Monthly Archives: June 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Tim Warrhol Takes Fizz Silver!!!

Tim Warrhol takes Silver

After two months of intensive sailing in qualifying rounds hosted by a half-dozen Yacht Clubs in SL, the Silver Cup Finals were held today, and after six grueling heats Tim Warrhol emerged victorious as the winner of World Fizz 2009’s Silver Cup.

The fleet that converged today on Turnbuckle included six truly outstanding contenders who had demonstrated not only their sailing talent and proficiency, but also a hard-earned gritty tenacity to repeatedly come out on top of whatever race scenario the Fizz Committee threw at them. Dahral Huet, Tim Warrhol, Seraina Benelli, Toraba Magic, nobuko Criss and Kentrock Messmer;  you’ve seen these names before, many times.

Through six technically challenging races that lasted more than three hours, these sailors repeatedly did battle together. After five rounds, only the thinnest of point-margins separated the top contenders.

In fact, the outcome remained a real toss-up until the final race. Two false starts in that sixth heat rachetted up the tension even further, as everything came down to one last sail. Tim Warrhol rose to the occasion, however; he burst to the fore and lead the fleet around the course, wrapping up the regatta with a masterful win that paid off in silver.

As the crowd surged forward with wild enthusiasm and applause, I was not able to hear all of Tim’s utterance as he crossed the line, but Liv Leigh will confirm that… for the record… Tim’s winning comments included “My ass hurts...” Following this personal revelation, he turned to the skipper who finished after him and shouted: “NOBUKO…YOU ARE MY NEW BEST FRIEND!!!!!”

Whether these two statements are indeed related to each other must await a careful analysis of the video.



Tim W woot

Interview with Claudia Debruyere

Interview with Claudia Debruyere

Claudia Debruyere is probably one of the prettiest competitors in the 2009 Fizz Cup. While she called herself  ‘The Queen of Capsizes‘ before, she must have caused a number of swimming excursions for her distracted sailing friends as well. Despite all the pressure on her person to do so, she did not enter the ‘Miss Fizz’ competition. Liv Leigh was in for a few surprises in this interview, as she followed Claudia into a seaside villa with paintings of late-nineteenth century masters. The conversation became a story about Claudia’s love for the sea, her sailing family… and her grandchildren.

Toujours jeune

 Claudia at home

Liv Leigh: This weekend we will have the finals of the Fizz Cup 2009, you have sailed in all 6 events so far, but for now the race is done for you. How do you look back on it?
claudia Debruyere: I had a wonderful time with all these events ! before i didn’t sail in races it was the first time for me!! I was stressed but very excited too! lol

Liv Leigh: So it was your first tournament really. And you were thrown into the deep with all those sharks..
claudia Debruyere: Ah lol I am a beginner with the fizz and all the other sailors are wonderful! and had many trainings before !! Not me !lol But they helped me very much with kindness ! They are not sharks, but friends for me!

Liv Leigh: Ah yes, how long before the cup started did you buy your fizz?
claudia Debruyere: I received the fizz with the Glenans group on 23 march! The new fizz ! before I had a simple fizz and I used it only two trainings with Bea.

Liv Leigh: Ah.. so Bea Woodget taught you to sail in it… Have you been sailing a lot before in SL?
claudia Debruyere: I met Bea at Les Glenans club to have a sailing teacher , I used my first fizz with fun mode ! She learned me how to use it in novice mode. I began with competition mode on 23th of march.

Liv Leigh: So you just started to sail in SL in 2009?
claudia Debruyere: Only yes ! but I am a sea woman!! lol I love the sea and RL sailing !

Liv Leigh: You sail in RL… What kind of boats?
claudia Debruyere: Less now, but in my youth very much: I cruised with my parents and all the family in mediterranée at Cannes ! After we went to Bretagne and we spent the summer at an island: houat ! there i sailed with friends on a 420!
claudia Debruyere: Just for the fun, not for races!

Liv Leigh: Ow.. that makes you a much more experienced sailor RL than I am lol And it’s really a thing that’s in the family..
claudia Debruyere: Yes, my father, my sisters and brothers and now one of my sons race in competitons at la rochelle. My two brothers were French champions in the 470. My father sails today to Spain with a big boat !!

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World Fizz Round Six: Reia Rules!

header round 6

A month and a half ago, World Fizz Cup 2009 kicked off with an initial series of qualifying races hosted by the major yacht clubs in Second Life. Since then, each week the sailors reconvene, the bar rises, skill level goes up… and the tension builds. June 13 and 14 was the sixth time the competition fleet met to lock horns, testing their endurance and their mettle to earn a spot in the World Fizz Cup 2009 Finals.

FYC09This week was the last match in the regular series, hosted by Max Starostin and Far East Yacht Club.

The race course was an interesting mix of classic and novel features that promised a good test of the qualifying skippers’ experience and skill. As you can see in the figure to the right, the race course begins with an upwind beat to the first mark. The tack points are restricted by the dock on the starboard side and an island to port. The fleet makes an acute turn around the top mark (#1) and then sets a genniker course for the #2 reach buoy.  The route is confined by two islands that make this leg potentially tactically interesting.

The #2 mark also requires an acute change in direction, this time reaching to a small island (#3) before setting sights on the final, bottom mark (#4). From there it’s a short, but difficult upwind beat to the Finish. The course presented several challenges that were similar to the Schiffsratten races the week before.

FYC 2_003

The race  I am going to tell you about today took place at 7:30am Sunday morning. The 6:00am race was cancelled at the last moment due to under-enrollment and so several sailors moved up to the next slot, making the 7:30am race “a full dance card” with six boats competing. The skippers that showed up at 7:30 because of that turn of events might easily foreshadow the final race lineup.

