Monthly Archives: September 2012

Sail Poker With Kentrock on Sep 29!

Remember the Sail4Life Poker Run?

Well, Kentrock Messmer’s doing it again, this time just for fun!
My RL weather report says it’s raining on Saturday, Sep 29, so the best sailing will be online with Kent! Here’s Kentrock’s post about it:

FIYC Fun Run
Sailing Card Game at Sailors Cove
Saturday the 29th of September at 1:00pm SL time
DJ TheBrat from BWoR Radio will be spinning your fave sailor tunes and rocking your way around the sims…

We will start at the Club
This week we will kick off with a game of 5 card draw.
Any 32 prim boat with sails can play.
This is not a race but you can if you like.

How to play
Come to the club around 1:00PM and get a map of the card giver locations. I will put the start line in time trial mode for the people who want a time. There is no course, just sail to all 5 locations and click the big card. Once you have all 5 cards, come back to the club and party. At 2:00pm the Draw starts. You can discard up to 3 cards and draw new cards at the party. The best 5 card hand or hands get the prize at 3:00pm.

Here’s the “chart,” (its really just a bunch of short trip locations to get your cards).  You’ll get all the landmarks and much more if you show up at the FIYC clubhouse on Saturday, Sep 29 1:00pm SLT.

Kentrock says this simple sailing game is a lot of fun, even though there’s no race to win, and you don’t even need to take your clothes off.

(Well, I guess you can, if you want too… 🙂 )

This Week’s Pic

Click me.

Making a splash the hard way;
beating windward in Bingo Strait. 🙂

Ready, Set, Splash:

Click to enlarge.

Bea Woodgett Leaves SL Sailing

A few days ago, Bea Woodgett announced that she is leaving the SL Sailing Community.

This is sad news. For the past half-decade, Bea was a tireless, positive force that helped nurture and shape virtual sailing on many different levels. Her focus was always on promotion of a more realistic emulation of sail racing online, and her dedication to teaching, recruiting new sailors, and applying the ISAF Racing Ruleset is well known grid-wide.

It is difficult to think of any other person who has so selflessly — and so effectively — worked to advance (and define) the ideals of SLSailing. She brought passion, commitment, and true caring to every new project.

Orca Flotta has posted a very nice tribute to Bea on Orca’s World; please take a moment to read it.

I’m sure we all will agree that Bea Woodgett deserves a huge standing ovation, and our enduring respect for everything she accomplished.

Thank you, Bea; please come sail again soon.

The Mesh Shop VO-70, part II: Racing

Mesh Shop VO-70

I recently posted about the Mesh Shop VO-70. Inspired by the Volvo Ocean Racer, the VO-70 is a beautifully designed and carefully constructed craft that earns high marks for it’s style, the accuracy of it’s mesh build, and it’s durable BWind 2.5 sail engine. It’s a great boat to cruise across the grid at high speed.

I suspect many sailors who get this boat will want to race it, so I wanted to add a few additional comments about VO-70’s racing features.

A Fresh Breeze

The VO-70 does not use the standard raceline WWC windsetter; instead it introduces a new race wind system, based on Becca Moulliez‘s BWind 2.5. The boat comes with a separate “iPad Contoller” that a skipper or race director can wear to set race wind.

click to enlarge

The iPad has six options for wind speed and eight wind directions to choose from. When a skipper or race director hit’s ‘enter,’ the wind settings are broadcast to all nearby boats that are listening and in-range. The broadcast continues for a few minutes, then automatically turns off.

Other skippers who want to join the race type “racing” in open chat to let their boats listen for the wind. Once a boat gets the racewind message, it locks the new parameters and won’t allow any changes until the skipper says ‘cruising‘ and leaves race mode.

The iPad interface is a great idea and it works well; it’s both easy and intuitive to use. My only suggestion would be to make the iPad transferable, so any RD could use it to start VO-70 races. I’d suspect sharing it will become more important as new boats get added to the list using the new system. It’s a small step toward establishing a legitimate, alternate race wind interface.

