Buoy Zone Season Wrap-Up

RC to have access at all ILYA Regatta Host Clubs

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Candace Porter

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Buoy Zone Season Wrap-Up - 9/14

Buoy Zone – look how far we have come

Buoy Zone is the newest addition to the ILYA’s RC arsenal. This phone app enables the race committee to visualize a lake’s outline and set a course to best utilized the lake’s topography, adjust to the wind conditions and to provide a course with proper leg lengths. The ILYA Foundation offered free subscriptions to our 2022 regatta hosting lakes firstly but then generously extended the offer to any member lake who wanted to be added to the roster. Fourteen of our lakes accepted the offer and the numbers of users grew from 61 to 187! The original 61 were primarily ILYA race officers who have been utilizing this app for a year prior.

The app was developed by a group in New Zealand and was “discovered” during conversation at a US Sailing Club Race Officer course when the simple question was asked if anyone had developed an app to assist with race committee GPS operation. In March 2021, our adventure began. Mark DeGuire was notified since he was in the geographic region where Buoy Zone was first known to be tested in the US. Mark spent the spring at nearly weekly events in the SE US using the new app. The ILYA was fortunate to bring Mark over to the Quad Lakes at Nagawicka for our first test of the app. While some of us had trialed it at home, this was our first instructional regatta utilizing the new app. With some fits, technical bloopers and “I can’t change” resistance, we found this was a REAL alternative to handheld GPS use. The GPS units are expensive, perhaps a bit cumbersome to learn and different in the interface as we move to alternate models. STILL, the GPS is a tool the “oldsters” still rely on. (Don’t ask Porter to set a midline boat without a GPS.) PRO’s and the experienced other RC began to buy the app for personal use.


In Fall 2021, Harken graciously offered us use of their parking lot as three ILYA RC officers set courses and walked to the desired placement of the buoys. Convinced this was the app for us, the RC began use of the app at most and then ultimately all our events. This year at Lake Geneva Championships we were able to “see” both the courses on our phones to prevent intrusion on each other’s water. The app developers have welcomed our input, made significant changes and modified the app for inland lake use which is a tad different than coastal, big water use. For instance, midline boat locations were added at our request.  


Here we are in 2022 end of season with 187 of us utilizing the app. This is a visual means to set a course – view it on your lake, change the course based on the wind or desired length of the legs, choose trapezoids/windward-leewards, place gates in front or behind the starting line – all where the users can view each boat’s location and where they are traveling. For instance, at White Bear’s MC Invitational, the safety boat was entered so the PRO always knew where the safety boat was to direct either that boat or a spectator to assist with the occasional incident on the course. Additionally, each boat can be called from inside Buoy Zone to make communication improved at a faster pace. There are times when RC speak over the radio but also more private conversations are going on via phone. A touch of a button and the boat is called.


There are 14 participating lakes and you can see by the data that there are varying degrees of usage. Clear Lake, IA utilized this during the X Championships. Their usage is 5 because we only had five differing courses. Thanks to Clear for steady winds and the ability to just go “back to where we were” for the next start. Delavan, for instance, uses this every Saturday. The head RC sets the course and sends volunteer RC out on the water for the day. It has allowed them much improved courses with less-skilled folks quickly learning and following the visual placement of the course.


Cedar Lake Yacht Club


Clear Lake Yacht Club


Delavan Lake Yacht Club


Gull Lake Sailing School


Lake Beulah Yacht Club


Lake Geneva Yacht Club


Mendota Yacht Club


Nagawicka Lake Yacht Club


North Lake Yacht Club


Okauchee Lake Yacht Club


Okoboji Yacht Club


Oshkosh Yacht Club


Pewaukee Yacht Club


White Bear Yacht Club



Education on this app has been in two areas – face to face at our regattas (both ILYA and member club events) and a Zoom presentation. If you would like a demonstration before October 15th, reach out to the ILYA RC Education Committee. A member of the ILYA RC will arrange to visit your club either in person or virtually. There is one last opportunity to learn the app locally in SE WI. The Friday night before the Nan Norris C Challenge, Lake Beulah Yacht Club will again present Buoy Zone for all interested parties. You are cordially invited, Sept 23rd at 5:30 pm. Please RSVP here.


