Monthly Archives: July 2010

Ocean Racers

The July 2010 issue of Yachting World has a cover story on “20 Big Ideas That Will Change the Way You Sail.

The second idea they list is Virtual Sailing, and the image is Tig Spijkers’ Ocean Racing group from one of her “Around Gaeta” races last year. ūüôā

Yachting World rated the Twenty Ideas on a scale of 0-5, and Virtual Sailing scored a “3,” which they defined as “A transformational idea for some” (sounds like a sex change operation).

Virtual Sailing tied in that category with infrared night imaging and real-time digital charts! ūüôā

*************

Trudeau ONE


Summary

This week, Trudeau Classic Yachts released Trudeau ONE, a truly remarkable new racer inspired by the 1936 classic International One Design. In¬† homage to IOD’s 80 year legacy, Trudeau has fashioned an incredibly beautiful, mid-sized sloop that’s full of excitement and offers no apologies. A solo skipper or a full team of three can race this boat in SL, and all crew can share sailing responsibilities or use hike positions to balance the boat. The sailplan includes an independently controlled mainsail, jib, and spinnaker that are textured by Bunnie Mills and simply gorgeous; the pose positions are by Larinda Cordeau, and the detailing is so correct its surprising the inside of your screen doesn’t get stained with bow splash and brine.

ONE is powered by a major upgrade of the Trudeau sailing algorithm, so get ready for some big changes. This is the first Trudeau sloop where the main and jib realistically autogybe. ONE goes way beyond that, however, adding realistic visual and audio luffing feedback. A skipper needs to look at the sail shape and listen to the flap of canvas to decide the optimum trim angle. The effect is impressive, well-implemented, and low lag. You’ll probably end up wondering how you ever sailed any other way.

___

Dockside

This past Monday Trudeau Classic Yachts launched their newest contribution to the SL sailing scene.¬† ONE is aptly named; it’s a remarkable boat with truly singular features that’s inspired by the classic International One Design racer.

International One Design

If you are not familiar with IOD, that’s ok; there are only a few hundred IOD boats worldwide. I suspect there would be ten times more, but sailors for three generations have demanded a tight one design spec for the boats. That means if you sail IOD, you sail a tradition.¬† You win world races by guts, skill, and desire… with no excuses. It’s no accident IOD was the first boat recognized by ISAF in the ‘classic yacht division.

IOD was originally conceived by Cornelius Shields in the 1930’s. In that interbellum Depression decade, huge J-Class boats dominated the America’s Cup scene. However, many sailors quickly¬† realized that winning the AC prize mostly depended on a fat wallet… not a fast skipper. In the 1930 Cup defense, Vanderbilt’s ‘Park Avenue boom” on Enterprise (– just the boom —) breathtakingly cost more than the entire challenger boat and rig of Shamrock V. That contest¬† actually turned out to be a very lopsided sailboat race that came with a predetermined ending.

Maybe some people thought the race was exciting… trying to figure out¬† which competitor could write the bigger check… ūüôā

(It’s nice to see the current America’s Cup is no longer dominated by money and attorneys… [Cough])

Considering¬† the 1930’s global economic depression,¬† many sailors thought the AC approach to racing was perhaps a tad unseemly; Corny Shields was among them. He strongly advocated for an aggressive interclub system of races using matched, functionally identical and affordable boats, so everyone could sail, no excuse. Individual skippers or even whole clubs could bump heads and win bragging rights ūüôā . Maybe Shields’ penchant for such a populist approach stemmed from qualities of¬† generosity and egalitarianism, I hope so. However I actually like to think he had a different, far more simple motive: I just think he loved racing sailboats. He loved it so much, he wanted to build a system where everyone could sail. That way, well… he could beat everyone. ūüôā

It’s actually hard to fault that logic.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Shields eventually came up with his own vision of what he considered a perfect interclub racer and he commissioned Bjarne Aas of Frederikstad, Norway to design and build the boat. The first products of that collaboration hit the water in 1936, and the sleek, speedy racers proved an instant hit on the Northeast coast of US. Soon, many clubs in the New York and New England region adopted IOD as a fleet standard, and for the next 80 years the IOD group kept the faith,  religiously defending a strict IOD spec to a near-fanatical degree. Even today, if you win an IOD race everyone knows its due to your skill and experience, not how much money you threw at the boat.

As I write there are active racing fleets in several counties, including Bermuda, Norway, Nova Scotia, UK and Sweden. Many sailors consider IOD one of the best match race boats ever built, and its the weapon of choice at RBYC, who hosted the Argo Gold Cup recently, as shown in the video above.

Within the US, there are IOD home ports at a few places that have harbors deep enough to tolerate the big egos and bad jokes humor of IOD sailors. ūüôā No surprise, these same name are popular sailing sims in SL: Fishers Island, Long Island Sound, Marblehead, Nantucket, and San Francisco. Maine’s Northeast Harbor is hosting IOD Worlds this week! Here’s a video from IOD Worlds last year, showcasing the Fishers Island team:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

IOD is a ‘classic’ boat in every sense, and it’s no surprise it fueled the imagination of Trudeau Yachts. Their latest offering ONE, is a true homage to a wonderful racing legacy. Let me tell you a bit about it!

