Best Sailing Racing Electronics

Best Sailing Racing Electronics | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

July 5, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Sensors and other fancy LCD screens can help track important data while sailing
  • This access to crucial data can help make informed decisions while racing
  • The accuracy will be tested but you can be very close to the wind and boat speed
  • Various technology can give you the ability to remain safe on the water
  • Consider factors like a budget in order to find the best racing electronics for you

Electronics on a sailboat can make life easier and more convenient. But what are the best sailing racing electronics?

The best sailing electronics for racing are the Airmar DST, Dometic Steering Actuator, and the Garmin Quatix Marine Smartwatch. Other electronics racers can utilize while sailing include the Raymarine Axiom, Garmin GPSMAP, and QWORK Battery Monitor.

In my experience, it can be easy to overwhelm yourself with too many electronics. Try to aim for what is best in your situation and how it might apply to your boat while racing.


Table of contents

Top Eight Marine Electronics for Racing or Sailing

There are an enormous amount of electronics that you can equip on your sailboat to help you while racing. Keep in mind that these will not guarantee a victory but it could help you become a better racer if you are able to pinpoint areas that need improvement.

You do not have to invest your time and money into all of these in order to become a better sailor. But the addition of these items can potentially make or break you getting ahead in races with an understanding of the little details that you are likely missing.

Airmar DST

Airmar DST
Airmar DST

The Airmar DST 810 streamlines speed calibration with its integrated attitude sensor and even has the free CAST app that eliminates the need for expensive computer software. Racers can obtain heel-compensated speed at various angles and ranges.

The 5Hz output allows you to make swift decision-making on the water. This sensor is moderately priced at $399 but it can also measure depth and water temperature (to a tenth of a degree). It can also support hull angles up to 22 degrees so that it can fit on many boats with curved hulls.


  • Self-calibration for correcting heel
  • Supports hull angles up to 22 degrees


  • Might be too much information on the app

Dometic Steering Actuator

Dometic Steering Actuator
Dometic Steering Actuator

The Dometic Optimus outboard electric steering actuator provides racers with total power-steering capabilities with an adjustable parameter that can accommodate any traditional outboard motor. The installation is simple with a quick setup of the electronic helm display that takes the need away for oil or purging.

The system can be utilized with joystick controls and even SeaWays (Dometic autopilot).  For more than one engine setup you will need an additional actuator. The price for one engine system is about $5,700 so keep in mind your budget.


  • Easy installation
  • Very reliable and requires little maintenance


  • At $5,700 per unit it is quite expensive for many

Garmin Quatix Marine Smartwatch

Garmin Quatix Marine Smartwatch
Garmin Quatix Marine Smartwatch

No sailing race would be complete without the use of a sailing watch. Club racers can use the Garmin Quatix 7 which offers a broad range of activities to be had on the water. It provides excellent navigation acts and is designed to handle conditions while racing or cruising.

It has a tide tracker and other useful information to keep you up to date while racing. It also has a countdown timer for when you do compete in races to help keep track of when to pass the start line. I have used other marine watches in the past but this has been my favorite overall for its design and functionality.


  • Countdown timer for races
  • A computer on your wrist that is also waterproof


  • Too many features for those that want simplicity

Raymarine Axiom

Raymarine Axiom
Raymarine Axiom

If you do not want a sailing watch for the GPS capabilities then you should check out the Raymarine Axiom 9. This allows you to see your instrument display with a variety of important information at your fingertips. They feature tons of memory for anything you want to put on it and I love that you do not have to pull cables through pipework to set up.

If you decide to combine this with other sailing instruments provided by Raymarine then you can tap into features such as cameras and autopilot. Those that want to enjoy fishing when they are not racing can also utilize the sonar feature among other instrument displays.


  • Great interface for all of your instrument needs compared to the competition
  • Can connect to the network of other equipment by the same brand


  • Around a $1,000 without the other features



If you want a similar experience to Raymarine products you could opt for the Garmin GPSMAP that doubles as a chartplotter and sonar. It can connect to other Garmin related products on your boat which makes sense if you want everything to work together while racing.

It has a clear display and excellent sonar features that allow you to see what is around you underneath. This lets you have some idea of whether or not you can race in shallow waters in new areas. I enjoy not having black boxes and sharper resolution compared to other brands.


  • Compatible with other Garmin system offerings
  • No black boxes and has clear displays


  • Around $2,400 so consider your budget

QWORK Battery Monitor

QWORK Battery Monitor
QWORK Battery Monitor

Depending on what type of boat you have you will likely need to keep an eye on your battery to ensure it is operating like it should be. This is where an excellent battery monitor comes in handy like the one by QWORK. It lets me know if my battery is becoming weak or if I have power being zapped from something left running.

It features an easy to read LCD display that gives you all the information you need to check the battery life on your boat. It can also store the last voltage reading after the system shuts off so you know that the battery is charging effectively or if you need to take action.


  • Affordable and easy installation
  • Gives accurate battery reading


  • Some users found it difficult to understand

Raymarine Speed Instrument

Raymarine Speed Instrument
Raymarine Speed Instrument

In races for sailing you need to know how fast you are going but you may not want to spend a ton of money on instrument displays that have an abundance of information. Instead you could opt for something like a knot meter.

