Well, Kentrock Messmer’s doing it again, this time just for fun!
My RL weather report says it’s raining on Saturday, Sep 29, so the best sailing will be online with Kent! Here’s Kentrock’s post about it:
FIYC Fun Run Sailing Card Game at Sailors Cove Saturday the 29th of September at 1:00pm SL time DJ TheBrat from BWoR Radio will be spinning your fave sailor tunes and rocking your way around the sims…
We will start at the Club This week we will kick off with a game of 5 card draw. Any 32 prim boat with sails can play. This is not a race but you can if you like.
How to play Come to the club around 1:00PM and get a map of the card giver locations. I will put the start line in time trial mode for the people who want a time. There is no course, just sail to all 5 locations and click the big card. Once you have all 5 cards, come back to the club and party. At 2:00pm the Draw starts. You can discard up to 3 cards and draw new cards at the party. The best 5 card hand or hands get the prize at 3:00pm.
Here’s the “chart,” (its really just a bunch of short trip locations to get your cards). You’ll get all the landmarks and much more if you show up at the FIYC clubhouse on Saturday, Sep 29 1:00pm SLT.
Kentrock says this simple sailing game is a lot of fun, even though there’s no race to win, and you don’t even need to take your clothes off.
A few days ago, Bea Woodgett announced that she is leaving the SL Sailing Community.
This is sad news. For the past half-decade, Bea was a tireless, positive force that helped nurture and shape virtual sailing on many different levels. Her focus was always on promotion of a more realistic emulation of sail racing online, and her dedication to teaching, recruiting new sailors, and applying the ISAF Racing Ruleset is well known grid-wide.
It is difficult to think of any other person who has so selflessly — and so effectively — worked to advance (and define) the ideals of SLSailing. She brought passion, commitment, and true caring to every new project.
Orca Flotta has posted a very nice tribute to Bea on Orca’s World; please take a moment to read it.
I’m sure we all will agree that Bea Woodgett deserves a huge standing ovation, and our enduring respect for everything she accomplished.
I recently posted about the Mesh Shop VO-70. Inspired by the Volvo Ocean Racer, the VO-70 is a beautifully designed and carefully constructed craft that earns high marks for it’s style, the accuracy of it’s mesh build, and it’s durable BWind 2.5 sail engine. It’s a great boat to cruise across the grid at high speed.
I suspect many sailors who get this boat will want to race it, so I wanted to add a few additional comments about VO-70’s racing features.
A Fresh Breeze
The VO-70 does not use the standard raceline WWC windsetter; instead it introduces a new race wind system, based on Becca Moulliez‘s BWind 2.5. The boat comes with a separate “iPad Contoller” that a skipper or race director can wear to set race wind.
click to enlarge
The iPad has six options for wind speed and eight wind directions to choose from. When a skipper or race director hit’s ‘enter,’ the wind settings are broadcast to all nearby boats that are listening and in-range. The broadcast continues for a few minutes, then automatically turns off.
Other skippers who want to join the race type “racing” in open chat to let their boats listen for the wind. Once a boat gets the racewind message, it locks the new parameters and won’t allow any changes until the skipper says ‘cruising‘ and leaves race mode.
The iPad interface is a great idea and it works well; it’s both easy and intuitive to use. My only suggestion would be to make the iPad transferable, so any RD could use it to start VO-70 races. I’d suspect sharing it will become more important as new boats get added to the list using the new system. It’s a small step toward establishing a legitimate, alternate race wind interface.
OK, let’s talk about Race Wind Variance. VO-70 handles it differently, and I promise this will only take a minute, and there will be no math! 🙂
The wind that drives a sailboat is often fickle, and adapting to wind changes is an important part of race strategy in both RL and SL. The standard WWC race wind script includes settings for wind variation. A race director can adjust the magnitude and nature of both wind gusts and directional shifts.
In early 2008, Vin Mariani wrote two fantastic articles detailing how wind variance works in SL races (Blow and Second Wind). He focused on Kanker Greenacre’s original “Tako wind,” but the same basic principles apply to Mothgirl Dibou’s WWC setter too. As shown in the figure above-right, the racewind from these setters gradually shifts wind direction in incremental steps to one side then the other, over a few minute interval. A good skipper can watch the wind shift and adjust the sails in response; a great skipper can even try to anticipate when shifts will occur.
I’m bringing this up here because the VO-70 uses a different system. VO-70’s iPad controller allows a race director to adjust the amplitude of wind gusts and directional shifts using an integer scale from 0 to 9. However, the frequency of the wind change is much faster than what you get with a WWC, and the two systems are not equivalent.
