GPS takes to dinghies


A GPS unit being fitted to a 49er at the World Championship in Moscow
 

A GPS unit being fitted to a 49er at the World Championship in Moscow

TheDailySail looks into the sudden surge of GPS technology in the dinghy sailing world
GPS is well established in the world of yacht racing for position fixing, while hooking up a GPS receiver to a communications device such a satellite or cellular telephone and then displaying this information on-screen via the use of specialist race management software has revolutionised the way spectators can follow progress on the water in real-time for events from the America’s Cup to Vendee Globe and Volvo Ocean Race and today many smaller events. The Global Positioning System uses a constellation of satellites to determine - down to metre-accuracy in three dimensions - the location of a GPS receiver, this data displayed on the receiver as lat, long and height. But GPS receivers also offer a range of dynamic secondary functions such as ‘course over the ground’ (COG) and ‘speed over the ground’ (SOG). For those new to GPS it should be noted that COG and SOG are different from compass course and speed in that ‘over the ground’ is not the same ‘through the water’. For example course/heading/bearing - whatever you want to call it - is the course you are steering, while COG is the result of this plus any tidal effects, ie the course your boat is actually heading in. With self-contained GPS receivers becoming so small that they can be worn on the wrist - even incorporated into a watch (such as the Suunto M9) this technology is increasingly finding its place in the dinghy sailing world. This year the use of GPS technology on dinghies has taken a step further with high profile events such as the 49er World Championship and the Finn Gold Cup in Moscow, Russia. At these GPS tracking was used to follow boat positions around the race track increasing the viewing potential for online ‘spectators’ around the world, in the same way

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