Monitor Windvane

Monitor Windvane

BOC–Around Alone (AA)

Monitor has been the favorite windvane in the BOC/AA the singlehanded around the world race. Why is that so important for a cruiser?

We are very proud of our record in the BOC/AA. In the 50-foot class there were Monitors on three boats in the 1986–87 race. In the 1990-91 race we had five Monitors in the race and in the 1994–95 there were seven Monitors with no other windvane in the race!! WHY?

Because in the two previous races the Monitor performed and other vanes had not, or they were never selected. In the 1998-99 race there were fewer boats. Five of them had windvanes and once again, they were all Monitors. Almost all other commercially-available windvanes have never had a single unit in these races! We consider ourselves very fortunate to have been involved in the BOC/AA. In our first BOC/AA, we were nervous because our equipment would be tested in conditions far beyond anything previously experienced. Monitors had sailed around Cape Horn many times, but these BOC/AA boats were bigger, they were racing and they stayed in the Southern Ocean for many months! It was an international event followed by the media and gear failure could not be covered up. Fortunately, we never had a BOC/AA disaster. More importantly, we learned that there was room for improvement. It has been a fantastic opportunity for research and development. Instead of waiting for 5–6 years for the feed back from a circumnavigation with a normal cruising boat, we could check the equipment in 9 months—equipment that had seen 28,000 miles of conditions more severe than most cruising sailors would experience in a lifetime. BOC/AA became our "R&D Department." We would like to point out that all the BOC/AA Monitors were purchased. They were not "sponsored" by Scanmar—BOC/AA sailors would not take any equipment unless they thought it was the best. The Southern Ocean is extremely unforgiving and dangerous.

"Thanks largely to the Monitor Windvane, my 1982–83 circumnavigation aboard the Valiant 40 RESOURCEFUL, was successful. There was no hesitation in my choice of a windvane for my BOC 1986 entry. Including sea trials, I then sailed my Valiant 47 over 34,000 miles in less than a year. Conditions ranged from flat calm to hurricane force gales and enormous seas, wind on the nose, on the beam and dead astern.Whether beating or running, the vane did a terrific job. It never failed. It never required maintenance or repair. In most conditions it steered as efficiently and as fast as I could steer. I made my best 24 hour run of 244 miles using the windvane alone. Thanks again for making such a terrific piece of equipment. Whether cruising or racing, I'll always have a Monitor as crew."

Mark Schrader, LONE STAR, VALIANT 47
Contestant in BOC 1986–87
BOC Race Director 1990–91 & 1994–95
Race Director Around Alone 1998


Famous author Hal Roth sailed 2 BOC/AA races with Monitor windvane on a Santa Cruz 50.


This 50-foot Roger Martin design has made 3 BOC/AA races and 14 Atlantic crossings. Many different boat names and skippers, but the same Monitor.

The Only Windvane in the BOC

The BOC is considered the ultimate equipment test and it is obvious that this benefits cruisers and racers alike.

The Monitor must be considered the best windvane on the market because we are the only manufacturer able to back up this statement with such an impressive endorsement.

Five skippers in the 50 ft. class selected Monitors for the 1998-99 AROUND ALONE.

More than 31 changes and modifications have resulted, and today's Monitor is a big improvement over the earlier model, even though these units perform well and are still sailing. The BOC has tested our equipment beyond imagination and this will benefit the regular cruising sailor who is bound to be caught in bad weather eventually. When this happens it should be comforting to know that you are not the test pilot. The BOC has helped Monitor to evolve into a truly finished product.

Since 1986 the Monitor has been the windvane of choice for the racers in the most grueling gear test known to sailors—the BOC. In this singlehanded around-the-world race men and equipment are tested beyond imagination. Few sailors will ever encounter the conditions that these sailors experience for months in the roaring forties and screaming fifties. In three consecutive BOC races the Monitor windvane has been used in the most difficult sailing conditions known to man and boat. This has given us at Scanmar International invaluable feedback, helping us to build the strongest and best performing windvane on the market.

In the 1986–1987 BOC Mike Plant, Hal Roth and Mark Schrader used the Monitor and proved that a properly designed windvane could handle a 40 - 50ft boat in ultimate conditions.

In the 1990–91 BOC the Monitor was the favorite windvane. Among the eight Class II (40–50 ft.) boats that finished the race, seven had windvanes. Five of these vanes were Monitors.

The MONITOR and the 1994–95 BOC

In the 1994–95 BOC seven of the eleven boats in the 50-foot class had Monitors at the start. No other windvane was represented! The reason for this dominance was that the Monitor had proven itself in the two previous BOC races when other windvanes had failed. Valuable lessons from these races had resulted in further improvement in design and fabrication. The 1994–95 BOC race turned out to be one of the toughest in BOC race history. Two of the top 60 footers sunk but the skippers were rescued and one class II boat disappeared on the way to Cape Horn. Other boats experienced horrible conditions.

Of the seven boats with Monitor windvanes four did not finish the race. Floyd Romack, Cardiac-88, had to retire in Cape Town because he exceeded the time limitation. Neal Petersen, Protect Our Sea Life, lost his mast in the first Southern Ocean leg and had to return to Cape Town. Nigel Rowe of Sky Catcher, retired after the start of Leg 3 because of equipment failures. Tragically lost at sea was Harry Mitchell and his boat Henry Hornblower. Thus, only three boats with Monitor windvanes returned to Charleston and their stories are impressive.

