Velocitek ProStart GPS speed and distance timer. The original Velocitek S10 we reviewed back in 2006. This simple GPS based speed and compass enabled small sail boats to see how fast they were and see their heading over the ground. This was accomplished in a single portable device that required no external fittings. You could mount the device anywhere it could be seen. Not all racing classes allowed them, but since the
information it provided was so useful they became very popular.
Since then Velocitek has produced the SC-1 and most recently the Prostart. The Prostart has the advantage of telling you how far from the start line you are, during the start sequence. The Prostart gives you the distance from the line perpendicular to the line.
Operation sail to the boat end of the line and hit the square button on the right hand side of the Prostart, sail to the pin end and do the same with the left button. Now the Prostart knows where the line is. When the 5 minute gun goes, hit the gun button at the bottom and now you have the race timer on top and distance to the line in meters on the bottom.
For example lets say Prostart tells you are sailing 10 meters to leeward of the line and you are in a 10m boat. This means you are I boat length to leeward of the line. A simple calculation using your boat speed lets you find out how long it will take to sail one boat length to the line.
1 knot = 0.515m/second or (1.69 feet/second). Therefore if you are doing 5 knots, it translates to 2.57m/second. To move 10m at that rate would take 3.9 seconds. Hence a 10m boat sailing at 5 knots moves one boat length in 3.9 seconds.
Recently in a keelboat race I found we could not see either end of the line as we had been overlapped by boats to windward and to leeward. To compensate we sheeted in and started to pull up to the boats, but then suddenly we poked out. At the same time the gun went and we were over.
Turns out the boat either side could see the line and how close they were so they slowed down. Had we known our distance we would not have sheeted in. This great example of how the Prostart could help your starts.
The best distance-to-line tool ever. Before Velocitek popularized the technology in 2007, you needed a $10,000 laptop-based system to get accurate distance-to-line measurements.
Now we bring you the ProStart, which is specifically designed, from the ground up, to give you the easiest, most accurate distance to line measurements ever.
Setting the line is as simple as telling your crew to press the boat button as you sail by the RC and then the pin button as you sail by the pin.
Once you’ve pinged both ends of the line, the ProStart uses the latest WAAS-augmented GPS technology to spit out an accurate distance to line measurement every half-second.
A stripped-down features list. We started out by carefully observing how pro sailors use GPS instruments. We kept all the features that the pros were actually using and eliminated everything else. Then we spent 16 months testing and agonizing over every little detail of the ProStart user experience.
After all that, you won’t notice anything too unusual about the ProStart and that’s the whole point. It just works.
Speed & Heading. Focus on the fundamentals. Ten seconds after your start, the ProStart automatically switches to showing your GPS speed (SOG) and heading (COG). The accuracy and responsiveness of the speed measurements make the ProStart an unparalleled tool for optimizing your boatspeed.
Since SOG and COG describe your course over the bottom (where the marks are anchored) the ProStart is also an extremely powerful tool for determining the influence of current on your performance. When you cross a tideline, the numbers on the ProStart jump and you can instantly see how favorable the new current is.
Why no VMG?
A countdown you can count on. Start signals have a way of going off at the least convenient times. With the ProStart, when you hear or see any type of start signal it’s the always the same drill: just hit the GUN button. If the timer isn’t running, it will start. If the timer is running it will sync.
Synced to the wrong signal? No problem; the ProStart lets you independently adjust the number of minutes on the timer while the seconds keep on rolling.
Automatic shift tracking. Spot trends at a glance. The ProStart’s shift tracker locks on to the mean heading for your tack and then shows deviations from that heading with an easy-to-read bar graph.
If you tack or jibe again, the shift tracker detects this, resets the bar graph and locks on to your new tack.
All this happens 100% automatically; you don’t need to press any buttons to make it happen. The ProStart constantly crunches the numbers for you in the background so that, whenever you happen to glance at the instrument, you can see how far you’re up or down.