Monthly Archives: May 2009

Interview with Kei Cioc

 kei cioc header

by Liv Leigh

In Dutch, my native language, ‘Kei’ means ‘rock’ or ‘stone’. If a person is a ‘kei’ at something, we mean that he is very good at it. Kei Cioc, 2008 Fizz Cup finalist, has a house full of trophies. His photo wall shows numerous portraits of him and his girlfriend, posing in front of yet another victorious boat on display at ‘Winner’s Row’. After well over a year of racing in more than a dozen of boat classes, Kei’s tenacity is well-known by his opponents. He’s that old fox, always ready to snatch the victory off your plate.

Talent? I have no talent. I am just lucky to be able to start faster than others. And I have a little bit more experience.



Kei and his girlfriend posing in front of Kei’s Fizz 2.0 3

You: In Dutch the name Kei means ‘rock’ or ‘stone’. If we say someone is a ‘kei’ in something, we mean he is very good at it. What does Kei mean in Japanese?
Kei Cioc: It’s a little different. Kei, 恵  in Japanese Kanji, means ‘blessing’. It’s from a part of my RL name.
Kei Cioc: We pronounce it like: “K”, “k-e-i”
You: Okay, so very different than I would.
Kei Cioc: Yes… Not English, like “key”

Kei steps over the line

Kei steps over the line

You: Looking at your profile, I see mostly one thing:
You: sailing..
Kei Cioc: Yes.
You: Everyone who reads it knows, Kei Cioc is a sailor. Do you sail in RL or did you ever do so?
Kei Cioc: never :))
Kei cioc: I m not good at all kind of sports.
You: I see. So sailing in SL is a way to do something you would not do in real life?
Kei Cioc: Yes.
You: How did you end up in SL Sailing. Were you looking for a sport or was it something else?
Kei Cioc: Ahhh…
Kei Cioc: First of all: I live at the Hayama resort in SL, where the owner loves sailing. This man is also a friend of Taku, Taku Raymaker.
Kei Cioc: He is my teacher. He made me start sailing.

You: What were the first boats you sailed?
Kei Cioc: I bought a Tako first, then the Fizz.
Kei Cioc: The Fizz was the first boat I learned to sail correctly.
You: That was the Fizz 2? or the Fizz 1 still?
Kei Cioc: Still Fizz 1, maybe 1.03
You: One of the very first versions.
Kei Cioc: Yes, very few Japanese have it. Taku tought me to sail one on one.
You: You had private lessons from an old master lol
Kei Cioc: Yes, I was very lucky.

You: That is funny, as many Europeans and Americans learn to sail in the Tako. Or at least they think they should start in a Tako. What do you think of that: you learned sail the Fizz well before you mastered the tako. Do you recommend this to others?
Kei Cioc: Ahh… it’s a difficult question…:))
You: Or is it just that you were lucky with a good teacher and plenty talent of your own?
Kei Cioc: Talent? I have no talent lol
Kei Cioc: I am just lucky to be able to start faster than others. And I have a little bit more experience.

Kei Cioc: I like other Tako-based boat very much, they are rather different from Fizz.
You: You seem to like almost all boats..
Kei Cioc: Yes.
You: Can you tell me in which boats you never won a race?
Kei Cioc: In a Tako! lol

header syc- 3 -3-L2-_037 copy

You: I didn’t know that. It seems you win races in almost all other boats every week.. Yet, you say you have no talent.. You must be very competitive then, as you won a number of prices in big race events.
Kei Cioc: I do not like competition so much in reality.
You: Ok.. so in reality you are more calm?
Kei Cioc: I think so :))
Kei Cioc: And I like just cruising, more than racing.
You: Is that your secret? Cruising?

Kei Cioc: I like to cruise alone. The races make my skills increase. For me, a high skill level is nice to enjoy cruising with ease of mind.
You: You must see a lot of nice places cruising. Do you have any favourites?
Kei Cioc: I like my home town Hayama.
Kei Cioc: You know Masa,Ody,Takeshi… (Masahisa Greenwood, Odysseus Yiyuan, Takeshi Shnyder. Red.)
Kei Cioc: They all live there, next to my house.
You: All top sailors… and you are all neighbours..
Kei Cioc: Yep, but it’s an unknown resort. Always empty. I do a secret training there lol

You: Not everyone knows that besides the Fizz Cup finals 2008, you have won the DG470 cup and also now lead the big cat cup, in which you have competed before. How do those boats compare to you?
Kei Cioc: I like the Big Cat very much, the fastest cat in SL.
Kei Cioc: I like all of these boats, but I love Fizz much more than others.
You: I see. So, for the next big tournament, Kei will be there to challenge the others, regardless of the boat?
Kei Cioc: Not challenge, just play together.
Kei Cioc: I dont have to win, but I want to try hard.

You: You have a number of fans in SL Sailing, I know Jane Fossett is one of them. What do you think they will expect from their hero?
Kei Cioc: really ? :)))
You: She mentions you a lot in her sail reports…
Kei Cioc: Jane is my grand teacher I think, She is a teacher of Taku, I have heard. And of course I’m a big fan of Jane’s articles.
Kei Cioc: I’m not a hero, but I’m happy when people have fun to watch me and others in competition.
Kei Cioc: often people who I dont know IM me ‘Good Job’, after the finish. I enjoy that.
You: Do those people also ask you for advice sometimes?
Kei Cioc: Hmm, in few cases, but rarely.
You: What would you recommend those people… or the ones who want to start sail in SL?
Kei Cioc: Do not practice alone.



Kei Cioc at his homeport in the Hayama Estate

 You: What other things you like to do in SL?
Kei Cioc: I like to build on my house…
Kei Cioc: And to watch car racing…
Kei Cioc: My partner in SL is a TOP car racer in the Japanese GrandPrix circuit. She is a very good driver, she won many more races than me.
You: I see, did you ever race cars yourself in SL.
Kei Cioc: Never lol It’s very difficult and requires hard training.

You: There is a lot of discussion in SL Sailing, on high wind speed versus low. Some say we need slower and more realistic boats, others like to race fast and far. How do you think about this?
Kei Cioc: I like both. Fast long races are very intersting of course. But so are realistic boats to me.
Kei Cioc: We need to know about rules or tactics.

You: So far you won all 3 heats in your groups in the 2009 Fizz Cup. What do you expect from yourself now?
Kei Cioc: First of all, I want to enter the GOLD series. :))
You: Let me thank you for the interview.
Kei Cioc: Thank you. 🙂

Kei Cioc: Pronouce ‘K’
Liv Leigh: Hehe yes.
Kei Cioc: I want to tell Mark, (MarkTwain White, Red.)  he called me “key chuck” in the last cup.


Fast Forty-Four

rcj-44 numbers

 by Jane Fossett and Naeve Rossini

WOOOT!!  Let me give a huge shout-out for Naeve Rossini; She sent me her polar plots for a popular boat I’ve not had an opportunity to test, the RCJ-44 (a.k.a. “Orca Flotta’s favorite boat“).

Geddy Paule doing RCJ-44 PHRF Hotlaps in Madaket.

Geddy Paule doing RCJ-44 PHRF Hotlaps in Madaket.

The RCJ-44 is a large, sloop-rigged one design cruiser/ racer. It’s widely regarded as extremely fast and relatively easy to handle, making it a popular choice on the Big-Boat circuit.

april_29_2009_summary_197aThe PHRF handicap results from April confirm the impression the RCJ-44 is super-speedy. If you look on the chart to the right, the blue numbers reveal the 2009 Handicaps for different boats tested in Madaket, while the green numbers show last year’s scores obtained on a series of different race courses. The RCJ-44 so far has a handicap of 1.29, which makes it nearly 40% faster on a standard lap than a Trudeau J-Class (handicap 0.93).

 Excluding the ACC-2 (which uses a different wind system), the RCJ-44 is actually faster than all other large boats tested under PHRF except for the VOJ. That probably makes sense, since it’s also made by Wildwind. The RCJ-44’s speed is comparable to Surwidow Beaumont’s Dutch Barge (handicap 1.27) and just behind the venerable Tako 3.3 (1.31) (Happy Birthday Kanker!!!).

 geddy paule_005a

The graph below uses Naeve’s data to detail the RCJ-44’s performance. With a constant 5.0 m per second breeze, The boat’s maximum steady-state speed was determined for apparent wind angles between 10° and 180°. The blue line shown below reveals the boat’s performance with mainsail and jib. The red line, on the other hand, shows what happens when you swap the genniker as the headsail.

For comparison purposes, I’ve included a similar chart for the Trudeau J-Class right below the RCJ-44 data.