The ILYA is reviewing its RC education offerings for 2023. Buoy Zone will be on the table for discussion and possible grant submission to the Foundation for funding for 2023. Watch for further news or submit comments for the Education Committee’s rconsideration. Look for another Zoom presentation to address how to utilize Buoy Zone at home with a one or two boat system.  


Thank you most sincerely to the ILYA Foundation for funding the project to improve regatta and local lake RC work.


2022 Race Committee Buoy Zone Initiative

Dear 2022 ILYA Host Clubs and ILYA Buoy Zone coordinator Brian Buzzell,
Thank you in advance for the generous time you will invest in the success of the 2022 ILYA sailing season. We look forward to visiting with you this summer. We now have three Invitationals and four Championships with the addition of the Melges 15 class to our sanctioned fleets. 
  • E Invitational – Pewaukee  July 7-10
  • MC Invitational – White Bear  July 7-10 
  • C Invitational – Nagawicka  July 22-24
  • No Tears – Beulah – July 25
  • X Championships – Clear Lake July 27-30
  • Opti Championships – Clear Lake  July 30- August 2
  • Melges 15 Championships – Oshkosh  August 4-7
  • ILYA Championships – Geneva  August 17-21
As a small thank you in advance, The ILYA Foundation has provided our 2022 host clubs with a one-year subscription to Buoy Zone. Buoy Zone is a smartphone app which assists with the setting of race courses - the link to their website provides more information. The app will be free to anyone on your lake when on your lake. The app uses mapping and GPS technology to show the physical outline of the lake, allows you to set parameters (course shape, wind direction, leg length) and allows you to see your RC boats and safety boats on the water. This initiative is important to the ILYA for a couple reasons: 
  1. ILYA competitors expect fair courses and Buoy Zone allows you to set a square, length-appropriate course very easily (due to the visuals), and 
  2. also strives to improve the safety cognizance if you are fortunate to have a safety team instituted for your Club racing. 
With Buoy Zone, the PRO can look and instantly see if the mark-set assistant (if you use two boats – or a spectator boat could look at the course on their phone and assist you in placement) is in the proper location. The PRO can also see other boats who join the course on the app which will give you some improved ability to respond to any issue during the race. When the ILYA RC team comes to your lake, Buoy Zone will likely be the tool of choice to set the course. (The ILYA race team continues to utilize stand-alone GPS for some functions.) Absolutely, the wisdom and experience of the RC overrides total reliance on Buoy Zone or any tool but it allows a faster, more accurate first look at the course given the conditions of the day and the configuration of your lake. 
The host clubs access to Buoy Zone will become active on May 1. You will be able to learn this tool on your own but you may also request an ILYA-trained RC to come and give you a visit if you need help. Additionally, you will want to inform your Club about the free May 5th 7:00 PM Zoom presentation which is devoted solely to learning Buoy Zone. That presentation will be given by Mark DeGuire who currently resides in Charleston and utilizes this app every sailing weekend in the warm south. Brian Buzzell of Delavan Yacht Club is our local guru and Buoy Zone ILYA representative. Brian has negotiated with Buoy Zone for some program changes that better suit our style of small lake, one-design racing. Thanks to Brian for his efforts this winter to bring Buoy Zone to a place that is well-suited for our needs. 
So — please forward this information to the appropriate audience within your Club, have your RC volunteers download Buoy Zone from the app store, select your lake (Mark DeGuire will use a test lake for his demonstration) and join us Thursday, May 5th 7:00 PM for a chance to learn more and ask some questions.
Thank you again for being an ILYA Member Club and for being individual members as well. Your support means everything to us.
Best Regards

Lee Alnes

Commodore, Inland Lake Yachting Association