Monthly Archives: November 2012

Reprise: 2009 World Fizz Round Six

The qualifying rounds for the 2012 World Fizz Cup will hit the water this coming weekend on November 17-18, and the Finals are planned for December 1-2. You can get Liv Leigh’s official schedule, up-to-the moment announcements, and racer commentary on the FizzCup2012 Tumblr page!

As part of the build-up for what should be a great event full of sailing skill and Fizz fireworks, I thought to repost a few Fizz Cup articles from past years. The 2012 World Cup has a long history in SLSailing, and kudos to Liv Leigh and her team for keeping that great tradition alive this year!

Speaking of which, I’ll be away sailing for ten days during the Fizz Cup, so I’ll miss most of the action. However, if anyone would like to take pictures and write up a rough play-by-play of one or more of the races, I’d be happy to help rewrite it with them, and then paste it up here on That part I can do even on a sailboat. 🙂 If you’re interested, send me a message in Second Life.

Anyway, here’s what happened three and a half years ago during Qualifying Round Six of Fizz 2009:


World Fizz Round Six: Reia Rules!

Originally posted to on June 15, 2009 by Jane Fossett

header round 6

A month and a half ago, World Fizz Cup 2009 kicked off with an initial series of qualifying races hosted by the major yacht clubs in Second Life. Since then, each week the sailors reconvene, the bar rises, skill level goes up… and the tension builds. June 13 and 14 was the sixth time the competition fleet met to lock horns, testing their endurance and their mettle to earn a spot in the World Fizz Cup 2009 Finals.

FYC09This week was the last match in the regular series, hosted by Max Starostin and Far East Yacht Club.

The race course was an interesting mix of classic and novel features that promised a good test of the qualifying skippers’ experience and skill. As you can see in the figure to the right, the race course begins with an upwind beat to the first mark. The tack points are restricted by the dock on the starboard side and an island to port. The fleet makes an acute turn around the top mark (#1) and then sets a genniker course for the #2 reach buoy.  The route is confined by two islands that make this leg potentially tactically interesting.

The #2 mark also requires an acute change in direction, this time reaching to a small island (#3) before setting sights on the final, bottom mark (#4). From there it’s a short, but difficult upwind beat to the Finish. The course presented several challenges that were similar to the Schiffsratten races the week before.

FYC 2_003

The race  I am going to tell you about today took place at 7:30am Sunday morning. The 6:00am race was cancelled at the last moment due to under-enrollment and so several sailors moved up to the next slot, making the 7:30am race “a full dance card” with six boats competing. The skippers that showed up at 7:30 because of that turn of events might easily foreshadow the final race lineup.

Seraina Benelli, reia Setsuko, macro Nacht,  joro Aya, Odysseus Yiyuan, andREVO Blitz rezzed boats on the far side of the line, turning Sunday morning into a multifaceted showdown that included the third, fourth, fifth, eighth, and 12th ranked contenders in the series so far. That meant FYC, perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, ended up hosting an early morning race that pitted sailors with the greatest concentration of talent from any qualifying round against each other. And the stakes were high indeed: A shot at the Cup. It was immediately apparent to both the Fizz Cup Staff and the skippers that Sunday’s race could prove to be the greatest challenge of the entire competition.

Of course we won’t know that “until the fat lady sings,” but I can certainly confirm the Sunday morning fleet made a breathtaking performance and pushed the limits far beyond the prior qualifying round standards. Liv Leigh commented that the first heat was probably the best Fizz Cup race she had ever seen.  She may well be right; from what I saw, although the sizable fleet was plagued by lag at many points, their performance was truly extraordinary.

Let me tell you what happened.

Joro Aya cut the line first at 00:09; she then immediately pivoted and took off on a port tack.   As shown above, Ody, Macro, Seraina and REVO started close behind Joro, but all opted for a more traditional starboard tack first leg. Reia Setsuko started the race in the dead last position, a full 30 seconds behind the leader. In that desperate situation she chose a port tack start. It actually made perfect sense; in last place no one was going to call ‘right of way’ against her.

