Leetle Cat Training

Since the Leetle Cup Distance Race is scheduled to take place this Sunday, I wanted to spend a few extra minutes here talking about the Trudeau Dockbox and Leetle Cat sailing instruction.

I think we all share enthusiasm that the sailboats in Second Life are becoming more accurate and realistic. However, that actually might be a mixed blessing, since it means that learning to sail is more intimidating… and let’s face it, most SL users think the phrase “Crank a winch” has something to do with allegations about Tiger Woods…

Anyway, I think we would all agree that Second Life is actually a pretty great place where online users can get an easy, non-threatening introduction to the world of wind-powered boats. Many people in SLSailing have devoted  considerable time and sustained effort to build instructional programs for new sailors. These originally focused on the Tako, and then expanded to the Fizz engine with the introduction of the Shelly and the soon-to-be-released Nemo. 

Why taking a lesson is a good idea.

Although Trudeau boats are very popular in SL, a Trudeau training boat and Trudeau-specific sailing instruction lagged behind these other efforts… but hopefully not for long.

As some sailors may recall, the Leetle Cat was added to the Trudeau Yachts lineup as a small but nimble teaching dinghy. The boat has only one sail and no motor, but don’t let that fool you; LCat is Trudeau all the way. The wind engine uses an uncompromising  apparent wind algorithm, and the boat comes with both standard and racing Trudeau HUDs, so new students or jaded salty skippers always know what’s going on  and can modify it to suit their needs.

[Thank you to Ahjep Kattun for the great video from last year!]

Like any good teaching boat, the LCat incorporates fully functional sailing features that are usually found on larger, more expensive boats. These include Reefing, a deployable centerboard, both Hud-button and Gesture controls, and a modifiable appearance and interface. In fact, the  LCat was intentionally fitted out with all the pieces necessary to teach aspiring new skippers the basics of serious sailing and racing; That’s one reason it’s the only Trudeau with a centerboard. Epicurus Emmons and many other sailing advocates waxed enthusiastic about Leetle Cat, promoting it as a teaching boat and club racer.  In the rush to the raceline, most forgot about the “teaching part” though, and LCat ended up earning its notoriety on the race circuit instead!

Leetle Cat Dockbox

Trudeau Dockbox at Mango Yacht Club

Jacqueline Trudeau’s Leetle Cat Dockbox is a fun gadget that could change all that. It’s designed to help sailing instructors teach skills to a class of new or intermediate students. As the name implies (and the picture above demonstrates), it looks like a standard “dockbox” common at marinas around the world. However, this dockbox allows a sailing instructor to rez a fleet of up to six Leetle Cats for student teaching! Woot!

The boats in the Leetle Cat Training Fleet generated by the dockbox are fully functional, but auto-return after one hour. That way the instructor never has to worry about leaving messy crashes scattered around the harbor.

Trudeau Dockbox at Fishers Island Yacht Club

Most sailors already know that Trudeau boats have signature qualities of accuracy, style, and humor, and the Dockbox Training Fleet continues that tradition. The boats are full-fledged Leetle Cats that look exactly like the “Training Fleet Boats” you might find tied up at any Yacht Club dock on the East Coast of North America.

The paint is chipped, the colors are sun-bleached, and the boats’ ID numbers are clumsily taped on the stern! I recognized the RL-authentic “Bad Duck Tape job” on these boats immediately!

That casual appearance may have practical significance, since SL users with no prior sailing experience are frequently pretty anxious when they take their first lesson. The unpretentious appearance of the training boats, coupled with the tag “Property of Ricker’s Island Yacht Club” stenciled on the transom, should generate a smile and get new students to to relax and have some fun.   Of course, this is a Trudeau, so an instructor can always sail along with a new student, helping  then sail the boat and using the shared HUD to demonstrate saililing principles.

Sailors Cove likes this approach too, and Moontears Vought and Jerit Weiser recently started both a Beginner and Intermediate sailing instruction program at Fishers Island Yacht Club that incorporate the Dockbox Leetle Cats. Dockboxes are also set up at several other locations, including Triumphal Yacht Club, Nantucket Yacht Club, and Danshire. However, there are two new places I want to give a special shout-out to today: Mango Yacht Club and the Sunrise Sail Center!


Please give a Woot! for Isis Rexie from Mango Yacht Club.

I’m not sure exactly when Isis got addicted to SLSailing, but I first knew her well when she skippered for Liv Leigh in Round Two of the J-CLASSIC. In the most difficult race of that ten-week regatta, Isis sailed away with the fastest time of the entire fifteen-boat fleet, beating her closest competitor (Nomad Zamani) by a full three minutes.

While Isis prepared for that winning J-CLASSIC valkyrie ride, she got to know Equinox Pinion and Dennis Lagan’s Fruit Islands Estate very well.  Watching her practice, I was convinced Isis could sail the 100+ FrootLoops sims blindfolded. I guess it was therefore no surprise that Isis stayed on as Commodore of Fruit Islands’ Mango Yacht Club when Round Two ended.

