With B&G® the new headline sponsor for the Key Yachting J-Cup in 2022, how much do you really know about them??

B&G® – The History of a company with a huge “Passion for Sailing”

We all know that B&G® develops and manufactures, instruments, autopilots and navigation systems for racing and cruising yachts, including our Nautitech, Tofinou and Grand Soleil ranges, but what surprised us at Key Yachting is exactly how long B&G® has been in operation.

The company was founded in 1955 on the South Coast of England, by Ronald Brookes and Major R.N Gatehouse. It was known back then as Brookes and Gatehouse. The partnership was formed to develop and manufacture a radio direction finder (RDF) to be used by private sailing boats. In 1956 the ‘Homer receiver’ was born and was said to be the first transistorised RDF to be available to the global marine leisure market.


As the company grew, Brookes and Gatehouse quickly expanded into the production and development of the Hermes speedometer, shortly followed by the Harrier, a combined log and speedometer, similar to what we use today. The Hecta echosounder went into production in 1968, swiftly followed by the Hestia electronic course indicator launched This was a form of transmitting compass in which the navigator dialled in the desired heading and the helmsman simply had to steer the boat in such a way as to keep the pointer of a meter in its upright or vertical position.


Gipsy Moth IV was fully equipped with Brookes and Gatehouse instrument for Sir Francis Chichester’s single-handed circumnavigation. These are on permanent exhibition at the Science Museum, London.


The early part of the decade saw the arrival of the Horatio sailing performance computer. Both Hadrian, which was developed a year earlier, and Horatio were banned while racing under RORC rules. Mid 70’s B&G® produced the Halcyon electronic compass, this was probably the first compass ever designed that sensed the magnetic field of the earth directly, without having to make use of a pivoted magnet system.


Ramón Carlin’s Sayula II wins the first ever Whitbread Round the World Race (now the Volvo Ocean Race), with B&G® instruments. The race was also notable for the performance of Chay Blyth’s Great Britain II which won three of the four legs and was quickest on elapsed time.


Development did not stop in the 80’s.  B&G’s launch of Hercules a multifunction data computer became a major milestone in the history of marine electronics. Then after years of intensive research and development, Sonic Speed was launched. It measured water speed but, unlike traditional units, had no moving parts and was unaffected by normal marine growth. When linked into the Hercules System it provided a degree of accuracy previously unobtainable. Mid 80’s B&G® was purchased by Lewmar, and together they began developing their first autopilot.

JANUARY 1, 1981


B&G® was awarded a British Design Council Award for the Hercules instrument system which introduced computer technology to everyday boating.


The early 90’s, saw the first WTP system with rate gyro. It was used by the Spanish AC team and was controlled by an early version of Deckman which was included within a TouchPC (an early PDA system). By the late 90’s with Deckman now having Windows PC compatibility and the functionality to provide weather routing using downloaded GRIB files, it became a must for gaining tactical advantage onboard race boats and was used for the first time in 1997.


The 1997-98 Whitbread was raced for the Volvo trophy using Whitbread 60 yachts, with the race scored on leg points for the first time. Paul Cayard’s EF Language team, navigated by the late Mark Rudiger, won with a leg to spare, in what was otherwise a very close race. The last leg result decided positions 2 through to 5. All boats used B&G, with EF Language using the Hercules 2000 Performance system.


In 2000 the H1000 range of instruments, autopilots and chart plotters was launched, aimed at medium-sized sail and powerboats. The systems quickly became standard equipment for some of the world’s largest boatbuilders. At the end of the decade, B&G® launched Zeus, the world’s first sailing specific multifunction display unit and chart plotter. It includes a whole host of original features including laylines, polar tables, and the ability to download GRIB weather files.


In November, Ellen MacArthur set off to attempt to break the record for a fastest solo circumnavigation, with a full complement of B&G® equipment onboard the stunning B&Q/Castorama trimaran.


The first race for the Volvo 70s was dominated by Mike Sanderson’s ABN Amro One team, navigated by Stan Honey. All boats chose B&G® instruments.


