Offshore yacht racing is the ultimate test of equipment, software and functionality. When milliseconds can be the difference between winning or losing, the top helmsmen and navigators really rely on their instrumentation and software to make those critical decisions.
Industry leading sensors, instruments and software combine to monitor, calculate and display key data and it can take years of development to fine tune equipment to perform in these most demanding of conditions. One of the most respected navigation software packages, used on all of the top boats is Expedition. Its sail performance displays, weather routing and tactical analysis software, is the result of 30 years of development by veteran Volvo Ocean Race navigator and Whitbread winner Nick White.
Expedition’s powerful functionality is driven by the racing yachts’ sensors and instrumentation, which on most modern vessels are built on a NMEA 2000 network. A key component of the system, is the “gateway” device that connects the NMEA 2000 network to the Windows PC running Expedition. A gateway must be:-
– Fast, NMEA 2000 operates at 250Kb/s
– Reliable, it is a critical link in the system
– Optimised for high speed bi-directional communication
– Compatible with the latest 64bit operating systems
– NMEA 2000 Certified
Digital Yacht’s iKonvert USB Gateway and NAVLink2 Wireless Gateway, meet all of the above criteria and are now fully supported in Expedition. In addition to providing all the NMEA 2000 data to Expedition, they also allow Expedition to send data back to the NMEA 2000 network. This enables suitably compatible NMEA 2000 displays to show some of the performance race data that Expedition has calculated, but which do not have an official NMEA 2000 PGN – such as layline information or target boat speed.
One of the first yachts to use Expedition with iKonvert, was Ginan, a J/111 owned by Cam McKenzie and Nigel Jones. Being experienced Expedition users, they were interfacing their B&G instruments to Expedition and wanted specific polar boatspeed and mark information displayed on their Garmin GNX mast displays.
With the latest version of Expedition installed (11.17.0), iKonvert hooked up to the NMEA 2000 network and the USB port of their navigation PC, data started to flow and Expedition was able to collect, process and output data to the Garmin mast displays. With everything now working as it should, Cam and Nigel could continue their preparations for the 50th Melbourne to Hobart race, confident that their navigation system was all set to go.