One of her first decisions was to start a fun “Learn to Sail” program at Mango using the Leetle Cat Dockbox. It’s now become a weekly staple in the Fruit Islands Events Schedule, and Isis just expanded Mango’s sail instruction into a dedicated ‘Sailing skills’ area located in Fruit Islands’ Strawberry sim.

Strawberry has less traffic and is therefore more conducive to teaching and practice laps.

First two slide from Isis' Beginner Class

Isis has also done a great job putting together slideshows for  introductory and more advanced sailing topics.  You can pick up a copy of her  Beginner Class over at the teaching dock in Strawberry. The slides are free, and students can review them after taking a class (or even without taking a class).

The other clubs and sailing groups that teach Leetle Cats have integrated Isis’ slideset into their program too, so please contact Isis Rexie if you have questions or ideas about more teaching aids!

Talking about Leetle Cats and Mango Yacht Club gives me a great segue to also tell you about Elbag Gable’s new Sunrise Sailing Centre!

Sunrise Sailing Center

Elbag Gable is MYC’s Vice-Commodore, and he shares Isis’ infectious sailing bug. Since Mango is brand-new, they’ve both worked these past two months on teaching basic sailing skills and promoting Fruit Islands’ waterways. Elberg’s now taken that plans steps further; he’s recently installed six new sailing sims in Fruit Island’s Northwest Corner!! WOOT!

Elbag and his partner Brenda Hoisin didn’t stop with their contribution to Fruit Islands, however.
This week I learned they’ve opened a new “Sunrise Sailing Center”  in Horrorbag!

Horrorbag sim may have a terrible name, but as you can see from the above image, it’s in a fantastic sailing location west of Nautilus City. There is virtually unlimited sailing in all four directions. A sailor can sail South or West in the water capping the continent of Satori, travel East to Blake Sea, or even connect to the waters far North in Nautilus through the passageway in Knaptrackicon (indicated by the orange arrow in the figure above).

Horrorbag has lots of nearby sailing friends too; it lies adjacent to Triumphal Yacht Club, and it is just a short sail from both the Mowry Bay Cruising dock and Weston Marina.

It was a great place for Elbag to put his new Sunrise Sailing Center!

Elbag obviously thinks so too. Last week he announced: “The Sunrise Sailing Centre at Horrorbag is now open and available for the whole SL Sailing community to use whenever and for whatever purpose they wish…” (He then caught himself and added a tiny disclaimer: “…within reason and within the scope of the SSC’s SL Mature Sim classification!” )

Sunrise is a full service Marina, but it’s not intended as a Yacht Club. There’s nothing to join, and Sunrise’s real intention is to work with the existing clubs to help expand the burgeoning sailing community. Sailors can rez their boats and tie up at Sunrise, and have free use of the Center, which I must admit is quite gorgeous. It has classic style, two dancefloors, a real water pool, and an absolutely breathtaking view from the second floor porch.

If you like what Sunrise is doing, there are convenient donation kiosks scattered around, and as I said this is a full-service marina, so if you are tempted to stick around, Elbag can lease you a permanent dock slip or even rent you one of a small number of designated rooms in the Center.

However, I’m mostly telling you about this because one of Elbag’s primary goals at Sunset is teaching:

“We will be running beginners’ sailing lessons from SSC with classroom screen-based training sessions as well as practical hand-on lessons using Trudeau Leetle Cats. Anyone wishing to assist in this or develop the site’s use with us as a centre of sailing excellence and expertise is welcome to talk to us about any such ideas.”

If you look at the front of the Sailing Center, you’ll see there’s a large classroom building on one side that’s dedicated to New Sailor instruction. Like everything else at Sunrise, it’s quite nicely done, it’s comfy, and it’s very well thought-out.

Please join me in welcoming Elbag’s Sunrise initiative.

SL Sailing succeeds through the kindness and generosity, as well as the skill and hard work of many, many people… If any of you are keeping a list of those names, it must already be pretty long. For all their efforts, however, please add Elbag and Brenda to that list… and while you are at it, don’t forget to double-check that you included Isis, Dennis, and Equinox from Mango… Francois from NYC, Moontears, Jerit, Fanci, and Patrick from FIYC, and Charlz, Fiona, and Orca from Triumphal… they have all quietly added one more boat, the Trudeau Leetle Cat, to the list of training opportunities for beginner sailors here in Second Life.

One response to “Leetle Cat Training

  1. Briget Flanagan

    Isis deserves a lot of praise. She took me out in a Leetle and had me sailing to windward, tacking and gybing in almost no time at all.

    Of course I also learned that , “yes, you can beach a little with the centerboard up…” although the first time was not intentional. 🙂

    Thanks again Isis and thanks Jacqueline for a great “leetle” boat with big features.

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