Is it time to allow digital compass'

Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by pugwash, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. pugwash

    pugwash Member

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    I searched the forum but could not find a good explanation why digital compass' are not class legal. The one thread I found mentioned that the digital compass is class legal in the Fin fleet.

    Seems to me that our fleet could move forward with this change.

    The cost of a Nexus plus fittings is in the same ballpark as a Tacktick micro, kids in particular are used to digital displays not analogue any more. Finally when you sail on other racing boats/dinghys digital tactical compass' are the norm - so it helps transitions between fleets.

    I was planning to buy a Nexus plus fittings but was interested to know what the future holds!
     
  2. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    IMO, No.

    Once you allow digital compasses, you'll get a request (or worse suddenly appearing) for GPS units, wind speed indicators, speedos etc, some of which are built in features of some digital compasses. From a measurers point of view, it's simpler to ban everything than to ban specific items, I really don't want to learn the ability of every piece of electronic equipment, so I know which pieces of equipment do more than the class rules permit.

    The class is meant to be simple, get back to basics sailing, where skill is important. Electronic devices in general, take away the basic skills and gives the person who can afford the best electronic equipment an edge over the competition.
     
  3. Eric_R

    Eric_R D10 Secretary

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    The only electronic device except handheld radios the Lightning class allows is the digital compass. They do have some limits though:

    2) An electronic digital compass with chronograph (timer and/or clock).
    The compass must be entirely self-contained with either an internal battery and/or solar power. The compass shall have no external connection and shall neither provide wind or boat speed nor compute correlations between time and distance.

    The rule seemed to work well. If someone was willing to spend $500 on a Tack Tick that does the compass, tactical compass and countdown, they can when an old fashioned $300 compass does the job just as well.
     
  4. The Unknown Master

    The Unknown Master Member

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    First, a compass IS a digital display - it shows you the bearing in numerical format - it happens that the compasses permitted in the Laser class don't electronically display the number, but it IS digital. If kids can only read numbers displayed electronically and cannot read numbers printed on a compass card, the entire world is in serious trouble.

    Secondly, Alan is very likley right. We would probably get "compass creep." Sailing is expensive enough without having to fork over big bucks for a compass.

    T.U.M.
     
  5. bjmoose

    bjmoose Member

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    It'll be time to re-ask the question when digital compasses are *much* cheaper than magnetic compass card compasses, and the latter become not commonly available and difficult to find.

    Not yet. Guessing between 5 and 10 years out.
     
  6. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    One thing I think the class must address very urgently is to allow digital compasses incorporated into watches (i.e. on your wrist). A high proportion of sailing watches (i.e. with 5,4,1,0 countdown) also include an electronic compass that one's choice of watch is becoming very limited. Of course a compass in a watch is totally useless but disallowing such watches is just daft (and shows how incapable the class is at moving with any times).

    As to the boat mounted ones - I really don't care. When I had a top of the range integrated navigation system (B&G Hercules), with compass, connected to laptop computer with tactical software, etc. (on an 38' Offshore One Design) I never really used it other than to give a numeric heading reading. (Laptop records were interesting to review after the race). I would stick with a traditional spinning magnet compass and would be very happy for others to spend their time pressing buttons on the mast and ignoring their sails and other boats !! But it is their choice. I don't actually know what these modern dinghy electronic compasses include these days but assuming very high functionality then I tend to assume that if somebody cannot tell headers and lifts from a normal compass then an electronic aid is just going to implement a set of rules without consideration to tides, wind bends, wind strengths, location of the lay lines, other boats, etc. - all of which can be part of the tack/gybe or hold-on decision. Thus for the less experienced they probably help little (or even hinder) and for the more experienced are unnecessary - so allow them.

    But the watch situation needs sorting out very urgently and is not really part of the same discussion.

    Ian
     
  7. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    People within the class already try to get illegal equipment past the measurers, why wouldn't they try to get illegal electronic equipment past the measurers. 85-95% of boats do not comply with the class rules currently, mostly through the owners ignorance of the class rules. Why create another area for them to not comply with the class rules?
     
  8. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    The laser is a one design class, it means old boats and new boats are relatively equal. Changing the class everytime someone thinks of something new is not what the class is on about. If you want to sail a class that modifies the rules regularly, I suggest sailing an open/unrestricted design class.
     
  9. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    My comment on watches was more about having a choice of watch. I am very strongly in favor of keeping the class a strict one design but do think that allowing useless compasses that are built into cheap watches to be worn by competitors will not really outmode older boats. Compasses built into watches is not new but becoming very widespread as manufacturers add more and more features.

    On a more general note and from a personal perspective (and outside the subject of this thread) I believe it is critical that the class remain a strict one design and that the class move with the times - and these are not conflicting. This does not mean they have to allow a wide range of gear and performance add-ons. For example, on a commercial basis the class with its pricing structures is very out of date and needs to adapt and be more responsive to the commercial pressures in todays market place. Failure to do this will start to dent the popularity of the Laser. Many other major and minor examples. The class being responsive does not mean losing the strict one design aspects.

    (When I say Class I do not mean just the Class Association but all aspects of control and management of the class).

    Ian
     
  10. Mattcm

    Mattcm Member

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    IMO, regarding price of compasses, I think that once you are thinking about buying a compass you are getting serious about your sailing. Those that choose to get serious will then end up putting more of their money they have into sailing, so IMO I don't think that compass prices should be an issue at the moment. I agree with bjmoose in how when there is a large difference in price changes can be made then.
     
  11. nateowens

    nateowens District 12

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    Hi Digital Compass Salesman,

    Please refer back to the "Should we allow Weatherfax?" posts.