Trudeau One Features

T-One is a ‘rideable’ boat, meaning it rezzes as an a single object and fits within the 30-prim limit for vehicles in SL. There are no ‘attachments’ to wear, loose, or get misaligned.

Thirty prim is not much, but please don’t ever worry you’ll lose features or detail in this boat. This is a Trudeau after all, and the hull construction, fixtures and rigging are all detailed, humorous, and spot-on accurate.

Let me show you a few examples of what I’m talking about!

You can easily change the hull color to whatever suits your whim, but if you look carefully below you’ll see that the paint textures aren’t continuous… the textures subtly include the slats of the underlying wood hull.

OK, that’s a nice touch, but you might not be too impressed because its only a texture, and actually since the boat is mod,¬† you can use whatever other texture you wish.

Grin; for you hard-nosed skeptics, go over to Trudeau Yacht Yard and check out the rigging and brass fixtures on this boat. If you click on the picture below you get a higher resolution view of the foredeck, showing the spinnaker pole, the forestay turnbuckle, and the deck cleat. Get really close to the monitor and grab your reading glasses; the closer you get, the better they look and the more authentic they become. That authenticity is also full of gentle humor; if you look at the far right arrow below, its pointing to the tie for the middle starboard ‘bumper.’¬† I don’t know about you, but in RL I always loop it around the stay just like that.¬† Grin, apparently so does Trudeau.

Oh, since I mentioned bumpers… this boat features a nifty utility I wish I had in RL. If you click on the deck cleat, it gives you options to deploy bumpers on either side of the boat for docking or rafting. It also gives you an option to rez a mooring buoy and line.

I have to admit I grinned a great deal looking at the detail of the mooring. Remember, the mooring rez is just a little, miscellaneous add-on to the boat. I’m pretty sure most sailors who buy and race this boat will never bother to rez or look at the mooring. Having said that, however, take a look at the way the mooring line is secured in the picture below. It’s not a cleat wrap or a simple loop taken from some other generic application.¬† ONE’s mooring line actually goes through the cleat and locks with a half-hitch knot. Woots. this boat belongs to a sailor.

(When I asked JT about the mooring line¬† she actually apologized, saying¬† she wanted to tie a bowline knot, but that took an extra prim she couldn’t afford. ūüôā )

Bottom line: The style and swagger of Trudeau ONE is a tribute to the classic yacht that inspired it. The level of craftwork is probably something you already know and respect from Trudeau Yachts… but don’t take it for granted. Spend some time walking the deck and checking the rig… you’ll get a big smile out of this boat. Oh– and don’t forget it’s mod, so you can personalize it, and all the textures are downloadable from the Trudeau website.

Crew positions

Larinda Cordeau does the sailing poses for Trudeau boats, and in ONE the attention to detail is again pretty remarkable. The skipper can switch sides to balance the boat, and two other crew can help sail. Each crew member can move across five different hiking positions to find the ‘optimum’ heel angle. Larinda chose to make the poses different for port or starboard;¬† they’re not just mirror images of each other. Thought, humor, and real love of sailing went into the details of this boat.

Oh… and they fixed a minor, personal peeve I have about most SL boats. My avatar is smaller than average, and I never quite align correctly with most poses. Trudeau thought of that too: this boat has adjustable positions, so you’ll always end up exactly where you want!

Trudeau One Performance

Ok, I’ve saved the best for last.

Trudeau ONE¬† represents a major, new advance in Trudeau sailing, with substantial changes in the sailing algorithm and the skipper’s control interface with the boat. I’ve attached a copy of the ONE “info notcards’ here in case you have specific questions or want more detail.

ONE is easier to sail but also far more true-to-life than many past boats in the TCY line. I’m sure I’ll have much, much more to say about this as we go along, but let me hit the high points here about what’s new.

1. Sail Luffing. The sails on T-One visibly and audibly luff. ūüôā Grin; this is BIG.

Since the Tradewind two years ago, Trudeau boats came equipped with optional numerical HUD info and control.¬† If the wind was 60¬į off the bow, you could type in 30 to set the sail angles. That option was strongly requested by users (including me) at the time, probably since Tako racing then was all about “the numbers.”¬† As I think back, I recall that JT actually thought the idea was pretty dumb (hey, i never claimed to be a rocket scientist).

She had a good point. Any real sailor pays a lot of attention to wind direction and compass headings, but they don’t think about sail sheet numbers! Even on large sloops, a good skipper is always watching the shape of the sail overhead and constantly making adjustments to keep the rig optimal.

Moving upwind you need a jib and main that form a camber airfoil, and downwind you need a full parachute positioned to maximize drag forces.
Life is too uncertain to get that kind of information from a numbers table… or even an iPhone app! ūüôā

A sailor needs to look at the sails and listen for the luff. Any sailor worth her salt knows: Those sails are really wings, and you can use them to fly.