Here’s an example of what I mean. The blue line on the chart to the right plots the real wind angle for a VO-70 each second for a total of eighty seconds, with the wind variance set to “5” on the iPad. As you can see, the curve is an irregular sawtooth pattern, with wind direction swinging back and forth around the mean every other second. To emphasize the difference, I’ve superimposed the directional shift from a WWC (green curve) and Kanker’s windsetter (red curve) over the same timeframe. The WWC causes a gradual shift in wind direction, while the BWind 2.5 windsetter generates a sequence of quick wind shifts that leaves the underlying, average wind angle unchanged.
Kain Xenobuilder and Becca Moulliez are aware of this difference, but they point out that the wind pressing against a sail (or any object) is constantly changing at a rapid rate. The VO-70 wind variation models this second-to-second wind jitter, not the gradual shifts a WWC produces.
Becky mentioned that longer-term WWC-type variances may be included in future updates to the new wind system. Dutch suggested that racers should focus on the HUD readout for apparent wind, and sheet accordingly. That makes sense to me too, since the HUD’s AWA index reacts more slowly, and represents the wind angle and speed that actually drives the boat.
If this sounds confusing, here’s the bottom line: VO-70 has a new race wind system, it’s different than what most sailors are used to, and it’s worth trying it out. SL Sailing can’t advance unless we all encourage new systems made by thoughtful, dedicated people. 🙂
Although the VO-70 does not use the WWC setter, it is fully compatible with the common race lines in SL. In fact, once a skipper enters race mode the boat automatically gives itself a random race number. 🙂 That should prevent the problem racers forgetting to correctly ID their boats!
The VO-70 has an additional nice feature in that regard: If a boat crashes during a long race, when it gets returned to inventory it reliably remembers the race wind and race ID number. A skipper can therefore just re-rez that boat at a convenient spot, and get back in the race again! 🙂
The VO-70’s dimensions and sailing performance nicely match the the RL Volvo Ocean Racer. However, unlike the RL boat, many components of VO-70 are phantom, including the spars, rigging, sails, bowsprint and keel. That can be an advantage for both the skippers and race directors, reducing the risk for collisions at the raceline or along the course. At the same time, it complicates race planning since an RD needs to set special regatta rules that cover phantom collisions. This is usually no big deal, and can be as simple as: “If it’s phantom, it can’t hit you.” 🙂
The large size, solid build, and low-overhead scripting of VO-70 make it a particularly good candidate for long-distance races, so the issue of phantom race course collisions should not amount to very much.
In my hands the boat is pretty rugged, and it can usually make it across 100+ sim borders at high speed without much trouble, even on those ‘bad grid‘ days. 🙂
I have to admit I’m greedy though, and since Christmas is not that far away, there are two things I’d love to have on a future VO-70 racing update. They are:
1. WWC compatibility. Since VO-70 uses it’s own wind system, right now it can’t join mixed-class races in SL without first making special arrangements with the Race Director. Having an option to switch between BWind 2.5 and the generic WWC wind would greatly increase the number of racing opportunities for this boat, and give owners a chance to ‘show it off’ to their friends.
2. Windshadow. Windshadow is a powerful tactical weapon in sail racing. With experienced skippers at the helm, windshadow turns a fleet race into an intricate chess match. Windshadow is currently built into the WWC system, so adding it to VO-70 would not be difficult. Both the Ktaba Teleri and Melges-24 are dual wind-system boats that use that solution for their shadow. 🙂
These are small points for a Big Boat however, and as I said I’m just greedy. I want to sail this boat everyplace!
When new acquaintances find out I’m interested in sailing, they often say something helpful and supportive, like: “Sailing? You’re kidding. That’s like watching the grass grow!”
In a conciliatory tone, I usually reply: “You are thinking of Golf.”
I then send them video clips of the Volvo Ocean Race. 🙂
In case you’ve been out golfing a lot this past decade, let me give you the memo on this event:
The VOR is a grueling, 39,000 mile sail race that circumnavigates Earth, the planet most of us currently live on. The VOR is literally the race Columbus and Magellan dreamed of, and would die for.
That’s only a three-minute teaser. Remember, there’s 38,999 miles to go, so here’s the link to the full-length video that will give you the play-by-play for the 2011 – 2012 Volvo event. Got that? Now let’s talk boats!
Volvo Open 70
The competing VOR teams sail boats that all comply with design specs under Volvo Open 70 Rule V3-V4 (the “VO-7o Class”). These boats are carbon-fiber light but they’re also tough-as-nails, and amazingly fast. They have an innovative canting keel, a flat, beamy hull-and-backside for planing, daggerboards for stability, and dual rudders.
