About GoFastHow

GoFastHow is a free Android app and website that lets you record your sailing GPS tracks on the water, and then with one tap on your phone, upload your tracks to our website. Back on land, visit gofasthow.com with your computer to replay and analyze your sailing, your races and more.

Of course GoFastHow can also be used to record GPS tracks for other activities (cycling, hiking, running, motor sports etc) but the website is currently designed with the sailor in mind.

The Android app supports voice output (text-to-speech) of measurements and can display speed, bearing, velocity-made-good (VMG), and angle-made-good (AMG). There is also a real-time graph of speed if you need it.

A little background...

I developed GoFastHow to help me sail my boat faster. I race F18 class catamarans and I needed a really simple app that could give me feedback about my trimming and steering so that I could discover how my boat will sail the fastest course in various conditions.

I looked at other nice GPS and sailing apps that had all sorts of features, but I found them too impractical to use on the water. Being inflicted with the engineer's conceit ("I can build it better"), I naturally set about to build something better.

I needed something really simple... something that I didn't have to fiddle with on the water. I wanted big read-outs and big controls and what's more it had to have voice output, so that I didn't need to look at my smartphone while I'm concentrating on sailing. Just listen to my speed or VMG etc.

In fact, I wanted voice-output so I could wear a waterproof bluetooth headset, and keep my smartphone in a dry place out of the way, while I get updates straight to my ear.

That was the humble start, and like all projects that tease you with their simplicity, this one grew to demand more. Now that I had these GPS points, how could I view them? Well of course... I'll build my own website where I can upload my data with one click, and why not throw in a cool flash app that will playback my tracks and my fellow racers, and all the sailing goodness that I could think of?

Well after many months of tinkering, I now have my app and website. So now when my friends and I are racing or training, we can combine all our tracks in to one view using the flash app on the website and see how and where each of us is sailing faster or slower -- and even get timings around marks and race legs.

Well that is where it stands right now. I plan to continue to build up the features on the website and flash app if there is enough interest. Some of the ideas that I'd like to work on:

  • Adding a 5-minute countdown timer on the smartphone app (so that race start time can be accurately determined). And also to give audible countdown during the last minute, to spare your crew!
  • Virtual racers on the map - If I've sailed several upwind/downwind legs, why not overlay them on the map as if they were raced at the same time? This way I can race against myself if there are no other boats on the water
  • Use handicap during playback - if I'm racing against a boat with a higher rating, I'd like to modify the playback speed of the other boat so that it appears as if we have the same rating. This will make it easier to see where the other boat is actually faster or slower on the course relative to me
  • Show tack times - I'd like to be able to see a report of my tack times for a race -- ie time to achieve same speed on the new tack
  • Create a wind map - if there are enough boats using GoFastHow in a race, it should be possible to calculate average wind speeds and direction (based on all upwind legs) and visualize these on the map with different colors, like a heat map with vectors. This would be very cool.
  • what else can you think of?
I hope you'll find this service useful and will help spread the word. Feel free to send me a note if you have any comments or suggestions. They are always appreciated!

-Kosta Bazos


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