Monthly Archives: May 2011

Trudeau HepCat Catamaran 2011

This week Trudeau Classic Yachts releases the HepCat. It’s an agile, two-person catamaran that pays homage to the  Hobie 16, the most popular of the small, beachcat-style production designs.

BeachCat Memories

The 2007 TruCor BeachCat was the first attempt to model a sailing catamaran in Second Life.  The boat was innovative, full of fun, and an instant success. It was so good that many of us still talk about that boat in glowing terms, full of affection and enthusiasm.

Time passes though, and after four great years that little beach rocket deserved the Canyon Ranch treatment; it was time to call it back home to Trudeau Yacht Yard for a fashion makeover, rigging update, and some inspirational scripting.

Well kids, put on your sailing gloves and get ready for a roller coaster ride. The new Trudeau beach catamaran is named HepCat, and it came out of Home Port Rehab with a new attitude, packed with more good things than you can find under your seat at Oprah.

If you loved the old BeachCat, however, don’t worry; the new Trudeau HepCat still has all the features that made that earlier boat a marvel. HepCat is ultra-light, hair-trigger responsive, and OMG is it fast. 🙂 J Trudeau probably summarized it best in one of the notecards that come with the boat:

“Instructions:
1. Raise sails
2. Hang the HELL onto something!

Bodywork

The picture below shows HepCat and the old BeachCat side by side. Although the two vessels are roughly the same size, you’ll find there’s a big difference when you get closer.

HepCat is remarkably detailed and finely sculpted, with a host of accurate and often humorous features. Let’s start with the hull.

click to enlarge

It’s worth noting that with any sculptie hull there’s a potential for a mismatch between the boat you see and the actual ‘collision mesh’ that bumps into things. This problem can lead to a number of unseemly complications, like accidentally hitting buoys, docks, boats, other people, or – good grief – even unintentionally triggering a raceline.

The image to the right above shows a basic test of the HepCat build, bumping the boat into the Linden buoy in Farragut. HepCat’s hull makes the grade quite nicely; there’s a very close correlation between the boat you see, and the boat that goes ‘bump’ in the night. 🙂 Nice sculpting!

It’s also clear that much attention was devoted to accuracy of many fine details in HepCat.

Here’s just one example: Click on the image to the right to see a close-up of the trapeze. It has a wire line that extends from the mast and ends in a red “T-grip.” An adjuster lead then connects to a quick release on the harness spreader worn by the sailor, and there’s even a safety line that secures the trapeze to the boat. Wow even the details of the knots are impressive, particularly since the only time any of this is visible is when a sailor moves out to the extreme hike position. Grin, when that happens, believe me, your going to be fighting to keep the boat flying upright. You won’t have time to admire the detailed craftsmanship that went into the rig, but its nice to know it’s there. :-).

Speaking of which, the boat and rigging are all full mod, so you can adjust your harness fit to suit your shape, and fine tune the sit positions so your feet go under the toe-straps on the tramp. 🙂

The boat comes with a host of built-in sail patterns by Bunnie Mills, based on  traditional designs. However, if you want to personalize your own HepCat, the texture templates are downloadable from the Trudeau website.

Speaking of options, the boat comes with two independently controlled sails (main + jib), a Settings Notecard full of adjustables, and three different HUDs you can choose from, based on your sailing style.

HEPCAT Sailing

OK! Let’s talk sailing!

HepCat can be sailed solo, or with one crew. Both skipper and crew can adjust the sails and other controls, and each sailor has eight hike positions (four port, four starboard) to help balance the boat while underway. Be warned: HepCat is a very tender and not too forgiving, so pay attention or you’ll spend most of your time capsized! 🙂

Rudders and Drift

But before we get to that “C-word” issue, let’s talk ‘Rudders.‘ HepCat has two of them, one on each pontoon, and the boat will sail slightly faster with the rudders in the UP position due to reduced drag. However, rudders tend to be rather useful for turning, 🙂 so most sailors will probably set their rudders DOWN much of the time.

Most SL sailors also know that recent Trudeau boats have a ‘lee helm‘ bias, tending to turn downwind with a fixed tiller setting. That’s also true for HepCat, but only when the Rudders are UP. Since the rudder contributes to boat stability, that lee drift thing is cancelled when rudders are DOWN. (By the way, that noise you just heard in the background is Alain Gloster jumping for joy over this change 🙂 ).

Sails

HepCat uses the TruSail system worked out by JT and Bunnie Mills and featured in the recent crop of TCY releases.

When you raise sail, the sheets are slack and the sails are full-out, flapping in the wind. You dont need to follow any numbers or calculate any angles; just pull in the sheets until the sails smooth out and fill with air. You’ll get a satisfying WHOMP when the airfoil takes shape, and the boat will surge ahead. As the boat accelerates the apparent wind angle will move towards the bow, so you’ll see and hear the sail start to luff again; that’s a reminder to pull in that sheet a bit more. 🙂 Pretty easy stuff, and no numbers!

Of course, if you really want numbers you can have them, and sailors can adjust sail angle using the HUD, arrow keys, or through chat commands. Having separate controls for each sail actually adds a new dimension to racing this boat, since it provides yet another way to ‘fine tune’ your rig to maximize VMG without dumping everyone in the water :-).

Speediness

Kudos to Bunnie Mills; we each spent time trying to get polar performance data on this boat, and we gradually came to the same conclusion. HepCat has so many adjustable settings and features that impact sail performance that any single set of numbers on a curve ends up misleading. We decided the sailors should stop looking at numbers and ‘just go sail the damn boat‘ to figure out what works best for them, while matching their personal style.

Having said that, here’s a chart anyway to prove we did it, and to give some broad pointers about how HepCat handles.

Using a fixed 5.0m/s wind, the chart shows boat speed for Real Wind Angles 20° – 170°.

HepCat’s performance is shown as a dashed, purple line, and it’s contrasted with data from a radically different catamaran, the upcoming ACJ-45 (solid blue and red lines).

