Mobile app teaches old dogs new tricks

Published on September 14th, 2022

It was September 2020 when Scuttlebutt first reported on the mobile app Buoy Zone which was assisting race officers to set courses and take the guess work out for support boats. At the time it was only available in Australia and New Zealand, but the Scuttlebutt report prompted expansion.

That happened in January 2021, and the Inland Lake Yachting Association soon jumped on the bandwagon. Here’s an ILYA update by Candace Porter:


Buoy Zone is the newest addition to the ILYA’s RC arsenal. This phone app enables the race committee to visualize a lake’s outline and set a course to best utilized the lake’s topography, adjust to the wind conditions, and to provide a course with proper leg lengths.

The ILYA Foundation offered free subscriptions to our 2022 regatta hosting lakes firstly but then generously extended the offer to any member lake who wanted to be added to the roster. Fourteen of our lakes accepted the offer and the numbers of users grew from 61 to 187! The original 61 were primarily ILYA race officers who have been utilizing this app for a year prior.

The app was developed by a group in New Zealand and was “discovered” during conversation at a US Sailing Club Race Officer course when the simple question was asked if anyone had developed an app to assist with race committee GPS operation. In March 2021, our adventure began.

Mark DeGuire was notified since he was in the geographic region where Buoy Zone was first known to be tested in the USA. Mark spent the spring at nearly weekly events in the SE US using the new app. The ILYA was fortunate to bring Mark over to the Quad Lakes at Nagawicka for our first test of the app.

While some of us had trialed it at home, this was our first instructional regatta utilizing the new app. With some fits, technical bloopers, and “I can’t change” resistance, we found this was a REAL alternative to handheld GPS use.

The GPS units are expensive, perhaps a bit cumbersome to learn, and different in the interface as we move to alternate models. STILL, the GPS is a tool the “oldsters” still rely on. (Don’t ask Porter to set a midline boat without a GPS.) PROs and the experienced other RC began to buy the app for personal use. – Full report

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