Using the jib, the RJC has a fairly broad performance curve that is largely flat between 60 and 90°. Between 35° and 125° the boat’s speed over ground (SOG)  actually exceeds the real wind speed. It’s no wonder this boat is very popular; the wind algorithm is more forgiving than your Mom, and  (grin) perhaps at times as unrealistic!RCJ-44 polar

Luffed windward at 20° apparent, the boat makes minimal headway. However the moment the sails fill as it falls off to 30° the RCJ-44 springs to life, accelerating to an SOG just below true wind speed. This sudden, explosive upwind response is typical of camber airfoil dynamics as the sails take shape and turn into a ‘lift engine’ driving the boat forward. The same thing is true for the Trudeau J-Class, as shown below. In that case, though,The sails start to fill later, between 30°- 40°,  generating a lift  that results in an SOG  that’s 75% of True Wind. The J-Class is hardly as kind or generous as the RCJ, but perhaps it’s more realistic. The J-Class offers a skipper a more pragmatic, hard-nosed, “Tough love” Big Boat option. 

Of course, there’s another practical explanation of the upwind difference in the two boats: The J-Class is a remake of a legendary racing boat from the 1930s; one should hardly expect it to point as high, or sail as fast as a present-day high-performance yacht. The difference between the two boats is a bit surprising, however. (Newtonian physics is still the law now, as it was in the 1930’s, after all.)

J-Class 7.1 polar

Take a look at the red curves now for both boats. For the RJC, that curve shows the speed over ground for the RCJ-44 when flying a genniker. On upwind points of sail, the shape of that foresail is inefficient, and it does approximately 20% less well than a standard jib. However, between 100° – 110° the genniker suddenly kicks in and comes to life; there’s an easy25% boost in boat speed as the genniker fills. By 120° Apparent, using the genniker is a full 20% faster than relying on the jib alone, and that difference expands to over 80% on more extreme downwind points of sail. Once again, these numbers are somewhat exaggerated compared to real life, particularly considering the RL common use of oversized genoa jibs. A genniker or asymmetric spinnaker can be expected to provide a big downwind boost, but 80% only makes sense if you have divine intervention. Lindens haven’t quite reached that status yet.

Having said that, if you look at the red curve for the Trudeau J-Class in the second chart, it probably underestimates the spinnaker effect. The J-Class throws up a massive, symmetric spinnaker, and there is approximately a 20% boost in performance at 130° when compared to the jib alone. This performance enhancement widens progressively on further downwind points.  Given the size of the spinnaker and the downwind physics of headsail performance  as translated into second life,  an initial boost of 10% when the chute inflates and a boat speed of 40% true wind at 170° apparent may actually well underestimate the spinnaker’s true potential. (In other words, that’s one big whopping sail! It should have a BIG whaopping effect, and the J-Class parachute may be underpowered!).

Please don’t take any of this as serious science, however; good grief. Both the 44 and the J-Class are wonderful, fun boats, and all the numbers discussed above are mostly intended to give sailors more fuel for their late-night arguments over sailing strategy and the creative explanations we all evolve for why we lost that last race… (grin).

Should you buy a 44? Is a J-Class better? I don’t know; Naeve doesn’t know either. They’re both highly detailed and well planned-out sailing vessels that reflect the skills of the artisans. Both boats stand in tribute to the wonders and challenge of sailing, in real life as they do here in second life.

As sailors we should all feel privileged to have options… both options… and so many more, as well.

geddy paule_009a

Fizz Round 3 Snapshot


syc- 3 -3-L2-_013b

 I had a chance to watch a number of the Third Round World Fizz Cup 2009 Qualifying Races at Starboards Yacht Club this weekend. Since the official numbers are not quite up yet, I decided to tell you about just one of the races I saw; I’ll put it in context later. There were so many great matches though  it was really hard picking one to talk about, so I pretty much pulled one out of the hat. 

What that really means is: If you haven’t been following Fizz3 races… let me tell you, you’re missing something pretty spectacular. 

syc_l2 250


OKOK, I’m psyched after watching  the third race from the Sunday Morning  time set. Four sailors competed:  Momomos Netizen, Kei Cioc, Macro Nacht, and Shinobi Woodget. They raced the SYC-L2 course, shown here on the right. In my opinion, L2 is sort of a non-standard “technical” course, that tests a skipper’s boat handling skills on a sequence of four hairpin, 150°-160° turns. If you try this at home, take Dramamine first. The only tactical issue issue that might arise associated with the L2 design is the chance that a lead boat going from #3 to #4 could interact with a slower boat still enroute from #1 to #2. That’s unlikely with such a small fleet, and how to handle it will depend highly on the situation. So the real competition tests Fizz3 handling skills.

Here’s the Weather Forecast for Round 3:

race wind dir 225
race wind speed 15
race wind gusts 15
race wind shifts 11
race wind rate 1.0

race wave height 0.7
race wave length 60
race wave speed 8
race wave height variance 15
race wave length variance 10

race current dir 045
race current speed 0.1

syc- 3 -3-L2-_009 copy

The first leg of the L2 course is the longest, and consists of an otherwise standard, direct-shot beat to windward.

For every Round 3 race I watched,  all the skippers opted for a “conservative” starboard-tack start, and the third race was no different. All four boats approached the line under a head of steam in fairly close formation, but at least three boats balked and wisely luffed sails at the last moment to avoid an ‘over-early’ call. 

As far as startline strategy goes, I think many sailors would agree that with a Starboard Start and a straight upwind first leg, the best starting position is at the Port side of the line near the red buoy. That position usually gives you the longest leg before the first tack, and places you upwind of the fleet in clean air. However, the red buoy is also frequently the first tactical fight in a race. Since the lee boat has ROW, if two boats are overlapped approaching that end of the line, the lee boat can call “UP” and force the windward boat off the course or into the buoy.

syc- 3 -3-L2-_012 copy

In the above picture, Momomos Netizen maneuvers to gain exactly that overlapped, leeward advantage over Macro Nacht, who loses momentum and is forced to fall astern. Momomos then crosses the line ahead of the rest of the fleet at +00:00:01, a full five seconds ahead of Macro.  Audacious move, Momomos!

Kei Cioc and shinobi Woodget chose to stay out of that ‘red buoy fight;’ they cut the line in the middle, with start times of +00:00:03 and +00:00:08, respectively.

This proved to be a wise decision. Both KC and SW maintained momentum and pulled out front in the 1-2 positions on the first leg.

syc- 3 -3-L2-_017 copy

 The above picture shows Kei expanding his lead, but remember he started from a less advantageous leeward position on the line, and he’ll have to make up that distance when he tacks.

 syc- 3 -3-L2-_023 copy

 You can see what I’m talking about above; Kei was the first to come about and head for the green top mark, but his position cost him much of the lead; the other three boats were right on Kei’s tail as they progressed on the second tack.

syc- 3 -3-L2-_027 copysyc- 3 -3-L2-_032 copy

 syc- 3 -3-L2-_034 copyThis time however, Kei had the upwind height and he took advantage of it. He accelerated as he fell off the wind to reach the green buoy, relentlessly widening his lead in the process. The lower picture above gives the false impression that after taking the turn Kei actually became airbourne and took off… Grin;  he might just as well have. With “good air” and no other boats in the way, there was nothing on earth to stop Kei, and he showed it.

Lying in his wake, Shinobi, Momomos, and Macro were still sailing closely together as they took the Green Mark and then raised gennikers for the broad reach to the #2 pink mark.

  syc- 3 -3-L2-_037 copy

 Kei’s widening lead and his flawless technical proficiency were undeniable, however. He adroitly spun around the pink buoy, changed sail, and fell into a close haul as he headed to the third, orange mark a short distance further windward.

syc- 3 -3-L2-_038 copy

 Well, as any Fizz3 sailor will tell you, mastering this boat is far from easy; it’s quite a bit like mastering a fast racing dinghy in RL.  You tend to spend a lot of time swimming.

Kei is outstanding sailor in second life, and his technical prowess is amplified by his considerable experience. He’s been here before… and he came within a heartbeat of winning the cup last year. Today however, Kei had a bit of extra help. Once he passed the first mark he was blessed with wide open water and clean air.

 syc- 3 -3-L2-_043 copy

The trio of boats behind him were unfortunately saddled with a much more difficult task. They not only had to somehow catch up with Kei… they had to fend off each other in the process. That simple, obvious fact left them with few good options and added a bonus sequence of headaches that still ahead in this race. Take a look at what happens next!

syc- 3 -3-L2-_045 copy

  Rounding the pink marker, Macro Nacht appropriately swerved to allow Shinobi adequate inside room to take the turn first. In the process however, Macro pitch-poled and was thrown headlong over the bow of his boat. Always the skilled sailor and unfailingly polite, however, he avoided splattering any of his  personal, random body parts against shinobi’s hull.