Seraina Benelli, reia Setsuko, macro Nacht,  joro Aya, Odysseus Yiyuan, and REVO Blitz rezzed boats on the far side of the line, turning Sunday morning into a multifaceted showdown that included the third, fourth, fifth, eighth, and 12th ranked contenders in the series so far. That meant FYC, perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, ended up hosting an early morning race that pitted sailors with the greatest concentration of talent from any qualifying round against each other. And the stakes were high indeed: A shot at the Cup. It was immediately apparent to both the Fizz Cup Staff and the skippers that Sunday’s race could prove to be the greatest challenge of the entire competition.

Of course we won’t know that “until the fat lady sings,” but I can certainly confirm the Sunday morning fleet made a breathtaking performance and pushed the limits far beyond the prior qualifying round standards. Liv Leigh commented that the first heat was probably the best Fizz Cup race she had ever seen.  She may well be right; from what I saw, although the sizable fleet was plagued by lag at many points, their performance was truly extraordinary.

Let me tell you what happened.

Joro Aya cut the line first at 00:09; she then immediately pivoted and took off on a port tack.   As shown above, Ody, Macro, Seraina and REVO started close behind Joro, but all opted for a more traditional starboard tack first leg. Reia Setsuko started the race in the dead last position, a full 30 seconds behind the leader. In that desperate situation she chose a port tack start. It actually made perfect sense; in last place no one was going to call ‘right of way’ against her.

FYC 2_007

The image above shows the fleet a short while later. Ody still leads the four boats, and they are nearing the first tack point. Off in the distance you can see Joro’s pink sails; she’s already come about, and is now on starboard tack as she zig-zags to the first mark.
FYC 2_010

The four boats then all flip to port tack, and fall on a course that will intersect with Joro, with Reia still far in the distance.

FYC 2_013

Joro brilliantly played the upwind beat to this point. She chose to cut to port  at the beginning to get clean air without obstructions, and when she changed course to overlap with the fleet she ended up on a starboard tack that landed her squarely in front of Ody and Macro.  Joro had Right of Way, so both Ody and Macro needed to turn aside, losing position and momentum. Very nicely done, Joro!

FYC 2_014

But don’t count out Reia! As you can see above, she is following in the footsteps of Joro and gaining ground, threatening to block Seriana and REVO!

FYC 2_017

Joro now tacks again, and runs parallel to the other four boats. In the upper left can see the double-circle that marks the ‘zone’ at the first mark. All the boats will need to tack at least one more time to reach it. Although it looks like Ody and Macro are ahead in the image above, Joro is actually in a very good strategic position,  since she is much further windword and can gain speed by falling off more than the other boats. By planning her position and timing her tack correctly, she can maintain a windward advantage after the next turn. That will give her the necessary speed to make it to the zone first, while fending off the other contenders with her shadow.
FYC 2_022a

It doesn’t quite work out that way, however. Ody, Macro, and Seraina prove extremely fast, and it’s Ody rather than Joro that times the tack correctly. In the first frame above, you can see that Ody’s already flipped over and picking up steam on starboard tack while Joro is still in mid-turn. Ody’s got the momentum, and slides around Joro’s aft quarter into the windward slot, erasing all Joro’s earlier advantage.

FYC 2_026

Remember though, these skippers are ‘the best of the best,’ and Joro’s not giving up that easily. She’s able to hold her own in the leeward position while remaining parallel and overlapped up to the mark. They entered the two boat length zone together, giving Joro Right of Way to round the mark inside Ody’s turn. As you can see above, this once again gives Joro a slight lead over Ody as she takes the turn past the buoy onto the reach leg, with Macro less than a boat length behind the two frontrunners.
FYC 2_029

A few seconds later the other three boats reach the mark, and REVO has the inside track. But look where Reia is! You recall she started in last place, a full 30 seconds behind Joro. Here, at the first mark, she’s not only caught up, she’s passed REVO and Seraina!  I don’t know what vitamins she’s taking but that’s some incredible sailing!
FYC 2_031

The next section of the course is a broad reach that brings the boats through a channel between two islands on the way to the second mark. As you can see above, Joro and Ody continue their duel the entire way. Ody’s got control, however. He’s in the Windward position and slightly ahead. He can’t shadow Joro at this wind angle and Joro’s present position, but Joro can’t pass, either. As soon as she tries, she’ll fall under Ody’s windward boat blanket and lose momentum.

Ody knows he has her trapped, too: The channel is looming ahead, and the reach mark is on the starboard side past the islands. Joro therefore has no option to fall futher leeward to find clean air. Joro’s only option here is to ‘feint’ by first dropping back momentarily, then swinging across Ody’s stern to power into the windward position.

Joro’s got the skill to do it; she’ racked up more consecutive wins than any skipper in the history of Fizz Cup. But in this race she’s up against Ody, who’s ranked third overall in the Fizz 2009 fleet, with 16 clean wins under his belt. Joro’s chance to pull a feint and snatch windward from Ody  in this situation is, well…  zero.
FYC 2_034

The duel cost both skippers time and energy, however, and the remaining four sailors took the advantage. Flashing the skill they had all amply demonstrated in the prior heats of this series, Macro, Seraina, Reia and REVO all surged ahead to challenge the leaders. Although two minutes earlier the boats had been on opposite tacks and spread out over the width of the race course, now they were once again closely packed together as they flew through the channel, with Macro, Ody, Reia and Joro all vying for the lead.

FYC 2_037

Macro and Reia edged ahead and caught the reach mark first, free of any overlap with Ody or Joro (see above). Reia had the inside, and played it for all it was worth, chiseling the turn and breaking out front.

FYC 2_039

Macro then pulled a smart move. Although he was outside of Reia taking the turn, as shown above Macro swung hard around the mark to move to Reia’s opposite side, placing his boat windward of Reia’s aft quarter. On some other day, against some other skipper, Macro might use that advantage to steal the lead; but not this day, not this race. Reia had too much headway and Macro lost momentum in trade for the windward position.

