This afternoon I had the incredible experience of crewing on a patrol boat for the last round of the NZ offshore powerboating circuit, keeping anyone who didn't notice the speeding boats away from the course. For those who have not witnessed one of these races, I highly recommend it, there is an amazing sound and power which blasts from the boats as they dance dangerously past. Thankfully we didn't have any problems with either the public or powerboaters today, but while I was out there, I began wondering, what kind of amazing electronic toys have they got in their cockpit to help them keep on course?

 2 boats


In a race series in which the competing teams don't seem afraid to spend a lot of money for the smallest advantage, it truly surprised me to learn that about half of the big class boats don't carry a navigational GPS. The reason for this is obvious, if you aren't 100% sure where you are going with your eyes closed and hands tied behind your back, you shouldn't be going there at 100 MPH. I can only guess that the boats which do use GPS do so to confirm their gut instinct, or for training purposes. If I'm wrong, please leave a comment below! The only electronics which seems mandatory is the Vessel View monitors – used to track the 550hp v8's, tucked just behind the competitors heads, as well as some basic GPS logging. Some of the boats also have rear vision cameras

boat chopper


The same 50% GPS rule applies to the smaller boats (by smaller boat I mean small boat with a MASSIVE engine). About half of the competitors seemed to carry a GPS, but here they are using smaller, lighter hand held GPS's. Every single one was a Garmin, which gives you an idea of the domination of Garmin in the hand held GPS market. Only one or two were mapping capable however, so I suspect they are mainly used for speed tracking rather than navigation.


black boat

Thanks to Tony and Tim for taking me out, and all the competitors who put on a great spectacle. If anyone would like these or any of their photos in higher definition, please email me