Wind Variance

OK, let’s talk about Race Wind Variance. VO-70 handles it differently, and I promise this will only take a minute, and there will be no math! 🙂

The wind that drives a sailboat is often fickle, and adapting to wind changes is an important part of race strategy in both RL and SL. The standard WWC race wind script includes settings for wind variation. A race director can adjust the magnitude and nature of both wind gusts and directional shifts.

In early 2008, Vin Mariani wrote two fantastic articles detailing how wind variance works in SL races (Blow and Second Wind). He focused on Kanker Greenacre’s original “Tako wind,” but the same basic principles apply to Mothgirl Dibou’s WWC setter too. As shown in the figure above-right, the racewind from these setters gradually shifts wind direction in incremental steps to one side then the other, over a few minute interval. A good skipper can watch the wind shift and adjust the sails in response; a great skipper can even try to anticipate when shifts will occur.

I’m bringing this up here because the VO-70 uses a different system.  VO-70’s  iPad controller allows a race director to adjust the amplitude of wind gusts and directional shifts using an integer scale from 0 to 9. However, the frequency of the wind change is much faster than what you get with a WWC, and the two systems are not equivalent.

Here’s an example of what I mean. The blue line on the chart to the right plots the real wind angle for a VO-70 each second for a total of eighty seconds, with the wind variance set to “5” on the iPad. As you can see, the curve is an irregular sawtooth pattern, with wind direction swinging back and forth around the mean every other second. To emphasize the difference, I’ve superimposed the directional shift from a WWC (green curve) and Kanker’s windsetter (red curve) over the same timeframe. The WWC causes a gradual shift in wind direction, while the BWind 2.5 windsetter generates a sequence of quick wind shifts that leaves the underlying, average wind angle unchanged.

Kain Xenobuilder and Becca Moulliez are aware of this difference, but they point out that the wind pressing against a sail (or any object) is constantly changing at a rapid rate. The VO-70 wind variation models this second-to-second wind jitter, not the gradual shifts a WWC produces.

Becky mentioned that longer-term WWC-type variances may be included in future updates to the new wind system. Dutch suggested that racers should focus on the HUD readout for apparent wind, and sheet accordingly. That makes sense to me too, since the HUD’s AWA index reacts more slowly, and represents the wind angle and speed that actually drives the boat.

If this sounds confusing, here’s the bottom line: VO-70 has a new race wind system, it’s different than what most sailors are used to, and it’s worth trying it out. SL Sailing can’t advance unless we all encourage new systems made by thoughtful, dedicated people. 🙂

Raceline-Friendly

Although the VO-70 does not use the WWC setter, it is fully compatible with the common race lines in SL. In fact, once a skipper enters race mode the boat automatically gives itself a random race number. 🙂 That should prevent the problem racers forgetting to correctly ID their boats!

The VO-70 has an additional nice feature in that regard: If a boat crashes during a long race, when it gets returned to inventory it reliably remembers the race wind and race ID number. A skipper can therefore just re-rez that boat at a convenient spot, and get back in the race again! 🙂

Phantom Factors

The VO-70’s dimensions and sailing performance nicely match the the RL Volvo Ocean Racer. However, unlike the RL boat, many components of VO-70 are phantom, including  the spars, rigging, sails, bowsprint and keel. That can be an advantage for both the skippers and race directors, reducing the risk for collisions at the raceline or along the course. At the same time, it complicates race planning since an RD needs to set special regatta rules that cover phantom  collisions. This is usually no big deal, and can be as simple as: “If it’s phantom, it can’t hit you.” 🙂

Wish List

The large size, solid build, and low-overhead scripting of VO-70 make it a particularly good candidate for long-distance races, so the issue of phantom race course collisions should not amount to very much.

In my hands the boat is pretty rugged, and it can usually make it across 100+ sim borders at high speed without much trouble, even on those ‘bad grid‘ days. 🙂

Good boat, Mesh Shop!

I have to admit I’m greedy though, and since Christmas is not that far away, there are two things I’d love to have on a future VO-70 racing update. They are:

1. WWC compatibility. Since VO-70 uses it’s own wind system, right now it can’t join mixed-class races in SL without first making special arrangements with the Race Director. Having an option to switch between BWind 2.5 and the generic WWC wind would greatly increase the number of racing opportunities for this boat, and give owners a chance to ‘show it off’ to their friends.

