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Chris Bentley

Rule Changes - Instrumentation

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Bit more complex this one. We have discussed wind instruments. I am convinced that we allowed GPS, provided it wasn't linked to wind. (Martin, is this another one that got lost in the wash)? Wind, without the link is, in Sonata use, not much use. I can see my Windex even at night and all a screen gives me extra is numbers to look at instead of a mechanical direction arrow. Ok, it also can give me speed at the masthead, but, apart from the warm glow I could get from surviving a 40knt gust, I actually have a fair idea when to change sails which a wind speed read-out won't add to.

However, link wind to GPS and you get COG, SOG (from the GPS anyway) plus apparent wind speed and direction and, if you really want to get into electronic links, throw in a fluxgate compass, a Tack tic sensor option, and you can have the above in relation to the ships course as well as the wind direction. Bolt that to your autohelm and you will go upwind like a roasted stoat. OK. I am being silly, but the point is that we could allow this, and a lot more, chart plotters, AIS, radar, radar??? no, really silly, and today, you can link it all together and the boat could sail itself. But we don't do that when racing. Our Sonata racing is almost entirely windward/leewards or river/estuary/lake sailing where the more sophisticated electronic aids are of limited use.

So, we allow, insist on a compass, ok.

We allow a depth sounder, ok

We allow a log, ok

We allow a Tack-tic without the wind sensors or fluxgate compass or GPS linked in which gives us all the above, but in a nicer way.

Do we, given the ability of say, the Tack tic, to link in other data, if people want to, on the presumption that in effect, the enhancement to performance would be negligible or non existant, given our style of racing? In fact, maybe detrimental to performance with masthead cones and kit plus batteries and maybe wiring, but if it turns skippers on, why not?

Or do we revert to our established stance and say no, partly on the basis that it would inevitably cost money and we don't do cheque-book sailing?

Personally, I don't believe that linked, and/or more instrumentation would enhance my racing experience, or improve my performance. In fact, it would probably distract me. But, if others want to have them, I have no objection. Your comments, please.


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I think that my Sonata would be a good case study for this discussion....

It is fitted with Raymarine Wind Instruments which are in turn connected though the "seatalk" bus to the autopilot with flux compass and the log, the GPS is also connected to the autopilot but all that this input gives is the ability to track to the waypoint when the autopilot is not in use the GPS input to the instrumentation is not relevant.

I also have (for safety) at DSC VHF radio which is linked to the GPS and also functions as a standalone AIS reciever.

My autopilot is installed / hard-wired into the boat (below decks course computer - above deck ram).

All this can also talk to a laptop running chartplotter software.

To quote you below, "Bolt that to your autohelm and you will go upwind like a roasted stoat. OK. I am being silly," not so silly...the main reason for me fitting wind instruments is so the pilot will sail to apparent wind angle.

I would like to be able to race my boat in one design races (specifically the RTI) but most of the racing I do is short-handed IRC racing.

So, what is the performance advantage given by this kit when racing fully crewed in a one design fleet? Probably best to look at each in turn.

1: Wind Instruments - Yes there could be a performance advantage from having wind instruments fitted and I would agree they are not currently allowed under the class rules (although given that "all other mast fittings are optional" I would dispute that they take the boat outside of class if they are disabled, in that case all you have is a second rather difficult to see windex at the top of the mast adding weight and drag).

2: Linking Instruments Together - By linking the log and the compass to the wind instruments you can get "true wind" which is really of no performance benefit at all on a Sonata given the relatively low boat-speed, this will also give VMG upwind (useful) and a "tack heading" (not useful). Of all these, the only item I find useful performance wise is the VMG readout.

3: DSC VHF / AIS Receiver / GPS - This doesn't bring any performance gains but does give significant safety gains, particularly when sailing offshore / poor vis / night etc. I don't see any reason why this should not be permitted.

4: Autopilot - Clearly this cannot be used during racing (except for IRC short-handed) BUT the course computer and wiring are "installed", would this be covered under "common sense" or does that fact it is fitted / carried put me "out of class"? I am not suggesting that we should allow autopilots to be used - simply that we should distinguish between items that are fitted and those that may be used during racing.