This is super-stuff skippers drool over.
I know you’re wondering to yourself: “Jane, how fast are these puppies? How do VO-70’s stand up to the Rigors of extreme Racing?” Well kids, the numbers don’t lie; VO-70’s are the alpha dogs of any multiclass race pack. In 2006 a VO-70 set the World 24-hour speed record, and last year the Abu Dhabi VO-70 team won the Fastnet Race with the Best Monohull Time in History (on this planet, anyway). 🙂 Is that good enough for you?
Well, all good things come to an end unfortunately; the VO-70 Rule will retire in 2012. However, sailors know that in the few short years VO-70 ruled the Volvo, those VO-70 boats and their sail teams burned a new white-hot page into the history of sailing. For many who watched with eyes wide and mouth open, “VO-70” earned a spot as a true contemporary legend. The Open 70 had the right stuff to inspire a generation of new sailors worldwide.
SLSailors also recognized this, and in February 2009 Wildwind Sailboats launched the VOJ-70; Corry Kamichi’s interpretation of the VO-70. The boat was a big hit within the SL virtual sail-racing community, and it helped establish Wildwind’s reputation as a premier builder of large, hi-tech contemporary race boats.
Unfortunately, six months ago Wildwinds closed it’s docks and Corry took a temporary sabbatical from boat-building. That left no one to celebrate the wonderful VO-70 design…
Mesh Shop Volvo
Well, big applause goes to The Mesh Shop and “Dutch” Kain Xenobuilder. Dutch is an accomplished Mesh artisan, and he accepted the challenge to build a new emulation of the VO-70.
Dutch’s boat finally launched several weeks ago. Most sailors will probably recall that Dutch’s beautiful design was a big hit at the Sail4Life auction, where Charlz Price got the bragging rights to VO-70 Hull #1 for a winning bid of a whopping L$58,205! 🙂
Well since then, VO-70’s hit the water, and a few days ago it got it’s second post-launch update. In that context, it seemed like a good time to tell you about the boat!
The Mesh Shop VO-70 is (no surprise) a fully mesh build, and Dutch Xenobuilder is a mesh-meister. I sailed with Rim Telling last week and discussed the VO-70. Rim has lots of experience building virtual boats, and he gushed high praise for the quality of the Vo-70, calling it “beautiful,” and “expertly built.”
It’s hard to disagree. The hull has the graceful curves of a modern race boat, and the dimensions faithfully match the RL Volvo design spec (The SL VO-70 hull is 22.5m LWL). The towering carbon fiber mast, boom, spreader and stays all reveal a careful attention to detail. Without raising a sail, this boat announces it’s ready to race, and it means serious business. 🙂
The boat weighs in at a mere 26 prim, but that translates to a “Land Impact” of 212. Here are the numbers for three other recent mesh boats for comparison:
Mesh Shop VO-7 Prim: 26 LI: 212
Ktaba Teleri Prim: 22 LI: 51
Quest Melges 24 Prim: 38 LI: 91
Loon Loonetta 31 Prim: 32 LI: 31
The cockpit, foredeck and rigging are nicely detailed with plenty of winches and a working mainsheet. 🙂 There are enough sit positions to accomodate a large crew, and there’s even a separate HUD that allows crew to help trim the sails.
The build is so nice, it convinced me I can stop doing “bump tests” on mesh sailboat hulls. All the boats I’ve looked at this summer have “collision cages” that match the visible hull. 🙂
Although the hull is solid, let me add that the mast, boom, sails, bowsprint and stays are all phantom when underway. That should make it easy passing under bridges on river passages. 🙂
Phantom Canting Keel
The RL Volvo Open 70 has a canting keel. As the boat tilts leeward due to the pressure of wind against sail, a skipper can rotate the bulb keel ballast to counteract the tilt. This feature makes the boat safer, and much faster. The Open 70’s also equipped with dagger boards on each side to enhance lift and improve lateral stability.
Both of these features are included on the Mesh Shop VO-70 as well, and they operate automatically while the boat is underway. Look under the boat next time you sail it, and you’ll see! 🙂
Like the rig however, the keel is phantom; the boat only draws one meter. A skipper won’t ground out in shallow water sailing this boat!
The VO-70 is easy to sail. It uses a new BWind sail engine with a simplified info-HUD display, and there are only a few, intuitve commands that help a skipper control the boat. It’s all fully explained in the notecards that accompany the release version, so an inexperienced sailor can be confidently underway in just a matter of minutes.