2. Windshadow. Windshadow is a powerful tactical weapon in sail racing. With experienced skippers at the helm, windshadow turns a fleet race into an intricate chess match. Windshadow is currently built into the WWC system, so adding it to VO-70 would not be difficult. Both the Ktaba Teleri and Melges-24 are dual wind-system boats that use that solution for their shadow. 🙂

These are small points for a Big Boat however, and as I said I’m just greedy. I want to sail this boat everyplace!

Picture of the Week

Click me

OKOK, this is just a pic of a beta boat I received this weekend.
The boat is named “beta 12.9,” so you can guess how much work has gone into this project…

It’s only a beta, and I don’t like talking about test boats here, but wow this boat was too gorgeous to keep quiet. 🙂 I have no idea when it might be released, so keep holding your breath.

Oh, and if you can’t read the name on that Genniker design…

It’s A WildWind.

(Woots!)

Click me

Mesh Shop VO-70, Part 1: Cruising

Volvo Ocean Race

When new acquaintances find out I’m interested in sailing, they often say something helpful and supportive, like:

“Sailing? You’re kidding. That’s like watching the grass grow!”

In a conciliatory tone, I usually reply: “You are thinking of Golf.
I then send them video clips of the Volvo Ocean Race. 🙂

In case you’ve been out golfing a lot this past decade, let me give you the memo on this event:

The VOR is a grueling, 39,000 mile sail race that circumnavigates Earth, the planet most of us currently live on. The VOR is literally the race Columbus and Magellan dreamed of, and would die for.

That’s only a three-minute teaser. Remember, there’s 38,999 miles to go, so here’s the link to the full-length video that will give you the play-by-play for the 2011 – 2012 Volvo event. Got that? Now let’s talk boats!

Volvo Open 70

The competing VOR teams sail boats that all comply with design specs under Volvo Open 70 Rule V3-V4 (the “VO-7o Class”). These boats are carbon-fiber light but they’re also tough-as-nails, and amazingly fast. They have an innovative canting keel, a flat, beamy hull-and-backside for planing, daggerboards for stability, and dual rudders.

This is super-stuff skippers drool over.

I know you’re wondering to yourself: “Jane, how fast are these puppies? How do VO-70’s stand up to the Rigors of extreme Racing?”  Well kids, the numbers don’t lie; VO-70’s are the alpha dogs of any multiclass race pack. In 2006 a VO-70 set the World 24-hour speed record, and last year the Abu Dhabi VO-70 team won the Fastnet Race with the Best Monohull Time in History (on this planet, anyway). 🙂 Is that good enough for you?

Well, all good things come to an end unfortunately; the VO-70 Rule will retire in 2012. However, sailors know that in the few short years VO-70 ruled the Volvo, those VO-70 boats and their sail teams burned a new white-hot page into the history of sailing. For many who watched with eyes wide and mouth open, “VO-70” earned a spot as a true contemporary legend. The Open 70 had the right stuff to inspire a generation of new sailors worldwide.

SLSailors also recognized this, and in February 2009 Wildwind Sailboats launched the VOJ-70;  Corry Kamichi’s interpretation of the VO-70. The boat was a big hit within the SL virtual sail-racing community, and it helped establish Wildwind’s reputation as a premier builder of large, hi-tech contemporary race boats.

Unfortunately, six months ago Wildwinds closed it’s docks and Corry took a temporary sabbatical from boat-building. That left no one to celebrate the wonderful VO-70 design…

Mesh Shop Volvo

Well, big applause goes to The Mesh Shop and “Dutch” Kain Xenobuilder. Dutch is an accomplished Mesh artisan, and he accepted the challenge to build a new emulation of the VO-70.