    I hate the idea of a digital compass and the flood of expensive electronic devices that would follow. This class is designed to make only changes to reduce the time needed to rig, increase sailor comfort, or decrease the dollars required to stay competitive.

    Would you really perform better knowing you are 46.51 degrees off the wind? Or that you are running at 95.45 down the start?

    I am, however, very empathetic of the high cost of a Nexus with deck mount. I found a used one on craigslist for more than half off.
     
  12. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    I don't recall seeing a flood of new devices hitting the market after the Tacktick Micro came out. It's basically the only electronic compass that is used by those classes that allow electronic compasses AFAIK

    I think the argument has been made that there are a number of sailors whose eyesight is such that having the big digital number display is their only option.

    In a perverse way, it might be to the builders benefit to allow it. Imagine if they licensed a specific model, acquired the distribution rights and made that the only electronic compass class approved. You might think a Nexus was a bargain then
     
  13. PaulM

    PaulM New Member

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    I think digital has something to do with the method that data is processed and not much association with an actual number. In other words a standard Laser is not and never will be defined as "digital". In the same way that a digital examination for prostate cancer is not that high tech.
     
  14. nateowens

    nateowens District 12

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    Hi Unknown Master,

    No, you are incorrect. There may be children learning to read on this forum and you are obligated to provide them a higher level of education than this. What is the world coming to with Mommy Boats radioing juniors wind readings and shifts from the weather mark and folks slinging false statements on this forum?

    The magnetic compass you are referring to is not digital.

    Digital instruments are discrete. They are countable or signal based. Our compass readings on a digital compass are a finite set between {0,1,2,3... 359} and are bound to increments or steps of ones, tenths, hundreths or thousands, or ten thousands or the degree of accuracy we pay for. We have a countable number of readings. If you have accuracy to the tenths place, your set is {0,0.1,0.2,0.3.... 359.9} then you have 3599 possible values. This is by defination discrete. A Tacktick is a digital compass.

    A magnetic compass is analog. Analog instruments are continuous. Our compass readings on an analog compass can be anywhere on the real line between [0,360). We have an infinite number of readings. A Ritchie is an analog compass.

    Children, furthermore, please do not confuse electronic and non-electonic things as a clear difference between digital and analog. The maritime flags and race signals that we manage races with are digital. Cassette players are analog.

    Now you know.. And knowing is half the battle..
     
  15. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    I 'sort of' agree with Nate, but in defense of us (known and unknown) masters, let me point out

    The output of an analog compass, the cue that we really use when we talk about heading, is a number.

    The technology to get there, the guts of the instrument in other words, can be digital or analog, as others have already stated.
     
  16. Scott B

    Scott B Member

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    I'll add a little to Nate's explanation:

    Actually, the title of this thread is incorrect. It should be "Is it time to allow electronic compasses?" Electronic as opposed to magnetic.

    A compass works by reading (or sensing) the Earth's magnetic field(s). The traditional compass contains a magnet to sense the field. An electronic compass contains something called magneto-inductive technology. A marketing term for electronic devices that sense the magnetic field (as opposed to the magnet.)

    The analog/digital difference is in the internals of how the compass works as opposed to how the information is displayed to the end user.

    Yes, I have glossed over a lot of the technical details, but I hope this explanation is understandable.

    Scott
     
  17. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    Ignoring the sensor technology and readout, maybe the question is, should we allow the additional functionality many of these electronic devices provide (e.g. head/lift indication/angle, etc.).

    I think the sensor/readout is not the issue - which is why I have a real thing about compasses in digital watches where the rules should change as so many digital watches include (useless) electronic compasses.

    Apart from the watch thing, I really don't mind if they are allowed or not. I would probably abstain from a vote so if people want them fine, if they don't fine as well. I used to love the high tech B&G compass and associated systems of my OOD 38' but on a Laser I would stick with the standard spinning disk magnet "tactical" one (whatever it is called). That does not mean I would stop others going hi-tech (though I don't think it would give them much advantage - might mask a few errors they make and might cause a few more and might stop newcomers getting a feel for the wind - but its their choice not mine).

    Ian
     
  18. glexpress

    glexpress Member

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    Depending on the size of the magnetic compass you're talking about the time is now:
    http://www.rockcitymarine.com/ I use one on my Express 27 and love it.

    I'm on the fence regarding if these devices should be allowed on a Laser. Part of me says yes the boats should be simple and it should be up to the sailor and there should be as few external factors as possible. Plus there's a learning curve to new technology.

    The other part of me says the technology is getting cheap, people don't generally win races because of electronic gadgets. Also if everyone had a GPS compass they could track their races and replay their tracks with their competitors, there are many applications of race tracking that are beneficial.

    On a side note I haven't been a Laser owner since 97', but my wife has a Laser and it's making me jealous, I'm going to buy one this afternoon. Just an old 81' to bomb around the cottage with, not for racing (I say that now). But suffice it to say I'm excited to get back onto a Laser!
     
  19. foxy

    foxy Member

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    We had a Tactic that came with our last Star Boat. Loved the countdown timer and the large easy to read display. The lift/header function was distracting and about useless because the apparent wind angles change radically with velocity. Most people I know ignore that feature after the first few times on the water.

    I have the Nexus compass for the Laser and would not go out and buy a Tactic to replace it if the rule changed. However, had the Tactic Micro been allowed when I bought the Laser, I would have bought it because between the Nexus and a Ronstan watch, you have nearly paid for the Tactic.

    If you own and race more than one type of boat, the Tactic is easy to move between boats, so you can just have the one rather than a different one on each boat. That was pretty much the rational behind Snipes finally allowing the electronic compasses.
     
  20. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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