For Yachting World, Matt Sheahan reports on how modern autopilot systems can be your best helmsman.
There is a school of thought in the IMOCA 60 world that a good autopilot system is worth sacrificing a few sails for in the overall campaign budget – that’s how big the perceived advantage is for some.
It’s hardly surprising. At speeds that are regularly in the high 20s with sustained bursts in excess of 30 knots, there is much to gain from getting it right and a great deal to lose if you don’t.
At these speeds, the rudder not only alters heading but will behave like an airplane’s elevator: every twitch risks changing the fore and aft pitch of the boat. This is already balanced precariously on the giant foil to leeward and the canting keel fin to windward…