Dutch’s boat finally launched several weeks ago. Most sailors will probably recall that Dutch’s beautiful design was a big hit at the Sail4Life auction, where Charlz Price got the bragging rights to VO-70 Hull #1 for a winning bid of a whopping L$58,205! 🙂

Well since then, VO-70’s hit the water, and a few days ago it got it’s second post-launch update. In that context, it seemed like a good time to tell you about the boat!

Mesh Build

The Mesh Shop VO-70 is (no surprise) a fully mesh build, and Dutch Xenobuilder is a mesh-meister. I sailed with Rim Telling last week and discussed the VO-70. Rim has lots of experience building virtual boats, and he gushed high praise for the quality of the Vo-70, calling it “beautiful,” and “expertly built.

It’s hard to disagree. The hull has the graceful curves of a modern race boat, and the dimensions faithfully match the RL Volvo design spec (The SL VO-70 hull is 22.5m LWL). The towering carbon fiber mast, boom, spreader and stays all reveal a careful attention to detail. Without raising a sail, this boat announces  it’s ready to race, and it means serious business. 🙂

To prove that point, the boat comes with a fistful of texture packs based on the sail designs of the 2011-2012 VOR competition boats. 🙂

No-Bump Volvo

The boat weighs in at a mere 26 prim, but that translates to a “Land Impact” of 212. Here are the numbers for three other recent mesh boats for comparison:

  • Mesh Shop VO-7    Prim: 26   LI: 212
  • Ktaba Teleri             Prim: 22  LI: 51
  • Quest Melges 24     Prim: 38  LI: 91
  • Loon Loonetta 31   Prim: 32  LI: 31

The cockpit, foredeck and rigging are nicely detailed with plenty of winches and a working mainsheet. 🙂 There are enough sit positions to accomodate a large crew, and there’s even a separate HUD that allows crew to help trim the sails.

The build is so nice, it convinced me I can stop doing “bump tests” on mesh sailboat hulls. All the boats I’ve looked at this summer have “collision cages” that match the visible hull. 🙂

Phantom Rig

Although the hull is solid, let me add that the mast, boom, sails, bowsprint and stays are all phantom when underway. That should make it easy passing under bridges on river passages. 🙂

Phantom Canting Keel

The RL Volvo Open 70 has a canting keel. As the boat tilts leeward due to the pressure of wind against sail, a skipper can rotate the bulb keel ballast to counteract the tilt. This feature makes the boat safer, and much faster. The Open 70’s also equipped with dagger boards on each side to enhance lift and improve lateral stability.

Both of these features are included on the Mesh Shop VO-70 as well, and they operate automatically while the boat is underway. Look under the boat next time you sail it, and you’ll see! 🙂

Like the rig however, the keel is phantom; the boat only draws one meter. A skipper won’t ground out in shallow water sailing this boat!

Performance

The VO-70 is easy to sail. It uses a new BWind sail engine with a simplified info-HUD display, and there are only a few, intuitve commands that help a skipper control the boat. It’s all fully explained in the notecards that accompany the release version, so an inexperienced sailor can be confidently underway in just a matter of minutes.

Cruising the VO-70

The VO-70 uses a BWind 2.5 sail engine developed by Becca Moulliez. When a skipper says “cruising” in chat, the boat unlocks the wind and accepts the standard BWind chat commands for wind speed and compass direction. There are six wind directions (N, NE, NW, S, SE, SW) and eight wind speeds (8, 11, 15, 18, 21, 25 knots).

The sails go up with the universal chat command “Raise,” and a standard numerical HUD appears. It’s simple and unclutterred, but it has all the basic stuff a skipper needs, including compass heading, boat speed, real wind speed, apparent wind angle, and the sail sheet setting.

The skipper adjusts the mainsail and jib together using the Up and Down arrow keys, and the sheeting movement is accompanied by great winch and ratchet sounds.

Chat gestures come along with the boat; they allow precision adjustment of the sails. The gestures use channel 29000, and here’s the command format so you can edit your own versions: “/29000 sheet-1” (Please note: The com channel is not adjustable.)

When the VO-70 sails fall out of tune, they start to visibly flap and give off loud luffing noises to get your attention. Once the sails are correctly adjusted, everything calms down again and the HUD turns green.