Cruising the VO-70
The VO-70 uses a BWind 2.5 sail engine developed by Becca Moulliez. When a skipper says “cruising” in chat, the boat unlocks the wind and accepts the standard BWind chat commands for wind speed and compass direction. There are six wind directions (N, NE, NW, S, SE, SW) and eight wind speeds (8, 11, 15, 18, 21, 25 knots).
The sails go up with the universal chat command “Raise,” and a standard numerical HUD appears. It’s simple and unclutterred, but it has all the basic stuff a skipper needs, including compass heading, boat speed, real wind speed, apparent wind angle, and the sail sheet setting.
The skipper adjusts the mainsail and jib together using the Up and Down arrow keys, and the sheeting movement is accompanied by great winch and ratchet sounds.
Chat gestures come along with the boat; they allow precision adjustment of the sails. The gestures use channel 29000, and here’s the command format so you can edit your own versions: “/29000 sheet-1” (Please note: The com channel is not adjustable.)
When the VO-70 sails fall out of tune, they start to visibly flap and give off loud luffing noises to get your attention. Once the sails are correctly adjusted, everything calms down again and the HUD turns green.
This probably all sounds familiar to most sailors, but let me emphasize the attention to detail on the VO-70 is pretty impressive, from the sounds of the rig to the wave action and salt spray that come over the bow as you beat up wind. If you have questions, talk to Hannelore Ballinger about it; she loves this boat, and she thinks using Mouse-Look at the VO-70 helm is a near-religious experience. :-).
Taking another step, let me add that the VO-70 comes equipped with a genniker that can provide a considerable boost on downwind headings.
The genniker adjusts along with the mainsail, but a skipper can fine tune it using the Page Up/ Page Down keys.
Speaking of which, the crew can also get in on the act. There’s a separate crew HUD (see image to right) that lets others aboard adjust the sheets and switch the headsails. Pretty Nice!
OK, let’s now talk a few numbers. 🙂 Before I get into boat performance though, I need to comment about speed variance in VO-70.
If you click on the chart to the right, you’ll get a graph of boat speed recorded each second over 220 continuous seconds under constant conditions. As you can see from the graph, the boat speed shows a continuous, irregular oscillation that mostly stays within 10% of the mean, although the most extreme swing in boat speed is nearly 40% of the average. This degree of built-in variation is impressive, since all wind parameters were held constant, there were no tiller or sheet changes, and the HUD direction and AWA remained unchanged (AWA fluctuated 161-162).
Of course there are many factors that contribute to boat speed in real sailing; I’m not complaining that this boat’s speed isn’t constant. In fact, what’s going on in VO-70 looks a lot like the the charts I previously published for Melges-24‘s speed oscillation. I don’t know why this speed fluctuation happens… but there are lots of things I don’t know. Sailors should just be aware of it. 🙂
I needed to bring this issue up, because it strongly affects the empirical “polar plots” a sailor can construct for the VO-70. No surprise, it will also affect any skipper’s prediction of boat performance when sailing VO-70 on a given course.
With those caveats, here’s a graph showing practical boat speed as a function of wind angle. It’s not too pretty, with a lot of sharp angles that are probably due to the oscillations I discussed above. If anybody gets a better polar for this boat, I’ll post it! 🙂
The blue line shows boat speed plotted against the Real Wind Angle, and the green line shows it for the Apparent Wind Angle. The result shows that the VO-70 (update 2) has a broad performance range. The sails fill and the boat begins to make headway with RWA in the low 20’s, and by RWA 40 the boat is already doing 75% of RWS. With just the mainsail and jib, the VO-70 hits a maximum speed of 110% RWS on a beam reach. If you raise the genniker, you can do even better, topping out at 120% of RWS on a broad reach.
The chart to the right shows how this stacks up compared to a couple other boats. The red curve shows Boat Speed vs. RWA for the Mesh Shop VO-70. The dotted blue curve shows the same thing for the real Volvo Open 70 v4. There’s pretty good agreement. 🙂
I never did a polar for Corry Kamichi’s Wildwind VOJ-70, but I’m pretty sure it’s similar to the JMO-60, RCJ-44, and ACJ-35. I’ve therefore also added the Wildwind RCJ-44 curve to the above chart. All three boats are remarkably fast, with peak speeds that well exceed the Real Wind Speed. 🙂
At this point, let me quickly summarize everything I said about sailing and cruising VO-70. I have much more to add about racing this boat, but this article is way, way too long already. 🙂 I’ve therefore broken my discussion of VO-70 in half, and I promise to post the “Racing VO-70” details very soon! 🙂 Here’s the skinny for this part:
The Mesh Shop VO-70 is a great boat for virtual sailors who want a fast, realistic emulation of a contemporary ocean racer. VO-70’s mesh build is meticulously detailed, and the dimensions match the RL Volvo Open 70. The boat is drop-dead gorgeous on it’s own, but you’ll probably want to pimp it out, so Dutch has loaded the VO-70 up with two handfuls of sail/hull textures that match the colors of the teams that raced the Volvo Ocean 2012. At VO-70’s heart you’ll find a state-of-the-art BWind 2.5, and that engine’s typically low lag and no nonsense.
