Participants in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers share their opinions on autopilots and self-steering in Yachting World’s annual gear survey

Ahead of ARC 2013, We take a look at the performance of the autopilots and self-steering aboard last year’s fleet.

Only two of the 20 boats that used windvanes relied solely on the vane gear. The remainder doubled up to join the 171 dedicated autopilot users, bringing the fleet total to 189 autopilots.

Of the 189 autopilots carried, Raymarine dominated with 124 units. The next in line, Simrad, was
almost 100 units behind with 26. B&G were third with 20 units and Furuno fourth with just five units.

See how competitors rated their systems below:

While experiences varied across different systems, there are trends within brands. And, as a whole, 67.9 per cent of respondents were impressed with their autopilots for ease of use, reliability and value. 


While the majority of comments about Raymarine’s system were positive, 24 of its 124 users reported issues: four with control units; seven with course computers; and 13 with drive units.

What the ARC sailors said:

On Oyster 42 Oystermist they noted their 1998 ST6000+/300/linear set-up was “reliable, but old with no gyro, so slow to react to waves, but coped OK”. Malo 46 Coco-de-Mer stated simply: “Very impressed, 4,500 miles”.


All users of this system reported it as either good or ok, putting it top of our satisfaction table. But the very low number of scored units can more easily influence one way or another, so beware.

What the ARC sailors said:

Amel 54 Poespas skipper said about his Navpilot 511/PG500/Hydraulic system “Great, even in following seas, used 99.9 per cent of crossing.” Koopman 48 Stormvogel, with a Navipilot700/Hydaraulic set-up, was the only Furno boat to award ‘OK’ across the board.


Just 11 of the 20 B&G owners commented on their system, but all bar two were positive. One boat had issues with a drive unit on its H3000 system, while another with an unspecified B&G setup found the system sometimes lost its course.

What the ARC sailors said:

Bestevaer 65 Classic Lady Ann, with an unspecified set-up said: “Problem solving is up to us. Loses its course sometimes and takes us by surprise. Resetting solves the problem usually.”

Meanwhile, Dufour 45 Patience said their H3000/Linear system was “extremely good in heavy downwind conditions”.


Seven of 26 users of Simrad reported issues: four with control heads, two with drive units and
one with a course computer.

On Savage 42 Sundancer II , with a AP42 course computer feeding to an AP24 control head, they said: “Software updrage needed if I should tell it where to go.” But they scored the system mostly as ‘Good’ despite that “service was poor”.

Malaika said of its AP25/AP40/Hydraulic arrangement: “Excellent, even in 50 knots of wind.”

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