The HepCat numbers show the boat hits maximum speed on a beam reach, actually matching or exceeding wind speed over Real Wind Angles 90°-140°. Woots, this is a Rocket, in the tradition of the old TruCor BeachCat. Please remember though that increasing boat speed causes a shift in the  angle of the Apparent Wind that drives the boat. That means a HepCat sailing 90° off the Real Wind will likely end up close hauled and tightly sheeted due to Apparent Wind effects. That’s the reason the ACJ-45 above seems to sail much faster on upwind headings than HepCat. WildWind boats use an adjustment factor in their sail algorithm that decreases apparent wind influence.

But forget all that, OK? Instead of worrying about points on a graph, just get out there and sail the boat for yourself and see what you think. In RL sailing forums, the same sort of technical discussions often come up for lengthy debate, until somebody pops in and says “Why are we typing online? Let’s go SAIL.” 🙂

WIND SHADOW

Before we leave the world of numbers though, here’s a small graphic that shows  HepCat’s shadow effect. A windward ‘Shadow boat’ was parked at 0,0 and a test boat moved to different leeward locations to measure shadow intensity.

The scheme is the same one discussed in earlier posts, and shows that HepCat casts a teardrop-shaped blanket over other Trudeau boats passing leeward. The maximum shadow distance is around 30m, but the shadow intensity is very small that far out. Meaningful shadow in a race only occurs when boats are less than 20m, and there’s a small bias for shadow effects behind the windward boat.

Heeling, Hiking and the “C” Word

Heeling has a big effect on HepCat’s performance, and it pretty much follows the Goldilocks Rule: Not too little, not too much, make it Just Right.”

The boat has maximum drag when both hulls are in the water. But with correct sheeting and crew positions, the boat will begin to heel. As soon as the windward hull lifts out of the water, the drag cuts in half, and HepCat gets a pretty powerful extra speed surge.

oops

Of course,  there’s a downside (How come in life there’s always a downside?). As the heel angle increases, the sails become less efficient. Sailing HepCat is a constant fun challenge to use every trick you know to keep the boat at optimal heel, without flattening out or flipping over!

So how far can you heel the boat before it capsizes? Well, if you try hard enough, a two person crew can flip a HepCat with the sails lowered. That tells you roughly the angle where you hit The Tipping Point (apologies to Malcolm Gladwell).

In the picture to the right, the boat is heeled as far as it will go and stay upright. As soon as one of the sailors moves lee, the boat suddenly capsizes. That may suggest a 40° tilt is pretty much the point of no return, and should be avoided unless you want to get wet. 🙂

Having said that, It’s also worth noting that the heel effects and capsize are incremental; it takes a few seconds for sailing mistakes to turn into serious heel, and a sailor hit by a sudden gust might well be able to avoid a knockdown if they have quick reflexes. 🙂

 One Size Does Not Fit All

A few paragraphs above, we discussed performance graphs for HepCat, warning those numbers probably had limited value. Here’s one reason: HepCat’s hiking effects depend on the height of the Avatar. 🙂

click to enlarge

That may seem unfair to some, but wow, its what happens in real sailing. A big gorilla with lead weights in his pants can counterbalance a heeling rig a lot easier than the smaller (but smarter) girl at the tiller in the boat next to him.Well, welcome to HepCat, where ‘size matters.

The figure to the right shows the hiking effect of two different sized avatars. In the top view, the Avatar is 7.16ft tall, and hiked all the way out on the trapeze. That throws the boat out of balance and gives it a heel of 25°. But now look at the bottom view, where a much smaller avatar (3.99 ft) is in exactly the same position. The very short crew person doesn’t affect the boat balance at all.

That means how HepCat sails and how a crew adjusts to different conditions is suddenly a personal matter :-). What works for one team might not be the best strategy for another sailing pair. Luckily this boat is full of options and sailing adjustments, and it should be great fun finding out who comes up with the best strategy for teamwork and performance to tame the ‘New HepCat in Town.”

One final thing. Although this boat looks like a super racer, HepCat is really intended as a fun beach catamaran. The real life one-design Hobie 16 leads the same kind of double-life, lying on the beach on Saturday and flying full-tilt across some raceline on Sunday.

Trudeau’s built that style into HepCat; it even comes with a great ‘beaching’ command, so you can run it up on some secluded island. TCY’s even set up a beach for you to try it on, so go take a look. If you’re lucky you might meet some big gorilla with lead weights in his pants that can hike for you. 🙂

Grid Flounders, Sansara’s Colon, and ACA33 Trophy

Hi! there are many news items to talk about, but on this holiday weekend I’m just going to give you a short list of head’s up posts. I’ll get you the details when I stop crashing on the grid! 🙂

Grid Tsuris

There was a little girl, who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead,
And when she was good, she was very, very good,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. (1807-1882)

Ok, I need to begin with a moment of primal angst. By all sailor reports, the Second Life grid was truly horrid this past week. With a few exceptions, whenever I tried to sail on either mainland or private estates, I ended up regretting it. Glorfindel Arrow, Bunnie Mills, Gemma Vuckovic and Francois Jacques all bemoaned the problem in web posts, and I assume everyone who didn’t complain was likely stuck someplace sitting on the Linden seafloor, suffering in silence.

By contrast, Noodle recently posted a note calling attention to a race with eleven Q-2m’s. I agree with Noodle; the Q-2m is a study, no-nonsense Bwind racer and it’s a great choice for a low-lag, large fleet. However dispite that this week several Q-2m races were cancelled after every single starting boat crashed on the courseYikes!

That may sound excessive, but I had the same troubles. I actually hit an all-time personal record testing the new Wildwind ACJ-45. In 12 sequential sailing attempts, I crashed every time on the first sim border I encountered.

Gee, Wildwinds are stable boats; I’m certain that string of crashes was SL-grid related.

Cait racing Quest-2m

I have no particular insight here about what’s going on to produce such turbulent weather. However I do know this is a frustrating setback for SL’s virtual sailors, since there are regattas underway, scheduled races to be run, and new boats literally aching to launch.

Months ago, Linden Lab seemed to recognize this problem. They announced a policy to prioritize grid infrastructure and performance. I appreciate that is a big task though and it may take time, but along the way it’s pretty critical for LL to provide us all with updates and to stay in communication with SL’s wide user-base. I’m not starting any negative rant here; I truly enjoy SL and I know LL has made efforts over the past year.