FYC 2_041

Reia wrestled free from Macro and broke into clean air. For the first time in the race, there was no one ahead and nothing holding her back. With barely a nod to her fans on the beach, she suddenly exploded into overdrive, stretching her lead so fast the rest of the pack appeared as though standing still.  Come to think of it, considering the lag, they may have been.

FYC 2_043

This fight was still far from over, however. Ody and Jaro held the lead too long to let it go quite this easily. Macro held then off at the small island that served as the third mark, using it as an obstruction to keep Joro astern. Once in open water again, however, Joro made her move, attempting to pass windward of Macro.

FYC 2_045

On a different point of sail, this might be an effective strategy. The leg from the island (#3) to the bottom mark (#4) is a beam reach, however. With that heading Joro could not shadow from behind, and Macro had multiple options to change course in order to keep Joro at bay.  Joro had the heart, and never gave up the fight, but this time her efforts proved futile. Macro progressively widened his lead.

bottom mark

The image above shows how truly close the race still was at the bottom mark with just a short way to go to the finish. Reia maintained her lead, although Macro continued to close the gap all the way to the very end.  As I mentioned above, Macro successfully pulled away from the rest of the fleet, guaranteeing his second-place finish. Joro, Ody, and Seraina however were still so tightly packed that all three boats were completely in the zone for the final marker at the same time. And don’t forget REVO! He was in the rear, but was the same distance behind the ‘gang of three’ in the middle as Reia was ahead. In other words, this was a tight, excellent fleet they were all in the game together throughout.

FYC 2_054

Liv Leigh commented that many sailors think the FYC09 racecourse was ‘all about the start.’ In other words, if you win the start, you win the race.  For short dinghy races that emphasize technical expertise, that’s often true.

However, Reia on Sunday showed us something else. She came from dead last place, she chose an alternate port-tack strategy, and she relentlessly inched her way forward. Her progress in the race wasn’t luck. It didn’t depend on the errors of others.

Reia won this race in the best possibly way. In this first heat Sunday morning, Reia just outsailed everybody.

What a great race! Woot!

FYC 2_055

Interview with Silber Sands

through the looking glass-silber sands

by Liv Leigh

Don’t forget that behind each avatar
there is a real person with real feelings…

Silber Sands’ profile does not come with light and easy words. As new as she may be for some people in the community, she shows her character and personality, from her love for dogs and Leetle Cats to the way she mastered sailing a Fizz in the Cup. Liv Leigh interviewed her: a story about new beginnings, unknown courses, a fascination by the sea and her ideas to pick up sailing in real life.

I don’t want to race like a robot… so, unknown courses would be fun.

Silber reading in front of her tent at Martinique

 You: I was reading your profile a bit. I was attracted to the poem in it, by Hermann Hesse.
Silber Sands: Yes.. I adore him since my teenage and this special poem means a lot to me.
You: I see.. may I ask a bit more on it, or is it too private?
Silber Sands: Well.. no, it’s not 😉 every time when something ended in life.. I read it.. and it helps me to overcome things and start new.
You: I was wondering if it has a special meaning to you in SL as well..


Silber Sands: hmm.. yes, it has..
Silber Sands: I started in SL in February 2007.. and one year later, I had my first and only relationship here, it ended in December2008 after 10 months.
You: That is a long time in SL.
Silber Sands: It was a weird time.. but it brought me something new: sailing in SL 🙂

You: Did it also bring you together with the ‘Schiffsratten’?
Silber Sands: Yes, in some way.. there was no relation, but I was searching for something new. I know that if I would be still in this relationship, I would have never found the SRYC. Let’s say: I was free for what I really love: sun, sea, community 🙂 Before, all was dark, it was a dark relationship..
You: So sailing.. gives a sense of freedom to you?
Silber Sands: Yes, I like it a lot, and I am thinking about making a sailing-licence in RL as well. There are special offers for students where I live.
You: You are no RL sailor yet then I suppose.
Silber Sands: I am no RL-sailor, and I had to learn a lot about the rules, I am always afraid that someone shouts “protest” to me. That actually happens a lot in the trainings. 😉
You: Quite fanatic trainings then. Maybe other clubs could learn from it. Would you have anything special in mind, if you start to sail in RL? A boat, a place..
Silber Sands: Hmm.. I’d love to sail in the meditteranean sea. But I think, I’ll have to start on the “Alster” in Hamburg 😉
You: A city with a seafaring history.
Silber Sands: yes, that is true, our harbour just had its 820th birthday.

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Sailors Cove Concert and Dedication June 13

camber foils announcement




invites you to a Concert and
Opening Ceremony to dedicate a

Garden of Peace and Remembrance

to support Relay for Life 


11:45am- midnight 

Fishers Island Yacht Club
Garden of Peace and Remembrance




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Buoy Talk


Several weeks ago I wrote about about the importance of navigational buoys, charts, lighthouses, and other aids to navigation (ATON) to Sailing. Echoing the opinions of many other sailors, I suggested that an acurate and internationally recognized system of navigation buoys would be good for sailing, easy to deploy in SL, and have minimal server impact. Equally important, the yacht clubs and SL Coast Guard could provide the educational resources needed to help sailors learn about the RL and SL systems, and the Sailing Community has the scripting expertise to generate a variety of active displays that would use the nav marker location imformation. 

This discussion is still underway on ORG and in different groups, and there might be several possible solutions that all use common protocols (just like real life!).

Baby Buoys

A number of wonderful SL artisans have an interest in nautical buoys, which might seem a little surprising, since nav buoys don’t blow up and aren’t excite or sexgen compatible… but I guess sailors have strange tastes.