Shinobi and  Momomoso decided to let the race committee clean up what was left of Macro;  they forged ahead in overlapped formation,  moving resolutely windward toward the Orange marker a short distance away.

The picture below shows Kei still way out front, rounding that aforementioned Orange marker.  Shinobi and  Momomoso are half a sim astern, and you can also see Macro, getting back in the saddle again and doing his best to stay in the race.


syc- 3 -3-L2-_048 copy

 Well, as I mentioned previously, the L2 racecourse seem to be designed as a test of technical boat handling. That view seemed proven once again at the Orange mark. In the image below, Momomoso is still overlapped with Shinobi as they reached the 2 boat-length zone;  Momomoso had the inside right-of-way as they both set up for an acute turn around the buoy to reverse direction and head to the bottom mark.

syc- 3 -3-L2-_051 copy

 Momomoso cuts the turn wrong, unfortunately, and gets thrown over the handlebars into the murky brine. Shenobi maintains her respectful distance throughout, in accordance with Rule 18. She then proceeded to slide past Momomoso’s soggy self as she charged ahead into open water once more.

syc- 3 -3-L2-_057 copy

  I have to admit, however, when I  quickly looked back,  I found it hard not to laugh out loud! There was Macro again! He not only recovered from his dunking, he had made up the distance and was pushing forward with a rather incredible, damn-the-torpedoes momentum. He barely had a moment to spare, waving to Momomoso as he passed, pirouetting around that orange mark and setting his sights on Shinobi; she was still far ahead.

 I’m guessing that Shinobi must have looked over her shoulder and been as surprised as I was when she caught a glimpse of Macro under full sail and bearing down on her, because in the middle of open water Shinobi suddenly then tripped and turtled, dunking her Fizz a few scant meters west of the Committee Boat parked against the raceline.

syc- 3 -3-L2-_058 copy

 As you can see above, there was no stopping Macro now. He steamed past Shinobi, flying to the last mark. Monomos was still game and back in the race, too, but he had no chance to get near Macro ever again in this race.

syc- 3 -3-L2-_061 copy

The final image above shows Kei Cioc shortly after he crossed the finish line with a time of +00:11:09; it was truly a blistering performance, considering Macro’s second-place finish time was +00:12:43, well over a minute and a half  later! As you can see in the above picture, Momomos was still in the race and shortly behind Macro, with Shinobi bringing up the rear. What a great showing!

 This was, however, only one of 24 qualifying races held this weekend, and the qualifying sequence covers several weeks. The race I described above showcased a great performance by an outstanding sailor, Kei Cioc. He has the skill and ability to win this entire competition.  It would be foolish to make any predictions at this point, however. The field is full of outstanding competitors. In the group of four I discussed above, Macro Nacht showed incredible tenacity and strength today; a few weeks ago I described a race where he also seemed totally unstoppable, and finished several sims ahea of Kei.  In today’s race Shinobi also shined and would have  come in on Kei’s heels except for her accidental capsize close to the finish.

And you might be wondering what I think of Momomoso. This is the first time I’ve seen Momomoso race and, compared to the others, he is fairly new to the race circuit; he only has a few official Fizz races under his belt. Maybe I should say something encouraging about his performance…?

Grin; I don’t have to. In the race that immediately preceded the one I described in detail above, Momomoso knocked Kiel, Macro, and Shinobi all flat on the mat, pulling off an impressive first-place showing in Heat #2 of the series. Pretty impressive stuff.

Hey, Momomoso? Welcome to the Varsity squad. Now all it takes is: “heart…”

Interview with joro Aya

[Note: With this post, Liv Leigh begins a series of interviews that will highlight the sailors competing in World Fizz Cup 2009. Although Liv is on the Cup Organizing Committee, any and all of her comments here reflect her personal views, not those of World Fizz 2009.

Welcome aboard, Liv!!!!]

Liv header

 The dark green Pixie next to me on the couch comes across modest, almost shy. Until two weeks ago the sailing world mostly knew her because of her humoristic nature. And a Flying Fizz mod that she made and raced in: a clog.
Flying Clogs were not allowed in the Fizz Cup 2009, but Joro’s star rose nevertheless: She swept the first two World Cup events, winning all 8 of her races. This weekend Joro might write history with the longest winning streak in Fizz Cup history. Liv spoke one of SL Sailing’s new heroes.

joro Aya: I love the sea, from a distance

Joro leads the pack in Fizz Round 2

Joro leads the pack in Fizz Round 2

Liv Leigh: I was kind of intrigued by the shop in your profile and went over for a look. Can you tell me something about it?
joro Aya: Not much to tell, it tiny little shop that sells some furniture. Fantasy inspired furniture.
joro Aya: I started making furniture, mostly beds, some four years ago with another alt. Had a big shop back then.

Liv Leigh: I see. so you go a long way back in sl.
joro Aya: Heh, not as long as some.
Liv Leigh: I know. but 4 years is a long time. did you already sail by then?
joro Aya: No.
Liv Leigh: how did you get into sailing
joro Aya: A few months ago Miss Bunnie took me sailing. Was an ACA race. After that i was hooked and bought an ACA too.
Liv Leigh: Bunnie Mills..
joro Aya: Yes. She’s good friend. we make things together.

Liv Leigh: Yes, I remember you being around a couple of months in sl sailing. I mostly noted the fizz mods you made. Especially the clogs.
joro Aya: Heh, that’s the only fizz mod me made so far. So… what others did You see? 🙂
Liv Leigh: The flying flubbers.
joro Aya (giggles): Oh, that thing. That was never completed, was only a little experiment.
Liv Leigh: It is rather characteristic. Have you made more clogs?
joro Aya: Working on one, to replace the one I made.
Liv Leigh: Ahh I see, another boat. That is the only clog-shaped item you made?
joro Aya: No, I was sailing the clog one day and thought, “Why not use the sculptie to make boots?”
joro Aya: So me maked clogs for wearing too
Liv Leigh: For yourself or also to be sold?
joro Aya: Also to be sold, but haven’t sold a single pair yet 🙂 Could use the money, SL is expencive. but I don’t really care much. I make things because it’s fun to make them.

joro Aya in her own habitat

Liv Leigh: Back to sailing.. you entered the flying fizz cup 2009 as one of 75 subscribers, now you have won the first 2 events, sweeping all 8 races. You must be aware that it is one of the longest winning streaks in Fizz Cup history, and after this weekend it might even be called historical. What does that do to you?
cup 2 134joro Aya: Makes me feel nervous and uneasy. I entered the cup not expecting much and now… Now Ikinda feel Ihave to do good. It’s still fun though
Liv Leigh: I see. Does it also mean you are adjusting your ambitions for the cup now?
joro Aya: Would be a hoot if i reached the finals 🙂 Would like that.

Liv Leigh: What does sailing in sl now do to you. Did you ever sail in real life or would you have plans for that now?
joro Aya: Any body of water bigger then a bathtub I stay far away from 🙂 Unless it’s on a really really big boat like the ferry to England. I’m terrified of water IRL.
Liv Leigh: I see. You do not live near the sea yourself?
joro Aya: Ehm… I live on the bottom of the sea, kinda. Where I live used to be sea and the people made it land.
Liv Leigh: I see.. a polder
joro Aya: Yes.
joro Aya: I love the sea, from a distance

joro Aya: Heh, I remember the 1st time I accidently fell into SL water. I totally freaked out.
Liv Leigh: You thought your avatar would drown?
joro Aya: Didn’t think anything. I just freaked. Am over that now, I even dare to swim in SL water 🙂
Liv Leigh: And sail in one of the most notorious boats for capsizing.
joro Aya: Yes. Is one of the things I love most about SL. Being able to do things that I would never do IRL.

Joro widens her lead on leg two at Waypoint

Joro widens her lead on leg two at Waypoint

Liv Leigh: For a final question: What would you recommend any starting sailor in sl?
joro Aya: Would recommend not to sail in front of me 🙂
Liv Leigh: Haha great
joro Aya: But seriously…
joro Aya: I would recommend to not take things to seriously and have loads of fun.
joro Aya: And beware of pink boats.

Liv Leigh: Thanks for the interview.
joro Aya: YW.

joro Aya: Me wonder how big the cup is.
joro Aya: Me wonder how much coffee will fit in it.

joro Aya goes undefeated in Round Two for EIGHT STRAIGHT WINS in Fizz 2009
joro Aya goes undefeated in Round Two for EIGHT STRAIGHT WINS in Fizz 2009


Ernestina under Sail

ernestina 01

 In real life, the Ernestina is one of a small handful of Essex, Massachusetts- built wooden schooners that are an important part of our maritime history.  Originally launched in 1895, the boat has seen a century of service In multiple capacities, including commercial fishing, to polar exploration, military service, and as a transport vessel bringing new immigrants to America.

