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A big year (and for one so young)

A+T Instruments

Yacht Racing Podcast

Many of the most successful yachts this summer have A+T instruments.

A+T was only founded in 2015 and has now developed a complete range of extremely well engineered instruments, processors, autopilots and sensors. A high proportion of A+T’s business is for upgrades to superyachts and systems for new-builds. In the raceboat market A+T is also establishing itself as the weapon of choice for high-level instruments with some 30 per cent of yachts in the recent Maxi Rolex Cup in Porto Cervo using A+T. In this article we look at case studies of a few of these. Critical to A+T’s development is feedback from the racing community and navigators where it specialises in turning around suggestions fast.

Leopard 3, the canting keel Farr 100ft maxi, has had a great season, taking the race record and 1st overall IRC in the Aegean 600 and then again line honours in the more recent Middle Sea Race with Will Best navigating and race captain Chris Sherlock. These wins were straight out of the box after a major refit including a new deck from Baltic, mast from Southern Spars, elliptical rigging from Carbo-Link, PLC from Olectric and new A+T instruments.

A+T Instruments
Main image: Velsheda on the way to winning the Palma Superyacht Cup in June 2023 with an upgraded A+T wind sensor and BFD displays.

The previous A+T system was upgraded to a full Ethernet bus, a full rack of the colour big format displays (BFD) on the mast and the latest processor from A+T, the ATP2X. This provides full two way connectivity with the PLC using Modbus for a wide range of sensors and sailing information. More importantly this new range has a user-programmable layer using the Node-RED open source software to allow the custom generation and manipulation of new variables without compromising the underlying strength of the A+T standard platform that is so important for a boat which does long deliveries and trans-oceanic racing.

Over the winter of 2022-23 Velsheda upgraded her wind instruments with the new super rapid response A+T wind sensor and at the same time fitted BFD displays to her existing WTP/CANbus system. Under navigator Grant Simmer, Velsheda won her first regatta at the Palma Superyacht Cup again straight out of the box. Captain Barney Henshaw-Depledge was very pleased, stating that ‘these displays were very well received by all – especially the owner, great purchase and thank you to A+T’.

The BFD can respond to context switched data from Expedition or can have this user-set into the displays themselves; thus showing separate pages for pre-start, upwind, reaching and downwind configurations.

Somewhat smaller, the TP52 Red Bandit, formerly Freccia Rossa, has been upgrading her tired B&G H3000 system over some time to A+T instruments and new wind sensor. Led by IT specialist and navigator/coach Marcel Korte, the upgrade was finished last winter.

Early in the 2023 season she won the Giraglia outright with Korte navigating and then finished 3rd in the ORC Worlds. In the Voiles de St Tropez the yacht as Nanoq, for Prince Frederik of Denmark, won her class with Will Oxley navigating. At the end of the season, Korte wrote: ‘We chose A+T for the complete refit. I found that their products are not only industry leading in performance, but incredibly robust and support numerous formats and interfaces. More than that we were particularly impressed by A+T’s outstanding service and support.’

A+T Instruments
The schooner Adix at the finish of one of the Cowes races in the Richard Mille Cup.

Early in the year the magnificent eight-year total rebuild of the 1938 Sparkman and Stephens’ yawl Baruna was eventually finished under the meticulous eye of captain Tony Morse, who is a wooden classic specialist previously running the same owner’s Skylark. This was a total rebuild (see their immaculate Instagram thread) and A+T was proud to have been selected to provide the full suite of instruments and autopilot for the project. Hugh Agnew of A+T has been helping Morse and project manager Chris Savage with commissioning and calibration as this classic gets into its stride of sailing with high level performance information.

Stella Maris, ClubSwan 50, had a great season taking the 2023 European Championship in Mahon and finishing 3rd in the overall ranking for 2023. This yacht, navigated by Gilberto Pastorelli, has a FaRo processor and A+T displays including the BFDs on the mast. After this win Pastorelli praised the technical contributors including A+T, FaRo, Expedition and Sailing Performance. A+T and FaRo have a technical collaboration which allows the FaRo processor to drive all of the rugged A+T displays directly from an Ethernet connection. This is the configuration on the ClubSwan 125 Skorpios.

Highland Fling XVIII, the brand new Gunboat 80 launched in July 2023 with a full A+T Ethernet-based instrument and pilot systems fitted and supported by UK-based Osprey Technical. Again this has the A+T processor linked over Modbus to the yacht’s PLC for exchange of information and allowing for auto depowering of the mainsail at critical heel values.

The whole project was put together by captain Xavier Mecoy who had fitted A+T instruments to the previous Highland Fling XI, now renamed Django. The Gunboat 80 had its first outing in the new multihull class introduced by the IMA at this year’s Maxi Rolex Cup with navigator Andrew Cape and finished a very creditable 2nd place even after counting maximum points for a day they could not start.

A+T Instruments
The maxi Bullitt runs A+T BFDs with a WTP3 system. They won the Middle Sea Race overall and were second across the finish line after Leopard 3, another A+T user.

Cowes Week 2023 was windy and in a heavy gybe Ian Atkins’ Dark N Stormy managed to break her existing vertical mast wand. No problem, boat captain Led Pritchard picked up a new replacement from A+T with the new fast response 500 series wind sensor the same afternoon and went on to win Class 0 overall. Dark N Stormy had upgraded her old B&G system to A+T, keeping the existing sensors and wiring. Congratulations to the owner and to Steve Hayles navigating. This win comes on top of second overall in the Round the Island 2023 and their outright win in 2022.

In June there was spectacular racing on the Solent at the RYS organised Richard Mille regatta. A+T director Hugh Agnew was calling tactics and navigating on Adix, the 65m schooner run by Paul Goss which finished class second in Cowes while Lady Anne, owned by the same family as Adix and navigated by Nacho Postigo won the event overall. Both of these classic yachts have upgraded to A+T using the existing sensors and wiring. This meant that they had the highest level of upgrade and at the same time quick, easy and lowest cost.

All these yachts are using A+T’s new fast response wind sensor. Sam Meredith, A+T’s head of software explains that his modelling shows that the benefits of mast motion correction are tied crucially to how fast the sensor responds compared with the motion period of the yacht. On A+T systems, the user can look at the improvement in live graphing before selecting these corrections. Existing wind wands can be upgraded to A+T as parts are interchangeable.

These yachts join the 500 plus superyachts and raceboats that have fitted A+T and benefit from the quality of their engineering, attention to detail and above all fantastic 24/7 support. Bring on the 2024 season.

A+T has no connection or affiliation with B&G/Navico.

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