Several new buoy designs recently were introduced that use the  IALA-A and IALA-B conventions for SL navigational markers; I’m pretty excited. It looks like SL sailors are all ending up on the same page. The IALA buoy I want to tell you about I just learned about yesterday from Alan Bereford and Karsten Runningbear from Schiffsratten.

Alan’s the guy that made that silly little kid’s toy… you may have heard of it… the Shelly? If you haven’t, don’t worry; nearly every Olympic sailor in recent history knows about the RL version of that boat; ask one of them. Then come back to SL and sail a Shelly. 
IALA-standard menu-driven buoy by Runnigbear and Beresford

IALA-standard menu-driven buoy by Runnigbear and Beresford

 Alan and Karsten have now taken on “the buoy issue” (grin). I’ll give you the highlights of the features that make me so excited:

1. As I said, its IALA-A and -B compatible, so sailors RL and SL will have the same standards.
2. It’s menu-driven, so it takes minimal instruction to use and adjust them;
3. It has multiple modifiable features. Buoys are used for many purposes and in many contexts. It’s mildly frustrating that several very expensive buoys are not user-modifiable. For those prices, they should be user-friendly.
4. It has the standard options of a flashing light or a horn (or both). It has one BIG non-standard option: It can be PHYSICAL. If you bang into it… it moves aside, just like RL.
5. The version I tested also has an menu-optional shout call when the buoy gets hit. It’s obvious, many more script options are on the way.
What can I say? I love it.

Since this was just Beta I, let me leave it there for the moment… I’ll save the pyrotechnics for the finished product! (…did I mention the buoy listens to Mothgirl’s WWC and moves with current and wind? (sorry… grin)).

Rocky Road.

Navigation is, however, far more than just ‘Where the buoys are.”
A critical feature of virtually every type of of nautical chart made in the last dozen centuries is “water depth.”
Is there enough water? Is that course safe in this boat?
If you look at the small section I cut out of a New York nautical chart in the image above, you’ll see the open water is peppered with numbers… they’re all sonar depth records.
How much water a passageway offers your boat is pretty critical.
In SL however, depth is often an interesting, but frequently frustrating problem for sailors. It’s true that the large majority of recent sailboats are equipped with indicators for water depth, so a skipper usually knows how close she can get to the shore. However, for reasons I don’t fully understand, it’s actually much more difficult to get topographic information about the SL grid to use in a chart array for mapping. As far as I can tell, the standard nautical charts one uses in real life to plan a cruise or plot a race course just aren’t available in SL.
 I won’t belabor this point, since I have already discussed it at length recently, but I did want to mention a couple follow-up things…
 I got this bright idea last week for finding and delimiting the ‘shallow spots’ in Blake (grin)… (but please don’t try this at home.)
Atlantic Sea floor
Atlantic Sea floor

Here’s what I did:

First,  I got rid of all that silly water by typing CTRL-ALT-SHFT-7.
Then I took a huge 256x256x1m  phantom mega-prim and sank it to the minimum safe water depth for a J-Class (4.0m, z=15.5 for a 1.0m think platform).
All the seafloor terrain details higher than keel depth show through.  Within a few seconds  you have a photographic record of  the location and the  extent of all submerged hazards in the sim.

 If you look at the picture below, you’ll see in Atlantic Sim  just south of NYC there are two clusters of rocks/ ledges.   On the East side there is a cluster of rocks indicated by the right yellow arrow, just in front of Francois Jacques’ house.  It’s fairly close to land, and you might think it’s out of the way and not a problem.  However, any boat with apparent wind using the Madaket race line enters Atlantic on a beat, usually at a 60° real angle. When I do that in a J-Class I frequently hit those rocks full throttle. 

Let me emphasize again that I’m not really complaining about this… dealing with depth is part of sailing. I am, however, complaining I didn’t know the seafloor elevations!

Phantom megaprim 4m below water shows rocks in Atlantic Sim
Phantom megaprim 4m below water shows rocks in Atlantic Sim

The second group of Atlantic rocks  we need to fix, however. If you look at the picture above, there are rocks located in Atlantic just south of the NYC channel. Any large boat with a deep keel runs a risk of hitting those rocks.  Far worse– two of the rocks are actually inside the racing two-boat zone for the blue-white marker.  We should either remove the rocks or remove the buoy. 

This problem really isn’t anything new. I talked about the “Blake bumps” problem a couple of weeks ago here. Here’s what’s new, however:   

Cynthia Centaur saw me playing with megaprims… and took pity on me ( God bless Cyn).    She then scripted and tested a quite nifty utility that does exactly what I think is needed. The image on the left below shows Nantucket Yacht Club sim; it’s an aerial photograph. The Map picture is even more two dimentsional. The right side of the illustration, however, is a color-correlated plot of the Z-axis elevations in NYC sim, from 0-20m (>=20m is shown as same color, yellow).

Topography of Nantucket Yacht Club Sim

Topography of Nantucket Yacht Club Sim

 Woot!  The next illustration shows Atlantic sim. The left image shows the color gradation for various elevations, and the right image shows color only for spots shallower than 4 meters. At the top of the right image you see two such ‘shallow submerged hazards’ in yellow-orange, one on the left and one of the right (West and East). Those regions on Cyn’s plot are the same submerged rocks I pictured above.

Atlantic seafloor topography. Right image selectively shows z> 16m

Atlantic seafloor topography. Right image selectively shows z> 16m

I’ll leave it up to Cynthia to explain the details of the topographic charting, but it’s my understanding we should be able to map all of Blake Sea  and then come back regularly for updates. Similar to RL charting systems, it’s also possible to superimpose multiple layers that identify coastal features and buoy locations. 

I know maping the floor of blake sea isn’t quite the same as solving the Darfur problem or curing malaria, but in its own way, I thought this was pretty OK.