Emulating the perception of sail tune and integrating luffing effects realistically with sail control seems an incredibly daunting task online, and I admit I was skeptical when JT first described  ONE.

GRIN. It took me about 30 seconds sailing an early beta to ‘get it.‘¬† I was sailing that boat, I could see the luff and hear the rustle of canvas… and when i pulled the sails in I got the loud, familiar “THWOCK” as the wing took shape, as nicely shown in Odysseus Yiyuan’s video above. ONE was for real. GO– You try it. You’ll see.


2. Collapsing Spin If you stop somebody on the street in Kansas who’s never been on the ocean and ask them about spinnakers, my guess is they’ll give you a good description and probably tell you it works like a parachute.¬† They will also mention the biggest problem with chutes: if you don’t set them right, they collapse… sometimes with pretty catastrophic consequences. So please welcome Trudeau ONE, the Spinnaker that realistically dumps with bad trim.¬† Like that old boyfriend or girlfriend you had back in school, it’s good-looking but its high maintenance too and comes with a built-in borderline personality disorder.¬† So keep it trimmed well and you’ll win races, but neglect it to your own peril… boat repairs and dysfunctional nautical relationships can prove expensive. Luckily in SL the damage is mostly to your ego! ūüôā

3. Polar OKOK, here’s a T-One polar using RWS= 5.0m/s.¬† Please don’t pay too much attention to it. is mostly accurate but the curves were readjusted a few times prior to the final release, and they need to be repeated. If you look at the chart, there are separate curves for the “Jib+Main” and the “Spinnaker only.”¬† The solid lines represent the boat speed you can expect using relative optimal settings at different apparent wind angles. Traveling upwind you can probably expect a peak boat speed of around 60% true wind at an AWA of 50-60¬į.

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the collapse point for the spinnaker, and I’m convinced the spin goes down at 92¬į AWA. Don’t mess with that… keep higher if you are running a chute (jmho ūüôā ). There’s a big negative penalty when the spin deflates.

Having offered that public service announcement, let me also say that the true fastest point-of-sail in this boat is a beam reach with spinnaker up, since that point of sail combines both the lift effects of the main with the power of spinnaker drag.

The dotted lines in the above plot show the same data for Main+Jib or Spinnaker alone converted to Real Wind angles, not AWA. It’s a more conventional way to look at the data and often makes it easier to plot courses and decide strategy.

4. Nonlinear heel effects. The polar data shown above for wind speed of 5.0 m/s may not easily predict what ONE will do at higher wind speeds.

In many boats that have a Tako legacy, the wind engine calculates boat thrust values that are linearly related to windspeed. If the windspeed is 8m/s, the boat travels twice as fast as when the wind is 4m/s.

Sadly, sailing in real life tends to be a bit more complicated. with increasing wind speed a boat tends to heel , changing the force applied to the sails. The contact area between the hull and the water surface also changes, along with the frictional resistance generated by the viscous medium against the moving boat.

ONE approximates these effects, and you may quickly learn that a strong wind does not necessarily make for a speedy sail.

Trudeau ONE sails pretty great using wind speeds of 5-9 m/s, but be careful over that!! The more you increase the wind speed, the more the boat will tilt. Since the wind impacts the sails parallel to the water, the position and angle of the sails (with a given shape) becomes important. A boat in high wind with excessive heel will need extra crew to balance.

If you’re clueless and crewless when a squall hits, you may need to look for a harbor of refuge ūüôā

The figure above reinforces this point. With a single skipper and a Real Wind speed of 11.0m/s, on an apparent wind heading of 60¬į the boat makes rather terrible headway, with a speed over ground of only 2.7 m/s.¬† The practical reason is the boat’s heeling too much, so the skipper has three choices:

1.0 Spill Wind;
2.0 Get some crew to sit on the rail!!! or
3.0 Reconsider career options.

I can’t tell you which of the above makes the most sense, since it probably depends on your personal priorities and whether you paid your therapist recently, but let me say again: This boat is wondrous with wind speeds of 5-9 m/s, but don’t set the wind much higher unless you have good crew aboard.

OH!! one more thing about the above image: you can see in the lower right corner a small camera HUD. It’s new for this boat, and I think its pretty convenient (opinions differ on this point). The cam HUD allows you to adjust your view angle while sailing. Since ONE has truly gorgeous sails and it’s critical to monitor them to make the correct sheet adjustments, I rarely if ever change the sail alpha (transparency). That can be a problem since the sails limit your view of other race boats and obstacles. Using the cam HUD gives a one-click second view angle you can toggle while racing. I actually love it! It’s helped prevent massive wreckage and personal injury several times when I tried to sail while texting on my cellphone.

5. Autogybing. In real life, what a sailing boat gets hit by a sudden gust of wind from the opposite direction, the boom can careen over the cockpit, gybing the boat as the sails fill from the other side. Every Trudeau mono hull since the Pleistocene era was scripted to use manual gybing; the boom and sails would not flip unless a skipper gave the right command. Given the substantial risk of boom injury and head trauma that can result from accidental gybing, Trudeau should be commended for her past half decade of cautious gybe scripting.

