Thursday, January 26, 2012

6 Reasons I Need This Gadget

As I was closing out my account at the shop at the Laser Training Center in Cabarete on Saturday, feeling mentally and physically exhausted after four days of Laser training and a one day regatta, my head still spinning with all the tips on the finer points of Laser sailing I had picked up over the week from head coach Rulo and assistant coach Colin, I noticed that one of the European sailors who had been on the clinic, actually one of the best sailors there last week, was buying one of those nifty Sail Pro onboard video cameras and a carbon rod for stern mounting it on his Laser. Hmmm. So that's what the good guys are buying these days to get even more gooder, I thought.

I didn't buy one for myself. I thought it might be ridiculously expensive. I thought it was probably only worthwhile for the really good guys looking to be even more gooderer. But since returning home I'm not so sure. I've been doing a bit of research online and am beginning to think I should treat myself to this camera. Here are Six Reasons Why Tillerman Needs a Sail Pro Video Camera.

1. I do a lot of training by myself. With this camera I could record my own clumsy attempts at Laser boat-handling and compare it with video of how the experts do the same maneuvers from the Advanced Laser Boat Handling DVD made by my friends in Cabarete, spot the differences, and then work on them.

2. I learned last week that sometimes a video is the only way to convince yourself that you are making mistakes in your boat handling. I thought I was doing some things right, only to be quickly disabused of that notion when Rulo showed me (and all the other students on the clinic) video of exactly what I was doing wrong.

3. According to the Laser Training Center website, this onboard camera package was actually developed by Rulo after he became frustrated with the performance of 26 other different cameras. It certainly sounds as if he has come across most of the potential issues with such cameras and found solutions for them.

4. There is a stern mount that is custom designed to fit the Laser.

5. The examples in the videos (like the one below) certainly suggest that it gives an excellent view of all the actions of the Laser sailor, better than you would even see from a video taken from a coach boat.

6. I could always post a bit of video of my own sailing on the blog one day if I can't think of anything else to write about.

The price is $380. About two thirds of the price of a new class-legal Laser sail. Or, I am somewhat ashamed to admit, only about twice my total tab at the EZE Bar in Cabarete last week.

But is there anything else that I can buy that will cost less than $400 which would help me to improve my Laser sailing as much or more than this camera would?


my2fish said...

do it. do it.

I have the GoPro Hero HD, which takes sweet videos, but it doesn't come with that slick stern mount.

I'm already looking forward to your videos!

my2fish said...

btw, Sailing World Magazine just had an article comparing (6) different cameras, including the SailPro - check it out: Shoot to thrill

Tillerman said...

Yes, my2fish, I saw that article.

Sailing World didn't rank the cameras or nominate one as the best. They were pretty positive about the Sail Pro, confirming many of the benefits claimed on the site I linked to in my post.

The only negative they mentioned was that it was sometimes difficult to know if it was really recording because the little red and green indicator lights on it were hard to see in bright sunlight.

my2fish said...

Tillerman, I don't subscribe to the magazine, but happened to pick it up at the airport today (it had that nice article about Laser sailing up in the mountains, and the waterproof camera article I wanted to read).

FWIW, the GoPro is also kind of hard to get it to turn on and record the video - there are only 2 buttons and no LCD screen (although I think you can now purchase that for additional cost).

with that stern mount, will you be able to turn the camera on/off while out on the water? or will it be turned on at the beach, and off when you get done for the day?

that is the other thing - you'll end up with hours of video footage, which might be interesting to you for coaching purposes, but is often pretty difficult to edit down into a short 2 to 3 minute video to post online.

I'd still recommend you get one, though!

Tillerman said...

My guess is that it's not at all practical to stop and start recording a camera mounted on a rod off the stern of a Laser like that. My plan would be to turn the camera on just before leaving the beach and then leave it going until I return or the battery runs down. Supposedly the battery life while recording is 2.45 hours which should be plenty of time.

According to the blurb, the camera "auto saves and edits the files every 5 minutes. This allows users to easily access the segment of the video of their interest without having to watch the entire video."

O Docker said...

I've got a gaggle of cameras, but still haven't talked myself into getting one of these.

The GoPro has been around for a while, and is a solid product, but the SailPro is starting to look better for use on the water. One difference is the SailPro itself is waterproof, while the GoPro needs a housing (that's included with the camera), so the SailPro seems less prone to fogging up.

There's a nice thread about the differences on Sailing Anarchy.

I think the real reason you want this is to keep up with the techno-savvy urban hipster bloggers who got invited to the Volvo race. But you could also use it to convince people, once and for all, just how easy it is to jibe a Laser.

Not that any of us ever doubted.

If nothing else, the video would be a plus for blog posts. Instead of wasting hours hammering out finely crafted prose, you could waste hours editing blurry video.

Noodle said...

Yes Tillerman, - a Speedpuck. It is only USD339,-

Baydog said...

Shouldn't the beer can on a stick be out in front of the boat?

Tillerman said...

O Docker, I do have some ideas for keeping up with the "techno-savvy urban hipster bloggers" but this isn't one of them. It is genuinely driven by my delusion that there must be some way I can be a gooderer Laser sailor.

Noodle, good point. I have been tempted by the SpeedPuck. Maybe I should get both?

Tillerman said...

Baydog, judging from the sample videos in the Sail Pro ad it looks as if it is only Optimist sailors who carry the beer can on a stick in front. There's a moral there somewhere.

Patrick said...

Maybe an actual real beer can on a stick out front would make you faster. It would be a lot cheaper, too.

Tillerman said...

Patrick, there is always a can (or bottle) of beer that is (metaphorically) ahead of me when I am sailing.

For the record the Sail Pro camera may look a little like a beer can in the photo on this post. But it is really much smaller, about 3.5" long x 1.2" diameter. A 12 oz beer can is 4.5" high X 2.4" diameter.

Jon said...

BTW GoPro has come out with a Hero2 camera in the last 2 months that addresses many of the issues noted in the comments above. It still only has 2 buttons, but the LCD screen is no longer cryptic and there are lights on all sides to tell you it is recording. I haven't had the Hero2 out for a day of Laser sailing yet, but I'm expecting it to work the same 3 1/2 hours plus of continuous recording and I'm looking forward to the even better quality of the new glass lens in it.

Tillerman said...

O Docker, I just got around to following your link to the Sailing Anarchy thread on this topic. It is indeed a "nice thread."

I thought that the suggestion to a Sail Pro user that "You're obviously a shill, it's not fucking difficult to figure out," was especially nice, and the invitation to the same user to "show us some tits or fuk off!!" was really nice.

O Docker said...

Yes, I agree.

I thought, for Sailing Anarchy, that was a helpful and jovial exchange.

Tillerman said...

My point exactly.

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