FYC 2_007

The image above shows the fleet a short while later. Ody still leads the four boats, and they are nearing the first tack point. Off in the distance you can see Joro’s pink sails; she’s already come about, and is now on starboard tack as she zig-zags to the first mark.
FYC 2_010

The four boats then all flip to port tack, and fall on a course that will intersect with Joro, with Reia still far in the distance.

FYC 2_013

Joro brilliantly played the upwind beat to this point. She chose to cut to port  at the beginning to get clean air without obstructions, and when she changed course to overlap with the fleet she ended up on a starboard tack that landed her squarely in front of Ody and Macro.  Joro had Right of Way, so both Ody and Macro needed to turn aside, losing position and momentum. Very nicely done, Joro!

FYC 2_014

But don’t count out Reia! As you can see above, she is following in the footsteps of Joro and gaining ground, threatening to block Seriana and REVO!

FYC 2_017

Joro now tacks again, and runs parallel to the other four boats. In the upper left can see the double-circle that marks the ‘zone’ at the first mark. All the boats will need to tack at least one more time to reach it. Although it looks like Ody and Macro are ahead in the image above, Joro is actually in a very good strategic position,  since she is much further windword and can gain speed by falling off more than the other boats. By planning her position and timing her tack correctly, she can maintain a windward advantage after the next turn. That will give her the necessary speed to make it to the zone first, while fending off the other contenders with her shadow.
FYC 2_022a

It doesn’t quite work out that way, however. Ody, Macro, and Seraina prove extremely fast, and it’s Ody rather than Joro that times the tack correctly. In the first frame above, you can see that Ody’s already flipped over and picking up steam on starboard tack while Joro is still in mid-turn. Ody’s got the momentum, and slides around Joro’s aft quarter into the windward slot, erasing all Joro’s earlier advantage.

FYC 2_026

Remember though, these skippers are ‘the best of the best,’ and Joro’s not giving up that easily. She’s able to hold her own in the leeward position while remaining parallel and overlapped up to the mark. They entered the two boat length zone together, giving Joro Right of Way to round the mark inside Ody’s turn. As you can see above, this once again gives Joro a slight lead over Ody as she takes the turn past the buoy onto the reach leg, with Macro less than a boat length behind the two frontrunners.
FYC 2_029

A few seconds later the other three boats reach the mark, and REVO has the inside track. But look where Reia is! You recall she started in last place, a full 30 seconds behind Joro. Here, at the first mark, she’s not only caught up, she’s passed REVO and Seraina!  I don’t know what vitamins she’s taking but that’s some incredible sailing!
FYC 2_031

The next section of the course is a broad reach that brings the boats through a channel between two islands on the way to the second mark. As you can see above, Joro and Ody continue their duel the entire way. Ody’s got control, however. He’s in the Windward position and slightly ahead. He can’t shadow Joro at this wind angle and Joro’s present position, but Joro can’t pass, either. As soon as she tries, she’ll fall under Ody’s windward boat blanket and lose momentum.

Ody knows he has her trapped, too: The channel is looming ahead, and the reach mark is on the starboard side past the islands. Joro therefore has no option to fall futher leeward to find clean air. Joro’s only option here is to ‘feint’ by first dropping back momentarily, then swinging across Ody’s stern to power into the windward position.

Joro’s got the skill to do it; she’ racked up more consecutive wins than any skipper in the history of Fizz Cup. But in this race she’s up against Ody, who’s ranked third overall in the Fizz 2009 fleet, with 16 clean wins under his belt. Joro’s chance to pull a feint and snatch windward from Ody  in this situation is, well…  zero.
FYC 2_034

The duel cost both skippers time and energy, however, and the remaining four sailors took the advantage. Flashing the skill they had all amply demonstrated in the prior heats of this series, Macro, Seraina, Reia and REVO all surged ahead to challenge the leaders. Although two minutes earlier the boats had been on opposite tacks and spread out over the width of the race course, now they were once again closely packed together as they flew through the channel, with Macro, Ody, Reia and Joro all vying for the lead.