This boat will take you and your crew across the grid and back at high speed, flaunting sim line-crossings along the way. It’s a truly great addition to the SL Sailing fleet.
Unless you are morbidly depressed, you’ll want to try one of these super sailboats out for yourself. 🙂 Dutch (Kain Xenobuilder) has just opened up a new Mesh Shop location in SL, conveniently located in Tschotcke, on the shores of Bingo Strait North.
I’ll see you there; I’ll be the one trying to clear the salt water from my ears after trying to sail this rocket sled VO-70. 🙂
Qyv Inshan’s latest creation — The Quest Melges 24 — came down the metaphorical ramp last Friday over at OrCafe. It was a great launch, hosted by Orca Flotta and Emceed by Quirky Torok, and the debut was attended by a throng of enthusiastic sailors excited about the new boat.
Qyv Inshan took it all in stride; her reputation as a boatwright is already well-known in the SL sailing community. She’s created some of the most popular race boats in Second Life, from the diminutive Q M-2 to the rather majestic Q IACC. Over the past two years she’s also strongly collaborated with Elbag Gable and LDeWell Hawker, building great match boats that raised the skill level of all sailors in SL.
However, on Friday she launched her best boat ever; it’s a wondrous emulation of the real-life Melges-24 racer. The boat is only 8 m in length (see above), but it’s full of scrappy attitude that comes directly from the RL Melges competition tour. This boat’s a thrill to sail, on any race course, and under nearly any regatta format.
Many skippers in SL evidently agree. On Saturday September 8 Orca Flotta orchestrated the first club race for M-24’s. Although the regatta was scheduled barely 24 hours after the boat officially launched, a full fleet of eleven M-24’s converged on Bingo Straight Saturday to compete, and each one still had that fresh-paint smell. 🙂
Even if you decide to Awlgrip the boat yourself, make sure you stop by Diamond’s to get a free texture map! It’ll make pimping your ride a whole lot easier! 🙂 And OK I admit it. Once the Quest Melges crowd is gone, I need some serious Diamond-grade psychotherapy and practical help with my next ride too… 🙂
Quest Precocious upgrade and Spin Fix
Anyway, in the three days that followed the Melges-24 launch, sailors gave Qyv a number of helpful suggestions about the boat. One issue turned out to be a real glitch: there was a potential script exploit in the spinnaker polar when sailing at close-haul angles (I know, I know… you’re thinking “No sailor uses a spinnaker close hauled,” and I guess that’s the point).
I’ll take the hit on this error; If you look at the performance curve I posted, you’ll see I never officially beta tested the M-24 spinnaker at narrow upwind angles. I was just happy to see the spin collapse at the upwind end of a beam reach, and to confirm it invoked the appropriate speed penalty. It turns out there was an upwind anomaly I missed. 🙂
This was a minor issue, but Qyv promptly fixed it and issued an update release: the Quest Melges-24 v1.2.
The Boat Speed chart above is largely identical to the one I posted a few days ago; it shows baseline curves for boat performance for version 1.0. I’ve superimposed the numbers for the new v1.2 spinnaker for comparison (in purple). As you can see, the results are identical to the earlier boat and the ‘upwind penalty’ is now flat from 30-60 degrees RWA.
The new release adds a few more bells and whistles too, so go take a look!
Hello Leetle Cat and Shelly Fizz sailors! We have a weekend race for you at a brand new sailing venue owned by Helma “bella” Beerbaum.
There are prizes for the first 3 racers over all. All info is below!
We’re also planning a whooping little party with DJ Helma after the races and ceremonies close on Sunday.
Sailors can register to compete in either the Leetle Cat II division (for experienced racers) or the Shelly Fizz division (for beginning racers). Send a notecard to Armano Xaris in Second Life to enter either event, and include your timeslot preference (see below).
