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video cameras for sailing


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I'm looking at getting the Garmin Virb elite action camera to stick out the front of the spinnaker pole to get some GPS tracks and record some sailing action. anyone used one of these? What do people normally use for this sort of stuff? There's videos all over youtube and various forums - have people settled on some common equipment?.

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GoPro for all video and I don't GPS track but it's becoming popular to import these GPS layers to your videos. One of the guys in my Hobie group has recently bought one of the Garmin cameras which I hope to checkout this weekend. Another chap who already has a GoPro bought a special GPS watch and now there's a recording app for Android/iPhone which can do the same thing and be imported over your video files.

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I just use an ALDI elcheapo camera, I figured it was far easier to accept the loss of an under $50 camera if it all went wrong :)


I did however spend a considerable amount of time making a 'rig' to hold the camera....... (a good Saturday arvo)

This 'rig' allows the waves to rock the boat both sideways and end to end as per usual but the camera always remains horizontal....

Biggest advantage is you get to see the angles the boat actually moves through and as a "viewer" of the video your not constantly tilting your head to adjust the screen-shot 


I used an old bathroom towel rail as the boom for the camera ( I had a 6metre length that was doing nothing )

One end is attached to the dolphin striker in a manor that stops the rail from rotating, the shaft then passed through the bridal ring and is simply tied there with a bit of venetian cord as the second and only other supporting point


I then used an old goose-neck fitting and mounted it at the end of the towel rail with pop-rivets.

With another bit of towel rail about 1metre in length I fixed it to the other side of the goose-neck with only about 6inches of the rail being above the longer rail and the rest hanging straight down as a counter weight


A short bit of stainless flat strip about 20mm wide got a quick 90degree bend in it and was then pop-riveted to the top of the verticle  rail, this bit holds the camera....  


I've since added a 6inch long X 1/2inch bolt to the bottom of the small rail to assist in the counter balance of the camera, this slowed the cameras movement down considerably and has made it far more stable video to watch.......



the goose-neck allows the short rail that holds the camera to 'swing' fore and aft and from side to side but doesn't allow it to rotate around the boat.... the mast is always usually close to being in the centre of the shot whether your going straight up a 3metre wave or out on the trap and about to go over.... the horizion is always level.... even when you capsize of go over fully the camera remains right-side up and horizontal





weight reduction....

I have an old surf fishing rod that I keep eyeing off as the main boom for the rig and a fibreglass dome-tent rod that might do for the upright camera mount

The stainless steel goose-neck could also be duplicated from alloy bits


different mounting points....

been toying of a rig that would be off the mast head.... but about 3metres in front of the mast with the camera being underslung from that boom ....

This camera boom idea I also want to be able to attach it to the back of the actual boom and showing a view as if it was filmed from a following boat....


multiple cameras....

I'm keeping a very close eye out at Aldi /Coles etc for additional cheap cameras



As for GPS tracking......

interesting thought, might help actually "seeing" where one goes on the course, but in saying that I usually lay the marks very well as I can see the various wind shifts as they happen .....

A gps would show a strange course sailed but wouldn't allow for a major wind direction change unless it can be combined with a wind direction and strength meter that worked in real time and from your SPECIFIC location.....


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  • 3 weeks later...

The Contour 3 only records 30fps @ 1080 which really is below standards these days. No interchangeable batteries, no Bluetooth, no Wi-Fi - you are paying for what you get. Just to change settings you have to connect it to a PC because it doesn't have a screen. It's actually bigger than a GoPro so if your looking at this price bracket consider buying a GoPro HERO 3 White or Silver.

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No I haven't but probably should I guess ;)


I did them just for a different perspective on how I was 'setting' the sail and my body weight positioning.

I was supprised on how in position "A" it to me felt fast and yet it was actually slow on the vid compared to other moves I made...


As a "training aid", cant suggest anything better, I was shocked at what I saw as being horribly wrong...


Best eyes in the back of your head ;) 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been using low-cost (around $100-$150) cameras for the same reason as Pirate. The technology is changing so fast that buying a $400 piece of kit which you might loose seems a waste of money.


I mount them using a SuckaStickTM - an alumminium broom handle arm that uses suction to stick it to the cockpit side and thus no holes are required in the hull. Cost <$30 using Bunnings bits. See instructions here - although I now stabalise it against the transom bar with a bit of bungee to hold it against some foam padding.


I can particulalry recommend the reviews by Techmoan who gives unbiased and amusing opinions on his video reviews of action cameras.


I started with the SJ1000 which failed after the USB socket broke. So I went on the SJ3000 (because of the remote control and less boxy form factor) but I am now using the SVC200 because of the longer 2h 15min battery life (it uses a Nokia battery) and easy to use on/off switch (it has a remote but you can't use it to turn it on - only pause - grrr).


You can see one of my edits here.


I agree with Pirate it's a really good way for spotting your (many) mistakes. It also helps you to spot issues which you need to resolve  - for example I noticed I was spending far too much time looking at my feet after a tack, trying to get my toes under the hiking straps. So I developed the NoodleRaiserTM device for raising the toe straps up off the tramps.


My next cunning plan is to try one of these - a 3650 action cam mounted on top of the mast (once somone produces a cheap version!).


You can also use the video for analysis alongside the RaceQs 3D replay of your track using the GeoVids plugin like this.


RaceQs doesn't need a GPS (although you can upload a track from a GPS) as there's an App for iphone/android which also gives heal and yaw information.


However, I wouldn't bother with buying a GPS enabled camera for producing tracks as SmartPhones have one built-in and can be used for the many sailing Apps such as iRegatta, RaceQs, iTackTic etc (I've reviewed many of them for Weta owners here). All you need is a waterproof case (e.g. LifeProof) - or even a sealed container as RaceQs will log track and performance data when stowed.

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