Niah Vaughan—JIMRODA II

Niah Vaughan sailing 10 year old JIMRODA II finished a respectable third in Class II behind two brand new, state of the art, boats. In the 1986-87 BOC Mike Plant named this boat AIRCO and finished first in Class II. In the 1990-91 BOC Josh Hall finished third in the race with the same boat - this time called Spirit of Ipswich. The Monitor on the boat did its second BOC!! In the 1994-95 BOC Niah Vaughan named this boat JIMRODA II and used the same Monitor which then finished its third BOC!

In addition to finishing three grueling BOC races, this Monitor has crossed the Atlantic 12 times and made one voyage from England to Cape Horn and back in a qualifier for the BOC!

The following fax was received from Niah Vaughan from the Southern Ocean during the last BOC:

I have to admit, my Monitor has been my backup system to my Autohelm 7000 pilots of which I have two and three drive units - and a 3000 wheel pilot for light airs.

On the first leg we just made it to Cape Town on the autopilots. (all three drive units had to be repaired). I did not use my Monitor.

On this the second leg to Sydney all three drive units on my Autohelm failed with 3000 miles to go. It was blowing 30 - 40 kts with very large and confused following seas when my last drive unit went. My sail plan was poled out genoa and staysail. I switched over to the Monitor. It was absolutely amazing the difference in the motion of the boat. The Monitor was much more sensitive than the autopilots therefore course keeping more accurate, and handled the conditions perfectly.

At present I am on a 20 kt beam reach with genoa, staysail and full main. The Monitor is handling it with no problem at all, with only a 5 degree deviation from my present course.

I believe that my Monitor will become my primary self-steering, and the Autohelm backup.

Niah Vaughan Jimroda II (Former Airco, Spirit of Ipswich) 50ft LOA
LAT: S44.22 LON: E119.001

As Niah rounded Cape Horn, Scanmar received a second fax from the Southern Ocean: "Greetings from the Horn. The Lone Ranger (Monitor) still in charge, No problem up to 70 kts."

Robin Davie - Cornwall

Robin Davie on Cornwall was sailing his second BOC and he used the same Monitor that he had in the previous BOC when the same boat was called Global Exposure. In addition to his two BOC races, his boat (and the same Monitor) have done eight Atlantic crossings. We received the following testimony from Robin:

With the 1994-95 BOC Challenge now over, it is worth reflecting on the great service, mileage and performance that your Monitor has given me during its 2nd Circumnavigation, which brings its total mileage up to 85,000 miles.

In the severest 60- to 70-knot southern ocean storms the Monitor has done the steering, keeping Cornwall tracking downwind at its full 8 kts hull speed regardless of the sea and swell which at times looked to me like traveling mountains of water and surf.

The highlight, or lowlight, depending on how you look at it, was undoubtedly my dismasting and jury rig sail some 2500 miles from halfway between New Zealand to the Falkland Islands and around Cape Horn. All I had to do was rig a very strong jury rig, point Cornwall in the right direction and the Monitor did the rest. There were three storms over 60 knots, and with the Monitor steering I never had to steer, and never felt endangered.

At the opposite end of the scale in near calm conditions, with engine problems and flat batteries for the final 4 days into Uruguay and again for the final 10 days approaching Charleston, the Monitor steered in conditions of very light winds and light airs, so that I was able to continue my normal daily routine, and did not need to resort to steering myself.

Of course everything wasn't perfect, and I did manage to break several plywood vanes, or rather the breaking seas over the stern in the Southern Ocean did, and similarly when a nasty cross sea picked up Cornwall and chucked her sideways the safety tube on the paddle buckled, but then that is what it is supposed to do. I very quickly and easily had the spare tube fitted and Cornwall back on course.

Knowing the lack of reliability experienced with electronic autopilots by my fellow competitors during two BOC Challenges, I am left in no doubt that both of my BOC circumnavigations would have been very much more difficult had it not been for the Monitor being the main and principle self-steering gear on the Cornwall.

Similarly, I firmly believe that serious cruising folk who are going to cross oceans should fit a Monitor, learn to use it and be familiar with it, so that when the inevitable autopilot breakdown occurs they too will be able to keep sailing without being shackled to the wheel 24 hours a day. They, like me will come to love their Monitors, and will find themselves using the autopilots less and less.

Robin Davie on Cornwall

Minoru Saito

Minoru Saito was the last Monitor sailor that reached Charleston in the spring of 1995. This Japanese sailor has done two BOC in addition to the delivery trips to and from Japan a couple of times. Same Monitor, of course.


In spite of the successful and continuous use of Monitor windvanes in the cutting-edge BOC races, one still may hear "that the windvane is a gear of the past, the future belongs to autopilots." Why? Experienced cruisers certainly do not agree. They have learned that they must be able to fix everything on board themselves and that one thing you can depend upon is an autopilot to fail sooner or later! In isolated areas there are no specialists to repair complicated electronics. Out at sea you are helpless unless there is an electronic genius on board.

For example, the BOC makes three stops in major cities and factory representatives go over all the autopilots. If necessary, bad units are replaced. In order to make sure that breakdowns at sea can be handled a large number of complete back-up pilots are carried on board together with a variety of electricity producing equipment and batteries. The additional costs in time and money are obvious. In contrast, no boat has ever needed more than one windvane and a few spare parts for maintenance.

Wheel or Tiller