Nonetheless, there’s little-or-no evidence of that progress or commitment in the grid this past week. Every sailor I spoke with recently gave their personal version of the question I keep wondering:

“When we get thrown under the waves by a server issue,
how long does LL really expect us sailors to hold our breath?”

I know, I know; the question’s rhetorical.

___

Blondin Linden leaves SL

Last night Nber Medici announced to the sailing community that Blondin Linden was leaving Linden Lab.

Phew; this is sad news for sailing, and its part of the concern voiced in my comment above. Over the past few years Blondin was a big help, and he came through on many issues that concerned sailors. I disagreed with him on several items over the past two years, but I think all sailors respected the process, and acknowledged “the proof” would be the final product. Well, in recent months I saw many instances where Blondin came through. He went beyond what sailors needed, and even beyond what sailors asked for. Blondin helped build SLSailing.

I know we all wish Blondin fair winds and a safe harbor in future adventures that lie ahead. I also hope Linden Lab will continue working with the broad sailing community in a positive, open, and mutually constructive spirit.

ACA33 Trophy Narrows the field

OK, Kids, let’s assume the water is clear and the sky is blue in the near future. Gee, I hope that’s the case anyway, since the ACA33 Trophy competition is heating up! Here’s the official results from the first round open time-trials; they’re relayed by Uber-dog Quirky Torok, and confirmed by Regatta Race Director LDeWell Hawker:

The ACA Elite Cup

1    Miwha Masala   IDMM10 –  00:09:14.64
2    Carmen Foden   ID28 –  00:09:20.09
3    Viciously Llewellyn   ID57 –  00:09:21.35*
4    Lothor Vlodovic   IDLV42 –  00:09:21.35*
5    takabou Destiny   ID1112 –  00:09:21.79
6    Silber Sands   ID75SS –  00:09:22.12
7    Bolt Bashly   IDBolt –  00:09:22.89
8    KazumaHs Destiny   IDKH32 –  00:09:23.20

* Ordered by tie breaker. Both will receive 3rd Prize

The ACA Intermediate Trophy

9    Cher Bravin   IDCB08-G –  00:09:24.11
10    Kurt Calamity   IDKC02 –  00:09:28.71
11    Elbag Gable   ID48EG –  00:09:33.46
12     joro Aya   IDslut –  00:09:34.91
13    Bea Woodget   IDBW90 –  00:09:35.90
14     Jimboo Shelbyville   IDJ_S+ –  00:09:40.43
15    Naeve Rossini   ID36DD –  00:09:41.03
16     Laycee Deed   IDmeee –  00:09:41.64

ACA Light Trophy

1    Ox Seetan   IDOS43 –  00:08:57.83
2    Fadamuito Boa   IDFB63 –  00:09:26.18
3    Orca Flotta   IDORCA –  00:09:43.79
4     Colin Nemeth   ID#008 –  00:10:39.24

All the above racers will go through to the next rounds!

ACA33 Trophy Finals Course (AKA Obama's Birth Certificate)

The Elite Group will do the next round of shoot-out matches in the idyllic, tropical sailing surrounds of Fruit Islands. 🙂 All contestants will have flight and living accommodations paid for by Linden Lab (If you doubt that, just push that ‘Teleport’ button to transport, and ask Mom for a sandwich if you get hungry. It’s all no-charge)!

Once the noise from all the air-horns clears from the Semis and the final racers are chosen, the fleet moves to Blake Sea for the last-dance — match race — final-fix for the ACA33 2011 Gold Card Crowd. 🙂

The Light Fleet and Intermediate Race Group will also do their ultimate Tango-test in Blake that weekend, so it promises to be a hot time in the home port this June! 🙂

Hawk’s spent much time quietly working with all the Elite semifinalists; I keep getting feedback from the racers that this is looking like a truly great regatta conclusion. Even more important, it looks like ACA33 Trophy will leave an enduring legacy — a fleet with knowledge, skill, and excitement over Real Match Racing. 🙂

Nice Going, Hawk, Quirky, and Elbag!

Southern Passage Facelift

I know I’ve posted a lot recently about the changes in Sansara and Bay City, but hey, after so many months (actually, years) of talk about it, I’m pretty excited over the new additions. As I commented before, the upgrades are actually better than anything the residents or sailing community petitioned for, or hoped for in discussions with Michael and Blondin Linden.

TOP: Southern Passage Coast; BOTTOM: Intestinal Villi

The Southwest coastal sim terraforming is one great example.  I commented earlier that the new coastal simset was full of ‘rugged rugations.’  At that time I was thinking of the coastline of the State of Maine…

Well, actually, I admit that’s not completely true. I was also thinking it looked like a close-up of the Large Intestine. :-).

Nonetheless, I liked the way it looked. Michael Linden admits he did the initial claymation for those sims, bt it looks like he had more plans in store. :-). After the Leeward Cruisers stormed past the sims on Tuesday, DPW’s dredging crew went back to work and the Moles took over.

The new coastline is, well… fantastic! On the day the new changes went in I received at least a half-dozen messages from excited sailors, all urging I stop by and celebrate the new coastline! I don’t know any of the construction details, but it looks like Garden Mole’s fingerprints are all over it. 🙂
(Hey Garden Mole? WOOTS!!!)

Here’s an overview map of the coastline change. Go take a look; you’ll love it!

What am I talking about? Well, Go visit the first sim West as you sail over to Abbotts. It’s named Okeanos, and it has a circular driveway (cough; I mean waterway) that surrounds a volcano.

I admit I’m pretty jaded after four years here looking at SL builds, but… I’m also a soft-touch for funny, edgy, off-beat humor. If you look closer at Okeanos, you’ll discover the sim is full of it. If that’s Garden Mole’s input, then Woots! (Garden? ‘We are not worthy’ 🙂 ). Some of the humor and fine design-touches look like Michael Linden from Half-Hitch in Blake Sea too, so maybe the accolades should get spread around a bit. 🙂 I’m sure others had input as well, so please just go visit and then tell me how badly I got it all wrong. 🙂

Anyway, in Okeanos there’s a ramshackle boat house on the inland side of the volcano with a badly dilapidated, unsafe dock. You’ll find lots of free Linden beer bottles around, but since its a G site, so you’ll have to settle for ‘Ginger-Beer.” 🙂

I’m pretty sure most reading this are aware of the long-standing discussion and concern about print-media journalism, and how digital communication (like SL) is methodically destroying that 1500 year legacy. 🙂 Although I write a lot, I needed to smile while commenting here, since inside the Okeanos boathouse you’ll find lots of reading material!