The last decade has seen a significant amount of development and upgrades in the B&G® product range. In 2011 Triton brings B&G’s instrument and autopilot technology to a wider audience, with a 4.1” colour screen, utilising B&G’s unique bonding technology, offering unparalleled value for money in sailing instruments. Then B&G® launch Broadband 4G™ Radar, a revolutionary FMCW radar solution that sees targets right up to the bow of the boat and has a 36nm working range, along with unbeatable target separation for a compact radome.

Zeus Touch went to market in November 2012, offering outstanding sail-specific navigations features with an intuitive touch-led interface and easy to use system integration. In 2013 The B&G® WIFI-1™ GoFree hardware allows users to control their Zeus Touch displays using a tablet or view data with their smartphones in combination with the GoFree Controller app. In 2015 the focus was back to small boat and entry level sailors when the Vulcan sailing Chart plotter launched.

The Vulcan is a truly expandable 7-inch multi-touch sailing chart plotter, which is just as at home when used as a standalone unit on a 24ft cruising yacht, as it is as part of an integrated system on a larger yacht. In 2018 the Zeus³ Glass Helm hit the market – chart plotters for bluewater sailing, multihull and superyachts. The same year the new Wired and Wireless Wind Sensors launched, designed to provide highly accurate wind data in all conditions at all points of sail and heel. In July 2019 B&G® launches the first VHF radio with an integrated AIS transceiver. The AIS transceiver built into the V60-B can receive position data from other vessels like the original V60, but it is also capable of sharing its position with nearby AIS-equipped vessels, improving situational awareness and collision avoidance.


After an epic battle with Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss, Armel Le Cleac’h takes the 2016-17 Vendee Globe title. Both skippers put their trust in their B&G® electronics, with their H5000 Pilots helming for much of the race. 80% of the fleet were powered by B&G® electronics.


B&G® released the new Zeus 3S chart plotters in 2020, which offer super-fast response times, delivering the information you need, when you need it.

The Zeus 3S comes with B&G’s unique sailing features built-in; making it simple to navigate, plot routes, add waypoints and view key sailing or racing data, at the touch of a button or screen. The same year B&G® launches new Nemesis™ sailing displays. This new generation of intelligent sailing display offers unparalleled visibility, with complete customisation or easy to use multi-function templates and automatic dashboards based on your angle of sail. 

As history shows, B&G’s rich racing heritage gives them an unrivalled platform for developing new technology, which is put through its paces by the world’s best, in the most challenging conditions including the America’s Cup, Vendee Globe and Volvo Ocean Race boats.

Today B&G® is a brand of Navico, the Norwegian-based leader in the marine electronics sector, and is the market leader in advanced instrumentation systems for all types of yacht from grand prix to entry level vessels, club racers and blue water cruisers. B&G® has been at the cutting edge of sailing innovation for more than 50 years and the B&G® headquarters remain just a few miles from its birthplace, in Hampshire, UK.

B&G® and Key Yachting

B&G® has been a preferred supplier to key Yachting for many years and first supported the J-Cup Regatta as an event sponsor in 2004. Through the long-standing partnership, the companies have both grown and developed and so you have the “Best Brands working Hand in Hand”. B&G® equipment can be seen on our Nautitech Catamarans, Grand Soleil Yachts and Tofinou boats, and the Key Yachting customisation team have a working knowledge of the entire B&G® product range and can help you upgrade and or replace your equipment, so whether you’re motivated by the thrill of your next race or have a passion for cruising, B&G® electronics are designed for everyone. To discuss how to upgrade your equipment, talk to one of the service team experts at Key Yachting on 02380 455669.

B&G® and The J-Cup Regatta

This year at the J-Cup regatta, which takes from 30 June to 2nd July, the B&G® team will be on hand to offer their technical advice and support, showcase products, and answer your questions.

Competitors entering the event will be in with a chance to win the latest products kindly donated by B&G. For more information about the 2022 J-Cup in Association with B&G® look at our website:

To find out more about B&G’s product range visit the B&G® website: