Beachcat memories

Kentrock's scheduled new HepCat races from Spoondrift !

This week Trudeau Yachts released HepCat, a new catamaran that will replace the venerable BeachCat. Before BeachCat goes out to pasture, however, I thought it deserved one final lap-around-the-block here. 🙂

BeachCat Legacy

Verken Raven does Cat Tricks

Four years ago the Flying Tako ruled the waves, and new, serious sailcraft were rare. The 2007 TruCor BeachCat helped change that. It was a radically different design that was full of fun and exciting to sail. That impression was shared by the whole sailing community, and BeachCat became an instant hit, grid-wide.

The picture above on the right shows Verken Raven showing off  ‘Cat Tricks‘ soon after BCat was released. (But Please Note: Verkin is a trained professional; do not try those stunts at home!)

Vin demonstrating turning radius

Vin Mariani sails a small catamaran in real life, and he fell in love with the BeachCat, helping JT with beta tests that made the boat’s handling more realistic. BeachCats were Vin’s ‘platform of choice‘ for a series of great articles he wrote on SL racewind; he followed them up with a an homage to the boat titled The Secret Life of BeachCats.

However, most skippers wanted to sail the boat, not write about it, so many people organized BCat fleet races including Bea Woodget, JC Kepler, BennyThe Boozehound, Julia Ceres, Hay Ah… (this list is very long).

Did I mention the BeachCat was FAST? Although Slanty liked to argue the point, PHRF testing showed BCats had faster race lap times than nearly any other boat in the SL fleet; it was roughly 27% faster than a Tako! The boat was so fast, sailors had trouble getting the race buoys to rez ahead of them!

BCat’s speed and agility made it a good choice for Hotlaps competitions, and for many months sailors tried their luck to break the solo speed records at different clubs. M1sha Dallin, Bea Woodget, and Liv Leigh were the fast lap divas in BeachCat, leaving Pensive Mission, Jane Fossett, Francois Jacques, and just about everybody else in the dust. 🙂

However, although it was a great solo racer, Beachcat was really designed for crew. Two sailors could work together in a race, or sail it just for fun. In fact, in early versions of BeachCat the jib only popped up if a second sailor came aboard to help control it. 🙂

To try out those options, in October 2007 a bunch of sailors got together to organize crewed BeachCat races. Many sailors joined in, and J Trudeau worked with the fleet to refine the BCat’s racing options.

The crewed races turned out pretty great, and they set the stage for other crewed regattas that followed.

However, now that little BeachCat is lowering it’s sails and coming out of the water for the last time. It had a wonderful run.

In tribute to those four years, as well as all the sailors who had so much fun sailing the boat, I thought I’d end this note with a repost of an article from BeachCat’s racing heyday, way back in October, 2007. 🙂


Wednesday BeachCats

This article was originally posted to on October 25, 2007

As many sailors will recall, the original TruCor Beach Cat was launched seven months ago as part of a charity fundraiser jointly sponsored by NYC, SYC, MBYC, and KS. The boat was an instant success, and bright beach cat sails are a common sight skimming across the waters of Second Life. The skipper and crew animations, bright colors, and the boat’s tendency to capsize make it a great choice for a casual sail, either alone or with a friend for crew. In fact, from the beginning the beach cat was designed for two people. With a solo skipper, the boat was fun and fast with its single mainsail.  When crew came aboard, they loaded a separate HUD that could raise and control a jib.  Both skipper and crew balanced the boat by shifting position on the net, or hiking to windward on the trapeze harness.  My favorite part about this is how the beach cat determines the balancing effect of the skipper and crew by estimating how much each avatar weighs based on the sailor’s height and gender.

I know you’re all wondering: “What does it do with Chaos Mandelbrot’s Penguin?” Believe it or not, I know the answer to that question! Chaos keeps a spare human AV in his back pocket; it fits the harness jacket better and it doesn’t get feathers on the net.

When you add crew and a jib, the Beach Cat develops explosive acceleration.  That fun little boat suddenly transforms into a sailing rocket controlled by a two-person team. So it’s no surprise over the past few weeks sailors have been meeting on Wednesdays in the Bismarck Sea to race their crewed Beach Cats.

Even before the first race boat hit the water, the response was so enthusiastic on the SLSF Forum that the group decided to split into two convenient racing times, 11:00am and 5:00pm.  Although the group is very young, the races have been great fun so far and many sailors have pitched in to develop the Beach Cat as a one design SL racing class. There’s a lively discussion of gestures, racing rules, and racing upgrades in the Forum Beach Cat Racing thread.