OK I admit it; my favorite was the Mole Travel Guide to Blake Sea: Dining Spots. Just above that you’ll find a copy of the Holy (oops)… I mean the “Moley” Bible.

I’ll let you find your own way around the sim and fall into the traps by yourself, but please don’t forget to visit the volcano, complete with it’s own “diving board” and the too-loud screaming from the perils that lie within 🙂 …

Along the coastal waterway please note there’s an Okeanos lighthouse beacon to guide you. It has a fun animated ladder, and a mildly inappropriate binding post at the top for those “personal moments of public disgrace” (just remember to get your Ginger Beer first). 🙂

The sea floor wasn’t neglected by the Moles either. There’s abundant Flora and Fauna, but let me give you a tip. I ran into a huge catfish circling around the lighthouse… Well, I thought catfish were fresh water scavengers; you know?

I was getting ready to write a complaint about it to DPW, but I tapped the catfish on its shoulder to get a publishable quote for the press release…

It didn’t turn out well! My advice is: leave that fish alone!

Gee, I have a lot more to tell you about, but lets stop there tonight, so I can figure out how to handle this catfish. 🙂

Kudos to Leeward Cruisers

LCC cruisers navigating Mallard Channel in 2010

I just wanted to put in another plug for Leeward Cruising Club. Cate Foulesbane, Kittensusie Landar, and Chaos Mandelbrot are doing a wonderful job coordinating several cruises each week. A few dozen people usually show up, and they can sail any boat they chose, or join another skipper’s crew. The LCC cruise course is always different, and often highlights a new or interesting maritime region. It’s a great way to learn what’s going on across the grid waterways.

Last night’s cruise tried out the Sansara Southern Passage that I mentioned a few days ago, sailing from New Port Yacht Club in Bay City across the new coastal sims to Abbotts. From there the fleet turned Northwest along the interconnected inland waterways and crossed the whole length of Bay of Space Pigs.  They then turned North to enter the L-Shaped Lake where they finally made landfall at the B & T Outpost on the  Northern shore in Marunogere.
DJ Borday was waiting there, spinning tunes! 🙂

As I mentioned above, the LCC cruises are usually very well attended, and last night was no different! I showed up late, so I didn’t have time to snap pictures of the fleet, but I did save the view from my minimap; if you look at the image to the right, you can make out a long string of sailors at the ‘back of the pack’ as they make way from NewPort into the Southern Passage.

It’s a lot of work to plan and coordinate such an ambitious schedule of sailing events every week, but the trio of Cate, Susie, and Chaos do it with style, skill, and humor. Pretty wonderful stuff, Leeward Cruisers!

____

Before I close this note, let me add a side comment. When I wrote about the Southern Passage, I complimented the Linden design in part because the hazardous ‘4-corner’ sim borders (the point where 4 sims converge) were tucked out of the way.

During last night’s cruise we saw a good example of ‘problem‘ 4-corners in the L-Shaped Lake region. If you look at the figure below, you see that most 4-corner points in the Lake are on open water near the shore (yellow arrows), in spots where a boat sailing to windward might gybe. There’s actually a worse problem in Kiha, the sim at the southeast corner of the Lake. Kiha has five islands, so there’s little room to navigate as you work you way through. Unfortunately, the islands are arranged so Kiha has three of these ‘4-corner’ sim convergence points (the red arrows below).

I understand why land owners might prefer this arrangement, and that’s their right; I’m not arguing for any campaign to re-terraform any established regions. I’m just bringing up this point again so sailors know where the hazards are, and I’m perhaps suggesting that estate builders use caution when they design future coastal regions around these dangerous spots. 🙂

This might be a information topic to include in packets distributed by the Open Seas Project.

Sansara Southern Passage

Bay City's New Port Yacht Club

Over the past several months the Linden Department of Public Works has been working gangbusters on upgrades, additions, and lots of innovations across the Sansara continent. Many of these changes involve the waterways, and although Sansara was once called the ‘Old Continent,’ it’s quickly turning into a shiny, new showcase for cruising, sail-racing, diving… and pretty much any other water sport you can think of.

click to enlarge

A few weeks ago I posted about the the new “Northern Passage” there. It’s a string of coastal water sims that run along Sansara’s Northwest continental shelf, linking Bay City’s Gulf of Lauren with the “ANWR Connector” waterway that goes to Heterocera Atoll.

Oh; in case you’re not familiar with all the names and locations in that part of the SL grid, well, no worries; Sansara now has the best maps of any continent in Second Life! A few weeks ago I posted Icarus Fallen’s recent, wonderful cartography, and if you’re interested, his maps are a great place to start. Icarus makes truly beautiful charts that are based on input from many people; the maps include all the current, consensus names of Sansara’s diverse land and water regions.

Although the the Northern Passage is too recent to show up on Icarus’ chart, you can get the info about it here. It’s a fantastic addition that finally links Bay City’s New Port Yacht Club with the extensive water regions further North and East. Unfortunately, that route doesn’t permit easy access to the Sea of Fables and Ice Bay, two of the largest and most popular sailing areas in the continent.

Well, two days ago that problem was solved! A new waterway, the “Southern Passage,” just came on line. It’s a 10-pack of very thoughtfully-planned coastal sims on the Southwest side of Sansara, linking the Bay City water in Luna Palisades with the eastern boating areas that connect through Abbotts and Rosedale. The new waterway was first mentioned nine months ago during Linden Office Hours, and woots, it was worth the wait! 🙂

click to enlarge

The chart above shows the new simset outlined in red (East Luna is also new, but outside the outlined area).

I commented above that the new Linden coastal sims were ‘thoughtfully-planned,‘ and I meant it. It’s worth dropping by to take a look at the details of the new installation.

You can see some of the features on the above map. For example, click to enlarge the graphic then look at the new sim edges. You’ll see that DPW put the region boundaries slightly on the land side of each water sim; that means you’re less-likely to hit a sim border with your boat when you’re trying to gybe near the shoreline.