Ernestina today

Ernestina is the oldest surviving Grand Banks fishing schooner, one of two surviving 19th- century Essex-built Gloucester fishing schooners, and is one of only two Arctic exploration sailing vessels left afloat in the United States.

In 1982, the Republic of Cape Verde  restored the Ernestina and donated the ship to the people of the United States and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The ship is the official vessel of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a National Historic Landmark, and part of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park. In recent years the boat’s primary job has been to teach young people about sailing, and the rich maritime tradition and history that we all share.

 ernestina under constructionFor sometime however, the boat had been in dry dock in Boothbay, Maine, getting essential repairs to its forehull and topsides. Historically accurate, skilled repairs to a venerable schooner like Ernestina are neither easy nor cheap; the costs totaled over $1 million (that’s USD, not $L), and for a while the future of this precious landmark as a sailing vessel was in doubt.

RJ Kikuchiyo, Mister Wind, and Mindy Princess teamed up to bring this issue to the attention of the SL sailing community, and they did it in an absolutely wonderful, imaginative way that I’m still marvelling at.


They set up Boothbay sim in SL, and Master Builder RJ Kikuchiyo set to work building his own emulation of the Ernestina on the dock there, just as the real Ernestina was getting repairs in the ‘real’ Boothbay harbor.

RJ 40Continuing the overlap between RL and SL sailing, RJ showed off his Ernestina recreation at the 2008 Boat Show in Second Life the same month he showcased it at the RL New York Boat Show. The Ernestina was a major hit, revealing a truly remarkable level of detail and authenticity.  It was maritime history come alive again… it was Ernestina preserved and accessible to all through Second Life.

 The teaching opportunities afforded by RJ’s Ernestia build were apparent to Mister Wind, who is currently involved in a project using the ship in a series of Machima videos that teach basic science and conservation to young children.   It’s got a familiar cast even; RJ plays “Captain Rabbit,” and Chaos Mandelbrot apparently plays a Penguin (type casting, I thought). From what I hear Sudane Erato even plays a mermaid (this I gotta see)! 

 RJ_042 header copy Through a series of public grants and private donations, the extensive repairs on the Ernestina were finally completed recently. This month the venerable schooner at long last returned to its home port in New Bedford, sailing the considerable distance from Boothbay under its own power. But please, don’t think it’s going to become a relic and just sit there quietly! On May 10th Ernestina pulled into Boston’s Rowe’s Warf for the day, just across from — and thumbing it’s nose at — the Volvo Ocean Race Fleet on Fan Pier!

(And let me tell you, the food and drinks are a lot better at the Harbor Hotel next to where Ernestina tied up.)

Ernestina -- Its Alive  512--

 The real reason I’m writing about this, however… is to tell you that the saga of the Ernestina in second life has once again remarkably, in fact astonishingly, paralleled events in real life. Yesterday, RJ Kikuchio’s SL emulation of the Ernestina  SET SAIL.

The boat spans a full third of a Sim, And the detailing is Kiku-Craft all the way. It is truly a wonder to behold. Jesrad Seraph is responsible for the scripting, and I’ll tell you all the details as soon as I can stop gawking at the boat long enough to get the details from Jesrad!

RJ Ernestina_050

 Yesterday, aboard for its maiden voyage, I was far too excited to think about algorithms or vehicle scripts, I’ll leave that to another day. Yesterday was about the pure joy of sailing, and bringing a precious part of maritime history to life again.

As RJ put the schooner though it’s paces in Blake Sea, he admitted that he, too, was amazed: “I never thought this possible.”
Jesrad then joined us, and I repeated RJ’s comment: “Jesrad! WOOOOOT!! You did the impossible!”
Jesrad just modestly shrugged, and replied: “People tell me that :)”




New Lines, No Rocks, Blake Bumps

Which object does not belong?

Which object does not belong?

Crows Nest Quiz

Remember those aptitude tests from grammar school? Look at the above picture of Crows Nest in the center of Blake Sea and decide which of the three objects does not belong.  If you answered Glorfindel Arrow, you lose 15 points and need to go back and study the thread on this topic at

On May 20, the  spectator’s platform is scheduled to move from Crows Nest to the southern end of Haggerty, facing north. That’s a much better location, and it will leave Fastnet Light as a solitary, majestic icon at the center of Blake Sea.

According to Admiral (ret.) MarkTwain White, the lighthouse will move slightly also, ending up “On the centerline (of Blake) between north and south and somewhat west of center.”

The Orange Race Buoy in Crows Nest, presently too close to the hazard of Fastnet’s rocky crag, will shift as well. It’s new location “Will make the orarge mark a great offset mark in connection to fastnet but not so close to the rocks…”

Danshire Plans New Line in Debelox

Thank you also to MarkTwain White for helping plan a new Linden race line for Danshire Yacht Club. We took a look at the options yesterday, and tentatively decided on Debelox, as shown below. The proposed line will be long for Big-Boat Races, and aligned for races with a default wind from the ESE. That should allow an ample pre-start mill area and long first leg options for races to Gaeta, or to the North or South Coasts of Corsica.

The planned line is still tentative, so please let me know if you have suggestions. We also don’t have a timetable for placement of the line, so please be patient. LL Department of Public Works is short-staffed and has many responsibilities. As soon as the new line goes in, however, Danshire will remove it’s current temporary line and fill in much of that space with expanded docks and club facilities for visiting sailors.
Proposed Debelox Raceline

Sorbet Rocky Road

Speaking of DYC, SL Sailing, and the Linden DPW, I’d like to give a big shout out to Michael Linden, who gave sailors a big assist yesterday by removing hazards on the SouthEastern coast of Gaeta.

Gaeta Grand Tour Course

Gaeta Grand Tour Course

In a sturdy boat with a quick breeze it’s actually possible to circumnavigate Gaeta in about an hour. The sailing is relatively low-lag with pretty stable sim crossings, possibly due to the reduced traffic and smaller number of builds on this island continent. That’s just a guess, I have no real numbers on it, but I am impressed that the sailing is about as good as it gets anywhere, at least for the moment.

Tig Spijkers has organized a number of Fleet races around Gaeta with strongly positive feedback, encouraging a lot of us to pull out our maps and start designing new courses that take advantage of Gaeta’s coastal waterways. Several days ago however our quiet regional promotion campaign to Sail Gaeta Now came to an abrupt halt, landing on the rocks both figuratively and literally.

Sorbet_003 copy

As shown in the image above, Sorbet sim lies on the southeast coast of Gaeta. The passage along the narrow outside channel was hazardous but interesting. It was full of massive, sculpted rocks that kept both skipper and crew awake. With skill and a little luck, however, most sailors were able to navigate the edge of Sorbet successfully even in large boats such as the VOJ or J-Class.

A few days ago however, the local sim owner made coastal adjustments that, when combined with the Linden rocks, inadvertently blocked the passage to most sailboats. Carmen Foden crashed trying to sail through and reported the problem;  I crashed in the same spot, and so did Chaos Mandelbrot and Tig Spijkers.  With that one change, suddenly Gaeta was no longer circumnavigable. As you can see from the above picture, there is a narrow canal, an inland waterway in the region, but it is far too narrow and shallow to support a keelboat.

Tig contacted Michael Linden about the issue,  and I’m thrilled to say that he came up with a fix that rapidly reopened the coastal waters off Sorbet. The rocks are now gone, and he even placed two appropriately textured navigational markers (one is indicated  by the green arrow above). I thanked the owner of Sorbet for their support of sailing, and to make sure we were all good neighbors, I bought a lot of potted plants they had on sale there. If I give you a plant for Christmas, now you know why (grin).

But the real news is: Around Gaeta racing and cruising is now open again! Thank you Michael and DPW!!!

Blake Sea Shallows

Reseating the keel and replacing the bolts on a large racer/cruiser after you run aground can be a daunting task. If you’re ever in that situation, please get your doctor’s approval before you ask the yacht yard how much this is going to cost…  these days I think you could buy the entire city of Detroit for less.

I’m bringing you this public service advisory because the new Trudeau J-Class has an impressively deep keel that extends 4m below the water surface. It has a deeper draft than most other boats in the Trudeau fleet, but I don’t yet know how it stands up against other big boats like the VOJ or RJ-44.

I’m mentioning it here because there are several points in Blake Sea where the J-Class runs aground, and some of them are in strategic spots.

