A recent conversation I had on Twitter
Conrad: Thanks for the follow Rob! Why does the Steersman trump an autopilot?
Steersman: Because it doesn’t drain the batteries. It uses the wind pressure in the foresail to steer the boat.
Conrad: How much control have you got over it? Or is it the kind of system where you set and forget?
Steersman: Set and check occasionally. The Steersman follows the wind, so needs adjusting when the wind changes course or strength.
Conrad: Ahh, so it’s based on apparent wind, so helming a course wouldn’t happen?
Steersman: Yes that’s right. The Steersman sails to the wind. To sail a compass course, set an ‘off course’ alarm on the SATNAV; then simply re-set the sails and the Steersman when necessary. No need to touch the helm by the way. This ensures you are sailing at the fastest speed for the conditions. Much more efficient than blindly following a compass course with an Autopilot.
Conrad: That’s certainly understandable. Why would racing boats not choose to have the system aboard instead of an autopilot? I guess weight?
Steersman: Good point, but I’m afraid I don’t have an answer. It could be the weight.
Conrad: Fair enough! Would be interesting to do a comparison.
Steersman: Yes, it would. And my money will be on the Steersman every time. Not that I’m prejudice or anything.
Conrad: HaHa! Good luck. 🙂