A race log is a great way to record data and information at the end of each race to help continually improve your yacht’s performance.
Logging and analysing data is done in many sports, including sailing. At the upper end of the sport, data analysis leads to small changes with incremental improvements to speed and performance that can be enough to nose your competitor out of a winning position.
This analysis is used to tweak crew weight, sail trim, rig settings and a myriad of other yacht settings, processes and decisions. It can also be used to make improvements to yacht design and sail shape at the upper end of the sport. This technology often trickles down to amateur and production yachts to benefit the average sailor.
At the top end of the sport, data collection and analysis is very sophisticated. America’s Cup competitor Oracle Team USA used 1,000 data points and sophisticated equipment to improve and inform everything from crew athleticism to their next race plan.
If you’re not working on an Oracle-sized budget, your on-board navigation equipment such as Expedition can record data points such as boat speed, apparent wind angle, apparent wind speed, true wind speed, true wind direction, set, drift and more. This provides data that can later be analysed to find potential areas of performance improvement.
If this level of data collection and analysis sounds too complex for your program, a simple race log where you enter wind and weather conditions, sails used, sail and rig settings, crew positions and observations from the day is a simple and useful tool for performance improvement.
Benefits of a yacht race log
You race log provides a simple record of sails and settings for the next time your encounter the same conditions in future races. This information can provide a basis to set-up for those conditions in the future; you can then focus on continually optimising the settings.
Help new crew get up-to-speed by sharing your race logs so they can review some of the observations and settings from your previous races.
Your race log provides a reference to review performance of crew in various positions. This can help you decide who should do what position in a big regatta, or where extra training could come in handy.
You can review your results in various wind and weather conditions, or types of races, to see if there are any conditions where you consistently perform very well or very poorly. This will also provide a guide for areas you should work on to improve your overall performance.
What to include in your race log
You can make your race log as simple of complex as you like depending on what works for your yacht and team. Here are a few things you might want to include:
- Basic race details – date, location, race organiser, race type, format and race name.
- Your results – finish time, elapsed time, corrected time and result for the race (or each race in a regatta).
- Competitor results – you may also want to record results for key (or all) competitors to review how you performed against each.
- Conditions – wind, weather, sea state, currents and tides.
- Rig settings – mast, forestay, backstay, D1 & D2 tension, etc.
- Sail settings – which sails you’ve used, batten tension, barber hauler, car position, cunningham, outhaul, traveller, pole height, etc.
- Crew positions – which crew member did each position and observations about each.
- Performance – speed, pointing, VMG, etc.
- Other observations – issues, general observations, areas of improvement, etc.
- Required training or yacht repairs/upgrades.
How to set-up a race log
There are many simple tools you can use to set-up your race log.
Google sheets, docs or forms are simple, free online tools you can use to record and share your race log with crew.
Interested in an easy and automated way to record and share your race log? MySail is developing a race log that will provide a quick way to record your race observations using information we already have in the system. If you’re interested to learn more or support the development of this feature you can click here to get in touch.