Atlantic Shallows_007

The water surface in Blake Sea (and most other water regions) is set to a vertical height of 20m. There are several offshore, underwater seabed mounds or ledges but rise to a height of 16-17m. Unless you’re careful and traveling familiar water, there’s a fair chance you’ll run into one of these shallow spots as you are cruising or racing. watching the depth gauge actually may not be much of a help, since a number of the underwater ridges come up fairly abruptly. You don’t get much time for evasive action, and it’s hard to know what direction to turn toward deeper water.

One place where this may present a serious problem is in Atlantic sim, near the blue-striped racing buoy. J-Class boats that mill north of the Atlantic start line or that participate in races that use the Atlantic buoy as a Mark  run a high risk of running aground. Races usually don’t anticipate that problem on a defined segment of the race course. As I’m writing this, Massy Johim just announced one-design J-Class races on the Atlantic line today; it will be interesting to see if this becomes an issue. In my own experience I have run ground and slid free, blaming it on lag or being ‘edited.’ My guess is that most of the time when sailors bang their keel on the bottom in open water they don’t realize what happened.

Blake seabed

Blake seabed

In the other cases, however I guess you could argue that shallow areas and an irregular sea floor are common problems in real life sailing, and so I shouldn’t be complaining about this. Well, actually I’m not complaining, I’m thinking about a fix to get around this issue. In real life I’d use a nautical chart that showed depths and gave a simple topographic map of the seafloor.  As far as I know, that kind of topographic map is not available for either mountainous regions or ocean depths in second life.

I’ve been talking to Tom247 Woodget, who’s actually interested in this kind of issue.  He thought a roaming bot that records location and depth might do the trick; the information could then be turned into a map.  However, I still wonder if there are easier ways to get this kind of information.

MarkTwain White visited the “Atlantic shoal” with me yesterday to see the problem, and suggested that any sailor who finds an unmarked shallow spot in offshore waters should drop him a notecard. He’ll collect them and take appropriate action.

In the meantime… if you see somebody walking across the ocean bottom of Blake, occasionally pausing to write down some numbers… its prolly me.

Danshire Yacht Club

camber foils announcement

Danshire Yacht Club Opens

Tig Spijkers and I want to announce the start of  Danshire Yacht Club.

Hold the drumroll please, it’s a bit of a preannouncement! Although we’ve dropped Hay Ah’s new raceline in Danshire and Tig  held DYC’s first regatta two days ago, much remains to be done and we humbly ask your patience if there are delays over the next few weeks.

Geez…we don’t even have a logo, a burgee, or a clubhouse installed yet!

Danshire Yacht Club

I actually don’t apologize for our lack of preplanning, though. Frankly, I never expected to be co-commodore of a Yacht Club.  I’m part of Nantucket Yacht Club’s Steering Group,  and NYC has been more than enough excitement for me. I was there when we ‘re-launched’ NYC, and 80 years from now I fully expect to be the old lady curmudgeon with a laptop in a rocking chair, furiously pecking out a note to Race Directors on the fateful day my power supply finally melts away.

The same is true for Tig. I can’t speak directly for my fellow DYC commodore, but I’m very sure about her passion for the Second Life Coast Guard. It’s a commitment, a responsibility, and a service that Tig takes very seriously.  She will continue.

Danshire's light and line
Danshire’s light and line

So, if that is the case,  why are we starting Danshire Yacht Club? and do SL Sailors really need another club?
Well, I think the answers to those questions are pretty simple:  It’s About Sailing.

Danshire Yacht Club is located on the northeast corner of the water corridor that connects Corsica with Geata V. that means sailors to our South in Nautilus, Santori or USS  can reach us by boat (but be prepared for a long sail!). Once you get to DYC, tie up and look around. We connect two continents. The sailing opportunities in both directions are limitless.

Gaeta clockwise

Tig and I fell in love with Danshire immediately. We realized that the Club’s location would greatly expand SL Sailing options for cruising and racing; DYC seems uniquely suited for open ocean, long-distance competitions, races we couldn’t even imagine a few months ago. Tig’s instructions to the fleet for DYC’s opening race were simple, but also eye-opening:

Around Gaeta, Clockwise! It’s about 100 sims!”

After a short pause, Tig corrected herself:

“Actually, it’s more!” 

That is the reason we decided to start Danshire Yacht Club.

The local estate owners understood this as well; they were equally enthusiastic about a yacht club in Danshire. We have their cooperation, commitment, and most important… their excitement to expand sailing in Corsica and Gaeta in cooperation with the larger SL Sailing Community. After all, It’s About Sailing, isn’t it?


It’s About Sailing

DYC’s motto says it all.  DYC is for sailing and sailors; we are not a business, we are not in competition with any other club or estate, and we are not an “alternative” to anything. We also have a single, slightly obsessive focus on sailing. Tig and I are proud to admit it: We promise DYC will be a lousy place to fly your airplane, shoot your ray gun, or buy a new low-prim refrigerator.

On the other hand, DYC’s commitment to sailing means we’ll do our best to work with all other clubs and groups to coordinate events, host our share of future cup qualifying races, and work on local and grid-wide projects to benefit our common SL Sailing community.

We’re still busy getting DYC up and running ,so I don’t yet have many details to share with you. Don’t worry, though; you know me and Tig. We’ll keep you posted, and please contact either of us if you have any questions, ideas, or issues as we’re getting under sail.

/ Jane Fossett

 Gaeta clockwise a

ode to Joy


Ode to Joy:
Trudeau J-Class


The new J-Class continues the Trudeau tradition of classic sailboats that combine the remarkable artisanship and advanced scripting that are the Trudeau trademark. Although J-Class is the largest of the current Trudeau releases, it sports the nimble handling of a dedicated ocean racer. The boat is powered by  a sloop-rigged mainsail and jib. In addition to its two primary sails,  J-Class introduces the Trudeau Spinnaker, giving skippers yet one more option to boost downwind performance.
 The boat responds to apparent wind and has notably rapid upwind acceleration, consistent with the J-Class sail plan and boat design.  Lap performance testing so far gives the boat a PHRF Handicap of 0.93, placing it squarely in the middle of the pack, but notably slower than several other large race boats on the market.  Like it’s predecessors in the Trudeau fleet,  J-Class offers a wide range of handling options and racing effects, including an updated wind shadow system  that’s appropriately tuned for the size of the boat, and a single reef-point in the main.   There’s room for a skipper and three crew members, and all can share sailing and racing responsibilities through a newly upgraded version of the Trudeau HUD.
 In summary, this is an impressive release that dramatically updates the Trudeau racing line  that dates back to the original Defender. With J-Class, Trudeau Yachts  comes back to the race circuit with a roar, tossing his hat in the ring and throwing a gauntlet down in a market already crowded by other, faster boats, including the ACA33, VOJ, and RC44. 

On April 26 Trudeau Classic Yachts launched its long-awaited J-Class.

The J-Classin SL was inspired by a  handful of truly majestic boats that competed for the America’s Cup during the 1930’s under the “J-rule.” Their brief reign was brought to a sad close when war broke out at decade’s end. Only 10 J-Class vessels were finished, and only three (Shamrock V, Enterprise, and Velsheda) remain in service today. The boats were long and sleek (the new Svea under construction has an LOA of 41.5m with beam only 6.40m!). These were extreme but classic vessels built for speed, sporting an enormous sail plan that conformed to a “Bermuda rig” sloop design (a triangular mainsail at a large triangular jib).



Although J-Class was the cup standard for only a decade and very few were ever built, their majestic size and sharp racing lines captured the imagination of all who witnessed them, and J-Class still today serves as a striking icon that exemplifies the spirit and adventure of everything we call Sailing.

The task of adapting  the spirit and substance of such a legendary vessel  to the waters of Second Life was without doubt a daunting goal. However, it  proved a natural fit for the Trudeau Yacht Yard, whose knowledge and experience measured up to the task.  The Trudeau production line includes a prolific series of classic boats that combine both detailed artisanship and careful attention to realistic sail performance for either racing or cruising. 

TCY is certainly no stranger to America’s Cup racing, either. Trudeau’s Defender I recreation of the 1895 America’s Cup classic won “Best of Show” at the 2006 Sanchon Boat Show, and scant  months later TYC launched Defender II, an upgrade fully adapted for SL racing. Defender II’s the boat that gave the name to “Big Boat Racing” in Second Life, and transformed sailboat racing along the way (“Leave that little Tako at home… tonight you can sail with the big boats!”).  

