For racers or cruisers, the system offers a very cost effective solution for wind and route prediction, with relatively low-cost reception units to receive email and weather data feeds, using the Iridium network, meaning there is worldwide coverage.
The new release of PredictWind has been designed to reduce the need for expensive downloads, and Bilger estimates the data cost of each download is just $4. The new system will also handle email and all boat communications. It comprises just two pieces of hardware a satellite link which is usually at the stern of the boat and a second box which is located in the navigation area and feeds to the boats laptop or other computers.
The PredictWind software itself is now offering a very graphical routing package, which shows the recommended course for the current weather prognosis from the two feeds used by PredictWind. As well a detailed readout showing time, course, expected windspeed and predicted boatspeed, based on the actual polars for your boat - or one similar in performance.
The readout also extends to showing an estimate time of arrival.
Comfort factor courses A new feature of special interest to cruisers is the ability to key in basic comfort factors such as top wind speed and wave height, and PredictWind can produce a route that will provide a more comfortable, albeit it longer route in the expected conditions.
But for racers, the option is always there to take the fastest course in the conditions.
For those following the boat from ashore the PredictWind system has a couple of great features. Provided you have a position and a time of the position (a simple email from off the boat) you can plot the boat's likely course options, see what wind they are going to experience and see the projected arrival time - if there are connection arrangements to be made.
Obviously being able to independently track the boat from shore provides great peace of mind for relatives and friends. The PredictWind system also features a distress button which can be activate from onboard. Those off the boat can also use a locator function to track the boat at 10 minute intervals.
New Zealander, Jon Bilger developed PredictWind off his America's Cup experience which extends back to 1992, but more recently he was involved with the twice winners of the America's Cup Alinghi, and was a key part of their weather team.
The key feature of the latest version of the PredictWind system is that the data sent through satellite data transmissions have been kept to a minimum - which has the effect of reducing ongoing cost significantly, and improves reliability as dropped connections mid-transmission are no longer an issue.
For coastal sailors a different version of the hardware is available, which will allow full data coverage by email and weather data in almost any coastal location in New Zealand including 'dead-spots' for standard mobile phones.
In video below Jon Bilger talks us through the features of PredictWind as used onboard TeamVodafoneSailing. Please excise some of the camerawork, the cramped confines of the navigation station aboard the Orma60 made for a very cosy conversation and difficult camera angles. Bilger takes us through a typical routine that would be followed on board to pick up the wind data and then produce the course routing and wind prognosis in any location on the world.
In summary the key features now available through PredictWind are:
World Wide Coverage
Iridium Satellite network with full global coverage
Reliable Data Communication Iridium Short Burst Data network - US military reliability No dropped data calls! Does not require your computer to be switched on
Low Power Consumption Extremely low power consumption 0.1 Amp at 12V in tracking mode
Hardware Reliability Unit is IP68 waterproof - 1m depth for 1hr Shock and vibration tested to ISTA 1A specifications - no moving parts Manufactured under ISO9001 compliance
For more information on the system and to buy online click here and read what 2010 Sydney Hobart class winner Phil Eadie has to say about the ease and speed of installation of PredictWind and how it worked for them to win their class in the offshore classic.
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