Orca brought her Traveling Triumphal Race Roadshow over to Jeogeot on Saturday for a change in venue and some fun exploring. Hannelore Ballenger had the same idea an hour earlier with her fleet of Wildcat45‘s, so it looks like 2013 could be a good year for sailing on Jeogeot’s waters.
A skilled group of Melges racers showed up for the Orca’s wind-driven merriment, but few were familiar with the waterways there and only two hardy skippers, Armano and Sammy, completed the race. According to Orca’s post there was a right-of-way disagreement at some point during the first upwind leg of the race, so I thought I’d post a few images I snapped of the boats involved during those initial moments.
Orca’s course du jour was basically a long windward/ leeward haul, with a few interesting nuances thrown in. The figure below shows the first three boats as they cross the line on Srarboard tack. As you can see in the upper image, Armano (AX) has the lead, but he shows up a bit early; he luffs and loses momentum waiting for the line to open. Sammy (SV) is clear astern and doesn’t have that problem, so she roars in on close haul and quickly moves to establish leeward overlap with Armano as the race begins (lower image). Both boats played the start with obvious dexterity, and Armano had only a scant two-second advantage over Sam as they began the upwind beat.
The third boat to cross the line above has Orca’s colors and I mistakenly labeled it OF. However, I’m pretty sure that’s actually BBS’s boat, and it crosses the line hugging the windward buoy, 14 seconds after Sammy.
This was a pretty typical start for the lead boats, with all three on a starboard close haul. Sammy chose to start leeward of Armano, and that’s often a wise opening move, since the lee boat has right-of-way under Rule 11. If her boat was on a more acute upwind tack and the two boats were closer to the edge of the line, Sammy could even force Armano off the Start. However, in this race Sam can’t gain much from being leeward; Armano’s far from the windward buoy, and both boats are sailing parallel, tightly close-hauled tacks.
In this situation, Sammy can’t luff-up Armano either. Sammy had the momentum as the race began; she used it to overtake Armano from clear astern and establish leeward overlap. Rule 17 applies:
If a boat clear astern becomes overlapped within two of her hull
lengths to leeward of a boat on the same tack, she shall not sail
above her proper course while they remain on the same tack and
overlapped within that distance, unless in doing so she promptly sails
astern of the other boat. …
Armano’s one of the best and fastest sail racers in Second Life. For that matter, so is Sammy, but in this situation Sammy knows she can’t outrun Armano from a leeward position. Armano has her in check with his shadow blanket, and there’s precious little chance he’ll make a mistake that lets Sam slip away.
Sammy does a split-second analysis of the situation and tries a daring move. As Mao ZeDong and Vince Lombardi put it, sometimes “The best defense is a good offense.” As shown below, Sammy falls back just enough to break overlap and get clean air, then she points up and drives forward in a juggernaut to get to Armano’s windward side. If she can enough overlap to shadow Armano, she can steal the lead.
As the first picture below shows, Sammy was in fact able to overlap her bow with Armano’s windward stern, but in the process she needed to pinch upwind to get in position. That drained lift force from her boat, and she essentially ‘ran out of gas’ before reaching shadow position. (It might be worth noting here that the shadow blanket extends downwind from a boat’s root prim as a widening cone. These two boats are so close that Sammy would need to be mast-abeam or even slightly ahead to garner any benefit from shadow effect.)
Anyway, Sammy played a great tactical move, but she fell just a couple meters short.
When Sammy falls back, Armano goes in high gear and builds a several boat-length lead. At that point Sammy’s only chance is to catch him when he flips to a port tack to continue the upwind beat.
The first pic below shows the lineup just before Armano runs out of water and needs to tack. Pics 2, 3, and 4 below show Armano taking the turn, then using his lead to cut across Sammy’s bow without interference. If you look closely, you can see another view of this in a picture Orca posted.
Bottom line: Once again Armano proved too speedy.
Sammy never gave up, though. Perhaps her last chance to gain ground on Armano was to extend her first tack longer than prudent, and then turn to port at the very last moment. That might get some extra height and a faster next leg. Always game-to-go, Sammy took that chance.
However as I commented above, these were untested waters for the fleet. Sammy’s heading brought her into a tiny scooped-out bay that prevented her from efficiently changing tack. She lost several more seconds getting back to open water, guaranteeing Armano a comfortable lead for the rest of the race.
Since Orca mentioned there was a possible protest, I focused on Armano and Sammy in my comments above. As shown in the images, I thought they sailed a great race that demonstrated their expert knowledge of both tactics and technique. (I wish I could sail that well! ). If there were any errors, I missed them.
As a final comment though, let me give a shout-out to BBS Resident, who I hardly mentioned at all above. BBS was third across the Start line and a full boat length behind the lead, but where you cut the line can make a big difference in a race. BBS crossed next to the windward buoy, a setup that guaranteed extra height on the first tack. In fact, if you look at the images where Sammy and Armano were dickering over who could close haul harder, BBS is located several boat lengths windward. BBS could have fallen a bit off the wind, benefited from the extra power charge, and blown past both AX and SV.
As partial proof of my point, look where BBS ended up sitting when Sammy makes her turn. With a well-timed tack and a little luck, BBS might have landed nearly on top of Armano there. And that, as they say, could have made it a whole new ballgame, kids.