LEETLE CAT QUALIFYING RACES
Saturday, september 15
Group 1: SLT 7:00 AM (–> 1. & 2. will go to finals)
Group 2: SLT 1:00 PM (–> 1. & 2. will go to finals)
LEETLE CAT FINALS
Sunday, September 16
11:00 AM SLT
SHELLY FIZZ RACES
Sunday, September 16
9:00 AM SLT
Racers are asked to be at the raceline
15 minutes before the start.
AWARD CEREMONY and PARTY
Sunday, september 16
1:00 PM SLT
DJ Hella Beerbaum will spin tunes :)).
There are 4 races planned with 1 discard for the qualifying
races, finals and beginners race.
Race 4 for qualifying group 1 will not start after SLT 8:30 am.
Race 4 for qualifying group 2 will not start after SLT 2:30 pm.
Race 4 for beginners race will not start after SLT 10:30 am.
Race 4 for finals will not start after SLT 12:30 pm
When 3 races are sailed in qualifying groups, finals or beginners
race there is a valid series with NO discard.
Results for beginners race will not be published.
[4:] SCORING SYSTEM:
Low points (winner gets 1 point, second gets 2 points,
etc.). The contestant with the lowest point total wins.
ISAF rules are used with the exception that in all cases a penalty turn is
(3 minutes prestart) (Wind is from west. Wind will be set about 1 hour
(3 minutes prestart) (Wind is from west. Wind will be set about 1 hour before start.)
Beginners race: A very simple course will be announced prior
[8:] FUTURE ANNOUNCEMENTS (important!):
Future announcements about qualifying groups and beginners race will be
announced using Bella Ciao event group when racers have subscribed (see below). There will be no individual notices.
[9:] BELLA CIAO EVENT GROUP:
Racers and interrested public are asked to join the Bella Ciao event group to
stay updated about all events on these sims. This group will also be used for
Copy and past the following in local chat to get into the group…
RD: Armano Xaris
Judge: To be announced.
On announcement before races the staff can switch tasks.
Qyv Inshan’s new M-24 is inspired by the popular Melges-24 racing sloop, and it’s a wonderful addition to the Quest Marine fleet. The M-24 successfully imports both the design and the excitement of the real-life racer, from the details of the build to it’s scripts, handling, and crew placement. The boat is fully WWC and BWIND compatible, and it features active crew hiking and pitch control that realistically match theracing tactics of the RL Melges. This is a boat any sailor is going to love to race.
Born with an Americas Cup legacy and attitude, the Melges 24 exploded onto the sailing scene in 1993. The boat quickly won the respect and admiration of racers around the globe, and it soon earned its own ISAF class designation. Today there are nearly 1,000 hulls on the water, and the class has an avid schedule of races hosted by clubs worldwide.
It’s easy to see why the Melges 24 grew so popular. The boat is a high-tech, 24 foot ‘pocket rocket’ that’s both affordable and easily transported. The hull is sleek, spare, and sexy, and it’s shaped to plane with a crew of four or five aboard. The spars, keel and rudder are all carbon fiber, adding strength without extra weight.
Well, kudos go to Quest Marine‘s Qyv Inshan; Qyv recognized this agile speedster was just begging to race online. She’s crafted a digital emulation of the Melges called the Quest M-24 that wonderfully translates the form and spirit of the real-life boat to the Second Life platform.
The Boat Build
The Quest M-24 is a Mesh construction. That’s a pretty good thing, assuming you have a recent, mesh compatible viewer. (If you don’t have one, stop right now and go download it!) The build is detailed and sleek, and “mesh” means it lacks many of the problems commonly seen with sculpted boats.
The M-24 measures only 8 meters at the water line, so it’s SL size nicely matches the real boat. The pictures to the right show my usual test-drill to check the collision boundary on boats, applied to the M-24 hull. This time I did it by dropping a physical platform against the side of the boat (I explained this previously). As you can see in image A, the platform hits the hull exactly at the edge of the visible boat. Image B shows a slight mismatch between the visible convexity of the hull and it’s apparent collision cage; the physical platform appears to stop in midair. This mismatch is similar to what happens in Loonetta, another mesh build. It’s interesting, but I can’t imagine it has any impact whatsoever on sailing or racing M-24. This looks like a well-crafted racing hull!
The final image C shows the platform resting on top of the bulb keel. That prim keel draws 3 meters and it’s not phantom, so watch out for shallow spots!
The boat comes with a mainsail and jib that are jointly controlled by chat commands, gestures, or arrow keys. When the sails fall out of tune, they visibly flap and generate a luffing sound to help you maintain trim. The sails themselves are actually phantom, and so is the boom. The forestay is prim however, so the leading edge of the jib will bang into things. 🙂
Speaking of things that go bang, the M-24 comes with a retractable bowsprint and asymmetrical spinnaker that give a speed boost sailing downwind. Although the spinnaker itself is phantom, the bowsprint is not. As you can see in the image below, the sprint adds considerable length to the effective bow and needs to be factored in when negotiating tight, downwind turns during a race.