Keeping a List.

I think most SL and RL sailors would quickly agreed that charts are only as good as the information they contain.  Locations of ban lines and even the shapes of land masses frequently change in SL, so both  chart construction and collection of landmarks for buoys and rez areas is a fairly constant process.  Much of the time a successful sail depends on simple basics such as: Where can I rez my boat?  or  How do I get around ban lines in that marina? 

 Many sailors from different groups, including the Coast Guard and the various yacht clubs have gotten together to collect this kind of information and post it in different places in SL and on the web.  I’m trying to gather much of this information together and organize it into a series of pages of links and maps that highlight current features of   interest to sailors.

The pages will be organized  under the heading SL Aids to Navigation and will probably be broken down by region and feature, Including Landmarks for navigation and race buoys, Locations of lighthouses and Fixed aids to navigation, places to rez boats, and friendy destination marinas and yacht clubs.

If you have such lists, please post them as comments on that page of give them to me as a notecard. I’ll them fit them in to the ongoing information lists for sailors.



Live Fast, Die Young: Two minutes from Fizz Round Five

FIZZ 5  Live Fast Die Young copy


If you watched any of the fourth or fifth round qualifying races for the Fizz 2009 World Cup, you know exactly what I’m excited about. The Cup’s organization and the management by both NYC and SRYC were absolutely flawless, but it was the racing that was truly incredible. I ended up with thousands of pictures documenting hundreds of tactical duels, technical twists, strategic juggernauts… and just plain glorious, gutsy sailing.

SpoonDrift - SRYC02Bea Woodget’s also doing a pretty great job keeping everybody up-to-date on the regatta standings and the individual race results; I therefore thought it would make more sense for me to continue focusing on specific races and competitions, to highlight the skill of the individual sailors and the excitement and drama of the competition.

Today I’m going to kick that off by telling you about just two minutes from a race that didn’t even count… but the action was so tightly-paced that when I reviewed the pictures the next day I found myself jumping up and down and shouting at the monitor!

The Round Five races were hosted by Schiffsratten Yacht Club on the Spoondrift Raceline. The SRYC courses were longer than prior weeks, and featured an interesting mixture of  island obstacles and racing marks. Round Five was a pretty good test of both the skippers’ sailing ability and their technical know-how.

The first set of races tested the skills of five sailors well-known to the SL competition circuit: Kentrock Messmer, Tim Warrhol, Cacio Tomsen, Kei Cioc, and Toraba Magic. Tim Warrhol may be newer to SL Sailing than some others in the fleet, but his RL knowledge of sailing quickly earned him the respect of fellow sailors. Most consider him a seasoned skipper and serious competition for the Fizz Cup. In fact when Tim teleported to the Spoondrift line, I half expected him to shout “ROOM!” so he could rez his boat.

 As I mentioned, today I’m only going to tell you about a snippet of the regatta, beginning as this small group of superstars raised sail for the third race…

   fizz5 TS1-1-3x_114 copy

The illustration above shows three pictures of the start line during the final seconds of the countdown. The first leg is upwind beat to the blue/white mark. Many sailors will argue that a starboard tack is the best and safest start, since the race line can be a crowded place and starboard has right of way. Starting at the starboard side of the line near the red buoy also has advantages, since it gives the longest leg before tacking and can put a skipper windward of the pack, riding clean air and offering an unencumbered path to the mark.

In Spoondrift, the average wind angle was 10°, not zero, adding to the starboard start advantage.

The Fizz fleet knew this, and all boats began on starboard in each race. In the illustration above, two sailors (TM and CT) chose to safely cross in the middle of the line, avoiding any time-wasting confrontations that might arise from the cluster of argumentative skippers that gathered at the red buoy end.

At -00:03, the middle image shows TW, KC, and KM all overlapped and flying in to cross the line near the starboard end. They’re all sailing nearly parallel to the race line, trying to optimize the lift force of the apparent wind and also allowing more flexibility if they fall on the line early. It’s a nice lesson on how to set up for  a good race start.

If you look more carefully, however, TW ended up in a dangerous position. Approaching the starboard end of the line he is the most windward boat of the three, and he’s left minimal room to maneuver without hitting the Red line buoy. In fact, this is a classic racing tactic.KC is leeward, parallel and overlapped with TW.KC has right of way, and could have very easily called UP! UP! UP! as the boats approached the line, forcing TW to turn windward, and pushing him completely off the race course. Kei decided against it apparently; I assume he thought the race might be boring without Tim along.

fizz5 TS1-1-3x_120 copy

Now take a look at the illustration above a few seconds later. All five boats are continuing along close-hauled to starboard moving to the first tack point.TM is out front, but remember he started further down the line and his leeward position will cost him ground when the boats tack to port.

You can see something else interesting in that top picture: TW es windward of KC at the line, but now TW’s in the leeward slot.KC chose to pinch windward. TW’s moving faster but KC is in a nice tactical position, closer to the mark and potentially blocking TW’s tacking options.

You can see what I’m talking about in the middle frame. TW decides he’s high enough to reach the mark, so he flips to a port tack and makes a dash at the blue buoy. This is a potentially highly risky maneuver; as the middle picture shows, TW cuts straight across KC’s bow. KC could loudly protest here on at least two points:

Rule 16.1 “CHANGING COURSE: When a right-of-way boat changes course, she shall give the other boat room to keep clear”
Rule 10: “ON OPPOSITE TACKS: When boats are on opposite tacks, a port-tack boat shall keep clear of a starboard-tack boat.”

Please! I’m not being critical of Tim here. There was no protest at the time, and I am looking at pictures from a single perspective.  If a protest were raised,  it’s quite possible the pooled information from the judges and Race officials would show Tim had sufficient room to pass.  The point I’m making is that it’s a gutsy maneuver, and I assume Tim was holding his breath; God knows, I certainly was. (But hey… no guts, no glory.  It’s a boat race, remember?)