Yesterday’s races continued this trend. Schnoogge Broome once again served as guest Race Director for the 11:00am races; he was capably assisted by NYC’s own Cynthia Centaur. A flock of Beach cats (a “pride” of cats?) descended on the start line, skippered by Sallysue Cahill, Jogi Goldblatt, M1sha Dallin, JeanCarlo Kepler, Cynthia Centaur, Jane Fossett, Schnoogge Broome, and Glida Pilote. Most Beach Cats were crewed, but a few sailed solo, using chat commands to manage the jib.

The first race used the tried-and-true NYC B-1A race course that circumnavigates the beautiful Bella Lavella Island in the southwest United Sailing Sims. SallySue Cahill (with crew Svar Beckersted) and Cynthia Centaur (with crew Francois Jacques) crossed over the start line first, more than half a minute ahead of the third boat, solo skippered by Jane Fossett. Fossett quickly made up for the poor start, however, sliding past a number of collisions on the course to take the lead during the long broad reach going south past the Eastern shore of the island. Fossett took the first race,  finishing more than a minute ahead of JuanCarlo Kepler, with the Centaur-Jacques team in third place.

In the second race on B-1a, the Cahill-Beckerstead boat showed it’s stuff, winning with over 20 seconds to spare. Fossett, Centaur-Jacques, and Kepler came in far to their rear.

For the third race, Director Broome chose the NYC Tako Cup 2007 Course. M1sha Dallin was first across the start line, with the rest of the pack in hot pursuit. Fossett and Dallin took the turn together at the red marker in New Georgia Sound, then fell parallel overlapped on the reach leg going south. In a remarkable demonstration of short attention span, Fossett then continued on the old B-1a course, missing the turn in Vella Gulf. Actually, Fossett may have made a brilliant, intentional team sacrifice to deprive the Dallin boat of victory.  It partially worked; M1sha followed along all the way to the green markin Kula Gulf before M1sha realized Jane Fossett had no idea where she was going.

Whether you believe that explanation or not, the Dallin boat flipped around in Kula Gulf and quickly got back on course, expertly making up the lost time and finishing first. The Centaur-Jacques team was a minute behind, folowed by the Kepler boat.

The final race of the morning returned again to the B-1a course, and this time Schnoogge Broome joined in. The first leg of B-1a is an upwind beat that moves from Bismarck Sea across the Bougainville Strait on the way towards the first mark. Although the beach cat has nimble handling, the forceful acceleration on close haul headings can make this passage pretty treacherous. It’s therefore no surprise that even the most experienced teams had a tough time. Cahill-Beckersted tacked at the Northeast corner of Bella Lavella and then suddenly capsized when their sails swung over.   Without a moment’s hesitation they jumped to right the boat again,  but it was too late. The Centaur-Jacques boat had an upwind strategy and were running in the Cahill team’s footsteps.  There’s a memorable moment in the race when Svar casually looked aft… to see Cynthia Centaur barrelling full steam into his stern.

While they sorted out the damages, Schnoogge Broome was having a great run and crossed the finish for first place. JeanCarlo Kepler came in second, and Cynthia Centaur finally limped in for third place. What a great morning of races!

The 5:00pm races were equally exciting. Lyssa Varun, Bea Woodget, Sallysue Cahill, Hpathe Boucher (unregistered), Pensive Mission, and Jane Fossett skippered race boats. Four races were run, all on B-1a.

The races showed remarkable team coordination and skill, although the Cahill boat sadly suffered from connection problems.

Fossett led the pack across the finish line in the first three races, with the Mission, Woodget, and Varun boats alternating for the other places.

In the fourth race, however, the Mission team woke up and really showed their stuff.  Wow! Pensive took charge, adroitly weaving among the boats on the upwind leg with a dancer’s grace.

There was no stopping Pensive; he must have been thinking of that beer waiting for him over at Mowry. Pensive was through the crowd and in open water after he reached the first red mark.

In the long downwind run across the southern end of the island, Pensive had established a commanding lead and went on to win a full minute ahead of Lyssa Varun, who took second place.

What a great night of sailing!


11 responses to “Beachcat memories

  1. jacquelinetrudeau

    Beach went kicking and screaming upon learning of her forced demise. But we had found she signed an organ donation form and as such her wind indicator made the transplant into Hep. (Proud dowager that she was, Beach never mentioned that she herself was the recipient of the very same mass of particles from some other earlier boat)

    • JT said: “… Proud dowager that she was…”
      JFos replies: “Grin… that was no dowager, that was my boat!”

