Daily Archives: June 5, 2010

Tradewinds SL-VT Trials


The SL-VT regatta series kicks off in a big-way this weekend. Tradewinds Yacht Club is holding a series of match races to determine which two skippers will get the chance to fly TYC’s colors  in the August finals hosted by Golden Gate.

Commodore Liv Leigh chose a deceptively simple, Windward-Leeward course for the qualifying trials, using a match race format. Each race-pair started on an upwind beat that ended in a counterclockwise turn around the red buoy in Elhadi. The boats then reversed course back to the raceline in Siracusa, and followed it with a second lap. There was a slight port-start advantage, but however the boats cut it, it took three tacks to fetch the top mark followed by a long, dead run home.

The races are still in progress so I can’t tell you too many details about the standings. However, I’d love to talk about one race, between Nobuko Cris and Ziz Kidd, that everyone agreed was by far the most exciting match from the 6:00am timeslot. 

Both Nobu and Ziz are outstanding sailors, and their skill Became quickly manifest in this matchup.

The three images below show the approach to the start line; both skippers are on Starboard, and Nobu is far in the lead. As anyone who has ever sailed against Nobu must know, she is verrry fast. That’s usually an advantage but this time it worked against her, since she approached the line at high speed and several seconds ahead of schedule; the countdown was still in progress.

The middle image shows Nobu unsheeting her sails in an effort to slow down and avoid an ‘over-early’ penalty. even that isn’t enough, however, and the third image in the sequence shws Nobu falling off and running parallel to the line, waiting for the clock  to hit “Zero.”

Nobu pays for her speedy exuberance; she loses momentum and position; worst of all, she gives Ziz time to catch up.

The image below shows the relative positions of the boats several seconds after the start. Ziz Kidd cut the line at a better angle, and ends up close-hauled, windward, and beating to the top mark. Nobu  may appear ahead of Ziz, but she doesn’t have his momentum and she’s forced to ‘pinch’ upwind because of her less advantageous start angle. 

Never count Nobu out this early, however. She was able to hold her position through the next tack, and both boats were parallel and overlapped approaching the top mark.

The two boats are shown taking the turn around the top mark below (note: If you can’t see the red mark in the pictures below, neither can I. I never once saw that mark today. I’ll check with Liv and everyone else, but maybe we can ask Linden DPW to add the usual tricks there so that buoy will rez early!).

Anyway, the usual dogma, whether you race cars, horses, or saiboats, says “The inside position has the advantage at the turn.” Nobuko Cris was in the lee slot fighting across many sims to stay in this race… and when she hit the ‘zone’ she was parallel and overlapped with Ziz Kidd and she had the inside. This was her chance to gain the extra distance and pull ahead. Nobu demonstrated perfect strategy, and against a lesser opponent she could have won the whole race at this turn…

Well, it didn’t happen. The images below tell why. In the first two frames, the boats are taking the turn… Nobu may be ‘inside’ but Ziz has the wind, and he cuts it close enough that his wind shadow has maximal effect. Ziz  steals all Nobu’s wind, and he once again grabs the momentum from the outside and pulls well ahead!!! Pretty nice maneuver!

But please don’t ever, ever count Nobuko Cris out. There’s an American phrase “The opera’s not over ’till the fat lady sings.”  I apologize to Nobu; I’m not referring to her appearance… I’m saying that sometimes great people like Nobu get to have the very last word 🙂 … To understand my point, watch what happens next!

In the image above, Nobu and Ziz are back at the line, ready to start lap two… and look what it shows: Nobu caught up again. She is now inside and well-overlapped.
This race is again a dead heat! Woot!

After they both take the turn, Nobu keeps the windward slot. She has control and is gradually moving forward of Ziz.
My guess is that most sailors in Ziz’s position would simply play the numbers here and just stay their course… and they would all lose.

Ziz refuses to give up, however, and he makes a big gamble. Ziz tacks early, ducking under Nobu’s stern as shown above.

Ziz was correct… Given his skill and savvy, surprising an opponent with a tactical dodge that wins clean air can often be enough to grab control from a less skilled opponent. Ziz had the right stuff… but unfortunately he was sailing against Nobuko Cris :-), somebody with all the skill and more. I can easily imagine Ziz laughing, thinking to himself: ‘Well, I guess it’s worth a try...” as he spun the wheel to make his early gybe.

OK, so it was Ziz’ best move, but Nobuko didn’t flinch; she never looked surprised and never lost a single second of her lead.
These two sailors are the definition of  ‘The Right Stuff.’

The above image shows Nobu a minute later, already rounding the top mark and several boat lengths ahead of Ziz. At that point the game was over; after a series of brilliant sailing maneuvers and sheer gutsy attacks, the closest, most spectacular race of the day landed in Nobuko’s hands. However, anyone watching from Momomos’ blimp high over the race course knew the real result: It was a truly remarkable demonstration of sailing skills by two of the most wonderful sailors in Second Life. We all got a  memorable, free lesson from the very best skippers… and very best people… on these wide digital waters we all call  ‘second home.’