Complex racecourse? Wind shift? Inexperienced mark setting crew? The Race Management team at Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYC) no longer worries about these routine regatta concerns. In just a few short minutes, a trapezoid-course can be relayed and ready for the next start. This little trick that the race management team have up their sleeves is called Buoy Zone.
Buoy Zone was developed by two friends from New Zealand, Alex Amsler and Rob Cleghorn, who saw how painful it could be, from a race officer’s perspective, when trying to direct volunteers to an imaginary un-referenceable place using complex GPS devices. They created an app that is simple and intuitive to use, and that makes mark laying fast and accurate—even for inexperienced volunteers!
RHKYC began using Buoy Zone in 2021. Two years later, it is now an almost-indispensable tool when running a complex racecourse. Buoy Zone is a visual method of setting a course, allowing everyone to see the course on the water, and allowing the Race Officer to change it quickly to match the wind conditions. Instead of specifically briefing each mark setter, Buoy Zone provides a visual guide to where they should drop their marks, with bearing and distance on-screen. All “logged-in” boats also appear on screen, so everyone knows where everyone else is.
How does it work?
STEP 1: The race officer creates a course from scratch or uses a previous designed club-template.
STEP 2: Out on the water, the race officer checks the wind direction and speed, and uses that information to fill in the details regarding course type, course axis, course length, mark types, length of start line and more.
STEP 3: The race officer shares the course with support boats. The support boats can see the course on a map, navigate to a specific mark and zoom in on the map and see exactly where to lay their mark, or tap on a mark for real-time compass direction and distance.
STEP 4: Wind shift? The race officer fills in the new course axis and course lengths and republishes the course. Instantly all support boats can see the new mark positions and relay them in just a fraction of the time it used to take.
No more sandwich time for sailors while they wait for the RO to recalculate everything!