If you look at the third image above, you’ll see that KC took this in stride, and did not protest. After all, he needed to tack anyway, and it was still pretty early in the race; no need to cause a commotion. KC therefore fell parallel and overlapped in the lee position with TW.

fizz5 TS1-1-3x_123 copy

 The images above show the situation a few seconds later.   As the boats reached the “zone” at the first mark they were still overlapped and that gave KC the inside slot under Rule 18. TW courteously stepped aside, allowing KC room to pass and gain slight headway. KM and TM were immediately behind the lead boats, And also parallel and overlapped with each other. They also cleared the mark together with no incident and all 4 boats gaised gennikers moving South on a broad reach to the next Mark. As they approached the East end of the start line (third image above), TW was lying windward and slightly astern of Kei; it was the perfect position to steal KC’s air and hold him captive all the way to the next Mark.

fizz5 TS1-1-3x_127

No surprise, KC knew this too. his only chance was to break away, but falling further leeward would sacrifice the lead to TW. KC therefore played his best remaining card. As the lee boat he had ROW and therefore cut into the path of TW, forcing TW to a slower downwind course. It was effective, but as you can see in the middle picture above, this damaging duel between Tim and Kei sapped their momentum and opened the door for the pair of boats trailing them, skippered by KM and TM. In a remarkable move, KM and TM surged forward alongside the battling boats, and took the windward positions.  A scant moment later,  for the first time KM and TM were actually able to move out front and decisively capture the lead.

The second picture above shows this remarkable situation, with all four boats closely packed and gennikers overlapping. That certainly can’t be a healthy situation and gives all involved a heavy dose of ‘bad air.’ That’s nicely demonstrated If you look at CT’s progress from the second to the third frame. All along he has been bringing up the rear, but now suddenly he’s almost on top of the other four boats!

race 3 stops short

For a brief instant all five boats were more tightly clustered together on the racecourse then they had been while moored before the race began. And all five boats were straining sail on a reach, trying to grab an extra ounce of momentum and break from the pack.

Cacio Tomsen

Cacio Tomsen: "It wasn't all that bad."

Well, it wasn’t going to happen.

Unbeknownst to any of us, Tiga sim suddenly went off-line and all five boats  crumpled in unison into the unyieding sim edge. I admit it was probably the most cataclysmic crash of canvas and fiberglass I’ve ever seen on the waters of SL.  Cacio Tomsen concurred with that apocalyptic assessment, offerring the constructive suggestion that the World Was About to End. Kentrock Messmer took a more practical approach: “In that case, can I have a beer?”

Once the sims were back up and all the broken toys were hauled away, the five intrepid sailors bellied up to the raceline in new boats that still had that fresh-rezzed smell, and they did Race #3 all over again.

Wait till I tell you about what happened in the REAL Race #3!


Memorials and Monuments

Linden Garden

A few weeks ago I wrote a short article about the Second Life Day of Remembrance and the new Linden Memorial Park. The Park provides a place where the Second Life Community can spend time in quiet reflection or engage in activities that memorialize those SL members who enriched our lives in this medium, but then were lost to us when they died in real life. In that article I also commented on a particular feature of the Park, the flower garden. SL members could plant flowers there in tribute to their deceased SL friends and colleagues,  and the named  flowers would be a permanent  memorial to their memory.

Shortly after I wrote that article, however, the option to plant new flowers in the  garden was disabled when griefing problems arose. Several sailors asked me about the issue, so I  spoke with Michael Linden and Brent Linden about reopening the garden; they both strongly agreed the Memorial Park should be a priority.

 I’m therefore very happy to tell you the Garden is once again open, and all SL residents are welcome to stop by and plant a flower there in memory of a lost friend. The process is very simple. Just click on the  small sign  in front of the flower bed; a simple pop-up menu will appear explaining what to do. It takes less than a minute.

Linden Garden 2

Today I dedicated a flower to Lachlan Campbell, a sailor I met soon after I joined Second Life. He let me crew with him a few times so I could learn about sailing, back when I was still figuring out how to walk. Lachlan was a voluble, talkative, wonderful person who expressed himself by typing in a rather overdone Scottish brough (grin). His accent-of style was actually a perfect fit for the bright red Scottish Lion Tako sails he flew. 

Lach passed away several weeks ago. Over a two year battle with cancer, and while recovering from radical surgery and chemotherapy, he was there on the raceline sailing with us. Many sailors were touched by his grace, in small and large ways; we all mourn his passing, and are grateful for what he shared with us.

Earlier this evening, the Mowry Bay Cruising Club fleet held an excursion from Yamm in Nautilus City over to Fastnet Light in the center of Blake. A sizable group of sailors had a chance to discuss the RL and SL Fastnet with the person who brought it to life in SL, RJ Kikuchiyo. We all also got a chance to visit the simple granite block RJ installed there to commemorate the sailors who died in the 1979 Fastnet Race Disaster. 

I kept thinking that the simple incription on the Fastnet monument applied  just as genuinely to our friend and fellow sailor, Lachlan Campbell.

I liontaib Dé go ghcastar simm.

Lach, you will remain forever in our thoughts, and we will never forget. 

Fastnet memorial copy



June PHRF Update

PHRF for June 2009

In real life, sailboat racing often splits into two broad categories that are defined by either One Design specs or Performance Handicap Race Fleet (PHRF) handicaps. One Design racing emphasizes tight design specifications and class definitions to keep the boats in the race fleet identical. If the boats are the same, the hardware is no longer a factor; the race becomes a test of the skippers’ knowledge and ability. A One Design race is a contest of sailors and sailing skill; it’s not a battle of boats. The current World Fizz Cup is a great example of this type of organized competition with highly detailed specs and rules that are primarily aimed at keeping the sail platform identical, a “one design.”