If you race a lot, you know what I’m talking about. You’ve probably noticed that most maritime estates give parcel owners a thin edge of water along with their property. That’s very understandable, but it also inevitably means there are sim boundaries and/ or ban lines exactly where a boat needs to gybe when moving upwind.

Well sailing fans? That issue wont happen in Sansara’s new Southern Coastal Passage!

Since I’m already whining here about sim border crossings and sailboats, let me add another point. I’m pretty sure most sailors would agree the ultimate danger to frail watercraft in SL are the ‘Four Corner” points. Those are the spots where four sims come together to form a ‘singularity‘ on the map. Hitting a four-corner with a fast, script-heavy boat while you have crew aboard is generally considered pathologically reckless behavior in SL.

Well never fear, because LL DPW has your back. 🙂 Look where the four corners are in the new Southern Passage! Nearly every one is nicely positioned in an out-of -the-way spot that won’t interfere with either sea (or land) activities.
Nice design! :-
)

And please, go look at the terraforming of the newborn sims too; its just getting underway, but what’s installed is actually quite nice. There are several islands on the West end of the passage with good channel depth between, and there’s a natural peninsula breakwater where the sim-passage turns South. There are also seawall palisades on either side of that waterway as it passes the Sandboxes, and then there’s a wonderfully rugged coastline full of inlet rugations as you approach Abbotts. I know it’s all still largely unfinished, but wow, I love it! Kudos to LDPW for a very nice, detailed job, and for all the obvious thought that went into the addition!

click to enlarge

Before I end, let me also give another big shout-out to the great people from Bay City. Over the past few years their work with LL and DPW helped build a great community in West Sansara, and the new Northern and Southern passages will provide a great opportunity for sailors grid-wide to go visit, sail, and plan regattas with the Bay City dock crowd. 🙂

As I’ve commented before, big Kudos go the Marianne McCann for all her patient advocacy for the new water links this past year, and let me also give a hi-five to Holocluck Henley too. I made it over to the new sims as soon as I heard the waterway connection was ‘going live.’ No surprise, Holo was already there 🙂 and was kind enough to give me an inspection tour of the install. It still had that fresh paint smell. So…

Nice work, Bay City, Sansara Sailors, and LL DPW.

Woots!

Let’s Sail!

When you visit, be sure to watch where you're going; I took a bad turn!

ACA33 Cup Round One: Wind, Wave Issue


If you attended any of the practice rounds or official time-trials for the ACA33 Trophy last week over in Breadnut, you probably noticed it. Several of the race boats seemed unbalanced in the water, with their hulls pitched forward or aft. Miwha Masala has written about this issue too.

To illustrate: Bolt Bashly’s boat is riding bow-up in the pic above, while Naeve Rossini has her stern in the air in the image below.

Hawk noticed this persistent pitch problem too. He also discovered the pitch direction correlated with significant performance differences across the race fleet. As the time trials continued, Hawk made sure the competitors were all sailing equivalent boats, cancelling laps where any boat showed evidence of ‘pitch-poor performance.’

I’ve spoken to Hawk, Quirky, and Caf about the issue, and Miwha discussed it on her blog yesterday. On first review, the problem seems an easy fix. The Qualifying Round WWC settings did not include waves or current, so the Wave function was turned OFF. The boats normally pitch back and forth on the water, riding the waves. With the function turned off, the boats froze into a fixed pitch angle based on the the time they locked race settings. That had a small but significant impact on sail performance.

Hawk is confident this issue did not impact the race results, and the time-trial rankings will stand.

Caf Binder and Quirky Torok are also confident the ACA33 3.0 wind engine is not the issue; its the wave input instruction, and Caf says how that’s handled will be fixed in next update release. 🙂

Here’s his official comment:

Caf Binder: About speed and stern X waves.
Glitch has possible origin in 2 situations:
(a) WWC partially set to NO waves, like wave speed zero but height not, or vice versa.
(b) Garbage from previous wave data at script, like an already rezzed boat getting WWC setter again.

Recommendantion for ACA v3.0:
(a) set both wave speed and heigth to zero
(b) yes, re-rez

Well; that was easy. 🙂 Now I can go back to deal with the other pitch problem I’m having… 🙂

Repost: Lit Beacons

SLCG Cutter Djdueruer Zuo

This repost is a follow up to the article below on SL catamarans. Please also go see Tasha Kostolany’s post about Djduerer Zou and the Beachcat Fundraiser that sailors organized in Djd’s memory.

I should add that back in March 2007, I was  still brand new in SL and could barely walk straight; Tasha was in charge of the nascent Nantucket sims, and I’m eternally grateful for her wisdom and guidance with the memorial launch event… and everything else as well.

I think many of us keep returning to memories of Djd’s memorial because it revealed a remarkable strength of SL to unite so many of us in bonds of mutual support and caring. I hope we never forget that, and I’m sure we never will.

I liontaib Dé go ghcastar simm.

Two years after Djd’s death, Saxxon Domella and I both wrote again about his passing. I merged my thoughts about Djd with a post that centered on his close friend, RJ Kikuchiyo.

Well, two more years have again gone by; perhaps its ok to reprint those words once more.

___________

Lit Beacons

Initially posted to SLSailing.com by Jane Fossett on January 6, 2009

RJ Kikuchiyo

RJ Kikuchiyo wrote about the SL Coast Guard:

“… As a continuation of a personal and public mission I have endeavored to promote safe boating in SL just as I do in RL. The professionalism and service that I have witnessed from the SLCG staff has only earned more respect from me for the education and look-out roles that they provide…

In that comment he also referenced the article on OS Grid:

OS Grid: I must thank Owen, Nomad and Glida and others for pioneering the coastline of virtual worlds. I arrived with raw materials and desire, but their generosity allows this community to extend its horizons to new places. I am excited to announce that the virtual Great Point Lighthouse of Nantucket has now a home in OS Grid next to the NYC Clubhouse (inspired by the RL Nantucket YC house and Djduerer Zou).
The offer goes out to any OS Grid sim owner that requests a lighthouse can be provided one of their choice, for no more than the time it takes to create. (fine print: please request a real [past or present] lighthouse, as I’m no good at making stuff up!)

