The technology to provide performance information in a wireless format is not new, with on-deck display units introduced over a decade ago. The lack of cabling needed vastly reduced the hassle, expense and complication of installation, and broadened the range of boat sizes and types that could take advantage of this technology.
However, Vakaros’s new Atlas 2 is pushing this field forward. Even greater is the accuracy and utility of this information due to new generation sensors that can reduce uncertainties to the scale of centimetres rather than metres and fractions of a degree. Atlas 2 achieves this with dual band L1 + L5 GNSS reception, where signals are corrected for both ionospheric error and reducing multi-path interference that can compromise accuracy. The positioning signals are from a constellation of sources: GPS, Galileo, GLONASS and BeiDou systems.
The fast update rate of 25Hz is a 40 per cent improvement over previous systems with an unprecedented positional accuracy of 50cm, making the system relevant for even small sport boats as well as superyachts.
Other new sensors are also delivering improvements. The built-in magnetic sensor is able to resolve heading changes as small as 0.1° being four times more sensitive than the previous technology. Moreover, the display’s readings are steady in even the roughest conditions due to gyro stabilisation, an advanced motion fusion algorithm and adjustable damping.
The accuracy of the compass is critical because if you don’t know what your heading is, everything else it tells you is wrong. And reference angles in the display allow you to recognise shift patterns so no favourable shift is missed.
Other key features of the Atlas 2 system are the innovative ways to display, compile and share the data collected from the racecourse. The user interface is adaptable to suit your needs, with any combination of widgets available in the Layout Builder tool to be most efficient in customising the Atlas 2 experience. This is a useful feature when changing legs on the course and different information is needed to assist in optimising performance.
Another important feature is that the data gathered while the unit is on is not just put on display and forgotten, but recorded in data logs that can be later retrieved for analysis and review.
This is invaluable both for refining what worked or did not work on the racecourse for techniques, sail trim or rig settings in a competitive one-design environment, or for refining polars needed to evaluate performance versus rating when racing under IRC or ORC handicaps. This valuable info can also help the astute tactician unravel the mystery of knowing how the team is faring among competitors while competing in corrected time space.
The ability to share data is also built in to Atlas 2 to help in constructive collaboration with coaches and/or team mates. The information does not have to be the sole purview of the afterward, but spread amongst other members of the team for a more cooperative and even congenial experience.
Lastly, worries about battery life are becoming a thing of the past with the advances in battery technology. The Atlas 2 not only has wireless charging but comes with a battery that lasts for 100+ hours of normal use: that’s over four days. Forgetting to charge nightly for a week-long regatta is now not a problem, as is most distance races on most boats.
And if the battery ever does run down, a 20 minute charge over breakfast will last an entire 10-hour day on the water. The oversized Lithium Ion Polymer battery has capacity to spare, capacity used to intelligently maximise charging cycles while delivering best-in class battery life. Because you’ll want to use it for years to come.
While Atlas 2 is a great value compared with wired instrument systems, there is an alternative for budget-minded programmes that may not need the full features and functionality: Atlas Edge.
Still impressively accurate, Atlas Edge has a three-axis magnetometer, three-axis gyroscope and three-axis accelerometer to provide position, velocity, heading, heel, and pitch data logged at selected rates of two, five or 10Hz. Data storage is 256 MB and the same 100+ hours of battery life applies.
A clever aspect of the Vakaros ecosystem is offering not only their hardware but varying levels of support from their team to maximise the customer’s needs at a level beyond the usual tech support we’re accustomed to with all our other digital devices. This makes Atlas 2 and Atlas Edge a good choice for all levels of competitors: club racers to Olympians to competitive big boat sailing stars.