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Improve Performance with Data

Published on September 28th, 2018

by Allan Haeger, SailZing
Ever get the feeling that the casual post-race conversation doesn’t tell the whole story about race performance? Ever wished you had solid data to focus your improvement plan? Race analysis may be part of the solution. In this article we review the benefits and costs of race analysis and recommend a tool for sailing schools, smaller yacht clubs, and amateur fleets.

Race Analysis – Worth the Effort and Cost
Few yacht clubs or sailing schools have made a sustained effort to reap the benefits of race analysis. Companies like Kattack and RaceQs have started up and then withered for lack of growth. Does this mean that the benefits aren’t worth the effort and cost? We believe the benefits of race analysis ARE worth the effort and cost for anyone moderately serious about improvement.

Clearly, race analysis data is valuable, since Olympic sailors use it regularly in training. With raw data alone, you can compare distance sailed, boat speed, velocity made good (VMG), and sailing angles. With a little further analysis, you can evaluate boat handling and strategy, including starting performance, tacking efficiency, time on the lifted tack, and time spent sailing in more breeze. Imagine the benefit of knowing how your tacks measure up to others or how much less distance the race winner sailed.

Effort and Cost
We shy away from many tasks because we think they will be too hard. You can’t do race analysis without some effort, but the effort is manageable. The key is to use a central support person, who can develop an efficient process to collect and analyze the data. While not free, the cost for our recommended race analysis tool is quite reasonable. With the right choices, we think many organizations will find the benefits are well worth the effort and cost.

Race Analysis Tools
We found nine online services that host your GPS tracks, display the race, and crunch data for post-race analysis. We did not include on-board devices or apps for use during the race. We then narrowed the list based on the following criteria:

• Cost. We looked for low-cost or free tools suitable for local sailing schools, smaller yacht clubs, or amateur fleets.
• Capability. We looked for tools that provide enough data to be useful, including boat speed, VMG, distance sailed, and headings for each boat throughout the race.
• Viability. Since many tools spring up and then wither away, we looked for current users and technical support, as evidenced by recent races posted and recent software updates.

For the tools reviewed… click here.

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