Mobile app teaches old dogs new tricks >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News

Published on 09/14/2022

It was September 2020 when Scuttlebutt first reported on the Buoy Zone mobile app, which helps race officials set courses and make the guesses 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 from Candace Porter:

Buoy Zone is the newest addition to ILYA’s RC arsenal. This phone app allows the race committee to visualize the outline of a lake and set a course to make the most of the lake’s topography, adapt to wind conditions and provide a course with appropriate leg lengths.

The ILYA Foundation initially offered free subscriptions to our 2022 regatta venues, but then generously expanded the offering to any member lakes that wished to be included in the list. Fourteen of our lakes accepted the offer and the number of users increased from 61 to 187! The original 61 were mostly ILYA race officers who have been using this app since a year ago.

Developed by a group in New Zealand, the app was ‘discovered’ during a conversation at a US Sailing Club race directors’ course, when the simple question was asked if anyone had developed an app to support the GPS operations of the race committee. Our adventure began in March 2021.

Mark DeGuire was notified as he was in the geographic region where the Buoy Zone is known to have been first tested in the United States. Mark spent the spring using the new app at near-weekly events across the southeastern United States. The ILYA was lucky enough to bring Mark to the Quad Lakes in Nagawicka for our first test of the app.

While some of us had tried it at home, this was our first teaching regatta using the new app. With some seizures, technical glitches, and “I can’t change” resistances, we found this to be a REAL alternative to using handheld GPS.

The GPS devices are expensive, maybe a bit cumbersome to learn and differ in user interface when we switch to alternative models. STILL, the GPS is a tool that the “oldies” still rely on. (Don’t ask Porter to hire a centerline boat without GPS.) PROs and the more experienced other RC started buying the app for personal use. – Complete report

tags: Buoy Zone, Training, Inland Lake Yachting Association, Race Committee