Chandlery March 2014 Issue

Performance Racing App for Sailors

Photos by Dan Dickison

PS tested the Regatta Recon app using an iPhone 4 housed in a water-resistant Otterbox Defender case. Above: The screen before a heading was selected, so there’s no directional trend data.

Two racing sailors from Charleston, S.C., got together last spring to develop an economical alternative to electronic compass devices like the $340 to $500 Velocitek (PS, May and September 2011), the $460 to $735 Tacktick (PS, November 2009), and the $600 Sailcomp. The result? The Regatta Recon performance sailing app for Android and iOS devices.

The app will work with any smart phone or digital tablet so long as the device already has an internal compass. What’s important to note for racing sailors is that Regatta Recon doesn’t require any Internet or mobile connection once it has been downloaded, so it won’t put you in jeopardy of transgressing race rules prohibiting outside interference.

Regatta Recon offers three essential functions: compass heading and directional trend, countdown timing, and the ability to log the elapsed finish times of up to six competitors. For short-course racing sailors, it offers three pieces of vital information. It displays boat heading as well as the degree of lift or header that the boat is experiencing relative to that initial number. With a simple touch of the screen, the user can switch to a countdown timer with six settings from one to six minutes; the timer alerts users at specific intervals with an audible tone. Regatta Recon can be downloaded from iTunes’ App Store or from Google Play for $14.99.



The boat has moved from its initial heading of 173 to a heading of 156 as the wind has backed. The question mark in the upper left hand corner takes viewers to a help page. The icon in the upper right hand corner will change the screen to the timer view. The bars in the graduated scale on the bottom of the display each represent increments equal to one degree of heading. Every fifth bar, or fifth degree, appears in red.

Practical Sailor downloaded Regatta Recon to an Apple iPhone 4 and took it for a test drive. While underway, PS compared Regatta Recon’s readouts with those generated by a handheld GPS. The app’s accuracy appeared to be spot-on, and its responsiveness to changes in heading was nearly instantaneous. (The device displays every integer—one at a time—as the boat moves from one heading to the next, so a swing from a heading of 245 degrees to 270, for instance, won’t show the final heading until each of the numbers in between have flashed on and off screen.) Switching from countdown timer to compass heading required just one touch of the screen.

PS tested the app in both overcast and bright daylight conditions, and we found the display to be clearly visible on the iPhone, even at a distance of 20 feet. (One caveat: Screen visibility on smart phones and tablets depends principally upon the devices’ brightness settings and the reflectance qualities of the screen/its case.) Regatta Recon creators recommend adjusting your device’s sleep settings so that the screen won’t go dark while in use. And, of course, you’ll have to ensure that the device’s battery has enough charge to last throughout the anticipated time of use on board.

If you plan to use Regatta Recon or a similar app, we recommend investing in a quality waterproof case or drybag for your phone or tablet. We used a water-resistant Otterbox Defender case during tests, but for boats shorter than 30 feet or during wet races, a waterproof case is a better option. The top picks in our November 2012 test were the Lifeproof iPhone and iPad cases and the Aquapac for iPad bag. (Stay tuned for an update to that test this spring.)

For best results, the device also should be mounted close to the boat’s centerline yet still be visible from the helm. The creators say they’re in the final stages of developing a mast-mount coupling that will be compatible with any bracket designed for the Tacktick Microcompass, the Raymarine Micronet RaceMaster, or the Velocitek ProStart.

Bottom line

Our tester found this app simple to download, responsive, and easy to operate. Unlike digital compass products like Tacktick and Velocitek, Regatta Recon does not indicate boat speed, but it’s otherwise an inexpensive and functional alternative to the digital compass gear. Keep in mind when using it that many iPads and iPhones will overheat and shut down if left in direct sun too long.

Comments (2)

Regatta Recon is currently $18.99 in the App Store - for a product that has fewer features then iRegatta which is available for $10 (base version).
In addition to 99 minute countdown and calculating the line bias for you, iRegatta includes a burn indicator, distance to line, time to line (calculated from your polar).
The race view provides tack angle and speed trend chart and 4 configurable displays - SOG, COG, heading, waypoint bearing etc.
It uses either the built in GPS or NMEA data over WiFi for better accuracy and includes many more features in the Pro Version for $24.99.
It's available for iOS and Android and can be integrated with the Pebble watch.
I don't work for iRegatta - I'm just a satisfied user.

Posted by: Pewit | June 23, 2014 1:50 AM    Report this comment

LoL, it is an add, or smth? There is a lot of such kind of apps. IMHO, the best atm is sailracer.net, but normal version only for Androids. But you can get other apps, that looks more cute and serious, too.. And is free! $14.99? For what?

Posted by: Furian | February 16, 2014 5:33 AM    Report this comment

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