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The Best Sail Race Computer - the Velocitek Prostart or the Novasail NS-START.Pro?

by Aleix Escorsell 8 Jul 11:00 PDT
Which is the best sail race computer? © Velocitek and Novasail

Velocitek and Novasail have long been leaders in the sailing electronics industry. This article will compare the flagship race computers from each, the Velocitek Prostart and the Novasail NS-START.Pro to give you an idea of the pros and cons of each and help you to choose the right one for your boat and your racing set up.

The Velocitek Prostart

Velocitek have a clear design ethos - make useful electronic instruments that do exactly what they are supposed to do, simply, without any distraction, and look good! The Prostart is a dedicated 'distance to line' device. It was designed to give you a clear view of your distance to the start line, during the start sequence, at a single glance, updating twice a second, and depicted in large numbers that are easy to read.

The Velocitek Prostart uses its GPS receiver to give you accurate information on distance travelled, speed, and heading information. This information can be viewed on screen but is also logged in the onboard flash memory, which can hold around 1000 hours of sailing data and can be transferred to your PC or Mac afterwards, to be replayed with race tracking software.

The Prostart keeps track of your maximum speed and allows you to track your best 10 second average speeds with the click of a button. The computer is also able to display the influence of currents and it can also be linked to other Velocitek race sensors to provide more detailed wind shift information.

The Velocitek also features a simple to use countdown timer with one button: "Gun"! Hit it at any time and the timer starts. If the timer is already running and you hit the Gun button again, it will re-sync and if you are synced to the wrong sequence you can also manually adjust the number of minutes remaining to the start, without interrupting the seconds timer.

The screen used by the Prostart has a multicolour backlight that can be set to white or red for daytime or night sailing respectively. The black and white daytime setting is designed to be crystal clear, even through polarised sunglasses.

The Prostart only has three buttons for maximum ease of use in high pressure situations. These buttons are big enough to be pressed easily in rough weather, even when wearing gloves.

The Prostart uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery with around 75 hours of standby battery life, 37 hours of battery life when sailing with the white backlight and 55 hours of battery life when sailing with the night time red backlight. It can be recharged using the power cable provided.

A bonded Gorilla glass display case keeps the Prostart splashproof and waterproof to up to 3 meters underwater.

The Novasail NS-START.Pro

The Novasail tactical race computers are designed to accommodate a wide range of sailors. Their highest end device, which is most comparable to the Velocitek Prostart computer, is the NS-START.Pro.

The Novasail NS-START.Pro also features a GPS receiver to provide information on trip distance, GPS heading and maximum speeds. This information can also be stored in the NS-START.Pro memory. The computer can hold 300 hours of data which can be transferred to a PC or Mac via Bluetooth for post-race analysis.

The NS-START.Pro gives you accurate, up to date information on distance to line with bow offset information (the exact distance from your bow to the line) and a "+/-" indicator to show you which side of the line you are on. Dedicated buttons make it easy to store the start line on the device.

The NS-START.Pro also features a countdown timer which allows you to quickly and easily set up a timer for up to 5 minutes, which is great for getting your start timings perfect.

The NS-START.Pro uses an LCD display and is red backlit for night-time sailing. It has two buttons on the front display that are large enough to be pressed in high-pressure situations with gloves on. It uses a single AA battery to give 30 hours of battery life when sailing or transferring data.

The body of the computer is made from a thick rubber ring, made to survive in waters up to 40 meters deep and hardy enough to survive the toughest conditions and wipe-outs.


Velocitek ProstartNovasail START.Pro
GPS Speedo and CompassYesYes
Distance to Line DisplayYesYes
Data TransferVia CableVia Bluetooth
Memory Storage1000 Hours of Sailing Data300 Hours of Sailing Data
Waypoint TrackingYesYes
Speed TrackingYesYes
Count Down TimerYesYes
Display183 x 116 x 33 mm175 x 120 x 40 mm
Battery Life (when sailing)Up to 55hrs (lithium‑ion)Up to 30hrs (1 x AA Included)
PriceMid - HighMid

Both of these sailing computers are a great choice for a wide range of sailors. Both provide great tactical navigational input and are capable of showing you hundreds of hours of your sailing data to help you improve your game.

Choosing the best one for you depends on a number of factors. The Prostart is, without doubt, the more finessed product but that does come at a price premium. The Novasail START.Pro does everything the Velocitek does and comes in a very rugged package, which will appeal to many sailors.

Both the rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery and the single use AA battery options have their pros and cons. A rechargeable battery means you don't need to worry about having extra batteries on board, however, it does mean that you need to remember to charge your device, or use an on board power supply to recharge it, for longer races. The AA batteries used in the NS-START.Pro can easily be swapped out in seconds.

Both the Velocitek Prostart and the Novasail NS START.Pro are available to buy at Upffront - see Compare Race Computers. Alternatively, if you have any questions about electronics or race computers feel free to contact

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