Thank you, RJ!

This now gives me a great excuse to talk about RJ Kikuchiyo. I’m only going to say a few words today, since I’m already writing another article about the work he and SLNE’s Mister Wind are doing to develop children’s educational programs on science and the environment.

RJ at SL Boatshow with NYC 2008 logoIf I haven’t said it before (although I’m pretty sure I have), RJ is quite remarkable as a builder, sailor, and human being. He’s an able spokesperson for SL Sailing and last month had a presentation on “Virtual boating” in SecondLife at the New York National Boat Show. The booth used video to chronicle RJ’s activites in SL over an entire week, and included a segment on the SL Boat Show 2008, not to mention a cameo appearance by Jacqueline Trudeau.
I appreciate there are many superb builders in SL, and in future articles I hope to highlight their wonderful talents and creations, but for me RJ fits in a class by himself. He has an uncanny ability to transform bare wisps of ideas into detailed, virtual objects that maintain and exceed the excitement, the endurance, and the promise of his client’s dreams.

RJ’s extraordinary ability is firmly grounded in his real life experience and his knowledge of practical and technical details of sailing and navigation. He knows what is genuine and he has the skill to convey that core of authenticity in all of his creations. JFos and RJ wait for a race Nov 2006His work captures a moment in time, and each of his three dimensional builds reveals a unique slice of history, culture, craftwork and humor. I first met RJ in Nantucket sim a few days after I first arrived in SL. Back then, I was mostly trying to learn how to walk straight without falling off the dock. In addition to all his other hats, RJ was in charge of Nantucket’s Coast Guard station. I’m pretty sure he introduced himself because he considered me a Water Saftey Hazard and a Boating Accident Waiting to Happen.

RJ was also Nantucket Sim’s master builder, and it was quite amazing to watch his new creations expand across the estate, and then see the estate grow larger to accommodate his new material. RJ would pour over the RL maps and navigational charts of the region to get the layout, then use stacks of photographs he personally took of the real buildings and local surround to capture the subtle details and context.

I recall one evening when I was practicing sitting  and then standing up in my tako without falling overboard (still not an easy feat).  RJ came over and asked what Real Life building I thought was missing in Nantucket sim. I suggested the “Jared Coffin House,” a shipowner’s mansion built in 1845 that’s now a historic landmark and just a few blocks from the dock in town. Jared Coffin House, Nantucket MAWe spent some minutes discussing the details of the building and trading website images that showed different views… and then I fell off the dock and crashed out of SL again.

When I rezzed back to that spot the following morning… wow. I was standing in front of the Jared Coffin House! In just a few hours late that night RJ had captured the essence of the venerable and elegant building and brought it to life right there in Nantucket sim.

When I thought about it this week I stopped back in Nantucket to see if it was still there two years later. Unfortunately, we all know that pixels are perishable; I was told:

“We don’t have it rezzed anywhere…
not for a long time…
it was fairly useless as a retail space.”

I certainly understand the practical considerations involved in that decision, and I left taking solace in the fact that at least the ‘real life Nantucket’ had the grace to keep the Coffin House rezzed for the past 163 years…
RJ has many interests, and his design portfolio includes sailboats, powerboats, clothes, furniture, terraforms, houses, flags, navigational markers… and pretty much anything else tou can imagine. But it only takes a few minutes with him to realize that his true passion is for lighthouses.

Very early on, RJ started the “Lighthouse Board” group in SL, and over the past few years he’s recreated quite a large number of well known historic lights and placed them across the SL waterways.  In fact when I first purchased a parcel of land two years ago, within minutes RJ showed up. He said he was happy I bought the land since he’d been thinking for weeks a lighthouse should go on that property… and he knew just the one to build: Block Island’s South East Light.  While he did most of the building, I had the chance to read up on a good deal of the available history and collect copies of the remaining photos of the structure taken over the years. the project was fascinating and timely, since erosion and many decades of coastal weather put the historic site at risk. Recreating the beacon was a way to preserve the structure and make it accessible to many who would never see it, while at the same time drawing attention to the deterioration of this and many other lights on the East Coast of North America.
SouthEast Light Mystic

When Nantucket Yacht Club moved to USS-South, I left Mystic and the lighthouse was carefully packaged and placed in inventory. However I was truly delighted when Spirit Cleanslate and Transparent Banshee fell in love with the lighthouse as well, and placed a copy on their Greenhouse sim in USS.  If you have not yet visited Greenhouse, stop reading this and go have a look. It is easily one of the most beautiful spots in all of Second Life. What a great place for SE Light to come to rest!
________________________________________

Djduerer Zou

While I was thinking about this article, I went around and looked at several of RJ’s more recent lighthouse creations. I think my favorite is the one in Brenham Estates, a private three-sim estate owned by Madison Brenham.

Madison was the partner of Djduerer Zou, and you may recall that both Saxxon Domela and I wrote about him  in different contexts this past month. Djduerer (“Dude”) was a sailor in real life, but then developed a progressive, degenerative brain disorder that gradually made it impossible for him to perform even simple activities of daily living.

Through Second Life he was able to sail again. Even more important, Dude found a community of sailors who took him in and accepted him as a friend, unquestioning. His disease relentlessly progressed, and as the end neared Dude’s texting became unintelligible and he had increasing difficulty moving or controlling a boat in SL. At Mowry, NYC, and all the other yacht clubs the sailors responded as one: People pulled together and worked in concert to keep Dude part of the community… on the water, the dock… anywhere.

And then he was gone.

As Saxxon recounts in his article, Dude gave us as much, or more, than we ever gave him. We all saw the strength and importance of a community and we witnessed the hidden potential inside Second Life to accomplish extraordinary things. The experience  left a lasting impression on nearly all of us, both individually and as a group.  I suspect that impression will not go away; after two years Saxxon and I are here still writing about it. That’s a good thing.
Trudeau Beach cat fundraiser

On March 18, 2007, several weeks after Dude’s death, we got together again for Djduerer Zuo. Jacqueline Trudeau’s remarkable Beach Cat was launched that evening, and at her request all proceeds from sales were donated to The Michael J Fox Foundation in Dude’s memory. That night, in less than two hours, we sold seventy-two boats.
Madison Brenham continued in Second Life after Dude’s death.  I had not spoken with her for a year and a half until this past week while I was out hunting for RJ’s lighthouses. I discovered that Madison’s created a very pretty residential estate with a tropical theme named Brenham Estates. It has a strict covenant to maintain that beauty, so no cars, no powerboats, and no intentionally obnoxious scripts, please.