This probably all sounds familiar to most sailors, but let me emphasize the attention to detail on the VO-70 is pretty impressive, from the sounds of the rig to the wave action and salt spray that come over the bow as you beat up wind. If you have questions, talk to Hannelore Ballinger about it; she loves this boat, and she thinks using Mouse-Look at the VO-70 helm is a near-religious experience. :-).

Taking another step, let me add that the VO-70 comes equipped with a genniker that can provide a considerable boost on downwind headings.

The genniker adjusts along with the mainsail, but a skipper can fine tune it using the Page Up/ Page Down keys.

Speaking of which, the crew can also get in on the act. There’s a separate crew HUD (see image to right) that lets others aboard adjust the sheets and switch the headsails. Pretty Nice!

Numbers

OK, let’s now talk a few numbers. 🙂
Before I get into boat performance though, I need to comment about speed variance in VO-70.

If you click on the chart to the right, you’ll get a graph of boat speed recorded each second over 220 continuous seconds under constant conditions. As you can see from the graph, the boat speed shows a continuous, irregular oscillation that mostly stays within 10% of the mean, although the most extreme swing in boat speed is nearly 40% of the average. This degree of built-in variation is impressive, since all wind parameters were held constant, there were no tiller or sheet changes, and the HUD direction and AWA remained unchanged (AWA fluctuated 161-162).

Of course there are many factors that contribute to boat speed in real sailing; I’m not complaining that this boat’s speed isn’t constant. In fact, what’s going on in VO-70 looks a lot like the the charts I previously published for Melges-24‘s speed oscillation. I don’t know why this speed fluctuation happens… but there are lots of things I don’t know. Sailors should just be aware of it. 🙂

I needed to bring this issue up, because it strongly affects the empirical “polar plots” a sailor can construct for the VO-70. No surprise, it will also affect any skipper’s prediction of boat performance when sailing VO-70 on a given course.

With those caveats, here’s a graph showing practical boat speed as a function of wind angle. It’s not too pretty, with a lot of sharp angles that are probably due to the oscillations I discussed above.  If anybody gets a better polar for this boat, I’ll post it! 🙂

The blue line shows boat speed plotted against the Real Wind Angle, and the green line shows it for the Apparent Wind Angle. The result shows that the VO-70 (update 2) has a broad performance range. The sails fill and the boat begins to make headway with RWA in the low 20’s, and by RWA 40 the boat is already doing 75% of RWS. With just the mainsail and jib, the VO-70 hits a maximum speed of 110% RWS on a beam reach. If you raise the genniker, you can do even better, topping out at 120% of RWS on a broad reach.

The chart to the right shows how this stacks up compared to a couple other boats. The red curve shows Boat Speed vs. RWA for the Mesh Shop VO-70. The dotted blue curve shows the same thing for the real Volvo Open 70 v4. There’s pretty good agreement. 🙂

I never did a polar for Corry Kamichi’s Wildwind VOJ-70, but I’m pretty sure it’s similar to the JMO-60, RCJ-44, and ACJ-35. I’ve therefore also added the Wildwind RCJ-44 curve to the above chart. All three boats are remarkably fast, with peak speeds that well exceed the Real Wind Speed. 🙂

At this point, let me quickly summarize everything I said about sailing and cruising VO-70. I have much more to add about racing this boat, but this article is way, way too long already. 🙂 I’ve therefore broken my discussion of VO-70 in half, and I promise to post the “Racing VO-70” details very soon! 🙂 Here’s the skinny for this part:

Summary

The Mesh Shop VO-70 is a great boat for virtual sailors who want a fast, realistic emulation of a contemporary ocean racer. VO-70’s mesh build is meticulously detailed, and the dimensions match the RL Volvo Open 70. The boat is drop-dead gorgeous on it’s own, but you’ll probably want to pimp it out, so Dutch has loaded the VO-70 up with two handfuls of sail/hull textures that match the colors of the teams that raced the Volvo Ocean 2012.
At VO-70’s heart you’ll find a state-of-the-art BWind 2.5, and that engine’s typically low lag and no nonsense.
This boat will take you and your crew across the grid and back at high speed, flaunting sim line-crossings along the way. It’s a truly great addition to the SL Sailing fleet.