PRHF in Madaket

PHRF racing takes a different approach to make a sailboat race fair and evenly matched.  PHRF acknowledges that skippers with different classes of boats often want to compete with each other in regattas.  The sailors are drawn togetherby a common love of the sport, and the differences between their boats seem minor in comparison.   Racing a mixed fleet presents problems however, since boats come in all shapes and sizes and are suited for different tasks and sailing conditions.  In order to make this type of mixed-class racing fair, PHRF uses a handicapping system that adjusts a race boat’s finish time based on a number of performance factors, including the boat’s design, equipment and rigging. That way a skilled, attentive skipper of a slow boat can still beat a distracted, less intense skipper who’s eating a ham sandwich and chatting on a cell phone while at the wheel of faster sailboat.  
From its very beginning in the winter of 2006/2007, SL’s Big -Boat Races were modeled after RL PHRF. All comers were invited, and the practical definition of “Big Boat” was “anything other than a Tako.”   For some time that Spring there was considerable chatter in the Forum about ways to handicap different boats in the fleet, and there were even discussions about handicapping the sailors in order to prevent a small group of prodigous skippers from winning so many races!

Luckily, that  idea of punishing the winners didn’t get very far (grin), but, as the number of sailboats in second life multiplied, the need for PHRF also increased, and was self-evident.

J-Class (PHRF=0.93) alongside LCat (PHRF=0.75)

bb 117

 In retrospect it probably sounds like a lot of work, but it was also a huge amount of fun… there are lots of discussions about the significance, if any, of the data and many sailors chimed in to add extra laps to answer specific questions that arose.

That pile of accumulated lap data was used to generate and then test a series of  ‘handicap factors’ for the different boat classes.  We actually ended up with a system that I think is more similar to Golf than sailing, but the same principles apply in both sports. To make the sailing handicap easy to use, we chose a popular “middle-of-the-lapspeed-road” boat: Trucordia Yawl; we defined it as the ‘index boat’ and arbitrarily gave it a handicap of 1.00 (like ‘par’ in golf). All other boats where then classified as slower or faster than the Yawl. By that measure, the venerable old Tako 3.3 came in with an extremely fast 1.35 handicap, meaning it was an average 35% faster than a Yawl. By that same measure, the little Trudeau Sojourner rated 0.70, a full 30% slower. the boat was slow, but it had good endurance and a lot of spunk (ask Liv Leigh who did many of the  Sojourner laps both last year and this year). 

With the November OS Sim crisis (remember that?) and the heterologous displacement grafting of USS sims to Mainland that followed, handicap hotaps officially shut down and the PHRF database went on sabbatical.  I don’t know if the spreadsheet was tired, but I do know the few dozen skippers deserved a vacation from hotlapping. 


But nothing in the digital ocean that spans SL ever stands still, and in those long winter nights while PHRF was away changes were afoot.  In fact, on scores of seabeds, seminal ideas flowed into pliable prims and the genetic code that underlies the sacred lift engine recompiled once more, giving birth to the first frail attempts at  new generation of sailcraft…  The Rite of Spring this year was full of excitement  as a host of new and experienced boatwrights launched  remarkable additions to their yacht lines.  It was time to resurrect PHRF again; There was a new and challenging series of boats to test.

alt trudeau

 Is the new fizz really slower than the old fizz?  How much?  is that even a relevant question?  and what about the Trudeau quintuplets… Twenty, Knockabout, LCat, Tahiti II and J-Class?  where do they fit in  alongside the orderly numbers from last year’s PHRF fleet? A whole series of new boats were sailing across the waterways, with bewildering array of new features. high school confidentialSome had keels and some had centerboards, still others had multiple headsails; some even had adjustable rigging and sail shape.   More serious, some fundamentally changed the lift algorithm by including apparent wind to the calculations. Others objected to this obvious step, continuing to live in denial and insisting their wind was the “real,” “true” wind. My favorite among the sudden burst of sailing options and innovations was Trudeau’s addition of a sail-shortening effect to balance the boat under strong winds. The discussion reminded me of that classic movie,  High School Confidential. I mean, Trudeau Yachts launched four new boats that that each beckoned innocent young sailettes to clamber aboard with the  enticing line: ” Would you like a One-Reefer or Two?”

 ( In case you think I brought up the movie High School Confidential as as part of my usual tangential thought process here,  well…  you are probably right.. but there’s another reason too. If you look at the picture on the left, it’s pretty obvious that Phillip Linden’s Earth-Godess typical female avatar shape emerged from the distorted personal ideas of  female anatomy resulting from his exposure to this film during a critical developmental stage.)

LCAT Anyways… In March Cynthia Centaur, Fancois Jacques and I announced the 2009 version of PHRF Hotlaps using the web-based  Race Line in Madaket.  The Madaket line was a big hit, with nearly 500 recorded laps in the past ten weeks. The setup is easy, and largely foolproff for novice and expert sailors alike. It’s  intended primarily for solo sailors, including  PHRF hotlaps or skippers working on their sailing skills.  

Since the Madaket line opened, a full three dozen sailors have helped collect lap data and saved it to the database.    please give an incredibly huge woot! to the following super sailors: Rodman Malpholisto checking his PHRF lap results

Gemma Vuckovic, Francois Jacques, Carmen Foden, joro Aya, Garrick Diesel, Justbent Clarity, Heidi Stiglitz, Angus Moonwall, Dunan Wilder, Chaos Mandelbrot, Cory Copeland, LDeWell Hawker, Oliphant Ming, Julia Ceres, Liv Leigh, Triton Sands, Hal Burnstein, Blackbird Latte, Argus Farman, Vin Mariani, Rodman Mapholisto, Alain Gloster, Jane Fossett, nobuko Criss, Allie Tomsen, Angus Moonwall, Bunnie Mills, CS Price, Emme Eales, Jehan Jameson, Liv Leigh, Naeve Rossini, Nomad Zamani, Reven Fhang, Quirky Torok, and Masahisa Greenwood.