Well, better learn to duck, because Trudeau ONE introduces Main and Jib autogybing to the Classic Yacht fleet!

The spinnaker on ONE still requires a manual gybe, but that’s intentional; spinnakers need personal attention in real life too!

6. Racewind-dependent windshadow. Windshadow is a powerful tactical racing tool, the magnitude and extent of the shadow effect is realistic and carefully implemented in current Trudeau boats. Windshadow is also pretty script-intensive and lag-inducing however, and it’s not useful unless you’re in a race. ONE takes a smart approach: Windshadow only turns on if you are sailing with “Racewind” from a windsetter. If you want to cruise, solo-lap, or just do practice runs… use “Boatwind” instead!

6. Hiking ONE is quite sensitive to heel position and it’s probably prudent to bring along some friends to stick on the rail. The heel angle is a function of several things, including the sails deployed, the sheeting, the apparent wind speed and angle, and crew efforts to counterbalance the boat. It ends up a little messy in real life and SL both, but I guess the Goldilocks Rule of heeling is: “Not too little, not too much; figure out the just-right point.” The chart above makes that point. It shows the effect of just the skipper moving windward or leeward in the boat using a fixed upwind heading under variable wind strength. At very low wind speeds (2.0-4.0) the boat doesn’t heel at all; in fact the skipper can counterbalance the boat, making it heel into the wind. At those low wind speeds, the boat goes faster if you sit to leeward and ‘help it heel’ a bit.

Wind speeds under 5.0 m/s in SL racing are pretty rare, however. Once you get over 6.0 m/s the boat develops a pronounced heel that slows you down. At that point it makes sense to balance the boat and move to the windward side. The impact of the skipper is relatively small as shown above, but you can assume it’s going to make a 10-15% speed difference with typical race conditions. Individual crew members hiking also boost performance around 10% within the constraints of the above caveats. I haven’t tried looking at full crew affects yet; that could prove interesting ūüôā

I have lots more to say about this boat, but that’s enough for today; I want to log in and go sail it!

[If you want to try ONE out, he’s the link to the Trudeau dock. Fair winds and good sailing!]

Over-The-Line, Thirty, and Confused

This week I’ve been writing a lot about the July 12 SLVT Qualifying Matches. The races were remarkable, and the skippers displayed a high level of skill that truly pushed some limits of SL Sailing. One example was the skippers’ use of the start line as a tactical aid to outmaneuver opponents during the three minute prestart. Carmen Foden won Race Three essentially before it began when she skillfully pushed Glorfindel Arrow over the line during the final seconds of the countdown. A somewhat similar issue also occurred in Race Four between Gemma Vuckovic and Astro Marksman.

However, in both of those matches the post-race Penalty Committee disqualified skippers for start line errors, citing the SLVT Regatta Rules, the RRS-SL, and RRS Rule 30.1. (The Rules for Sunday’s Round Five Regatta were also posted here on Metaverse).

The trouble is that neither the SLVT Regatta Rules or the RRS-SL actually discuss Start Rule details or how they should be applied. That’s not really an error, however, since over-early rules rarely come up in ACA racing, and the prior three SLVT events were pretty tame and orderly. Last Sunday, however, that all changed! ūüôā As LDeWell Hawker put it,

“We actually saw sailors go ‚Äėhunting‚Äô for their opponent hoping to draw a infraction giving the opponent the dilemma of a penalty to be completed after the start.”

This certainly wasn’t a bad thing; actually it was a very exciting development and made the races pretty fantastic to watch. Carmen Foden herself confirmed Hawk’s impression:

I was out for prestart blood in the races… I’ve lost all the large events I’ve entered due to poor starts so I figured I’d mix it up to gain an advantage on the line without going over early. … Sunday was me showing off 3 months of practice…
I had so much fun hunting Astro; I was out to draw prestart fouls.
I think Astro was too.”

Carmen’s right; I spoke with Astro, and he strongly agreed the prestart sparring match added an important dimension to the races. In fact, you can see a video of Astro practicing his prestart match tactics here.

My point (as if I ever had any point) is just that emerging prestart tactics make it important for race organizers to clarify the “Start Rules.”

In case you doubt that, since Sunday I’ve asked more than a dozen avid ACA33 racers a pretty simple question: If you cross the Start line early, do you have to go around an end buoy before recrossing the line?” I received at least six different answers. That might sound surprising, considering it’s a ‘yes/no‘ question, but remember: We’re talking Sailboat Racing. ūüôā

Thirty-something

The basic ISAF Start Rule is Rule 30:

30 STARTING PENALTIES

30.1 I Flag Rule
If flag I has been displayed, and any part of a boat’s hull, crew or equipment is on the course side of the starting line or one of its extensions during the last minute before her starting signal, she shall thereafter sail from the course side across an extension to the prestart side before starting.