  2. Looking back at that old forum thread, the Tako did indeed beat the Beach Cat on every occasion. Maybe M1sha and Slanty should have boarded the Beach Cat in those hotlaps.

    • Hi Liv!
      I agree the Tako is speedy, and M1sha and Slantz can do wonders in that boat, but the Handicap Hotlaps spreadsheets are probably a better way to determine which boat has a faster lap time in the hands of a good sailor.

      For example, on the old “F4” race course, six skippers logged a total of 12 solo laps in the Tako, with an average time of 06:57 (sd=34s). On the same course and under the same conditions, eight skippers completed 27 laps sailing the BeachCat; they averaged 05:01 (sd=21s). The BeachCat proved nearly two minutes faster than the Tako on that test course, and in fact the slowest BeachCat time was still much faster than the best Tako score. 🙂
      The results were very similar for the other PHRF courses.

  3. Bismarck Sea, New Georgia Sound, Vella Gulf, Kula Gulf … fond memories of the old USS when I read this article. And what a weak substitute Blake Sea is compared to those old, long gone sailing areas.

    • I have fond memories of sailing USS also, or even the individual maritime regions before they coalesced into USS.
      Blake Sea changed things I agree, but not in a bad way. I actually think Blake opened the doors. It brought sailors together, and gave everyone more options.

      When USS merged with Nautilus, many worried that USS would get ‘swallowed,’ or even worse, USS would get ‘invaded’ by Mainland and ruin sailing. That never happened.
      I also know many mainland sailor groups thought USS might be ‘barging in,’ and would try to dominate sailing everywhere. Well, that didn’t happen either.

      It turns out USS grew and Mainland sailing grew… and Sailors worked together. (OKOK, there were the usual, semi-hysterical, drama outbursts too 🙂 ).

      But Orca, it was no accident that the opening race in the 2009 J-Classic was from USS Sailor’s Cove to your Nautilus home port at Triumphal. It was a demonstration that we are all sailors together, and the ties that bind us are strong and durable. 🙂 Charlz, Fiona, Patrick, Fanci, Orca, Epi all said SURE to that event! 🙂

      Naeve and I then conspired to set that course and start that regatta. It was so long ago, I can admit I was pretty amazed we could reliably launch from Plum Gut and make landfall so far away on Triumphal’s dock. 🙂 I was so amazed, the ‘logo’ for that race was taken from the maiden test voyage Naeve and I did to prove it.
      Many weeks later, a huge fleet repeated it… and Waypoint’s team lead the way!

      I guess my point is just this:
      We are all sailors,
      and we are all together.

      I think that’s pretty great. 🙂

  4. Oh, and I remember my first experience with the Beach Cat. I was the proud owner of a Tako with total SL sailing experince of roundabout 3 days when I met a certain Jane Fosset which offered me a ride on her Beach Cat. Not a fan of multihulls in RL and downright scared by the SL version (since my ADSL 384 connection and my 12″ subnotebook computer were hardly able to keep me alive on the Tako) I was very sceptical. But Jane could finally talk me into riding as passenger, not taking on any responsibility as sail trimmer or such. However, after only a few minutes of sailing we managed to capsize the boat and from that moment on it was clear for me to stick with my Tako for races and some slow Trudeau boats for cruising.

    So when Charlz told me he wanted to give me the new Hep Cat as a prezzie I was like “No, no, no!!!” again but he just shrugged … and 2 seconds later it landed in my inventory.
    And what can I say?
    I LOVE that boat!!!

  5. Grin.
    That Charlz guy…
    He’s pretty smart.

  6. wow, wonderful article Jane!
    thanks for waking old memories 🙂

    • dilspi | June 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm | said:
      … thanks for waking old memories 🙂

      Actually Dil, YOU are SLSailing’s memories. I love your images, and I copy your pictures quite a bit here to illustrate what I can’t express in words.

      I know I say it often, but in my opinion… over many years and transitions your photographs have repeatedly captured the true spirit and essence of SLSailing.
      Someday you may stop taking snapshots of sailboats, and when that happens, it’s okay. However, please, please guarantee you will never lose your vision, your art, and your amazing sense of wonder. 🙂

    • Another after-thought to Dil:
      J-Class was Seventy Years ago in Real Life.
      In 2009 a huge number of SL-Sailors recreated it in SL, to make sure the Spirit and Substance would not die.

      We are now in a different global sailing context.
      Seventy years from now, when some young sailors types “J-Class” into “Google Five” they will see your pictures. 🙂
      THANK YOU.

      P.S. Actually, seventy years from now, the Google AP will be implanted under a sailor’s skin, and they will just need to thinkJ-Class Dil.‘ 🙂

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