting the bottom!
Knowledge, good preparation, attention to detail and good communication skills are what often give the best navigators the edge in what is now an increasingly data-driven role.
Let’s start by trying to get a little insight into what makes up the role of the navigator, find out what tools and technology are available to help you and identify how, as a sailor, you can get the best out of them, both on and off the race course.
Mastering your instruments, navigation software and calibration
Race boat navigation these days revolves around instrumentation and computers, so having a good head for technology, data and being comfortable with numbers definitely helps.
Typically, on a decent race boat you will find a good quality instrument system linked to an on board computer and deck screen that will run a navigation software package such as Expedition, Deckman or Adrena.
The software takes the boat’s position, speed and wind information from the instruments, combines it with your boat’s specific polars and the course mark data and displays all of this on a digital chart. This means that, suddenly, there is... READ THE FULL ARTICLE