30.2 Z Flag Rule
If flag Z has been displayed, no part of a boat’s hull, crew or equipment shall be in the triangle formed by the ends of the starting line and the first mark during the last minute before her starting signal. If a boat breaks this rule and is identified, she shall receive, without a hearing, a 20% Scoring Penalty calculated as stated in rule 44.3(c). She shall be penalized even if the race is restarted or resailed, but not if it is postponed or abandoned before the starting signal. If she is similarly identified during a subsequent attempt to start the same race, she shall receive an additional 20% Scoring Penalty.

30.3 Black Flag Rule
If a black flag has been displayed, no part of a boat’s hull, crew or equipment shall be in the triangle formed by the ends of the starting line and the first mark during the last minute before her starting signal.If a boat breaks this rule and is identified, she shall be disqualified without a hearing, even if the race is restarted or resailed, but not if it is postponed or abandoned before the starting signal. If a general recall is signalled or the race is abandoned after the starting signal,the race committee shall display her sail number before the next warning signal for that race, and if the race is restarted or resailed she shall not sail in it. If she does so, her disqualification shall not be excluded in calculating her series score.

There’s a wide range of interpretation of the above rules in both Real Life and in racing emulations. For example, the Percy Priest Yacht Club in USA (A club I picked totally at random) covers Rule 30 by saying simply that any over-early boat needs to go back and re-cross the line. There’s no discussion of¬† ‘end buoys.’

In SL Sailing that simplified interpretation doesn’t work very well, however. It’s fairly easy for an unrestricted SL skipper to game the system by sailing directly down the middle of the Start line during the last several seconds… then pop over when the clock hits 00:00. Having said that, it’s also true that starting boats are usually clustered around the race line in SL when the¬† Countdown begins. For safety reasons or by accident the often incidentally cross the start line after they raise sail. It makes little sense to penalize them for doing so.

The American Model Yacht Association has a good, short discussion of how the Start Rules can apply to a sailing emulation; they endorse¬† a variation of Rule 30.1. I’d suggest for the remainder of SLVT we consider using their system.

A Note on Flags

The use and importance of flags in sailing has a long history and tradition. It’s built into the Rules of Racing as well. I would never argue against signal flags in any context, but lets agree the flags are “legacy” forms of communication, and just ornamental. They have nothing to do with the actual race. The RL yacht club example I cited above and the AMYA pay homage to the ‘flag system,’ but they don’t use it. I think they correctly see that the issue is to announce the Rules for any given race beforehand and update the fleet at racetime. In SL, text communication and notecards are fairly efficient. In a busy race where skippers have reduced draw distance and selective graphics, putting out a ‘flag’ is arguably a wasted effort if its the primary form of communication. (And did I mention it intimidates the hell out of new sailors?)

Suggestion

1. I think it makes sense for race directors and regatta organizers to announce the ‘Starting Rules’ they wish to use. Of course, its entirely their choice to decide what fits a particular event¬† (including ‘no rules‘ or a decision ‘not to even think about it‘ ūüôā ); there is no right or wrong here.

2. Specifically for the SL-VT Regatta, as I mentioned above I’d suggest any further races use Rule 30.1 as adapted by the AMYA. In other words:

If any part of a boat’s hull, crew or equipment is on the course side of the starting line or one of its extensions during the last minute before her starting signal, she shall thereafter sail from the course side around one of the end markers to the prestart side before starting.

Does that make sense to everyone?

It may seem like a small issue, but the winners of Round Five were decided based on ‘Over-Early‘ rules issues, and the problem is now guaranteed to come up repeatedly as we move on to the SLVT Finals. To quote Carmen Foden:

I just hope the race committee has their rule books handy in August!”

_____________

SL-VT Round Five Part Two: Glorfindel and Carmen!

On July 10-11 NYC hosted Round Five of the SL-VT Qualifying series to chose two more skippers for the upcoming SL-VT grid-wide finals in August.

I’ve already reported on the first two races. Let’s catch up with Race Three!

Race Three: Glorfindel Arrow and Carmen Foden

The moment the Clock began it’s countdown, Carmen pulled out her boxing gloves and began sparring with Glorfindel; believe me,¬† Glorf gave as good as he got.

Maybe boxing isn’t the best analogy here, though; the skill, timing, and humor of the Match Race three-minute, pre-start two-step is more like a Tango. While watching Carmen and Glorf weave back and forth, Amythest Wingtips called it “the dance of love,” and wow, I think Amy got it right. ūüôā

Anywayz, Glorfindel and Carmen traded some pretty fancy kisses behind the raceline for two and a half minutes, as the duo moved inexorably closer to the Start.

