Testing the Atlas on a foiling A-cat
As the ship date for the first round of Atlas pre-orders approaches, we are ramping up our on-the water testing and continuing to refine the Atlas. We recently partnered with top A-Cat sailor and US A-Class president Bailey White to test the Atlas on a foiling boat for the first time. The boat’s light weight and fast acceleration (over 20 knots in just a few seconds) were a good test of responsiveness. It was rewarding to see the Atlas deliver real-time performance; validating countless hours of design and engineering.
One of the most exciting and challenging aspects of sailing the A-Cat is its ongoing development. Over the past few years, the class has transitioned from floating “classics” to fully foiling boats. A recent move to decksweeper sails, which bring improved efficiency and a lower center of effort has made foiling more stable, but also requires learning to trim a new sail shape. With these new developments, sailors have to constantly evolve their technique and strategy to stay at the top of their game.
Between test runs, we interviewed Bailey about how the Atlas would fit into his sailing. Bailey is excited about using the Atlas to enhance his training. One of the perennial challenges for any sailor, but especially those in development classes, is the question of sailing in the right mode. Foiling boats can make this question even more difficult to answer. Do you bear off and try to get up on the foils? Is it better to hold the higher angle, even if it’s slower? The differences in speed and angle can be so extreme that it is difficult to judge which is fastest in a particular condition.
On the water, the Atlas can help you find the right mode by displaying velocity made good (VMG). Simply put, VMG is the component of your velocity in the direction of your objective*. The Atlas supports calculating VMG relative to a bearing (e.g. a windshot), to a specific point (such as a mark), or to the true wind direction using a wind sensor (coming soon).
Using VMG, a sailor can quickly try a range of angles, settings, and techniques to uncover which is optimal for a given condition. The upcoming Vakaros Analytics platform will unlock even more potential, thanks to the highly accurate data captured by the Atlas. Sailors will be able to review their data to understand the VMG penalty of a tack or gybe, or the cost of trying to get a boat up on its foils. These tools aren’t a substitute for time on the water, but they can shorten the learning curve by making your practice more effective.
We still have a little more work to do to get VMG fully implemented in the Atlas, and to refine the way in which it is displayed. We’re looking forward to getting back out on the water with sailors like Bailey to put the Atlas to the test.
*Technically, there is a difference between velocity made good with or against the wind (VMG), and velocity made good to a course (VMC). We’ll get into this in more detail in a future blog article, but for sailors racing windward-leewards and trying to find the right mode, the distinction is minor.