Jonathan’s Blog 27th May

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Pwllheli Sailing Club

I sailed for many years in the Irish Sea offshore racing Association and it was a pity that the interest in regular offshore racing events dwindled during the 1990s. It is therefore very exciting to see the ISORA offshore racing events restarting. The first offshore race this year was on Saturday, 14 May and the racing was a fantastic opportunity to see offshore racing at its best. The forecast was 4 to 5 north-westerly wind and there was a 40 mile course set which tested all the sailors. The next ISORA race will be the Pwllheli to Wicklow race on Saturday, 28 May and I know that all the sailors in Pwllheli are looking forward to the party in Wicklow after the racing.

International wot-tac

We have recently sent out 20 wot-tacs to Slovenia for a distributor of velocity products in that country. There’s quite a lot of sailing in Slovenia and I hope that the dinghy sailors and keelboat sailors in that country will find the wot-tac as helpful as sailors in the United Kingdom.


There’s been a lot of talk in the press in the last couple of days about the Olympic tickets. I read that one man had ordered £36,000 worth on his credit card. He obviously has a much bigger credit limit that I have. The best events for the Olympics stadium will obviously be very popular. I hope that the sailing in Weymouth will be just as popular as some of the main events.

Poor starts

One of the inspirations that led to my inventing the wot-tac was the problem of knowing where the bias of the start line lies. If the bias is minimal it can be difficult to judge where the start line can be if the winds are strong and the fleet is milling around the start line. Every sailor knows that being on board a dinghy or keelboat preparing for the start is exciting. So the last thing that a sailor wants is to be unduly worried about whether start line bias may lie. I know that I used to spend some time assessing the wind conditions from the dinghy or keelboat I was sailing, then plan for the beat up to the windward mark only to find that I had misjudged the start line bias. Invariably I was sailing too close to the committee boat or too close to the pin end of the start line and I would watch as other boats would sail away ahead of me. And then of course there would be a wind shift.

So I wanted to avoid the situation where my race had gone wrong even before I had started. I wanted to be enjoying my sailing, enjoying racing and of course winning races.

I know that a lot of sailing depends upon years of experience in racing dinghies and keel boats and knowing how different conditions affect different boats. It’s crucial however to recognise that if you are in an awkward position its best to try and resolve any difficulties really early.

This is where wot-tac be a great help. The wot-tac will tell you where the start line bias lies. All you have to do is sail to one end of the committee boat start line and take a bearing down the transit between both committee boats which you  can do keeping some distance away from the boats. You no longer have to sail up and down the line to determine where the start line bias may lie. This gives the sailor an enormous advantage in being able to plan the rest of the race before going over the start line. In addition the sailor doesn’t have the hassle and the added stress of starting the race without a certainty of where the start line bias lies. Once you’ve dialled the true wind direction into the wot-tac then the rest is easy. If you use the wot-tac to predict the start line bias it gives you time to prepare for the rest of the race time that could be invaluable in preparing properly. After all every sailor races wants to win and getting over the start line first is the most important part of winning a race, but don’t forget to keep checking the wind direction for shifts.

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wot-tac explained

Using the wot-tac is simple.

  • First, find the bearing of the true wind direction.
  • Second, set the bearing into the dial, which clicks every five degrees and then
  • Move the pointer arm to the same bearing.

wot-tac is ready!

Use it once you’ll never sail without it