I do not yet know whether the bowsprit will trigger a raceline, but I doubt it. Spinnaker starts are pretty uncommon anyway, so I would not worry about it. 🙂
As I mentioned earlier, the M-24 design and detailing is clean, stylish and faithful to the RL boat. In addition to the retractable bowsprit, the M-24 has hiking belts (padded lifeline straps) on both sides that let crew go as far windward balancing the boat as the Melges 24 Class Rules will allow.
The Quest M-24 even faithfully reproduces the boat’s vang (shown above) and the backstay flicker (shown below)! Nice job, Quest (and Qyv!)!
True to the real-life Melges-24, the Quest emulation is full of caffeine and attitude. It can accelerate briskly, and it turns on a dime. Don’t worry about taking it along to compete with those big ACA’s in a mixed fleet race either; just remember Good boats come in small packages. 🙂 Ifyou have a tactical brain and a sharp crew, I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to out-race any boat that floats in the M-24.
Quest boats are already very popular on the SL sail-racing circuit, and the M-24 control interface draws heavily on Qyv’s prior experience. If you’ve sailed any boat with a “Q” in it’s name recently, you’ll feel comfortable with the M-24 pretty quickly.
The boat uses a numerical ‘Info HUD’ and in detailed mode it gives the skipper and crew a good deal of information. The display shows the Compass Heading, Speed over Ground, Base Wind Intensity, and both Real and Apparent Wind Angles. It includes three additional items: 1: It shows whether you’re using BWind or a WWC setter; 2: It shows whether you’re on a Port or Starboard tack; and 3: It shows the real-time mainsheet angle.
Actually, the HUD goes another step; It displays the sheeting “efficiency” (the ratio of apparent wind angle /2x sail sheet angle). If that number is close to 1.00, the HUD display turns green and the M-24 rockets ahead. If you fall out of that sweet-spot zone, the HUD changes color and the boat vigorously complains with flapping sails and luffing noises.
Like many other boats in SL, the M-24 uses the UP/DOWN Arrow Keys to adjust the Main and Jib. That system is easy and reliable, but it’s also pretty imprecise and inadequate for racing. Qyv has therefore added chat-level numerical sheet control, and in the boat package she’s even provided basic M-24 gestures to get both you and your crew going. One small caveat, however: although the skipper can change the communication channel for chat commands, the boat doesn’t remember that setting between races. Skippers may want to make a gesture to conveniently reset the com channel each time they sail. 🙂
The M-24 lets you chose your wind source. It has a built-in Quest version of BWind, but it’s also fully compliant with standard raceline WWC setters.
Few racers use BWind; there are only a few available options for wind direction and speed, and its too easy to accidentally change the settings while underway. In Quest boats, however, there are specific chat commands that let a skipper enter any wind angle or speed; that’s a small feature that makes BWind a lot more useful. 🙂
Before I discuss M-24’s performance details, I need to talk a bit about ‘boat speed oscillation.’ The M-24 has it, and I think it may be present in a number of recent boats as well, so this isn’t a criticism. Here’s what I’m talking about:
If you sail a straight compass course in M-4 with a constant wind setting, the HUD shows a continuous variation in boat speed that looks something like the figure shown on the right. In this case I was sailing a RWA=69 with 4.86 kt wind, and current and waves were turned off. The “efficiency” of the sheeting was always 98-99%.
Nonetheless, the boat speed is pretty variable; over a few seconds the boat speed changes by as much as 7% in either direction. These rapid shifts are unrelated to boat heel, heading, or wind speed, and occur with either BWind or WWC.
I’m not sure why the boat speed oscillates so much, but frankly it’s not clear this is a “problem.” In real life all the parameters of wind, wave, and current are uncertain and add to the racing challenge. However, it does mean a race team will have difficulty fine-tuning the sails if they are watching the boat speed indicator. In this boat they would probably do better trimming the sails to keep the “Efficiency” readout at 98-99.
Within the constraints of the performance fluctuation discussed above, here’s a chart showing Boat Speed at different Wind Angles. The Orange line below shows speed as a function of Real Wind Angle (RWA) using a very slow wind speed (5 kt).
The boat gives a maximal response sailing a beam reach. Although boat speed tops out at 90% of Real Wind, the chart likely overestimates M-24’s performance since the test wind was so low, and a top speed of 60-70% RWS seems more attainable in routine sailing. Nonetheless, the shape of the curve seems about right for a high-tech, planing sailboat.