Unless you are morbidly depressed, you’ll want to try one of these super sailboats out for yourself. 🙂 Dutch (Kain Xenobuilder) has just opened up a new Mesh Shop location in SL, conveniently located in Tschotcke, on the shores of Bingo Strait North.

I’ll see you there; I’ll be the one trying to clear the salt water from my ears after trying to sail this rocket sled VO-70. 🙂

 Click here for:

The Mesh Shop VO-70, part II: Racing

Bella Ciao Finals Sept 16 at 10am

The Bella Ciao Leetle Cat II Cup opened yesterday with two timeslot qualifying trials. Armano Xaris is the Regatta director, and Helma Beerbaum is the gracious  estate owner and the host for the event.

Each qualifying trial consisted of three fleet races, with standard low-point scoring. The best two sailors from each trial advanced to a Finals Round that will be held at 10am, Sunday September 16.

The four finalists are:

– Chaos Mandelbrot
– Takabou Destiny
– Silber Sands
– Wim123 Resident

_____

Here are the qualifying heat details:

Results Qualifying Round 1, Bella Ciao Cup,
7am sl time, 15 september

Race 1:
1. Wim123 Resident
2. Chaos Mandelbrot
3. Elmegro Magic
4. Helma Beerbaum

Race 2:
1. chaos
2. Wim123 Resident
3. Elmegro Magic
4. Helma Beerbaum

Race 3
1. wim123 Resident
2. Chaos Mandelbrot
3. Elmegro Magic
4. Helma Beerbaum

Overall
1. Wim123 resident, 4 points
2. Chaos Mandelbrot, 5 points
3. Elmegro Magic, 9 points
4. Helma Beerbaum, 12 points

Results qualifying round 2, bella cia cup,
1pm sl time, 15 september

Race 1:
1: Silber Sands ID75SS — 00:12:20
2: Ralf80 Titanium IDRT80 — 00:12:51
3: michiya Yoshikawa IDMY64 — 00:13:10
4: takabou Destiny IDTD21 — 00:13:24

Lap Times:
Silber Sands ID75SS — Start: 00:00:04 — Last lap: 00:12:16
Ralf80 Titanium IDRT80 — Start: 00:00:04 — Last lap: 00:12:47
michiya Yoshikawa IDMY64 — Start: 00:00:07 — Last lap: 00:13:03
takabou Destiny IDTD21 — Start: 00:00:13 — Last lap: 00:13:11

 Race 2:
1: takabou Destiny IDTD21 — 00:23:09
2: Silber Sands ID75SS — 00:24:02
3: michiya Yoshikawa IDMY64 — 00:25:55
4: Ralf80 Titanium IDRT80 — 00:26:28

Lap Times:
takabou Destiny IDTD21 — Start: 00:00:08 — Last lap: 00:23:01
Silber Sands ID75SS — Start: 00:00:18 — Last lap: 00:23:44
michiya Yoshikawa IDMY64 — Start: 00:00:03 — Last lap: 00:25:52
Ralf80 Titanium IDRT80 — Start: 00:00:04 — Last lap: 00:26:24

Race 3: 

1: Silber Sands ID75SS — 00:12:20
2: takabou Destiny IDTD21 — 00:12:51
3: Ralf80 Titanium IDRT80 — 00:13:44
4: michiya Yoshikawa IDMY64 — 00:14:17

Lap Times:
Silber Sands ID75SS — Start: 00:00:04 — Last lap: 00:12:16
takabou Destiny IDTD21 — Start: 00:00:10 — Last lap: 00:12:41
Ralf80 Titanium IDRT80 — Start: 00:00:05 — Last lap: 00:13:39
michiya Yoshikawa IDMY64 — Start: 00:00:03 — Last lap: 00:14:14

Over all
1. silber sands, 4 points
2. takabou destiny , 7 points
3. Ralf80 Titanium, 9 points
4. Michiya Yoshikawa, 10 points

—————