FYC 2_037

Macro and Reia edged ahead and caught the reach mark first, free of any overlap with Ody or Joro (see above). Reia had the inside, and played it for all it was worth, chiseling the turn and breaking out front.

FYC 2_039

Macro then pulled a smart move. Although he was outside of Reia taking the turn, as shown above Macro swung hard around the mark to move to Reia’s opposite side, placing his boat windward of Reia’s aft quarter. On some other day, against some other skipper, Macro might use that advantage to steal the lead; but not this day, not this race. Reia had too much headway and Macro lost momentum in trade for the windward position.

FYC 2_041

Reia wrestled free from Macro and broke into clean air. For the first time in the race, there was no one ahead and nothing holding her back. With barely a nod to her fans on the beach, she suddenly exploded into overdrive, stretching her lead so fast the rest of the pack appeared as though standing still.  Come to think of it, considering the lag, they may have been.

FYC 2_043

This fight was still far from over, however. Ody and Jaro held the lead too long to let it go quite this easily. Macro held then off at the small island that served as the third mark, using it as an obstruction to keep Joro astern. Once in open water again, however, Joro made her move, attempting to pass windward of Macro.

FYC 2_045

On a different point of sail, this might be an effective strategy. The leg from the island (#3) to the bottom mark (#4) is a beam reach, however. With that heading Joro could not shadow from behind, and Macro had multiple options to change course in order to keep Joro at bay.  Joro had the heart, and never gave up the fight, but this time her efforts proved futile. Macro progressively widened his lead.

bottom mark

The image above shows how truly close the race still was at the bottom mark with just a short way to go to the finish. Reia maintained her lead, although Macro continued to close the gap all the way to the very end.  As I mentioned above, Macro successfully pulled away from the rest of the fleet, guaranteeing his second-place finish. Joro, Ody, and Seraina however were still so tightly packed that all three boats were completely in the zone for the final marker at the same time. And don’t forget REVO! He was in the rear, but was the same distance behind the ‘gang of three’ in the middle as Reia was ahead. In other words, this was a tight, excellent fleet they were all in the game together throughout.

FYC 2_054

Liv Leigh commented that many sailors think the FYC09 racecourse was ‘all about the start.’ In other words, if you win the start, you win the race.  For short dinghy races that emphasize technical expertise, that’s often true.

However, Reia on Sunday showed us something else. She came from dead last place, she chose an alternate port-tack strategy, and she relentlessly inched her way forward. Her progress in the race wasn’t luck. It didn’t depend on the errors of others.

Reia won this race in the best possibly way. In this first heat Sunday morning, Reia just outsailed everybody.

What a great race! Woot!

FYC 2_055


  1. Kei Cioc | June 15, 2009 at 5:41 pm | ReplyEdit

    It was wonderful race !!
    The excitement on that day revives.

    This report is likely to get exited as much as movies for the slow, long Fizz3 racing.

    Of course I know that it is a favor of Jane’s superior composition power.

    thx :)

  2. janefossett | July 7, 2009 at 12:33 pm | ReplyEdit

    Tim Warrhol held a wonderful ‘Rules’ discussion this past weekend. What else can I say but: “WOOT!!”
    During that discussion, a number of questions came up; some were clarified, some undoubtedly need more discussion.

    I brought up the FYC09 racecourse. There is a small island with a house identified as the #3 Race Mark. My understanding is that boats must pass that island “CCW.”

    In my commentary above, I considered that island an ‘obstruction,’ not a race mark per se, but of course there is a big difference.

    I went back and looked at all of my own pictures and comments… in the race discussed above it made no difference.

    I’m just raising it here to remind myself and everybody else that a small island like that… if clearly identified as a race marker… and without any features that might make it an arguable “obstruction…” could be accepted as a regular “Race Mark” by a race committee.
    In that case the island/mark would be subject to all of the ROW rules that apply to the average, run-of-the-mill race buoy.