Here’s what the spectators heard in those final seconds:

[2010/07/11 9:09] ::: SLSA Raceline: 30 SECONDS to the start
[2010/07/11 9:09] ::: Carmen Foden: lee
[2010/07/11 9:09] ::: SLSA Raceline: 20 SECONDS to the start
[2010/07/11 9:09] Elizabet Foxtrot: she’s puching
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 15 SECONDS to the start
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: Glorfindel Arrow is over early! Go around the buoy and recross !
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 10
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 9
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 8
[2010/07/11 9:10] Elizabet Foxtrot: got him
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 7
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: Carmen Foden: protest
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 6
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 5
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 4
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 3
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 2
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 1
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: RACE STARTED

[2010/07/11 9:12]  Angus Firethorn: Dont you guys think thats a little dirty forcing him over the line like that??
[2010/07/11 9:12]¬† Gemma Vuckovic: nope …
[2010/07/11 9:12]¬† diamond Marchant: all is fair in love and sailing…
[2010/07/11 9:13]  don Berithos: this is the Vuitton. All gloves are off!

I was high overhead, watching the action from the next sim. That’s a great place to get the overview, but I missed the the details… and I admit the details in this race were critical. Luckily there was a full house watching the race, and I had a chance to chat with Amythest Wingtips, who won Round Two of SL-VT. She was watching from the spectator box over the Startline, and presumably checking out her future competition. Here’s our conversation:

___

[9:18:13] Jane Fossett: In the third race Glorf was over early… and Angus (Firethorn) commented that Carmen forced him over.
[9:19:08] Amythest Wingtips: She did
[9:19:23] Jane Fossett: How’d she do that?… Sumo Wrestling?
[9:19:55] Amythest Wingtips: He was next to her on the port side, she moved to port [towards the line],  forcing him to cross.
He had 3 choices:

1. Cross the line early,

2. Hit her, or

3. Stop and let her go first.
[9:20:31] Jane Fossett: Beautiful! Elizabet’s comment now makes sense; Elizabet said Carmen ‘
puched.’
I actually didnt think Carmen ‘
puked;’ so you agree she ‘
pushed’ Glorf.
[9:22:09] Amythest Wingtips: Lol; [Carmen] moved over, closer to the line, but since [Glorfindel] was already there,
he had to move across the line to not hit her.
So in a sense it was pushing, although they never really touched.
[9:22:57] Jane Fossett: that’s the whole idea; I love it.

___

After he was ‘pushed over,’ Glorfindel quickly turned and recrossed the line, still ahead of Carmen. Unfortunately in the heat of the moment, he forgot to go around one of the Startline buoys. Following the race,¬† the judges determined Glorf was DSQ.

When I interviewed Glorfindel afterward, he most graciously admitted committing a silly error in not rounding a Start buoy, and acknowledged Carmen had adroitly pushed him over the line, using the rules to force him into the situation. (What a gentleman!)

However,¬† rather remarkably, Glorf attributed his Start line duel defeat to a poor tactical decision he made a few chess moves earlier that laid the scenario, allowing Carmen to put him in ‘Check.’

Wow. Think about that. I talk to many sailors about race outcomes… they usually say ” NN cheated, or in a gangster-tone they comment “I Wuz Robbed.” ūüôā
That wasn’t Glorf and Carmen… they were playing chess… they were thinking ahead… and omgThey were Match Racing. WOOTS!

Yesterday I commented that Sunday’s races brought this competition to an entirely new level. Carmen and Glorfindel proved that in spades in Race Three. Even before the Start gun sounded, they had moved far beyond a simple boat race; they were playing chess… dueling, having fun, and planning several moves ahead.

I was originally going to bypass discussing this race at all, since it ended with a start line rules decision; the race was over before it began. But… OMG, look what actually happened.:-)

Carmen played pre-start tactics as well as I’ve EVER seen them done in real life, let alone SL. And Glorfindel? He saw it coming and danced with her toe-to-toe.

It’s a level of match sailing I haven’t seen for three years, since Armchair, M1sha, and Hans faced-off in Tako Cup 2007.

Thank you, THANK-YOU, Glorfindel and Carmen!

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Phew! Tomorrow I’ll add the final three races!

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SL-VT Round Five: Part I

 

 On the July 10-11 NYC hosted Round Five of the SL-VT Qualifying series for the upcoming SL-VT grid-wide finals in August.

A¬†fantastic fleet of racers converged in Blake Sea – Atlantic for two days of match competition, and¬†the contest¬†proved to be the¬†most exciting display of ACA racing skill so far revealed in the qualifying series. The Round Five skippers truly set a new, high bar of racing finesse.¬† In fact, the sailing was so much fun and so full of tight finishes and close Rules calls that I wasn’t able to fit it all in one article here; today I’ll just tell you just about the first two races!

Round 5 Match Finals:

NYC chose to hold elimination races in various timeslots on Saturday, and then advanced the top four sailors into a round-robin shoot-out¬†on Sunday. Here’s how that six-race¬†lineup looked as the haze cleared over the Atlantic race¬†line Sunday morning:¬†

1 Astro Marksman¬†— Carmen Foden
2 Gemma Vuckovic — Glorfindel Arrow
3 Carmen Foden — Glorfindel Arrow
4 Gemma Vuckovic — Astro Marksman
5 Glorfindel Arrow — Astro Marksman
6 Carmen Foden — Gemma Vuckovic

¬†The race course is shown above on the right. With a wind from due South, it¬†favored a Starboard start from the West (Windward) side of the line. Under ideal conditions, a skipper¬†could clear the startline and then choose a first-leg turn¬†point that¬†could get them¬†all the way to the second¬†mark¬†in only two tacks. ( that sounds good, but when was the last time¬†race conditions were ideal? ūüôā )

 In any event, the course was short, simple, and undoubtedly familiar to most in the SL-VT competition fleet.  On Sunday morning, the four qualifying finalists were Ready to Roar.

