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Dick McCurdy and Ockam Instruments 2

It was not very successful, and he vowed to get serious about it. As a result, the next 4 years were spent designing and building a digital true wind computer. During this time the extended masthead and multifunction digital display were invented. This first digital true wind computer also still exists.

By 1974 that digital computer was installed on “Courageous,” and it won! The Aussies took note, as did almost every America’s Cup contender for many years after.

Dick designed and built a second generation computer used on Clipper for the 1980 America’s Cup. In addition, with the help of Data General and several volunteers, he also produced the first sailing analysis system, “Starship Nova.” Data was telemetered 15 miles from the racecourse to Newport, where sailing and tacking performance was analyzed. Although Clipper didn’t win, she did beat Ted Turner in Courageous which was totally beyond everyone’s expectations.

 Big Changes in How We Race Sailboats

In 1982 Dick McCurdy and Art Ellis. who had both worked an Kenyon Marine, co-founded Ockam Instruments, Inc. This was the beginning of an incredible decade of advancement. The America’s Cup regattas were being contested in Twelve Meter Yachts, and advancements in computer technology were allowing Dick to finally bring his dreams to fruition. Not only were they rapidly advancing the accuracy of instruments and the information they produced, they were using mathematical algorithms to generate data that had not previously been available. This also lead to new ways of sailing the boats, using target speeds from polar plots, and eventually lead to the Wally concept. This was a new way of approaching sailboat racing and made it, more than ever, a thinking man’s sport. It was an exciting time, and produced amazing advances in Sailing Instrument systems.

Making the technology readily available

During the 1990’s advances were made in hardware and computing which allowed systems which were more affordable and easier to install and use. more and more boats were using advanced instrument systems. Dick McCurdy was refining the systems, and adding functions, but one thing he worked hard at was creating systems that could be easily and affordably updated. As a matter of fact, many systems from this era are still being used.

Making systems easier to use

Ockam Instruments EyeApp Sailboat Racing Software running on an iPadIn the 21st century sailing instrument systems continue to advance, and portable computing devices like tablets, and even smart phones, have made it easier to bring the new functions on deck. Color displays, and graphic displays are making the information easier to understand and process quickly, and Dick McCurdy continues to work on adding new functions, new displays, and new ways to provide better information. Ockam Instruments are still the best system available, but are now more affordable, more flexible, and easier to use than ever. Contact us today to learn more.


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