But on the other hand, if you want a beautiful tropical paradise, this comes very close. The estate is subtly dedicated to Dude, and one of the sims is named Duerer. It has a yacht club, and sailboats are encouraged; Dude’s boat, which for a long time rested in a cradle in front of NYC, is now on a mooring again in one of the bays. It looks like it belongs there.

It does.

Brenham Estates
RJ Kikuchiyo and Dude were good friends. I guess it’s therefore no surprise RJ’s memorial to Dude is a lighthouse.
This one is Trwyn Du, and its Real-life location is Penmon Point in Northern Wales.   If you go over to Brenham Estates to look at it, be sure to go inside the lighthouse… you’ll find a winding staircase inside with three distinct levels, and the attention to detail is again remarkable.
The strikingly beautiful residential parcels, a covenent that emphasizes harmony and peace, a yacht club with perfect water for for sailing, and a RJ Kikuchiyo light; what an absolutely perfect tribute to our friend Dude.
It looks like others feel the same way, since most of the residential parcels are taken. Whether you are in the market to rent a parcel or not however, take a few minutes to go look at RJ’s lighthouse, talk to Madison, and then have a drink at the bar with Dude once again.

Trwyn lighthous

Two for the Wind

In the past few weeks there’s been a good deal of discussion and excitement over new catamarans that might soon make their debut in SL Sailing. Manul Rotaru got the buzz going, posting a recent note in praise of multihulls. Most sailors are also aware that both Wildwind and Trudeau Yachts have new catamarans that are currently in beta testing, 

Bunnie and Jane on Beta Patrol

but it doesn’t stop there! Two nights ago Qyv Nishan told me that she, too, has blueprints for a forty-foot double-hull boat that could hopefully join the Quest Marine line-up in the near future!

With so much pontoon pandering going on, I thought it might be fun to repost a picture from the original SL catamaran launch over four years ago. On March 18, 2007 Jacqueline Trudeau introduced the TruCor BeachCat, a spry little supercharged two-person catamaran that was way, way ahead of its time. In a wonderful fundraiser for charity on the old Nantucket sim dock, that evening in less than two hours a crowd of enthusiatic sailors bought seventy-two boats in tribute to their old friend, Djdueuer Zou.

Here’s my image from that night, and here’s the challenge. There are 35 people in the picture below from that evening four years ago. I think I recognize at least half of the sailors; who can name the rest?

I’ll start it off by confirming #23 is Sailor Saltair (I asked him yesterday)! Who can help identify the other thirty-four?

click to enlarge

A few months after the BeachCat hit the water, a second catamaran launched, and wow it was very different in concept and performance. The Zinnemann-40 immediately got the nickname “Big Cat” in comparison to its much more petite beachcat counterpart.

The Z-40 rapidly built a loyal following grid-wide, but the real Z-Cat Fanatics clustered in Sailors Cove. 🙂 Even Patrick Leavitt raced in the Big Cat Cup Regatta series!  (Note: He failed miserably, probably because he was laughing so hard. 🙂 )

Anyway, I’m guessing these original, bold designs will soon be eclipsed by a host of new and wondrous multihull vessels that are in planning by several enthusiastic builders. However, before we lose them forever, I thought I might repost an article I wrote for the first Big Cat Cup, back in the days when Abella Ruled the waves in her Z-40 Multihull!

From Zinnemann to Abella

Originally posted to SLSailing.com on Oct 30, 2007

The Autumn regatta series for the Zinnemann Cup is in full swing, and I had a chance to watch the races last Thursday over at the Americas Cup Anywhere Race course.

The Zinnemann-40 Catamaran is the creation of Hans Zinnemann. Everyone reading this website… all three of you… already know I think HZ is pretty fantastic. Hans is one of the two finalists competing for this year’s Tako Cup, and his excellence at SL racing comes from his quarter century of real-life experience on race boats and in the sailing industry.

Most of us learned to sail in SL by taking the free Sunday classes offered by Starboards Yacht Club. Although the class is only a couple hours, people leave with a dozen new best friends, and a day-planner full of sailing-dates. Hans Zinnemann took a slightly different approach, however. He learned to sail in SL by designing a catamaran and starting his own boat business!

Hans’ boatyard is located in the beautiful Zinnemann sim; if you’re ever in that neighborhood, you should drop by:

As everyone knows, The ‘Z-40′ is an impressive boat. Although it weighs in at a mere 28 prim, the boat measures 12m LOA and stands 12m tall. The sailplan includes a full-sized mainsail that’s coupled to a smaller jib, and there’s a sizable parachute to turbocharge those downwind runs. The boat advertises typical speeds “in excess of 15m/s,” but anyone who’s tried the boat will tell you this is modest understatement. Even a new sailor can fiddle with the sails to generate SOG (speed over ground) far in excess of wind velocity.

Zinnemann-40 Catamaran

The boat interacts with the Zinnemann website in interesting and pretty unique ways. I don’t know about you, but my inventory has about 264 Takos in it, most with different colors and my numerous failed attempts at sail textures.   I usually have no idea what boat I am putting in the water…

The Z-Cat fixes that! It keeps you organized and updated by storing your customized boat and sail textures directly on the Zinnemann website. If you want to modify something, you simply tell the website which texture you wish to change.

The real value of this system comes when there’s an upgrade. You don’t have to tediously re-do the new boat; all your  customized changes are automatically applied.

The Z-Cat’s web interaction could turn out to be a  fascinating feature. In the future, Zinnemann.com could keep track of the boat’s location and sailing data, generating a map of your last cruise or practice run.  The corresponding data tables could then be used to develop racing strategy, or compare your sailing skills with others. Or maybe figure out where you dropped your cell phone overboard…

At the present time the website is only set up to give you a ‘tease’ of these possibilities. It displays a list of the last places Z-cat owners were ’seen’ rezzing their boats. I can’t wait to see what gets added next. ( and if you’re concerned that Hans will suddenly start publishing on the web the names of all the people who you offered moonlight cruises to… well, don’t worry. There’s a privacy feature too)

But let’s face it; this boat was not designed for a moonlight cruise.  It’s sleek form, spare use of prim, and huge sail plan were meant for one ultimate purpose: to compete on the race course. So, after some early modifications to let the boats use SLSF Race Wind and Start Lines, it was no surprise when Hans announced the first Summer Series of the Big Cat Cup.