As of June 1, nearly 300 usable data points were logged using the Madaket line and PHRF Racecourse.  So far, twenty-seven  different boats have been tested; For many boats a  large normally-distributed sample of scores have already been collected by multiple skippers. In other categories we need more laps to be sure about the trends!

The table below contains the calculated handicap scores, shown in blue for each individual boat class. In the column just to the right you’ll find the handicaps for 2008 in Green.  In general, be 2009 results are not as consistent as the 2008 results, but despite the large number of laps, the 2009 handicaps are still pretty new and there’s a fair chance with time and more experience on the Madaket course the sources of variability in the race fleet will diminish the way they did last year. Some aspects of the data are highly encouraging in that regard. For sample, last year on every race course tested, the Yawl lap times and handicaps turned out to be virtually identical to the Defender II, Friendship Sloop, and JaqCat. This year, even though sailed by different skippers, the total variance is only 3%, with the Yawl getting the ‘Index’ 1.00 and all three of the other boats coming in at 0.97.  When asked if the boats are identically scripted, J Trudeau’s answer is an official “no comment,” but her smile coupled with the present set of 950 total data points argues that those four boats are, for practical purposes, identical with regard to racecourse performance.

long distance_010

 I added an extra column at the end here with “corrected” scores listed in Red.   Since the yawl is the index boat, All the other parametric values (not the rank order or relative magnitude) depend on that one Yawl score. At the moment we only have a small number of Yawl laps, and only sailed by two people (myself and Oli Ming). The scatter is very small and our times strongly overlapped.   Since the other three, supposedly identical boats were 3% slower in Madaket, however, I thought it would be worthwhile at least for the moment to combine all the scores for the four trudeau boats that use the same scripts,and use that as a “corrected ” Index value.
When you do that, all the numbers move slightly faster, and get closer to their 2008 values. We’ll see how things look as we get more data. 

 PHRF Summary - June 1 2009

 What’s new on the list???  Did we learn anything after 300 laps?

Well, we’re beginning to get some PHRF handicap data for the first time on Corry’s boats: the VOJ and RCJ-44. They are both scripted to sail extremely, even supernaturally, fast. The PHRF data on the RCJ-44 is entirely consistent with Naeve Rossini’s polar plot data for the boat, which shows the boat exceeds true wind speed over a broad range of upwind and reach angles.  the brand-new 1.1 version of the boat has the same tuning, and first numerical trials in the boat show it might even be a tad faster than the 1.0! Mirabile Dictu!

 I have not seen any numbers on the VOJ, but the lap data strongly suggests it will be and RCJ-44 on steroids…

 Another finding  that is highly consistent with the polars (as well as racing skipper experience) Are the PHRF results for the Trudeau 20, Knockabout, and Leetle Cat. T20 is the slowest and LCat is a full 30-40% faster, with the Knockabout dead in the middle. the results are in complete agreement with the charts showing and the relative velocities for each of these boats at the same wind settings.

Big Boats at rest

Big Boats at rest


Here are the spreadsheets showing the individual scores for each of the boats, and the calculated standard deviations.  Since this table will soon get pretty large, I’m  updated only on the separate PHRF page on the metaverse  sailing website.

All the original data will also be open and available to sailors and everyone else to perform their own calculations and to doublecheck my own (do not EVER assume I can add; there is too much evidence to the contrary) . You’ll find The Raw Lap data for each skipper, boat and lap on a Google spreadsheet here: . I will try to make sure it’s updated at least monthly. And finally, I’ll tryto keep a running series of links to the various articles and sources posted here, to google public pages, and to the ORG Racing and Discussion Forums.

 Apr 29 big boat race 256I guess the final question is whether it’s actually worth the effort to collect all this lap data and crunch some numbers with it. I think there are answers both ways… if you like sailing and do laps to sharpen your skills and take advantage of a boats full performance, the PHRF data fits nicelyas part of your personal training.  it tells you what the fleet averages are, what your boat is capable of, and where you fit in comparison to other sailors  who are also practicing their skills.

Please remember though, it’s not about the numbers!  It’s about enjoying sailing, whether RL or SL, and in the process developing more understanding and skill.

Kei Cioc actually phrased it better here last week than any sailor I’ve heard in my two years on the water here. I’ve thought a lot about his brief comments… I thought they spoke volumes about attitude, determination, and the sheer joy of sailing; not just about Kei, but for all sailors and what we share together.
Kei stated his reason to race and compete was founded in a desire to share the experience with his friends and the community. His motivation to sharpen his technical skills wasn’t about competition; instead, it grew from his love of taking the helm while cruising alone or with friends. His knowledge and skill from racing enhanced his awareness and personal enjoyment of sailing for it’s own sake.
I think he has a spot-on understanding of what sailing and ‘life’ is all about, where our skill and experience serve to deepen our appreciation and understanding.

There are experiences common in sailing that do not occur in other sports; at those times you catch the rhythm of moment, and are one with the swells below and breeze on high, joined forever to the endless oceans and all sailors present and past. On those rare moments the great sheets of canvas that are your power and protection become your wings, and the powerful hull and towering spars that surround you bear you up in gossamer flight, gently rocked by the silent, immense power of wind and wave surrounding you, you dance, with the universe, and are free.

Well, maybe… but before that, let’s first do another few hundred PHRF laps… (grin).

PHRF pt 1 June 1 2009 copy


Madaket Hotlaps data through June 1 2009 (part II)

Madaket Hotlaps data through June 1 2009 (part II)


madaket hotlaps002