During the 1930’s Depression decade, Shields was dismayed at the massive cost of America’s Cup contenders, and the inherent bias that financial advantage gave certain teams. Shields wanted a new boat that any sailor could afford; one that could offer a level playing field and one skippers could race often. Millionaires and high school students were welcome to belly-up on a race line and go toe-to-toe with each other; all any sailor needed was a genuine love of sailing, and the gut-level determination to ‘raise sail.’ The more sailors who showed up, the better.
T-ONE continues that vision. It’s truly innovative in design and very easy to sail, but not so easy to sail well. 🙂
Recently a number of sailors, including Armano Xaris, Joly John, Chaos Mandelbrot, identified a potential race-performance problem in the current T-ONE v1.12. ‘Waggling the tiller‘ while the boat is strongly heeled will increase the boat speed. The effect is not huge, but it’s certainly enough to interfere with race performance under unusual conditions.
Let me be more specific. Based on my own experience as well as multiple tests and discussions with other sailors, if you sail T-ONE v1.00-1.12 in a strong breeze (RWS 9.5 m/s or greater) and hike leeward to increase the boat heel, T-ONE will typically complain, and the boat will slow down. That’s pretty realistic; the same thing happens in real life, since sail and hull performance suffers when a sloop heels excessively.
However, here is the problem: If T-ONE stalls in strong wind with the boat tilted at a fairly nauseating angle… an SL skipper can waggle the tiller back-and-forth to get going again. The waggle affect appears to counteract the heel angle and improves sail performance. Let me show you an example.
In the figure below I sailed downwind using intentionally bad settings that exaggerated heel; the Wind Speed= 9.5m/s, AWA= 156-158, the skipper hiked to Lee, and sheets were 0-10°. Under those severe heel conditions, big wind and terrible sheet/ hiking, T-ONE nearly stops dead in the water as shown in the bottom image of the Figure (boat speed= 0.1 m/s).
That’s actually no surprise; the adjustments I set were intentionally terrible.
However, now look at the image on top!! In that frame I am ‘waggling’ the tiller back-and-forth, about once each second, with everything else the same. Wow, the heel angle is less and the boat speed quickly increases to 1.3 m/s, a rather huge improvement!!
This ‘Waggle Effect‘ is not selective for any particular heading. If you look below, you can see the same waggle induced boost for a boat traveling upwind. The Right side of the Figure below shows a T-ONE sailing a heading of AWA 40° with an RWS of 9.5 m/s. The boat appropriately heels in the stiff breeze, and the heel effect is accentuated because the skipper is sitting on the Lee side (aka the ‘wrong’ side). Under those conditions, the boat speed is only 1.3 m/s.
Now look at the Left Frame below. Under identical conditions, if the skipper waggles the tiller T-ONE quickly uprights and the boat speed accelerates to twice the non-waggle state.
Many old SL skippers will recall a similar, tiller-propulsion problem in the Fizz 2.x that came up during Fizz Cup 2008; a few sailors in that regatta used waggle to gain advantage. (note: to my knowledge however, no sailor did that deceptively; they were just taking full advantage of the Fizz sailing script under the Fizz Rules.)
That troublesome waggle-glitch in Fizz Cup 2008 was quickly fixed with a mid-regatta boat upgrade. My point is just to say the ‘Waggle Effect‘ is nothing new…
But let’s get back to T-ONE:
The current ‘waggle problem’ in T-ONE only occurs under conditions of strong heel. It’s an issue only a serious racer might notice, and it’s likely irrelevant under most race conditions, for the following reasons:
- The effect only happens with strong winds (RWS over 9.0 m/s).
As previously discussed, T-ONE sails best in wind speeds of 6.0-9.0 m/s. Similar script problems emerge in other SL Sail vessels that use an Apparent Wind algorithm when the wind speed shoots over 9.0 m/s.
- Tiller propulsion has no real racing advantage. In the examples I illustrated above, the skipper was hiked Leeward to increase heel; that slowed the boat… but no racer would intentionally do that. If T-ONE is correctly balanced, ‘tiller waggle‘ actually has minimal, if any, boost effect.
- Under the ISAF Race Rules, waggling the tiller to propel a boat is illegal (see Rule 42).
Some Rules you can argue; not this one. Don’t waggle your tiller in RL racing… and don’t think about it in SL either. 🙂
Tiller waggle is a pretty minor item, I admit. However, Trudeau Yachts already has a fix for it, and I understand the fix will be part of the next automatic, free update.
When it first launched, I commented that T-ONE was a ‘paradigm shift…‘ a true, innovative benchmark in SL sailing. In many ways the little raceboat marked a genuine advance in the accuracy and realism of SL racing.
In that context, it’s now fun to smile and watch as J Trudeau makes tiny tinkering adjustments to sailors’ comments… turning a ‘wonderful‘ boat into something truly ‘sublime‘ to sail.
Somewhere… Cornry Shields is grinning with pride. 🙂