    I haven’t heard any complaints, but now in retrospect I think I made a mistake above. Instead of saying
    “Macro held them off at the small island that served as the third mark, using it as an obstruction to keep Joro astern…”
    I now think I should have said something like:
    “The third mark was a tiny circular island. Macro approached it ahead of the fleet with no overlap; Joro was at his heels but clearly astern. Macro made the tiny course adjustment that signified he had cleared #3 and was setting a new course to #4.”
    This time it mad no difference; next time it might.

    Grin. Yup. I learned something.
    Thx Tim!

Wondrous Wildwind Wildcat

Corry Kamachi and Wildwind Boats are back on the water big-time with a new, rather fantastic catamaran: the Wildcat45. The boat’s inspired by that ultimate in speed sailing, the America’s Cup 45.

America’s Cup Roots.

As most sailors know, the 34th America’s Cup is on track to take off next year in San Francisco, where race teams will compete  aboard huge, high-tech AC-72  catamarans.

Before that final shootout  takes place however, a two-year regatta series is underway using reduced-size AC-45 boats.

OK, I use the term “boat” here somewhat advisedly; I’m not talking about the dinghy your mom sails to church on Sunday. The AC-45 is different; it’s a super-speed-extreme, water-based, wind-powered platform. It’s more like something CERN would sail to near lightspeed in the Large Hadron Collider, and then smash to study the quarks emitted.

Take a look:

Ok, I admit that video uses edited clips to make a point. I also  agree there is  huge excitement, history, and spectacle associated with the Americas Cup series. This is the absolute ultimate contest of no-holds-barred sail power.

Here’s a full clip from San Francisco’s recent AC45 World Series; it’s a bit more nuanced, but just as much fun:

The global significance of the AC regatta and the mythic stature of the AC yacht designs raise a high challenge to virtual boat builders. Not many have the skill, street-cred, and frank audacity to bring this kind of boat to Second Life. Luckily, Corry Kamachi and Wildwind are at the top of the list that do!

 Wildwind wonder

Corry’s built boats in SL for several years under the Wildwind label. She’s primarily focused on contemporary, hi-tech race boats and she’s had her eye on the AC 45 for a long time.

In February 2011 Corry released an early prototype, called the ACJ-35 Wildcat. The boat was fun to sail and a good club racer, but it handled more like a Wildwind monohull and lacked the pizzazz a sailor would want from a Cup contender. Corry was aware of this, and described the ACJ-35 as a “simple, small” boat that was “race convenient.” Meanwhile, she worked on the more ambitious “45.

Well sportsfans, that new Wildcat45 just hit the water, and its pretty fantastic.  It’s the big catamaran many SL racers were wishing for this past year, and frankly it’s a good deal more. Let me fill you in on just a few of the details.

Mixed Breeding

The physical design and dimensions of the Wildcat45 very closely match the real-life AC 45 Rule. Go look at the America’s Cup blueprints, then grab a tape measure and walk around the Wildcat45 in Second Life; it’s impressive. The craft work and care that went into this realistic build is evident, from the towering sail rig down to the tiny details.

What you get

When you open the Wildcat 45 v1.0 box, you’ll actually find two versions of the boat included. They superficially look the same, but one is mesh and the other is sculpted. Although there are major advantages to mesh construction in SL, most sailors know that Second Life is having difficulty updating the grid servers to support mesh vehicles. Wildcat45 acknowledges this problem, and gives you the best of both worlds.

The box also includes detailed notecards about the boat’s operation as well as instructions about adjusting settings and textures to fit a sailor’s personal preferences. The options are full-featured; you can set the com channel, the operation mode, the sheet-step size, and adjust the sit and cam positions.

If you want to change the boat’s textures, there are several subfolders that include templates for the hull, sails, and rigging. There are also specific UV maps and sculpti textures that should give experienced sailors everything they need to pimp their ride.

Physical and Phantom

Most of my comments apply to the mesh construction version; I’m guessing in a month or so that will be the version sailors prefer. A few days ago I commented about a new realism that’s emerging in SL sailcraft, partly due to mesh construction. SL vessels are evolving an ever-closer match to their real-life counterparts, and the Wildcat45 is a great example of this trend, in both appearance and performance.