Never one to rest on its laurels, TYC next provided the physics engine that powered the ACA32 racers across the course  in the landmark America’s Cup-SL  Competition two years ago.  And what’s an AC race without sailors? Lorinda Cordeaux of TruCor provided the classic animations that breathed life into the helm and crew positions.

j-class launces

 But time passes, and with age comes the wisdom and experience to meet new opportunity. A few months ago I wrote an article saying, with I hope gentle humor that “I want a new gun.” The sailors of Second Life  had kept the  promise initially set out in Surfwidow Beaumont’s video; they were knowledgeable, focused and highly dedicated. They needed and deserved a boat as cutting edge as they were, something that took advantage of current technology and pushed the limits hard.

Since I wrote that little article, Mothgirl Dibou launched the Fizz3, a perfect answer for one-design dinghy racing.  With the release of J-Class we may be on the way to the big-boat answer, the next-generation replacement for the Defender II/ Trucordia Yawl, and all that those great boats represented.

showsailBeta Crash Test Team

Before going any further, let me give a big shout out for the Beta Crash Test Team. This is the group of people who spent several months trying out various versions of the boat, making suggestions, offering feedback, and trying hard to find the last few venomous bugs that were overlooked hiding in the bilge. The test team includes racers and cruisers with both RL and SL knowledge and experience; they hail from from many yacht clubs, and all corners of the grid. Remarkably, even though only three J-Class boats are actively sailing today, several of the beta testers knew J-Class well and  even had first-had experience watching them compete under sail.

Here’s my listof beta testers, and please let me know if I missed your name so I can add it to the credits: Arrekusu Miromachi, Rikk Lovell, Chaos Mandelbrot, Manul Rotaru, Julia Ceres, kentrock messmer, Taku raymaker, M1sha Dallin, Liv leigh, Bea Woodgett, disisme misfit, Jane fossett, Francois Jacques, Epicurus Emmons, ahjep Kattun, Rikk Lovell, Armchair binder, Gemma Vickovic, Blackbird Latte, Bunnie Mills, and Oliphant Ming.


J-Class at Westland Marina Yacht Club

J-Class at Westland Marina Yacht Club

  The Boat

I have a number of topics I’d like to discuss about J-Class, so I’ll only hit some of the high points today. We’ll cover more details next time.

Hull and Rig:like other recent Trudeau releases, J-Class is a “rideable.” In other words it’s a real boat, a boat you can get up and walk around on… It’s not an attachment clipped to your pelvis.

Although it weighs in at only 28 prim, it’s fashioned with the remarkable and relentless attention to detail that’s a Trudeau hallmark. How it all fits in 28 prim is nothing short of miraculous. The hull color is easily adjustable by voice commands, and if you’d like to name the boat or personalize the hull, you can download the postscript texture files from the Trudeau website.

grounding1Bunnie Mills designed the sails; contact her in Second Life if you want custom sails; if you want custom work done on the hull and rigging, you may  find a boatwright here.  The physical size of the boat is impressive, with a 26m LOA, 4m beam, and 3.23m draft. While this adds to the boat’s regal demenor,  the boat’s dimensions can present significant, unexpected problems.Ffor example, it’s easily possible to run aground in some standard cruising areas, including  parts of Blake Sea.

On a reach both the jib and main boom will clip the top of racebuoys in Blake

On a reach both the jib and main boom will clip the top of racebuoys in Blake

I’ve run aground in both Gallilee and even in Atlantic sims, so keep a watchful eye on the depth gauge even in open water.  keep an eye on the towering mast too. It rises a full 30 m over the water line, but the functional height of the mast is even greater; I’d recommend observers and judges stay at a minimum altitude of 60m  to avoid interference with racing boats.

Having said that, there are also a number of positive advantages to the size and proportions of this wonderful boat.  For example , as you round a mark on a run the boom is high enough to clear most buoys, giving an experienced race skipper a decided tactical advantage. Of course you’ll strike those same buoys when heeling on a reach (as shown in the figure on the right).

Sailplan:The boat has a standard Trudeau sloop design with a mainsail and jib, but it also comes with a wonderful surprise: an enormous spinnaker fashioned from sculpted megaprim. Even at maximum draw distance, this huge parachute makes J-Class an attention-grabber and unmistakable.


Crew:The boat has room for a skipper plus three crew. If you’re not an average height or shape, never fear: J-Class comes with easily editable sit positions to ensure the owner is at home with the wheel. In addition, the helm and crew are wonderfully animated by Larinda Cordeaux, and crew members will even appropriately move to sit on the windward rail as the boat starts to heel. As with other Trudeau boats, the crew can share huds with the skipper, adjusting all sail parameters so the captain can focus on the helm. Future versions of the boat will even turn hiking control over to the crew, allowing them to shift weight and balance the boat. An unbalanced boat will pay a penalty with a reduction in lift, just as occurs in real life. So hey, that crew? They aren’t just deck ornaments anymore!

Large and Economy sized

Large and Economy sized


 How does J-Class compare to other Trudeau boats on the water?   That’s actually a difficult question to answer, since all the boats in the fleet prior to the Trudeau Twenty were predominantly attachables that used a Tako- style real wind algorithm to power the boat. Beginning with T20,  the Trudeau designs favored ridable boats fashioned from sculpted prims and the sails were powered by an apparent wind algorithm  replete with new RL features such as mainsail reefing and wind shadow.
 The J-Class continues that legacy, and the figure below shows in red where the new boat fits by comparison with the Leetle Cat (green) , the Twenty (yellow), and the Knockabout (blue). The curve for each boat plots the boat speed (speed over ground) for different apparent wind headings. Only the mainsail and jib were raised, and a real wind speed of 5 m/s  was used throughout to simplify the testing since reefing would not be a factor.
The red curve for J-class below shows that a nearly fourfold increase in speed over ground occurs as the boat’s heading falls off from 30 and 40 degrees apparent. Under these conditions, the boat’s maximum velocityoccurs at an approximate apparent wind angle of 50°. Beyond that there is aparabolic decay in thrust that becomes a slower, virtually linear decay and performance over approximately 110°.
The response curve for the J-Class appears similar to the other three boats plotted below. The Trudeau 20 is the slowest of the group,achieving a maximum upwind speed that is significantly less than half the real wind velocity. The knockabout is approximately 10% faster on upwind point-of-sail, and the Leetle Cat is roughly 15% faster still.
The J-Class shines going to wind; the results below show a major performance boost at headings of 40 – 80 apparent when compared to any of the other boats.
with just the mainsail and jib flying ,  on downwind points of sail the three boats give fairly similar performance results, and all four curves overlap.
 Of interest, the diagram below also charts (in pink) the knockabout boat speed on a downwind run with the jib winged. Winging enhances the boat’s forward speed beginning at approximately 140° apparent. This extra thrust grows larger at higher downwind angles, and at 170° winged sails can give an approximate speed boost of 30% in the T20, LCat, or KA.   However, please note: The J-Class is the only boat of the current Trudeau group that does not respond to winging, and any attempt to enhanced performance by flipping the sails traveling downwind will result in a fairly hefty loss of forward momentum.
J-Class main+jib performance compared to 3 earlier Trudeaus
J-Class main+jib performance compared to 3 earlier Trudeaus

 The kind of graphs shown above do not tell the whole story, however;  they only show the maximum steady-state speed at any particular apparent wind direction for the given sheet settings.  They don’t reveal how quickly the boat responds or how rapidly it reaches maximum velocity on a new course heading.  A boat of the size and inertia of the Trudeau Tradewind, for example,  responds to a new tack sluggishly and often takes considerable time to reach a new steady-state speed.   However, despite its size J-Class was one of the most nimble and responsive Trudeau boats of the fleet.   In most cases it took only a few seconds for the boat to adjust to changes in heading. That should make the boat considerably quicker on the race course than the graphs above might otherwise indicate.

The above graphs also fail to consider factors that impact performance, such as reefing.   With increasingly strong wind velocity a close-hauled boat  will heel, losing power as the sails become less effective. Reefing, or shortening the sail, is a simple way to keep the boat in a more upright, and efficient position.

  How far a boat heels depends on the apparent wind velocity and the boat’s heading.  Skippers in RL and SL often disagree about when to set a reef point or shake it out. the graphs below may answer the question for J-Class, at least for the heading of 40° apparent.

For the chart below, the J-Class sailed on a continuous heading of 40° apparent while the wind intensity (boat wind) varied.  The blue curve indicates the boat speed without reefing. The pink curve shows the same response with the first reef point set. the point where the pink curve crosses the blue one  indicates the apparent wind speed when reefing becomes an effective boost. For J-Class, the time to read iswhen apparent wind reaches  11.0 m/s.



