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!


11 responses to “Fizz Cup 2009 Begins

  1. Good article Jane, but let me correct a point concerning the “Scratched Gelcoat” chapter:
    Macro didn’t protest. Odissey did.
    Here is the full retranscription of what happened, including Chat and Race Committee group chat:
    Judges anticipates:
    [2009/05/08 6:07] IM: Taku Raymaker: what a wonderful 1st tack here lol
    [2009/05/08 6:08] IM: Bea Woodget: Protest could occur at the yellow buoy
    [2009/05/08 6:08] IM: Taku Raymaker: yeah
    [2009/05/08 6:09] IM: Liv Leigh: watch overlaps
    Odi hits Macro and shouts protest:
    [2009/05/08 6:10] Flying Fizz 3.0 5R #001OR crie : Odissey Rossini: protest
    [2009/05/08 6:10] IM: Liv Leigh: oh my
    [2009/05/08 6:10] IM: Liv Leigh: did anyon protest odissey
    [2009/05/08 6:10] IM: Taku Raymaker: how do you think Yuu
    [2009/05/08 6:11] IM: Bea Woodget: Odissey protested
    [2009/05/08 6:11] IM: Yuu Nakamichi: correct
    [2009/05/08 6:11] IM: Bea Woodget: against Macro, but no overlap with Macro
    [2009/05/08 6:11] IM: Bea Woodget: Macro had ROW
    [2009/05/08 6:11] IM: Liv Leigh: yes
    [2009/05/08 6:11] IM: Bea Woodget: Odi was overlapping Tim, but not Macro
    [2009/05/08 6:11] IM: Taku Raymaker: I do not accept this protest
    [2009/05/08 6:11] IM: Yuu Nakamichi: macro doesn’t accept the protest
    [2009/05/08 6:11] IM: Liv Leigh: and tim gave room
    [2009/05/08 6:12] IM: Liv Leigh: macro should have protested.
    [2009/05/08 6:18] IM: Bea Woodget: Pictures confirmed our analysis
    [2009/05/08 6:18] IM: Liv Leigh: ok but macro never protested
    [2009/05/08 6:18] IM: Yuu Nakamichi: he was protested against

  2. mothgirl dibou

    You have no idea how happy this story makes me. Almost everything I hoped for in Fizz 3 is coming true. And with the new Boat Building Kit it is only a matter of time before a flood of new and exciting boats will arrive.

    But let’s not sit back and relax. The scripts are in no way perfect. I already have a very long wish list.
    After this Cup and after the first experiences from other builders, we need to think about how we can improve things further. We need many more classes, each with its own characteristics, emphasized on sail trim, tactics or boat handling. And each of these aspects of sailing can be improved a lot more.

    But it’s not just the boats that need improving. Also the infrastructure is up for revision. I mean the lines, the buoys, the clock, the communication with websites (for (intermediate) results). And most of all the way spectators can follow the races needs some serious thought.

    With a little help and joined effort I am convinced we can make SL the best Sailing Simulator available.

  3. Bea Woodget said: “…Macro didn’t protest. Odissey did.”
    Thank you Bea for the correction! I was in “camera mode” shooting pictures at the upwind mark and didn’t hear the actual protest call; I assumed it was macro. I only knew the protest occurred. The facts and the application of the rules is the same, but who calls the protest of course has a big impact on the judge’s ruling. In this case, Ody’s protest against macro was dismissed as your transcript shows. However, as Liv comments in that transcript, if macro had been the one protesting it’s likely Ody would have earned himself a penalty turn (grin), and there’s nothing wrong with that. As we all know, if you aren’t getting penalties called against you, you’re just not trying hard enough!

  4. Stuart Choche

    I don’t want spoil the feast or put watrer in the wine – but this protest situation looks a bit odd to me (probably to Yuu as well as he didn’t judge it):

    True: Ody hadn’t any overlap with Marco, when he entered the 2-lenght-circle. On the other hand it seems to me – according to Janes photos – that Marco has left the circle and dived back into it. If so, I am not sure about the regulation – we should ask Tim about that 🙂 But I think, in this case Ody would be right.


    • Hi Stuart,
      it is very nice of you to show your interest in this kind of situation, especially after having called for a general boycott of the Fizz Cup some weeks ago… I appreciate this more positive attitude…

      Some details on the situation which you consider odd by judging only with help of photos which do not make it possible to analyze the situation correctly:
      – The situation was clearly judged in real-time and as it should be by the Race Committee which was flying above the zone, with a good view on it.
      – Macro (and not Marco) has not left the 2-lenght zone circle as you suppose (Jane has other photos which clearly demonstrate it)
      – This also explains Tim’s behavior, who perfectly analysed and reacted well to the situation, contrary to Odi (and not Ody).

      However, as described in the Notice of Race, the jury proceeded with a protest hearing after the course, here is an extract:
      “Odissey Rossini: Np macro, if i didn’t protest i had to do a 360 ….because i touched the buoy 🙂
      Liv Leigh: buoy hit is no reround anymore”
      No more comments needed I think …

      Last, but not least, all decisions of the Jury is final, even if judges may be wrong sometimes, as it may happen IRL…

      I hope this additional information will give you satisfaction Stuart.

      This said, thank you for your help, and I suggest you to go you one step further: we still miss some volunteers to help as Race Committee (judges…) for some coming events… What about joining us and be active in real-time? You will be welcome… IM me inworld if interested, I am sure I can find a good job for you 🙂

  5. Hi Stuart!
    You make an interesting point.
    Since I was taking photos, I’ll defer to the race judges before chiming in here; xxx

  6. I agree with Bea, Stuart’s knowledge and help judging in this and other regattas would be much appreciated.
    Let me also say we went back and looked at each of the unpublished images (taken about one second apart). Once Macro was ‘in the zone’ he never left it, and his delay turning at the mark seemed appropriate to avoid Shinobi. Here’s the image sequence:

  7. Stuart Choche

    to be precise: I called for the boycott of events held under one specific avatar (and not: “called for a general boycott of the Fizz Cup” like Bea wrote). I had my reasons and have them still.

  8. Just found this little gem here. Very interesting stuff about the history and development of the Flying Fizz. Thanx Jane. Ur site seems to be full of these hidden gems.

    • Thanks!
      There were so many great events, discussions, and ideas over the past several SLSailing years, and the release of Fizz 3 was certainly a major advance that enhanced dinghy racing realism in SL.
      Fizz 3 remains a truly great emulation of competitive, small-boat racing. It’s joined now by several other one-design dinghies that I think serve their own user- preferences and skill-sets, including the Trudeau Leetle Cat II, The Quest Q-2M, and the still-beta Nemo II. (Did I miss any boats?)
      The diversity of options, engines, and ideas can only make SL sailing a better, closer emulation of the real thing!

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