The boat has two symmetrical hulls , with all the hardware and rigging you would expect from the real boat. Collision tests with Wildwind45 show that “the boat you see is the boat that bangs into things” (that’s good). However, the mast and sails are phantom while underway, as are both rudders.

This is a catamaran, so there’s no keel, but the boat has daggerboards in each hull that automatically deploy to offset heel effects. The boards are not phantom and will stop the boat if they hit something. However, since the board only deploys on an actively moving boat, when the underwater section of a daggerboard hits an object it will automatically raise. That feature lets a skipper make a quick recovery. 🙂


Wildcat45 does not have a mainsail; it has a hard wing instead that functions like an airplane wing. On the leach end of the wing (the trailing edge) there’s also a large adjustable panel that works to adjust lift (more on that below).

In addition, the boat comes with two headsails: a normal, working jib and a much larger gennaker that provides an extra boost sailing downwind.


Wildcat45 also comes with a redesigned Wildwind Control HUD with a dual column of buttons that control many standard sailing functions. However, a skipper can optionally do away with the HUD and sail the boat just with chat commands.

The boat comes with two additional “Info HUDs” that provide very detailed feedback about boat speed, sail status, and wind parameters. One of the Info HUDs is for a crew member, since the Wildcat45 crew can actively switch sides on this boat to adjust heel angle and maximize speed.

The boat also has a detailed numerical HUD readout typical of earlier Wildwind boats, so in high lag situations the sailing team can actually do without any of the new HUDs I just mentioned. As I said earlier, this boat has lots of options. 🙂


If you’re familiar with sailing Wildwind boats, and particularly if you know the ACJ-35 or ACJ-90, you’re in for a big surprise. A lot has changed in the Wildwind design to make the engine and features of the boat more realistic and sheer fun to sail.

Wild Wind

First of all, Wildwind has switched to use map compass headings instead of the old draftboard compass system that was a Tako legacy. That makes life a lot more convenient!

Wildcat45 has built-in boat wind, and a skipper can set the numerical wind direction and speed using chat commands. The boat has a separate racing mode that picks up cruise wind settings from a race line WWC. You can easily tell which boats are sailing in race mode since they automatically display the user-set race numbers at the top of the wing.

The biggest and best change in the Wildwind engine is the use of full-strength apparent wind effects! Nearly all earlier Wildwind boats used a ‘weighted’ headwind adjustment that was about one-third the real life Apparent Wind correction. Although there were good arguments in favor of this adjustment, the use of a proprietary wind algorithm made it difficult to race the boats in a mixed fleet, and it made the boats less realistic.

Well sports fans, that’s all history. 🙂 The Wildwind engine now uses the standard real-life calculations to turn real wind parameters into the apparent wind forces that drive the boat. That’s a very nice thing!

Sailing the Wildwind45

Let’s talk sailing! When a skipper raises sail on a catamaran, one of the first and most important goals is to get the windward hull out of the water. Riding on one hull cuts the drag effects in half, and the boat starts to fly.

Both the Info HUD and the simple numerical HUD report heel angle, and Wildwind45 is designed to generate a maximum boat speed with a heel angle of 35°. Be careful, though; if you’re caught by a gust, the boat capsizes at 45°, and you’ll be left hanging on for dear life (see below). 🙂 

You might think this is only a problem sailing upwind or on a reach, when heel effects are maximum. Well, you’d be wrong. 🙂 Ask Russell Coutts!

Wildcat45 has the same propensity to pitchpole as the AC-45. If you’re flying  with the wind behind you and the Genn up, the pitch effects increase. If your nose catches a wave and you suddenly pitch forward over 15°, there’s no looking back. You’ll go flying over the handlebars! 🙂


Since heel is so important to boat speed, the Wildcat45 has a few ways for a sail team to adjust the angle. Both the skipper and crew can hike to either windward or lee positions to get the boat flying at optimal heel, and under high wind conditions it may be necessary to spill wind to keep from flipping over.

