Who’s it for? Racing sailors, from tacticians on crewed race yachts to sportsboat and dinghy racers. Tested by solo racer Henry Bomby

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Pros:

  • • Robust, chunky unit with solar panel on top
  • • Large backlit digits
  • • Remembers upwind reference angles to calculate windshifts
  • • Useful start countdown feature

Cons:

  • • Can be a bit distracting
  • • Expensive
  • • Not allowed in some classes

Product:

Velocitek Shift tactical compass

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£560.00
This product is featured in: GEAR: Calypso portable ultrasonic wind sensor.

The Velocitek Shift is an interesting new product that can help make the decision about when best to tack. It uses changes in compass heading to let you know if you are headed or lifted. A bit like using a machine to count cards in a game of blackjack, this saves mental calculations or the need to write numbers down on the deck or in your wet notes.

See the official video

It is designed to help make the often-complex job of a tactician that little bit easier. It does require a bit of set-up time, but crucially once you are up and running all you have to do is glance at the display during racing to access all the windshift information you need.

The Shift uses a nine-axis solid-state sensor to provide three-dimensional orientation for the boat and produce responsive compass numbers. It is a robust, standalone display, with chunky buttons and large, backlit digits, which is available with several mounting options.

I found that the Shift gave me the confidence to take smaller gains and cut my losses earlier. And it really comes into its own when you are distracted by other things and aren’t fully concentrating on tracking the wind – which can often happen when sailing a Figaro solo!

On windier days, for example, when it can be easy to forget the numbers because getting round the course and executing manoeuvres is much more of a priority, I found having the Shift to inform me of a lift or header on an easily viewed display a huge bonus.

I did find the device a bit of a distraction at first, but if you and your crew get used to racing with a Shift week-in week-out I believe it would become highly valuable. The set-up process alone is helpful, as it requires you to sail upwind for a few minutes on each tack to evaluate mean upwind compass headings. And the start countdown is a useful additional feature.

 

 

Verdict

The Shift is not cheap, and for keelboat or dinghy sailors it could be a cost too far. But for a crewed yacht with a dedicated tactician on board, it is definitely something I’d recommend.