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J/111 Blur³ moves to B&G H5000

Peter Gustafsson's J/111 Blur³ recently moved to a full B&G H5000 system. Read on to find out how he came to choose B&G and what the installation can do for his sailing performance...

It’s no secret that I think instruments are an important piece of the puzzle on board.

I often joke that I’m not a very good sailor, so I have to rely on the numbers to sail the boat fast. But it’s incredibly hard to know when a modern boat is sailing at 100%, especially if you are new to the model. Very often, it’s not the mode that feels best which is fastest. And other things, like the current, cannot be felt at all but must be measured.

It is the same with business, where I also think that you should be “data-driven”, ie measure and analyze, and then continue to measure smaller and smaller components to get a real understanding of how to get better.

How committed our customers are, or whether the profitability of a particular product has increased or decreased is not about feel. Similarly, we are not going to debate how strong the current is or which gennaker is best on the next leg. Based on facts, we know the answers and can devote ourselves to strategic choices and those that require real reasoning.

Just as I try to understand how AirBnB or Amazon measures and controls their operations, you can look at how the TP52 or Volvo Ocean Race teams are doing …

If you want to read more on the subject, I can recommend Modern Race Navigation by Will Oxley, and for a little more readable intro Sail Smart by Mark Chisnell.

Already on the Albin Nova we took this seriously, and on both the J/109 and J / 111 we have had a high level of ambition. It has obviously required good instruments and the use of Expedition. But above all, it’s important to have a navigator who is passionate. In our case, Patrik Måneskiöld is the driving force, both on board and in technology development. When he is not happy with the GPS positions at a start, he builds his own, much better GPS (last one of the u-blox NEO-7P + Novatel GPS-701-GG). And when we debate how much we lose in one tack, he does a proper analysis.

It is, by the way, a good tip to all other teams with a little ambition – find someone who is passionate about this area and who calls himself a navigator.

This year we are planning even bigger races, so we need to take the next step with instruments and navigation.

Our Garmin system has worked well, but we have pushed the limits and replaced sensors a little too often. In 6 years we have gone through three masthead unit, three compass transducers, three speed sensors and a couple of displays.

So when we were facing a slightly larger refresh, we chose to broaden our perspective.

Alternatives

The options that were on the table were:

B&G. This is the pro’s choice, so you know you will be able to do what you want, but it also costs more money. Historically, support has been limited, and you needed to know a guru. Much, however, has improved since I wrestled with one of the first H5000 systems in 2014.

Garmin. Good components with a reasonable price tag. When it was called Nexus, the quality was sometimes so-so, but this was weighed up (and then some) by the world’s best support. The transition to Garmin has meant better quality, but also a more standardized support process. I can also find that we are between the existing product range and a new one. The software is also lagging – it’s scary every time you get into Nexus Race.

NKE. Awesome gear, But very French. I have had their Gyropilot, which has worked like clockwork, but the closest support for me is in Holland. Had I had the boat in France, it would have been an option, but now I cannot justify the extra difficulties that it means to not have support locally: at least not if I’m going to start from scratch.

Raymarine. Good autopilots and plotters, but the instrument side has long had a problem with calibration. Raymarine bought Tacktick, and have great packages for a smaller boat, or if you cruise and want everything from the same supplier.

Mix-n-match. Picking up sensors, displays, iPads, and others and integrating them yourself is an option. And we have almost been there with both Garmin, NKE & Raymarine. There are cool new options on the market like Sailmon, but you have to be prepared to spend quite a bit to make it work well.

Priorities

What have been the priorities?

a) Data quality. If you can’t get good data and calibrate effectively, nothing else matters. Simple.

b) Support. This is partly about good product support when something breaks, but also to be able to discuss questions with pros like Johan Barne, Martin Gadman on Happy Yachting or other navigators. It’s easier if someone else took the hit on a TP52, and we can use the same methodology :-)

c) Integration with Expedition is important, as this is central to routing and performance analysis. If you can also get all the parts to talk to each other well, that’s a benefit.

d) Robustness. When we do a really tough race, the masthead unit can’t shut off when it rains and blows 16 m/s, and the compass cannot lose calibration at regular intervals.

So what did we arrive at? ----->>>

Tips and tricks for your B&G electronics