Wildcat45 has another tool, however; it’s a wing extension that’s adjustable and acts just like the flap on an airplane wing. Take a look at the images below, and you’ll see what I mean. The picture on the left shows the boat sailing with heel= 29° using a minimal flap effect  (Flap 1 setting). On the right, you can see that the flap has now visibly turned up (Flap 3 setting). That change increases the aerodynamic lift, and the heel angle goes to an optimal 35°, with a corresponding 10% speed boost. 🙂

I’d suggest getting some practice with those flaps before hitting the racecourse, though; they can be pretty treacherous. (Ask Coutts about it. 🙂 )

click to enlarge

The Numbers

The chart to the right should give you a rough idea of what to expect sailing this boat. It shows boat speed plotted against real wind angle with a constant breeze of 9.7 kn. Sailing with the jib at an upwind heading of RWA 50, the boat already exceeds real wind speed. As the boat falls away from the wind, it quickly maxes out at roughly 120-125% RWS, until the boat falls gets to a heading of RWA 110.

 Beyond that point the jib becomes progressively less efficient, so it’s a good time to raise the gennaker. From RWA 120°-140° the gennaker will give an extra speed boost to a maximum of 125-130% RWS. By RWA 150°, the sails are no longer providing significant lift and the boat is primarily driven by drag effects.

This boat wants to fly, not be pushed, so drag effects are pretty inefficient. There is a realistic, rapid decline in performance over RWA 150° to a boat speed that’s roughly 60% RWS.

The second chart above shows the same data, with a new curve added in green to show the boat’s performance with twice the wind strength (RWS 19.4 kn). At these wind intensities, the boat speed seems directly related to RWS; if you double the wind speed, the boat goes twice as fast. 🙂

Woots Wildwind

The combination of beautiful design, accuracy of detail, and blistering speed are all trademarks of Wildwind boats. It’s frankly a thrill to sail a new one again. I can say that with even more excitement, given the wealth of features offered by Wildcat45 and the dedication it took to bring this version of the AC-45 into Second Life. I think this is easily the best sailing vessel ever released by Wildwind, and given the large number of very popular boats skillfully crafted by Corry over the years, that’s saying a lot. 🙂

If you want to check the boat out and pick one up for yourself, stop by Wildwind over in Borden, or get one at Tradewinds in Dex!

Flying Fizz World Cup 2012 Begins November 17

Liv Leigh, the Chair for Fizz Cup 2012, today posted the Notice of Race for the upcoming regatta. Official announcements, updates and discussion will all be posted to .


Flying Fizz World Cup
Notice of Race 1.0.0

The Flying Fizz World Cup 2012

This notice of race consists of the following articles:

0. General Info

0.1 Communication

The official communication channels for the Flying Fizz World Cup 2012 will be this website ( and the in-world group “Fizz Fanatics”.

0.2 Fizz Cup Committee

The Fizz Cup Committee consists of Liv Leigh, noodleqt Exonar

0.3 Race Committee

The race committee consists of Liv Leigh, Armano Xaris, noodleqt Exonar, Viciously LLewellyn, Samlara Vintner, LucyInTheSky Afarensis

0.4 Additional Race Staff

When needed, the Fizz Cup Committee may recruit additional staff for race and/or security duties.

1. Format

1.1 The Flying Fizz World Cup 2012 will be held as a series of one design fleet regatta’s. There will be a qualification round, in which the competitors are spread over a number of groups. The best sailors of the qualification round will go to the finals.

2. Dates and times

1.1 The qualification rounds will take place in the weekend of November 24th/25th. The exact time of the regatta’s will depend on the number of groups and the preferred timeslots (Asian, European, American) of the respective racers.

1.2 The finals will take place in the weekend of December 1st and 2nd. The time is not given yet, but expect it to be around 6AM SLT.

3. The Boat

3.1 The boat used will be the Flying Fizz. The regular version of the latest release will be used, unless a new version comes out or technical issues force the Fizz Cup Committee to change to a different version.

3.2 In case a new model is introduced, this model change will be communicated with the racers through the Fizz Fanatics Group and this website.