Race One: Astro Marksman¬†— Carmen Foden

¬†It’s hard to imagine two¬†sailors who have more enthusiasm¬†or raw¬†“ACA racing street-credibility” than Carmen and Astro. Even though this was the first match of the day, it¬†promised to be pretty exciting.

Wow, it was way more than that. The show¬†Carmen and Astro¬†put on strongly raised the standard of competition to a new level, and clearly demonstrated what it’s going to¬†take to win this regatta in August.

Match racing is, of course, not about being the fastest boat. Sure, speed helps, but a match race is really a competition between two skippers, and the strategy they use at each step to gain advantage as they try to¬†knock out their opponent. It’s a boxing match between friends wearing sailing gloves.

Winning the Start is a big deal in any race, and it’s particularly true¬†sailing the ACA33.¬†A¬†good deal of match¬†race skill¬†therefore focuses on¬†‘prestart’ strategy and tactics.¬†In the first race, Carmen and Astro gave¬†a free demonstration of how that’s done.¬†From the moment¬†the clock began¬†the three minute countdown, the two skippers went at each other in a fast-paced duel where they dodged and parried for position, each trying to block the other and gain a start advantage¬†that would throw¬†their opponent off balance.

There were woots, gasps and and loud cheers from the spectators watching these prestart pyrotechnics, and I admit¬†this turned out to be one of the¬†most exciting, and most realistic ACA match races I’ve seen in SL.

Most skippers will opt for a Starboard start in fleet races, but in a 2-boat match race there’s less of a starboard advantage. Carmen apparently¬†decided on¬†a ‘port strategy’ for the Round Five¬†match series, and as the final clock seconds ticked away, she broke away¬†from Astro. As shown above, Carmen¬†flipped to a port tack and¬†headed to the¬†opposite end of the line.¬†

That put Astro six seconds ahead, but Carmen clearly knew what she was doing.

After she crossed the far side of the line she quickly flipped back to a Starboard tack; the maneuver put her on a fast, windward beat with the first mark in her gunsites.

Astro of course had a similar plan, but he opted to cross the line on Staboard; when he turned to fetch the mark, that put him on Port tack.

You can see the result above; Carmen and Astro arrived together at the first mark, but Carmen had Starboard ROW.

She used it to full advantage, zipping inside past Astro and taking the lead as both boats circled Fastnet.

Although Astro stayed glued to Carmen’s stern during the long downwind run back to Atlantic, Carmen was able to successfully blocked¬† each of his ¬†passing attempts. The image sequence below shows what then happened as the two boats rounded¬†the Blue/White ‘bottom mark” at the end of the Run.

The first picture shows that Carmen was clearly in the lead going into the turn, and both boats were on Starboard tack.¬† As shown in the middle image below, Carmen gybed immediately after passing the bouy; she¬†presumably planned to cross the race line ‘gate’ using her Port tack strategy again.¬†¬†Astro was right on her¬†heels however¬†and took the turn a moment later, but¬†he elected to¬†remain on Starboard¬†to cross¬†the line.¬† That meant Carmen effectively gybed right across Astro’s bow! The boats were so close that neither boat had any time to avoid a collision; as the crowd of watchful sailors gasped in unison, Astro tumbled¬†highspeed and headlong into Carmen’s aft quarter!¬†

¬†Keeping her head, Carmen immediately gybed back to Starboard, disengaging the two boats. Both sailors then crossed the ‘Atlantic gate’ on close haul, as shown below.

Carmen¬†accepted Astro’s protest over the above event, and did a 360¬į penalty turn as soon as she crossed the line and was in free water (Woots Carmen!! What a ‘pro’ you are).¬†¬†That of course gave Astro the opening he needed, and he was able to sprint ahead into clean air, unobstructed. Carmen¬†remained game to the end and fought back hard,¬†but Race One went to Astro; he deserved it.

In fact they¬†both deserved a standing ovation.¬†Race One¬†was easily the most exciting, intelligent, and “technically proficient” ACA match race I’ve ever seen in SL.¬† Judging from the comments of the spectators and Race Staff, I’m pretty sure everyone else agreed with that assessment.¬†¬† Nice job, Astro and Carmen!!

Lap Times:
Astro Marksman — Start: 00:00:01 — Lap 1: 00:04:51 — Lap 2: 00:03:18
Carmen Foden — Start: 00:00:07 — Lap 1: 00:04:29 — Lap 2: 00:03:49

 

Race Two: Gemma Vuckovic — Glorfindel Arrow

The second race matched up Gemma Vuckovic and Glorfindel Arrow, two seasoned sailors with an impressive, storybook lineage of  regatta victories in multiple boat classes. They avoided a pre-start duel  for this match, both approaching the Windward end of the startine on starboard closehaul as the clock ticked down.

