This article was originally posted to SLSailing.com on October 25, 2007
As many sailors will recall, the original TruCor Beach Cat was launched seven months ago as part of a charity fundraiser jointly sponsored by NYC, SYC, MBYC, and KS. The boat was an instant success, and bright beach cat sails are a common sight skimming across the waters of Second Life. The skipper and crew animations, bright colors, and the boat’s tendency to capsize make it a great choice for a casual sail, either alone or with a friend for crew. In fact, from the beginning the beach cat was designed for two people. With a solo skipper, the boat was fun and fast with its single mainsail. When crew came aboard, they loaded a separate HUD that could raise and control a jib. Both skipper and crew balanced the boat by shifting position on the net, or hiking to windward on the trapeze harness. My favorite part about this is how the beach cat determines the balancing effect of the skipper and crew by estimating how much each avatar weighs based on the sailor’s height and gender.
I know you’re all wondering: “What does it do with Chaos Mandelbrot’s Penguin?” Believe it or not, I know the answer to that question! Chaos keeps a spare human AV in his back pocket; it fits the harness jacket better and it doesn’t get feathers on the net.
When you add crew and a jib, the Beach Cat develops explosive acceleration. That fun little boat suddenly transforms into a sailing rocket controlled by a two-person team. So it’s no surprise over the past few weeks sailors have been meeting on Wednesdays in the Bismarck Sea to race their crewed Beach Cats.
Even before the first race boat hit the water, the response was so enthusiastic on the SLSF Forum that the group decided to split into two convenient racing times, 11:00am and 5:00pm. Although the group is very young, the races have been great fun so far and many sailors have pitched in to develop the Beach Cat as a one design SL racing class. There’s a lively discussion of gestures, racing rules, and racing upgrades in the Forum Beach Cat Racing thread.
Yesterday’s races continued this trend. Schnoogge Broome once again served as guest Race Director for the 11:00am races; he was capably assisted by NYC’s own Cynthia Centaur. A flock of Beach cats (a “pride” of cats?) descended on the start line, skippered by Sallysue Cahill, Jogi Goldblatt, M1sha Dallin, JeanCarlo Kepler, Cynthia Centaur, Jane Fossett, Schnoogge Broome, and Glida Pilote. Most Beach Cats were crewed, but a few sailed solo, using chat commands to manage the jib.
The first race used the tried-and-true NYC B-1A race course that circumnavigates the beautiful Bella Lavella Island in the southwest United Sailing Sims. SallySue Cahill (with crew Svar Beckersted) and Cynthia Centaur (with crew Francois Jacques) crossed over the start line first, more than half a minute ahead of the third boat, solo skippered by Jane Fossett. Fossett quickly made up for the poor start, however, sliding past a number of collisions on the course to take the lead during the long broad reach going south past the Eastern shore of the island. Fossett took the first race, finishing more than a minute ahead of JuanCarlo Kepler, with the Centaur-Jacques team in third place.
In the second race on B-1a, the Cahill-Beckerstead boat showed it’s stuff, winning with over 20 seconds to spare. Fossett, Centaur-Jacques, and Kepler came in far to their rear.
For the third race, Director Broome chose the NYC Tako Cup 2007 Course. M1sha Dallin was first across the start line, with the rest of the pack in hot pursuit. Fossett and Dallin took the turn together at the red marker in New Georgia Sound, then fell parallel overlapped on the reach leg going south. In a remarkable demonstration of short attention span, Fossett then continued on the old B-1a course, missing the turn in Vella Gulf. Actually, Fossett may have made a brilliant, intentional team sacrifice to deprive the Dallin boat of victory. It partially worked; M1sha followed along all the way to the green markin Kula Gulf before M1sha realized Jane Fossett had no idea where she was going.
Whether you believe that explanation or not, the Dallin boat flipped around in Kula Gulf and quickly got back on course, expertly making up the lost time and finishing first. The Centaur-Jacques team was a minute behind, folowed by the Kepler boat.
The final race of the morning returned again to the B-1a course, and this time Schnoogge Broome joined in. The first leg of B-1a is an upwind beat that moves from Bismarck Sea across the Bougainville Strait on the way towards the first mark. Although the beach cat has nimble handling, the forceful acceleration on close haul headings can make this passage pretty treacherous. It’s therefore no surprise that even the most experienced teams had a tough time. Cahill-Beckersted tacked at the Northeast corner of Bella Lavella and then suddenly capsized when their sails swung over. Without a moment’s hesitation they jumped to right the boat again, but it was too late. The Centaur-Jacques boat had an upwind strategy and were running in the Cahill team’s footsteps. There’s a memorable moment in the race when Svar casually looked aft… to see Cynthia Centaur barrelling full steam into his stern.
While they sorted out the damages, Schnoogge Broome was having a great run and crossed the finish for first place. JeanCarlo Kepler came in second, and Cynthia Centaur finally limped in for third place. What a great morning of races!
The 5:00pm races were equally exciting. Lyssa Varun, Bea Woodget, Sallysue Cahill, Hpathe Boucher (unregistered), Pensive Mission, and Jane Fossett skippered race boats. Four races were run, all on B-1a.
The races showed remarkable team coordination and skill, although the Cahill boat sadly suffered from connection problems.
Fossett led the pack across the finish line in the first three races, with the Mission, Woodget, and Varun boats alternating for the other places.
In the fourth race, however, the Mission team woke up and really showed their stuff. Wow! Pensive took charge, adroitly weaving among the boats on the upwind leg with a dancer’s grace.
There was no stopping Pensive; he must have been thinking of that beer waiting for him over at Mowry. Pensive was through the crowd and in open water after he reached the first red mark.
In the long downwind run across the southern end of the island, Pensive had established a commanding lead and went on to win a full minute ahead of Lyssa Varun, who took second place.
What a great night of sailing!