Raymarine offers a great speed instrument to racing sailors on a budget. This gives you the opportunity to see the average speeds of your boat without breaking the bank and with an easy setup. I love this because you get valuable speed information for a great price.


  • Best for tracking speed while on a budget
  • IPX6 waterproof rating and three year warranty


  • Other devices might have this information so check your instruments

Ritchie Navigator Inclinometer

Ritchie Navigator Inclinometer
Ritchie Navigator Inclinometer

For sailors that want to sail on a budget and still receive important data you could opt for an inclinometer by Ritchie Navigator. At round $30 you can simply attach this to your boat and see how your boat responds in real time.

This will allow you to see the heel of the boat and give you the option to make adjustments as you go to stay in a straight line. I like it since it helps give me an idea for staying in line on a course for windier days. This is a handy device to optimize your performances during sailing.


  • $30 for a great addition to the boat
  • Gives accurate heel readings and is easy to see


  • Other devices could have this information so check your instruments

Why Do You Need Electronics for Sailing and Racing?

There are many marine electronics for sailors that can help aid you in becoming better at sailing. There is not a perfect tool out there to help you win races or make you better than anyone else.

However you should opt for racing electronics to help you out in a variety of situations. Without the use of these would make situations interesting out at sea or potentially a dangerous occurrence.

Call for Help

In addition to a marine radio that you should already have you might want to equip your boat with another form of communication. Most technology is equipped with WiFi or the capability to be connected to data so that you can receive messages or call out for help.

Other crucial safety measures include AIS that can help track your boat. If you happen to lose your signal then your last known position can be tracked.

Latest Navigation

If you are using old maps to navigate then you might be fine in a lot of areas. But what about sailing in a popular area that has been built or modified due to disasters or other events?

Having a great navigational tool to help guide you through an area is best for locations you are unfamiliar with. This allows you the opportunity to navigate safely without potentially damaging your boat or getting lost and can help you stay on the race course if you have set an outline.

Weather Updates

Most sailors check the weather the day they are going out at sea or joining a race. But the weather can be unpredictable in many locations across the world.

It is ideal to have something that allows you to track weather updates as you are sailing. This could be updates for dense fog or a strong thunderstorm forming off of the coast with damaging winds.

Instruments with Crucial Data

Instruments provide important data for sailors that need to make adjustments on the fly while racing. This data could be something as simple as wind speed and the boat’s current direction.

Without the use of these instruments you are unlikely to know when to make tactical decisions during a race. These are the little things that add up to a potential victory and everyone is likely using something to gain a slight edge.

Boat Performance

If you are preparing for a race it is ideal to have the most information available to make the best decisions. Understanding how the boat is responding to waves and the wind is one aspect but other key data points can help you make informed decisions on how to navigate your boat better. This will allow you to test out new techniques and see what works best at obtaining top speeds on your boat.

How to Find the Best Sailing Electronics

What is considered the best racing technology to you might differ to someone else. There are a variety of different uses that can make a difference on your boat versus another.

Determine Your Desired Use

Your sailing goals are likely going to be different than someone else’s. It is important to understand what you are planning to do on your boat before trying to add a lot of technology on it. If you like fishing and racing then you might want something that can help out for both sonar and GPS capabilities.

Research Various Brands

Brands are likely the first thing you see for a particular product. Some will vary in price and quality. It is crucial that you research at least three different options for whatever product you want so that you have various prices and quality to see.

Make Sure it is Compatible

Not every electronic device for a boat will be able to join your adventure. This includes the existing wiring or other sensors that could affect how it is used. This might need an expert to install if you plan on updating older technology on your boat.

Consult a Professional

You might want to ask a dealer that specializes in boat technology. They will likely be yout best bet to advise you in various additions to your boat or how to install them. If you choose them you might also get a craftsmanship warranty but always check beforehand.

Check Out Boat Shows

Boat shows are a great place for brands to try out new and improved technology. This allows you to see first hand what the electronics are intended to be used for and how it could apply to you. This also gives you the luxury of asking important questions and troubleshooting tips that you may encounter.

Consider the Warranty

There are many brands that offer a warranty on their products. This is important to keep track of in the event that the technology decides to stop working or has issues updating. Strong customer support is crucial for a long term customer.

Ease of Installation

Once you have conducted your research you will likely have a good idea on what is easy to install and what is not. Be mindful of what type of devices you need to have installed by a professional since that will add in the costs on top of the device itself. If you want to do it all yourself then you should consider ones that are the easiest to set up.

What Other Customers Have to Say

It is no fun reading bad reviews or mixed ones that do not offer a lot of information. But you can likely see where people are coming from on a bad review at least.

Consumer reviews will give you the cherry on top of your research in order to find the best product no matter what. If someone else reports the type of boat and activity on the water they used the technology for then you will likely have a good opinion of the brand.

Have a Budget

Budget is one of the most important aspects in determining what you can afford and what you can add to your boat. Even though you might like a certain brand you might not be able to integrate their features if they are at a higher price point.

This also goes hand in hand with your intended use and what you plan on using the most on your boat. Narrowing down this will greatly help your budget.

Best Sailing Racing Electronics
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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