Race sponsor Raymarine helps competitors to race as fast and as safely as possible thanks to on-board technology and help from some of the country's leading meteorologists

years ago, competitors in the very first Round the Island Race would probably
have checked the barometer at home to see if the pressure was rising or
falling, kept an eye on the sky and clouds to see what the wind was doing, and
relied on local navigational knowledge to determine the fastest and safest
route around the Isle of Wight.

today’s competitors have the benefit of some of the country’s leading
meteorologists and on-board technology from race sponsor Raymarine to help race
as fast and as safely as possible in the 80th J.P. Morgan Asset
Management Round the Island Race, taking place on Saturday 25th June


the last eight years the Raymarine Weather Briefing, which takes place on the
eve of the race, has brought the expertise from some of the country’s top
sailing meteorologists to the competitors.  Presenters have included Volvo Round the World race
weather expert and local Isle of Wight resident Chris Tibbs, and Libby
Greenhalgh, who is Met Office trained and is the Royal Yachting Association’s
Olympic squad weather forecaster.

World renowned meteorologists


This year, Libby Greenhalgh, will
be taking a break from her work with the RYA’s Olympic squad to once again
present the latest weather and tidal information live to competitors at 18.00
on the eve of the race at the Island Sailing Club. Raymarine are also offering
competitors in this special anniversary race the expertise of Dr Simon Keeling,
author of ‘The Sailor’s Book of the Weather’, BBC and internationally renowned
TV and radio presenter, and member of the Royal Meteorological Society. Dr
Keeling will spend the three days prior to the race recording and broadcasting
key weather and safety tips from the Island, available to competitors via SMS
and from the Raymarine website. As
well as building up the big picture ahead of the race, these broadcasts give
useful information about tidal data and weather, which is equally crucial for
first time competitors and experienced racers.


the majority of boats competing in the race fitted with modern electronics,
competitors can integrate the weather and tidal information provided at the Raymarine
Weather Briefing into their on-board navigation systems to give them up to the
minute data as they race around the Island.


Ensuring safety whatever the challenge


Raymarine has been the market leader in developing technology which, for nearly
forty years, has helped keep boaters safe at sea. This now includes thermal imaging cameras used for night
vision and easy identification and location of other hazards in poor
visibility; LifeTag man overboard systems which alert the skipper if a crew
member has fallen overboard with a position location; and Digital Selective
Calling (DSC) VHF radios which act just like a mobile phone for communications
between vessels and shore, as well as incorporating an automatic function which
transmits a Mayday emergency call with the vessel’s GPS position, should
emergency assistance be required.


World War II technology goes HD


almost every boat over 25 feet (7.6 metres) will have radar on-board. But in 1931 when the first Round the
Island Race took place, radar technology was in its infancy. Its development was accelerated
enabling radar to be used by the military during the 1939-1945 World War, and
it was soon commonplace on military and commercial vessels. It was not until 1991 that Raymarine,
known as Nautech at that time, broke new ground in developing the first radar
for leisure boat owners. This
revolutionised safety for leisure boaters, enabling them to see vessels,
shorelines and other hazards for up to 12 nautical miles. Today, Raymarine’s radar technology
includes Super HD Digital radar, which automatically processes and displays
targets in ultra-high colour clarity on a Raymarine multi-function display
(MFD) screen.

Staying ahead through integration


MFD units form the hub of the modern boat’s electronic systems, with radar,
chart plotters, and instruments all feeding into the MFD to be displayed on
screen. The concept of integrated
technology has been fundamental to Raymarine’s success following the launch of
their very first product – the tiller pilot – in 1974. Within a few years, this steering
device integrated technology in a way never seen before, enabling sailors to
set the steering to automatic, giving them much needed support while at sea so
they could rest or carry out other activities on board.


the 1970s and 80s progressed, navigation equipment remained limited. Any
technology used on-board – from a log (which was a trailing line attached to a
spinner to record distance) through to a compass or rudimentary wind direction
instruments – were separate and ‘stand alone’. Then in the mid-1980s, Raymarine
began integrating autopilots,
including tiller pilots, to compatible navigation receivers, such as GPS and
Long Range Navigation (LORAN) radio transmitters, as well as direct connections
to wind direction sensors. In 1989 Raymarine launched Seatalk, a system which
enabled Autohelm instruments, Autopilots and GPS to share information in a much
simpler but more intelligent way than before.  In 1992
Raymarine once again broke new ground with the Autohelm ST2000, an updated
tiller pilot that used the SeaTalk system to access wind information,
enabling it to have an automatic ‘steer to wind’ function, and to receive
navigational data, which enabled the pilot to be set to sail to a specific
waypoint or place.


Sat-nav systems for boaters


development of the communication protocol, SeaTalk, was the turning point for
modern marine leisure electronics, and soon Raymarine started to develop
integrated instrument systems that offered universal data on each screen but
with local control. Information
was shared through a system backbone, and each screen could be customised to
display or repeat data. In the
early 1990’s Raymarine (by then known as Raytheon) launched its first electronic
charting system which used GPS to display the vessel’s position against an
electronic version of the traditional paper chart.


today everybody takes for granted the ease and simplicity of using an in-car
satellite navigation system, the introduction of electronic chart plotters
meant that boat owners were already benefiting from this technology back in the
1990’s. The launch of the
electronic chart plotter and the availability of world charts revolutionised
leisure boating giving sailors accurate positional awareness at a glance and
offering enhanced safety while at sea.
By using a chartplotter with GPS satellite navigation, boaters could
plan routes electronically, and see their progress on the chart at all
times. Global electronic charts
now offer 3-D data, panoramic views of ports and harbours, and even useful
on-shore information such as locations of services including hospitals, banks
and restaurants, while touch screen technology makes passage planning quick and


Ultra high clarity colour screens enable vessel tracking


in 2011, Raymarine’s suite of navigation, communication and safety products are
integrated into ultra high clarity colour touch screen multi function displays,
which process and show all the data required on a single screen in a multiple
of formats as determined by the user – single screen, split screen or several
displays side by side. One of the
latest technologies available – and one that will be used by both competitors
on the water and shore-based organisations – is Automatic Identification System
(AIS). This easy-to-install ‘grey
box’ receives data which displays the location and identification of boats
around you on the MFD screen. This
can be overlaid against chartplotter or radar data, and when racing,
effectively provides skippers with a tracking device to follow other
boats. From a safety point of
view, it also shows the course, speed and direction of all the larger vessels
in crowded shipping lanes, such as the Red Jet and Red Funnel ferries and the
container ships and cruise liners coming and going from the Port of


the anticipated 1600 plus boats participating in this year’s 80th
anniversary J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, all
competitors, spectators, race organisers and even visitors to the Island can be
grateful for today’s modern technology that helps keep people safe while at
sea. This, combined with the
latest up to the minute weather briefing, helps ensure everyone gets the very
best from the day’s race.