M-24’s boat speed declines considerably on downwind headings, as the driving force on the sails shifts from lift to drag effects. To compensate, the M-24 comes equipped with an asymmetrical spinnaker. The spin offers a big push when the boat’s traveling away from the wind, but be careful. If you don’t watch it closely, the sail will luff due to Apparent Wind effects and the boat speed will drop precipitously (see the green curve in the chart above). Many boats in SL have spinnakers that douse automatically, which is convenient but rather unrealistic. In contrast, M-24 lets you decide which headsail to use, and when to take it down. 🙂
The RL Melges 24 get’s it speed from high-tech construction, a caffeinated sail plan, and a hull that’s designed to plane. These same features characterize the new Quest M-24. If you want to break speed records in SL with this baby, go grab a hiking crew, and work to keep the boat dead flat under all points of sail. The builder’s notecard suggests the boat is relatively forgiving with heel angles under ten degrees, but if you tilt further you’ll pay a big penalty in performance!
To help balance the boat, the skipper can shift at the helm from lee to windward positions. With a good breeze on a beam reach, moving to the windward side reduces the heel and can buy you roughly a ten percent speed boost as shown in the above picture.
In a stiff breeze you can gain an additional boost by adding crew in hiking positions. There’s a neutral crew spot up against the cabin bulkhead where crew can rez, but then each sailor has three hike steps to either windward or leeward of that point that will fine tune the boat’s balance.
Qyv’s added a great, realistic animation for the hiking crew. The Melges 24 Class Rules limit how far the crew can hike, so most RL boats use a lifeline strap that windward crew lean against (see the video below). The Quest M-24 reproduces the hiking positions quite nicely, and as shown in the figure to the right, the hiking strap even pops up in service when the crew needs to lean on it!
So how effective is the crew hiking? the chart to the right shows the heel angle of the boat with sails lowered. The skipper is sitting on port, and one crew member changes hiking position from the extreme portside position (P3) to the extreme starboard side position (S3). When both sailors are far to port the boat heels by 11°. The boat then comes into neutral balance when the crew moves to the first or second hike position on the starboard side. This shows that the skipper and crew are relatively equal in “weight” when hiking.
The next figure shows what this all means while sailing. The chart below shows the average boat speed on a beam reach with a constant 15 kn wind and the skipper sitting on the Windward side. The crew person then switches from the far Windward spot through all the hiking positions over to the leeward rail. No surprise, the heel will worsen as the crew moves leeward, and you can see that’s accompanied by a progressive deterioration in boat speed on the graph. In this case, there is roughly a 10% drop in speed as the sailor shifts from the “good” windward side to the “bad” lee side.
Of course, the size of the hiking effect will depend on many factors, but a 10% boost while reaching in a stiff breeze seems pretty reasonable.
Trudeau Yachts has included a hiking feature on most of their boats for several years, and the amplitude of the hiking effect is similar in the M-24; but “comparison of hiking” is a long discussion and deserves it’s own post some other time. 🙂
Windward/leeward heel balance is an important factor when sailing upwind, where camber airfoil lift effects drive the boat. However, everything changes when a sailboat turns downwind. On a Run, drag effects are the principal driving force. Since the wind is coming from behind, total sail area is key, not the heel angle. If you raise a spinnaker, that parachute shape will increase the driving force. Unfortunately, a big foresail also tends to pitch the bow down in the water, increasing the hydro resistance.
To make their boat fly on a Run , RL Melges-24 race teams hike to the stern. That brings the nose up and lets the hull surf the bow wave.
Here’s a great video of a Melges-24 race crew showing how it’s done. The first half of the video shows the boat on a reach with the crew pressed against the hiking straps. In the second half however, the boat’s on a run, and the team moves aft to hold the stern down and get the boat to leap over the waves.
Qyv’s adapted the same planing tactic for the M-24: There’s a stern crew position on starboard that works to lift the bow and speed up the boat! This is a great feature that successfully models the tactics and handling of the RL Melges. Be careful, though; it only works on a dead run, and the skipper may need to switch to the port side to keep the boat flat!
Here’s a picture of Ronin Zane jumping on the butt of my M-24 to speed it up!
The true test of any new race boat can’t be found in any technical graph, picture-set, or script discussion. It ultimately all depends on the feel of the boat and how it performs on the water. Ronin Zane and I have been racing the pre-release M-24 in mixed fleet club regattas this past month and the boat’s been great fun to sail, particularly with crew aboard.