The latest instrument package from B&G will appeal to cruisers and racers. Toby Hodges took the B&G H5000 on test on a Hanse 445
B&G is the only company that currently produces a range of instruments specifically designed for sailing. It became clear during two days trialling its new equipment aboard three yachts in Palma that B&G is no longer a name that should be solely associated with racing. Its new range of instrument displays, chartplotters and autopilot systems will appeal to all types of sailor, from cruiser to professional racer.
The three systems of particular interest are Triton displays, Zeus multifunction chartplotters and the new B&G H5000 graphic display. We have highlighted the features of both Zeus and Triton systems before. Many of their sail-specific features are shared and overlap with the H5000 (see sail specific features below). The B&G H5000 helps bridge the racer/cruiser gap.
B&G H5000 display
The most impressive thing about B&G’s latest autopilot display is how easy it is to use. The powerful instrument system is intuitive and has a 5in colour graphic display. It allows users to access deep level menus easily (down to the jacuzzi temperature in the options list). The ability to program the H5000 remotely using any web-enabled browser makes the system even more practical. All the data on the H5000 can be viewed remotely using a tablet or phone.
We used the B&G H5000 graphic display to simulate race starts and calculate laylines to a mark. We were able to control the system easily and wirelessly, calibrate and configure it using an iPad.
At sea the H5000 display can be used as a chartplotter to programme routes or race courses thanks to the clarity of its screen. It is packed with sail-specific features, including dedicated pages such as SailSteer, Startline and WindPlot.
Five keys are used to access all features over eight pages, and five of these pages can be customised.
The H5000 range includes a variety of different processors to suit sailing types. The CPU has three levels of software, including Hydra to suit cruisers and cruiser-racers, Hercules for racers and Performance for large racing yachts and superyachts. These processors can calculate data at up to 50 times the speed of its H3000 predecessors, says B&G. Yet the H5000 is 20 per cent cheaper than the H3000.
A mix of Triton instruments and Zeus plotter instruments will suit cruising sailors. The H5000 Hydra system combined with a Zeus plotter will appeal to cruiser-racers, and the H5000 Hercules is designed for pure racers.
Prices ex VAT: H5000 Graphic Display, £742
A full H5000 system for a 40ft race yacht costs around £10,000 (including Hercules CPU, six displays, wind, speed, depth, heading and 3D Motion sensors and a wi-fi-1 router).
This is a clever visual aid that shows a host of key data on one page. The data is shown in graphic relation to a yacht sailing head-up within a compass rose and wind scale. It can be a lot to process on one page, but once familiar with the format, I found SailSteer to be a powerful aid. The ability to see heading and COG plus the true wind angle (‘T’ triangle) is particularly useful. Basic laylines to a mark/waypoint and a tide indicator are also shown.
Available on Zeus and H5000
This feature shows a clear illustration of port and starboard tacking angles over a chart, plus a sailing calculated ETA to a waypoint. A benefit of this for cruisers is the ability to see when a headland can be cleared. Once a waypoint or mark is entered, laylines can also show the optimum tacking angles. These show historical windshifts as dotted lines. Laylines can be correctly calculated for tides using data from the plotter or instruments.
Available on Zeus
B&G’s Autotack function can pilot a boat automatically through a tack or gybe when linked with an autopilot, wind, compass and speed transducers. It felt odd to witness our Hanse 445 auto-tack its way to a mark using optimum computer-calculated laylines. This, combined with our self-tacking jib, turned us into passive crewmembers. A useful additional feature is the ability to set the desired tacking speed and angle, up to 30º to the apparent wind.
Available on Zeus, Triton and H5000
WindPlot is a graphical plot of mean historical wind data. It clearly shows any oscillations or trends in the breeze, which helps determine whether it has increased, or shifted. Current wind data is also displayed.
Available on Zeus, Triton and H5000.
This is a very useful pre-start race tool for the B&G H5000 system. It clearly shows distance to the line and to each end, as well as any bias advantage and angle. It also indicates how many boat lengths might be gained or lost on that particular tack. Hercules has an additional time to burn option that uses the software’s integrated polar table.
Available on B&G H5000 only (CPU required)
The appeal of B&G’s sail-specific instruments is clear. Some features may appear gimmicky, but the prime functions we have highlighted here add value without increasing cost. B&G’s H5000 autopilot system is now impressively intuitive. The Hydra version has three unique core features: SailSteer, Startline and a web portal. Cruising sailors can have an ETA and wind data clearly displayed on a page within the Zeus chartplotter or H5000 display. The Laylines feature proved useful to avoid overstanding waypoints. For racing sailors, the Startline feature of the H5000 may render the bowman’s pre-start role redundant. The H5000 will suit race boats from 30ft and cruiser-racers from 36ft.