App takes guesswork out of laying courses

An idea that two friends have been working on to make it easier for race officers and support boats to lay race courses has been called a “game-changer”.

Alex Amsler and Rob Cleghorn have developed Buoy Zone, a mobile app which allows race officers to set exact courses and takes the guess work out for support boats. The race officer plugs a course into the app, which is then shared with those in support boats to travel to a marked spot using Google maps.

The Buoy Zone app can be found on all android and apple phones and is free to download. 

“Both Rob and I have had some interesting challenges when helping to lay some courses,” Amsler said. “We kept seeing how painful it could be from a race officer's perspective when they were trying to direct people, usually volunteers, to an imaginary place that was unreferenceable. That was the seed for the idea.

“We created an app that can be used by both race officers and support boats and the technology it uses is as good as it gets in terms of how it's engineered. It's cutting edge and very accurate.”

Cleghorn is the chief of engineering and Amsler a client development manager at ClearPoint and the pair, who are both sailors, started working on the idea more than two years ago. It's been in operation for about one year and is something that has already been utilised by race officials at the last two 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 world championships as well as this year's CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week.

“We didn't tell anyone about it,” Amsler said. “They picked it up all on their own. The race officers found it so useful they were talking about it themselves. It all happened organically.

“We could see the traffic [on the app] during last year's 49er worlds and that was a big moment for us. The feedback has been awesome and some race officers have said it's a game-changer for them.”

The app is presently available in only New Zealand and Australia, with about 25-30 clubs already using it, but Amsler said they had plans to eventually expand internationally. They're not aware of any other race management app that offers anything similar.

Amsler and Cleghorn also have plans to add other features to make it even more effective for race management but also something coaches and sailors can use as a teaching and developmental tool. And they're always open to feedback and new ideas, which you can do by emailing

See here for more information on Buoy Zone or download the app from your app store.


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