 We will discuss spinnaker effects an upcoming article, so I’ll save most of that discussion until later. I did want to share, however the graph that showsThe shape and size of the spinnaker affect when maximally adjusted.

  The blue curve below is the boat speed with just a mainsail plus the jib.  The red curve is identical, except the jib drops at a heading of 90 and  the spinnaker goes up.I’ve indicated the optimum spinnaker settings below. The graph demonstrates that the spinnaker offers a significantly greater downwind boost compared to the jib. (Grin… perhaps that’s no surprise). we’ll talk more about the shape of that curve next time.

 J-Class polar copy


 J-Class at Westland





Fizz Cup 2009 Begins



A Plum Race

This past Friday the curtain went up on Act I of Fizz World Cup 2009.

Bea Woodget’s touch was evident everywhere, and the organization and execution of the first round of races in Plum Gut was flawless in its detail.  Even the sims behaved; the races I attended were low lag, with mercifully quiet border cossings and few crashes within the competition fleet.

This is the second year for the Fizz Cup, and Bea’s goal this year is to develop a World Cup regatta infrastructure that could expand into other one design classes and serve as a template for future, major sailing competitions. It’s a great idea, and you can see the elements of this longer strategy throughout the Cup’s Notice of Race and in Bea’s thread on

The excitement over this year’s Fizz Cup has been pretty electric in recent weeks, and the registration for the competition broke all past records for a sailing event; over the next several weeks 60 sailors will compete  with each other in the  initial series of qualifying races hosted by many of the Second Life yacht clubs. Those skippers that emerge victorious from that grueling ordeal will then face each other in “Silver” or “Gold” final rounds  that will determine which sailors take home the cup for 2009.

The qualifying series will follow a format similar to Fizz Cup 2008. However,  if you think this year’s regatta will be anything like last year, you may want to think again! Friday’s remarkable sailing performance by the fleet in Plum Gut was nothing like last year’s racing for one, huge huge reason: this year’s cup skippers are sailing Mothgirl Dibou’s newly-released Fizz 3

Fizz Ontology

The Flying Fizz first hit the water in second life in January, 2008. Even before its launch, however, Moth’s little racing dinghy  had captured everyone’s attention.  It was a major advance over the venerable Tako, and one of the first sailboats designed completely independent of Kanker Greenacre’s sailing scripts. The Flying Fizz wasn’t just a “Tako makeover;” it was a qualitative leap forward that gave the sailing community  a glimpse of the future.

That early version of the Fizz changed over time. As with any radical innovation, following it’s initial release the boat went through a blizzard of quick bug fixes and upgrades, and in some ways the boat was still a work-in-progress during the World Cup 2008 race series that took place that Spring. I am not complaining about the Fizz 2.x, however;  that earlier boat captured the heart and imagination of the sailing community, and the 2008 Cup drew us together.

A large fleet of skippers participated in the 2008 qualifying rounds , and they sailed  Fizz 2.x’s with a skill that approached joyous audacity.  The term “Fizz Fanatic” became part of the SL lexicon and was hardly an exaggeration.  Last year’s Cup was was was a roaring success, and the largest and most diverse sailboat competition in Second Life history up to that point. The Fizz 2 was a big part of that achievement.  

fizz2008 prestart stallHaving said that,  as I watched the Cup 2008 races and tried to reconstruct the tactics employed by the many skippers, I was impressed that Fizz2 still had a ways to go before it accurately modelled small boat racing. Many of the strategies skippers used in the competition were not RL race strategies. Sailors often chose tactics that played off the unique features of the new boat, or exploited “bugs”  to enhance their performance rather than  focus on sailing skills.  The most obvious demonstration of this point  occurred early in the series, when it became clear that a number of sailors were legally using a design glitch (pumping the tiller) to go faster. Moth fixed the problem and upgraded all the skippers in the middle of the race series. 

I think the newness of the boat and it’s many features had a somewhat paradoxical impact.  On one hand there was no question that the Flying Fizz was a major advance over the Tako, with user features and performance designed intended to make the racing experience much more like real life. However,  if you go back and watch the Tako Cup 2007 videos, one can make an argument that the Tako races actually came closer to real-life competition, emphasizing sailing knowledge and strategy.

Boat Handling vs Sailing

In real life sailboat races, the skippers jockey their boats for position with each other, using and often pushing the Rules to gain advantage. It’s not about the boat per se; it’s about sailing.  In that spirit, Tako Cup races involved frequent protest calls, and many of those issues and discussions where pretty identical to what any sailor hears at a  RL regatta. The emphasis on strategy and tactics was clearly present during the Tako Cup pre-starts too, where skippers jockeyed for an advantageous start position so intensely that the Cup committee approved optional real-life start procedures to ensure a fair race.

In contrast, the Fizz Cup 2008  competition often seem to focus more on a skippers ability to handle the complex boat and maximize its performance; it was more about the boat than about sailing. I know many people might disagree with that assessment, but I think that interpretation partially explains why Fizz skippers made far fewer penalty calls in their Cup races last year compared to their Tako counterparts. It may also explain why many Fizz sailors essentially abandoned the usual dueling that typically characterizes the pre-start of a race. During those two minutes, the Fizz skippers frequently sailed a short distace back, neatly lined up their boats and read the newspaper, waiting for the precise moment to turn on the gas and make an all-out run for the startline. I’ve never seen that strategy in RL.

Please, I’m not complaining. The races were exciting, and the competition showcased the zeal, intelligence and ability of a race fleet drawn from all corners of the SL grid, manned by sailors from RL locations that spanned the Globe. The Fizz 2 platform demonstrated its value, and gained wide popularity and acceptance as SL’ s most advanced one-design standard for small boat racing.   However, although Fizz 2.x was a pretty marvelous technical achievement, it still fell short of the goal to construct a progressively more accurate emulation of real-life sailboat racing.  I’m sure that Mothgirl Dibou would phrase it differently, but it’s my understanding she saw this problem too. She took all the feedback and observations fromseveral months of Fizz2 racing… and went back to the drawing board.  Eight months later, Fizz3 was born. 

Fizz2009 Plum Gut Racecourse

Fizz2009 Plum Gut Racecourse

Now We are Three

Fizz3 is far, far more than a technical upgrade to last year’s boat.  In many ways, it’s another quantal leap ahead. Moth didn’t just make another technical tour de force; she went beyond that, designing a dinghy that responds to the concerns I listed above and incorporates the perception, handling, and the “feel” of a real-life raceboat.  Those issues go way beyond “scripting.”   I don’t know quite how she did it, but I suspect it has something to do with sweat, toil, frustration – and Moth’s love  for the project. The new Fizz3 is another big step in sailboat development, and the boat is so alive and real that many sailors  have flip-flop intense reactions to it, sometimes wanting to hug and kiss the boat…   while at other times in frustration wanting to drive a wooden stake through the boat’s heart. (Grin… just like real life sailing!)

I’m telling you this story because Fizz Cup 2009 is sailing the new Fizz 3. The races promise to be radically different then we witnessed last year, and the comparison will be fascinating. Last Friday in Plum Gut we got a look at the opening act, the Fizz 3’s debut in Cup competition.

That list of whiny compaints I made about the 2.x above? Well, forget ’em. The races on Friday were way beyond a technically sophisticated computer game. On Friday those skippers were sailing. It was pretty wonderful. Let me tell you about it.

FIZZ2009 MAY8 6AM-Start copy

shinobi Woodget gives the fleet a free lesson.

I only have time to tell you about the very first race in any detail, but for me that race tells the whole story about how this competition is shaping up, and why it’s different.

Tim Warrhol, macro Nacht, shinobi Woodget, Odissey Rossini and Alain Gloster all matched wits and sailing ability in that race heat, sailing a simple upwind/downwind sausage-shaped course. The first figure above shows the race start, and from the first moment all those watching could tell this regatta would be very different from 2008. As you can see above, during the countdown the competition fleet actively milled behind the line, aggressively vying for position and advantage over each other. Tim Warrhol got so excited he hit the line several seconds early, and capsized while steering strongly away. He made a rapid recovery, however, and never fell any distance behind the pack.

The second frame above shows shinobi Woodget in the lead a few moments later, followed by macro Nacht and Odissey Rossini. They are all lined upon starboard tack, beating to windward. Shinobi is slightly lee of the other boats, a good strategic position crossing the line but riskier on this first leg if another boat gets close enough to shadow. Luckily that wasn’t the case, and the image below shows the fleet following the first tack, now all on Port. Macro’s in the lead below, but that’s deceptive. Shinobi is following a more windward line and ‘has the height’ to give her better control approaching the yellow mark. 

