Aside from being the boss of UK Jeanneau importer Sea Ventures, Nigel Colley is also an active shorthanded racing sailor on his Sun Fast 3200 R2 Fastrak XI and director of racing at the Solo Offshore Racing Club. This growing breed of shorthanded racers are highly reliant on the accuracy of the systems onboard and the ability of those systems to drive the autopilot with maximum efficiency.
This picture: Colley leaves the helm to the autopilot on his much -travelled Jeanneau 3200 while he accesses his Zeus3 system via the water resistant touchscreen to manage everything from basic navigation to laylines and wind shift trends to monitoring approaching traffic on the integral AIS
Fastrak has twin rudders and a single pilot ram is connected to the rudder link bar along with a rudder reference unit. This is the same set-up that went around the world on several boats (including Hugo Boss) in the recent Vendée Globe, albeit the much more powerful Imoca 60s have an additional ram hooked up as a reserve.
In addition to the displays (more later), Fastrak XI has twin B&G H5000 pilot controllers. These feature smaller monochrome screens and more physical controls, buttons for Standby and Auto, steering left or right in 1° or 10° increments plus Mode and Menu.
The pilot has five modes: Heading (to a compass course), Wind (steering to true or apparent wind), Nodrift (keeps the boat on a fixed bearing, but compensating for drift), Navigation (steering to a waypoint) and Non Follow-Up where the autopilot is simply used for push-button steering. Read on.
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