As shown below, Glorfindel was in the lead coming up to the line. He arrived¬†a¬†few seconds early however, and had to fall off to leeward and run the line, waiting for “00:00.”

 When the gun went off  Glorf crossed the Start first. Although Gemma was a heartbeat behind him, she actually owned the momentum and held the windward position as the two boats headed for the first mark.

 As shown below, Gemma played those factors to advantage; she won the first mark and grabbed a slight lead as the two boats came around Fastnet Rock.

However, Glorf was actually in a good spot as the boats head into the next leg, the downwind run to the bottom mark.

Glorf was able to smother Gemma in his windshadow and repeatedly tried to pass her leeward to grab away the lead. Gemma never gave an inch however, and successfully fended off his attempts.

Frankly, as¬†the two boats¬†began the turn at the bottom mark, they were so close and so tightly overlapped in this squabble, it looked like¬†Glorf and Gemma¬†were exchanging genetic material. (Forget that image ūüôā ; let’s focus on racing!)¬†¬†¬†

As you can see from the image above, as the two boats¬†took the bottom turn, Glof was outside and leeward. both boats then fell on a¬†Starboard close haul, aiming for the far, leeward corner of the Atlantic raceline ‘gate.’ The competition was¬†dead-even at that point; both sailors had the skill and experience to win this race.¬† But look what happened next!¬†

Gemma and Glorfindel both aimed for the leeward edge of the raceline, planning to cross adjacent to the red buoy (please note: all my pictures were taken from high overhead in a different sim, and the green-red raceline buoys never rezzed; they are not shown in the pictures). The above image shows both race boats as they crossed the line at the extreme lee end; Gemma was in front, overlapped,  and windward of Glorf. Gemma cut the buoy pretty close, leaving Glorf no room. To avoid a collision, Glorf slammed into the buoy and came to a near dead stop.

 As shown above, this gave Gemma the clear opening she needed;  She took off and  was unstoppable, finishing the race far ahead of her opponent.

Lap Times:

Gemma Vuckovic — Start: 00:00:03 — Lap 1: 00:04:18 — Lap 2: 00:03:18
Glorfindel Arrow — Start: 00:00:02 — Lap 1: 00:04:21 — Lap 2: 00:03:58

Gates

At the conclusion of the race, Glorfindel Arrow requested a Rules Clarification:

[2010/07/11 9:03] Quirky Torok: for those interested in such things….
[2010/07/11 8:58] ::: Glorfindel Arrow: ok, I have a question
[2010/07/11 8:59] ::: Glorfindel Arrow: what the rule about that line, is it a gate? 
[8:59] Gemma Vuckovic: I think Glor is querying my closure at the line
[8:59] Soro Dagostino: Yes
[9:00] Glorfindel Arrow: yeah, dose she have to give lee row at the ‘gate’? I think there is some rule about it
[9:00] Glorfindel Arrow: just asking
[9:00] Soro Dagostino: If it is an obtsruction
[9:00] Soro Dagostino: Mark of the course.
[9:01] Glorfindel Arrow: well i sort of hit the mark if it is considered a mark
[9:01] Soro Dagostino: I saw that.
[9:01] Gemma Vuckovic: I was sailing proper course, my sails close to wind
[9:01] LDeWell Hawker: I don’t belive room…is required at a gate…
[9:01] LDeWell Hawker: and..
[9:02] Soro Dagostino: Agreed

Glorfindel actually never protested during the race and¬†did not request¬†“mark room,” so there was no¬†official complaint for the protest committee to consider. In fact, Glorfindel took pains above to emphasize he was was not actually protesting, just asking for rules clarification. The judge’s public comments above left the answer ambiguous. Since it’s an important point that deserves more discussion, let me offer my RL/ SL understanding here.

A gate is defined by two race marks; a racing boat needs to travel between them and ‘go through the gate.’ Gates are often used at the top or bottom mark where racing boats are expected to gybe and reverse direction. Since¬†the gate has two marks, race boats have the option to go around one or the other mark to make their turn. This configuration reduces traffic congestion and enhances strategy. Don Berithos’ GGYC Round 3 course was a good example of such a “Windward-Leeward Course with a Gate.”

In Round Two and Five, the Start lines were used as gates, although the racing boats passed though them without gybing. Nonetheless, the buoys on either side that define the gates are considered¬†‘Race Marks’ and fall under Rule 18 (Room at a Mark).

Glorfindel was the leeward boat overlapped with Gemma. He was on a fixed course that would cross the line exactly where Gemma was headed. Glorf had ROW.

As I understand it, he¬†never protested, so¬†there was no judging issue.¬†From his leeward advantage, however, he could have¬†shouted “Up, Up!!”, luffed Gemma windward,¬†and most likely grabbed a controlling lead position as they passed the gate. Anyone disagree?

Woots; thats enough for today; tomorrow I’ll post the other four races!