 FIZZ2009 MAY8 6AM-055 copy

As shown in the Top Mark figure below, she plays it beautifully, stealing macro’s wind and falling off just enough to kiss the yellow buoy and leave it to port. Her setup is so good she enters the two-boat ‘zone’  alone, but the rest of the fleet is on her tail. The yellow arrow below is Alain Gloster’s  bowsprint!  All five boats were converging on the mark  in very close order!

Good Old Rule Eighteen

In the lower frame a few moments later you can see that Alain has swung wide to the starboard side of the buoy to give the two lead boats room;  they both have right-of-way.   It’s a little messier with the two boats at the back of the pack, however. Odissey and Tim Are neck and neck going into the zone, with Tim in the lee position.   Under Rule 18, Tim must now give Odi room to pass the mark.

FIZZ2009 MAY8 6AM-064 top mark

Since the zone is about to become a busy place, this is probably a good time to remind everybody of Rule 18’s wording, as accepted by the Fizz Cup committee for this regatta:


18. When overlapped, inside boats have Right-of-Way at marks, NOT including starting line marks.

In rule 18, room is room for an inside boat to round or pass between an outside boat and a mark or obstruction, including room to tack or gybe when either is a normal part of the manoeuvre.
18.1 When This Rule Applies
Rule 18 applies when boats are about to round or pass a mark they are required to leave on the same side, or an obstruction on the same side, until they have passed it. However, it does not apply
(a) at a starting mark surrounded by navigable water or at its anchor line from the time the boats are approaching them to start until they have passed them, or
(b) while the boats are on opposite tacks, either on a beat to windward or when the proper course for one of them, but not both, to round or pass the mark or obstruction is to tack.
18.2 Giving Room; Keeping Clear
(a) OVERLAPPED – BASIC RULE: When boats are overlapped the outside boat shall give the inside boat room to round or pass the mark or obstruction, and if the
inside boat has right of way the outside boat shall also keep clear.
Other parts of rule 18 contain exceptions to this rule.
If boats were overlapped before either of them reached the twolength zone and the overlap is broken after one of them has reached it, the boat that was on the outside shall continue to give the other boat room. If the outside boat becomes clear astern or overlapped inside the other boat, she is not entitled to room and shall keep clear.
(c) NOT OVERLAPPED AT THE ZONE: If a boat was clear ahead at the time she reached the two-length zone, the boat clear astern shall thereafter keep clear. If the boat clear astern becomes overlapped outside the other boat, she shall also give the inside boat room. If the boat clear astern becomes overlapped inside the other boat, she is not entitled to room. If the boat that was clear ahead passes head to wind, rule 18.2(c) no
longer applies and remains inapplicable.
(d) CHANGING COURSE TO ROUND OR PASS: When after the starting signal rule 18 applies between two boats and the right-of-way boat is changing course to round or pass a
mark, rule 16 does not apply between her and the other boat.
(e) OVERLAP RIGHTS: If there is reasonable doubt that a boat obtained or broke an overlap in time, it shall be presumed that she did not. If the outside boat is unable to give room when an overlap begins, rules 18.2(a) and 18.2(b) do not apply.
18.3 Tacking at a Mark
If two boats were approaching a mark on opposite tacks and one of them completes a tack in the two-length zone when the other is fetching the mark, rule 18.2 does not apply. The boat that tacked
(a) shall not cause the other boat to sail above close-hauled to avoid her or prevent the other boat from passing the mark, and
(b) shall give room if the other boat becomes overlapped inside her, in which case rule 15 does not apply.
18.4 Gybing
When an inside overlapped right-of-way boat must gybe at a mark or obstruction to sail her proper course, until she gybes she shall sail no farther from the mark or obstruction than needed to sail that course.


Scratched Gelcoat

Look what happens next, in the figure below. Odi is inside Tim and heads towards the mark; Tim falls off, giving Odi ample room. However, Shinobi is still completing her tack around the mark, and the boats behind her are momentarily delayed, giving her room. Macro follows Shinobi, But that puts him right in the path of Odi, Who is still barreling ahead, close-hauled to port.

The bottom frame tells the tale, as Odi hits macro and leaves a nasty scrape on his hull. Macro protests and the judges immediately concurred. Odi had inside rights over Tim, but not macro. Macro had ROW over Odi.

 FIZZ2009 MAY8 6AM-070 copy

 With that exciting moment passed, the boats have sufficient water to negotiate the hairpin turn and raise genniker for the run to the bottom mark.

FIZZ2009 MAY8 6AM-082a

 The extra headsail provides a powerful boost and the fleet spreads apart as each boat splits up the downwind leg into two broad reach tacks to optimize the velocity made good towards the mark.

It’s worth commenting here that Mothgirl deliberately chose to make Fizz3 a much slower boat than it’s Fizz2 predecessor. The initial PHRF testing shows the difference is substantial, with the Fizz 2 more than 2 1/2 times faster on a standard course. Personally, I think slowing down the boat was a brilliant idea. Instead of “bumper cars,” the slow speed now turns the races into competitions of strategy and situational awareness, and it lets sailors make full use of the many features and options Fizz 3 puts at  their disposal.

FIZZ2009 MAY8 6AM-096 downwind

  The final picture below shows the intrepid fizz fleet beating the short distance back from the bottom mark to the finish line. Shinobi Woodget won this first race and deserved the win. She grabbed the the lead from the very start, and flawlessly maneuvered into dominant positions on each tack. It was no easy task, however, since  macro was on her heels for much of the way, and as I described above, the fleet was so good all five boats converged together on the top mark. 


The best thing about Friday’s races was something pretty simple; it looked real. Each heat I watched looked like typical RL one-design boat race. The Fizz3 platform seems to have the right mix of technology, chemistry and attitude. To a considerable degree the skippers on Friday were sailing their boats;  they were making tactical decisions and responding to conditions the way it happens on a RL racecourse. Shinobi won the kick-off qualifying race for Fizz Cup 2009 because she outsailed the competition, and for me, that’s the difference between Fizz 2008 and 2009. 

I think Mothgirl Dibou’s Fizz 3 has accomplished something subtle and elusive: it’s given us a new platform that’s closer than ever to a true emulation of sailing, not just a complicated computer game. Fizz 3 makes this year’s Cup something pretty great: a competion of sailing skill among sailors.

I can’t wait to see what happens in the next round this Friday!


Glam Judging

glam judging

I’m trying to think of ways to get more people to volunteer as race judges. It looks like we’ll need several more people to help with Fizz Cup 2009 and the other planned regattas that will follow.

AC glamI’m impressed that over a year ago there were numerous discussions of racing rules involving many sailors. It was “a hot topic.” These days however, fewer sailors spend time focusing on rules issues, and my guess is most sailors are sort of happy with that. The nuances of racing rules might seem pretty dry and boring to some sailors, akin to interpreting the Talmud. (Private note to Armchair: I’ll explain the Talmudic Race Rules later…)

I’m not being critical here. The sailing community continues to expand in SL, and I think we all agree there is plenty of room for a wide diversity of races that incorporate any variation of the Rules that the race director du jour thinks is appropriate. Some big regattas might insist on “serious rules,” while fun races for novice sailors might choose to have no Rules at all.

Right now however, we have a small problem. There are very few sailors who are interested or willing to serve as Judges.

Liv Leigh officiates Fizz 2008

Liv Leigh officiates Fizz 2008

Considering all of the enthusiasm and ability within the sailing community, this should be something we could easily fix together. I guess I’m suggesting we find ways to make the Racing Rules and Judging more “glamorous” so we can build a racing infrastructure for the future. Over the past several days I’ve been discussing this issue with sailors from most of the clubs to get their ideas and help with the issue. So far, most sailors agree with three pretty simple ideas; there may well be many more:

1. We should provide more opportunities to talk about the practical issues of Judging and how sailors apply the Rules in different SL races. Those interested in helping out could get their questions answered and see where they might best fit in. For the upcoming Fizz Cup races, for example, NYC and a few other clubs are scheduling two Judges for each race. Judge 1 should be someone with past experience judging SL races; Judge 2 could be someone familiar with all the issues and interested in how to handle protests in SL… but a person who has never done it before. That might hopefully provide an opportunity to match an experienced judge with someone who wants to help out, but feels more comfortable when there is a judging partner around who’s been through prior SL regattas.

2. Judging is a thankless job. When a race goes well, the judges usually stay quietly in the background and seem barely involved in the regatta at all. You really only hear about judges when there’s a major protest and one of the parties refuses to accept a judge’s decision. It’s understandable that some sailors refuse to judge because they feel nothing good can come from the experience and is a significant chance if they volunteer their services some sailors they like will end up hating them forever over a particular rules call.

Continue reading