Over a series of twelve separate race dates on two different courses, the Z-40 racing fleet competed under extreme conditions of spd 18 wind. This Competition was not for the faint of heart, but the Z-40 seemed to love the ‘Force Ten’ sailing conditions.

From the very beginning, skipper Abella Beck stood out from the pack, decisively winning virtually every competition through the summer to emerge triumphant, with that Cat-Cup in hand.

We are now in the middle of the autumn series, and Thursday’s performance at the ACA Course was a fascinating display of speed and skill.  Did I mention these boats are fast? The Z-40s are lean sail platforms, genetically designed for speed, like thoroughbred racehorses in the chute straining against the gate, needing to run.

I think a lot of sailors have a term for this kind of boat, particularly under extreme wind speeds of 18 m/s: The Z-40 is a “sled,” a boat where you hang on, point at the start line, and pray you won’t need to turn.  Don’t get me wrong; the Cat-Cup race at ACA was exhilarating to watch. These are very interesting boats, but watching the skippers deal with a combination of extreme wind and high-performance hardware sometimes reminded me of that scene in Dr. Strangelove where Slim Pickens waved his cowboy hat  as he rode a falling atomic bomb…

With that image out of the way, let’s get back to those races.  The first race tested the abilities of four seasoned Z-40 sailors: Skipper Nikolaidis,  Ella Larsen, Beejee Boucher and Damb Writer. Most are repeat offenders that had previously raced in the Summer series. Skipper Nikolaidis set the pace this time, demonstrating surprising agility and control as he moved across the course. His turns were, by far, the most precise of any of the skippers competing  and he crossed the finish line in 5:11, the second fastest score of the day. GREAT SAILING, SKIPPER!!!

Abella Beck, the reigning Summer champion, then joined the fleet for the remaining three races.

When Race Two started, perhaps out of excitement seeing Abella, Ella Larsen proceeded to collide with the red start buoy. With luck, she was still early, and made a skillful recovery. Undaunted, she showed remarkable thought and technical skill as she fought off attacks by Skipper and Abella. Here’s a view as she wraps the mark, leaving Damb Writer far astern.

Moments later, the crowd gasped in unison as Damb Writer, under full sail, miscalculated the turn at the mark.

The buoy hit Damb Writer at high velocity, striking him dead center between his… well… pontoons.

Most spectators reflexively crossed their legs in a show of solidarity for their injured fellow sailor. To his enduring credit, immediately on taking the hit, D. Writer loudly shouted his first name. It was audible to multiple sims, and undoubtedly was intended to reassure everyone that DW was able to continue the race.

A well-deserved first place went to Ella Larsen for her truly excellent run in Race Two. However, the crowd’s heart was still focused on Damb Writer as he limped to the finish line minutes behind her.

Abella Beck next stepped up to the plate. The final two races, Races Three and Four, were “All-Abella, 24/7.” Here she is, charging over the start line, gently but firmly pushing Skipper and Beejee aside:

In case you think this was easy… don’t. This was no Abella cake walk. Ella Larsen was relentless and undaunted, challenging Abella at each move. Ella finished scant seconds behind Abella in Race Three. In Race Four, Ella attacked again. Yup, Abella won Race Four, but she was forced to rack up the best time of the entire day in order to do it. On behalf of Abella, let me shout: GREAT RACE, ELLA.

Given my previous comments, I’m sure you’re wondering: “How could you have two more Force 10 Sled races without another major collision?” Of course you’re thinking that; It would be like having an American Pro Hockey game without a fist-fight.

Well… rest assurred… Of course there were more collisions! Although taking pictures of the extensive trauma panders to the public’s interest in lurid sensationalism, I feel somewhat compelled to report the news as I saw it.

Here’s a rather embarassing view of Beejee Boucher’s red Z-40 moments after it slid over the finish line. Apparently overcome with  excitement, Beejee’s pontoons ended up… straddling Abella.  Hans Zinnemann was uncertain which racing rule applied to this particular situation. Eventually a travel lift was called and a restraining order obtained. Counselling was recommended for both parties, and Abella prudently announced she was filing an official protest against Beejee for any race rule infraction that might apply, however obscure, now or in the future, in perpetuity.

Beejee gallantly concurred, adding that ‘perpetuity’ might not be long enough.

In any event, Thursday’s Zinnemann Cup races were great fun and pretty exciting, given the fast boats and extreme winds. The series again established Abella’s racing dominance at the helm of a Z-40. Ella and Skipper have great skills, but they’re still a ways astern of Abella.

So? Come on…. Why does Abella win? How does she show up late, smile, and then flatten all the competition?

Ask me; I know.

I haven’t discussed it with Abella, now or ever, but I’ve watched her sail and I’m pretty confident I know. I’ll even bet bet she agrees.

The Z-40 with 18m/s wind is far too powerful to control by fiat, or with an F-key. Abella wins because she doesn’t force her Z-40… she dances with it. She plays to its strengths, she and her boat never look awkward. Watching her sail is a bit like, I imagine, watching her dance at a wedding reception with some unknown 300lb pro football player from the family. I’m sure she’d confidently take charge, never let him step on her toes, and she’d play to his strengths. He’d end up looking like a great dancer. Abella would step down from the helm… and giggle.

More pointedly… Abella’s great accomplishment is that she knows her boat very well. So well, it looks effortless. The boat becomes an extension of her own movement, with speed, efficiency, beauty and grace.

Geez, I wish I could sail like that.

When Abella decides to move on to something else, I fully expect her to stand up on her boat’s net… pause… and point over the fence in center field. She’ll then laugh, sit down, and hit that last hotlap way of the park. When that day happens, I’ll be here arguing we retire SLSF #07 and hang her sails from the Zinnemann Boathouse ceiling.