5: Laptop / Chartplotter - Since the Class Rules currently state "GPS Type Equipment" is permitted and the laptop is simply acting as a GPS I would say that this is currently allowed. Also for the majority of one design racing I would say this brings no performance benefits over a non-chartplotter GPS, I only ever find it useful on a passage type race.

So given that I have gone rather over the top with the electronics on my boat, what would somebody have to get to the same level of performance advantage? I would say that all they would have to purchase would be wind instruments and have those instruments linked to their log so as to get the addition of the VMG information.

Is this cheque-book racing - certainly not, for me personally if my main focus was one design racing then I am sure I would have gained more performance benefit by spending my money on new sails rather than constantly repairing the 10+ year old sails that I currently race with because I can't afford new sails.

Where do we go from here -

1) I would propose that either: A. Wind instruments & electronic compasses allowed with no restriction on networking (image trying to police that, it is particularly difficult to separate raymarine instrument when they are all powered on the seatalk bus). OR B. Keep the rules as they are not permitting the USE of electronic wind instruments but allow them to be fitted provided they are disabled for one design racing.

2) I would also propose that we allow that other kit like the autopilots may be fitted / carried on the boat provided it is not used during racing.

3) I would propose that safety related kit like DSC VHF and AIS (receiver or transmitter) be allowed since they bring no performance benefits but significant safety benefits (like the liferaft example you used elsewhere).



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The 2012 Sonata class rules certainly allow "GPS type equipment" and many navigation apps up to and including a chart plotter run on a GPS set or are add-ons or accessories.

So the things that are currently not allowed are:

1. Electronic compass (apparently they are supposed to be allowed and were lost in error)

2. Water speed and temperature (again an error, I suspect)

3. Wind speed (which I think should be allowed)

4. Safety equipment etc. (which I'm certain we ALL think should be allowed)

5. Tools, Deck Gear, cooking equipment etc.( (clearly an error)

So: Wind speed is the ONLY thing that is genuinely (i.e excluding errors) NOT ALLOWED.

This exclusion make no sense to me: I'm in favour of Edward Harrison's proposed change to Sections C.3 and C.5 in this thread:


which essentially allows any equipment you want.

Even better - Edward's version is simpler than the current one, and much more future proof.

Many yachts race on handicap with no restrictions on equipment. Many operate on large budgets. Even so, apart from wind speed, few carry anything that in any way improves performance that is not allowed on a Sonata. I actually cannot think of any piece of equipment that increases performance I'd want to carry - just extra weight and expense.

Connecting instruments to each other in order to gain more information is already allowed, but the RRS prohibit the use of an autohelm (except for single-handed races).

I can't see any problem arising from Edward's proposed change ...


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For those of us dropping the mast 3 or 4 times a season to get to events then wind instruments will be a pain.......tack ticks get around the wiring issue but still the risk of damage to mast wand when dropping mast, and they don't come cheap......bad enough when you prang the windex!

No issue with people wanting to equip their boats with all of the proposed electronics, just wanted to point out the downside to those that trail their boats............................or do their own thing regarding lifting in or out, rather than use marina hoists and cranes etc

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Thinking about this from another angle - if the general consensus was to be that most people don't want to shell out for wind instruments or consider them too much hassle then maybe the rules could be amended so that it is the "USE" of prohibited instruments is prohibited during one design racing rather than the "FITTING" - that way those of us who have boats "fitted out better than Getty's super yacht and have more electronics than a Typhoon fighter aircraft" ;)

can simply disable anything prohibited for the odd one design race that we do - it seems a shame to exclude a boat that is compliant with all the rest of the rules (as is the case with Impro) for the fitting of something that can easily be disabled.

Surely the class should be as inclusive as possible to maximise the pool of boats eligible to race whilst keeping a level playing field?

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My reading of this thread is slightly different - I see no objection to wind strength instruments here, though some people don't feel the need to fit them personally.

I'm in favour of Richard's 1. A. Wind instruments & electronic compasses allowed with no restriction on networking

plus his points 2 and 3.

The RRS prohibit using an autopilot (except in single handed races) so that results in a very simple can clean rule - all equipment is allowed as in Edward's proposed change to Section C:

about 1/3 of the way down http://www.sonata.org.uk/board/index.php?showtopic=774


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