3.3 The model currently designated is the ‘Flying Fizz 3.08’

4. Venues

4.1 The qualification rounds will take place at Tradewinds Yacht Club, using the raceline in the Siracusa region.

4.2 The finals will take place in the Western part of the Blake Sea area. Either the Travertine or Turnbuckle line will be used. This is a choice out of tradition and impartiality: the respective lines are not associated with any club and this area has been the area of choice of 2 Fizz Cup finals and numerous Fizz Cup events in the past.

5. Rules

5.1 We will use the Full ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing, latest edition.

6. Qualification rounds
7. Finals
8. Awards and ceremonies

Appendix A: Course maps

A.1 Qualification course maps

2 Courses will be used for the qualification round. Every qualification round will use both courses. Additional wind information will be provided during the tournament trough the official channels.

These are the course maps:

Fizz Cup TYC WL2

Fizz Cup TYC WL4

Updates to this NOR will be provided in the days to come.


Please check in to
for more news on Fizz Cup 2012 !!

One Design 65

I’ve already written several posts about “Dutch” Kain Xenobuilder’s VO-70, a boat modeled after the Volvo Open 70 Rule used in the round-the-world 2012 Volvo Ocean Race. Dutch’s Mesh Shop VO-70 is a remarkably accurate, mesh re-creation of the Volvo racer, and it even comes with textures that match each of the teams that competed in 2012.

Well, this month Dutch added a new boat to his Volvo fleet; it’s the One Design 65, and it matches the Design Spec for the next VOR that’s scheduled to kick-off in 2014.

Now We Are One

The 2012 Volvo Ocean Race was a remarkable display of audacity and endurance, as teams raced the world’s fastest sailboats in a damn-the-torpedoes dash around the globe.

However, it proved to be a daunting challenge to build a series of individual boats that fit within the box of the Open 70 Rule. That greatly drove up the total cost for each entrant while adding uncertainty and delay. Only six teams survived this pre-game test in 2011-2012.

Use of a box design rule also reduced the reliability and safety of the competition fleet. Three of the starting boats (i.e., half the fleet) had to withdraw from the first leg of competition due to structural failures.

For these reasons, four months ago the Volvo committee announced the next VOR would race in new one design boats. The choice of a one design standard will dramatically reduce costs and development time, while also enhancing safety.

The new Volvo One Design (aka the Volvo 65) is 65 ft long (7% shorter than a VO-70) and it weighs 30% less, but it promises to be nearly as fast as it’s predecessor. (note: the bowsprint is 15% longer. 🙂 )

The choice of a VOR one design standard was met with general approval by the ocean race teams, and the increased opportunity the new boat provides will mean as many as a dozen teams could belly-up to the start line when the next Volvo Ocean takes off in 2014. It already looks like an all-female team will be part of that fleet!

One Design 65 by The Mesh Shop

Well, the sad news is that you won’t see a Volvo One Design officially hit the water for at least a year, as teams plan and the consortium of builders process their orders.

The good news is, while you wait in breathless anticipation, Dutch has you covered! A few weeks ago he launched the Mesh Shop One Design 65, carefully modeled to adhere to the new Volvo spec. 🙂 Take a look below:

Dutch’s OD65 matches the graphic for the “real” Volvo racer better than  my pictures can show. If you think about it, only one of the above boats is actually real: The Mesh Shop OD65. You can sail it today. The other boat is just a graphic of an idea that might sail in years to come. 🙂

The OD65’s measurements, rigging, and detailing are very close to the Volvo spec. As the images of the cockpit to the right show, it’s hard to tell the boats apart. (OK,ok, it’s not that hard. One of the boats has Jane at the helm, and we all know that no one would ever let Jane near the wheel of a real Volvo Racer!)

The new Mesh Shop OD-65 incorporates many of the features of the VO-70, and then adds a host of new bells and whistles. For example, the boat has redesigned sails that are more realiastic and are far easier to texturize. More important, the OD-65’s asymmetrical spinnaker now convincingly collapses when it’s out of tune, and the mainsail nicely folds on the boom when lowered!

The cockpit and deck plan of OD-65 is racer-clean, and less cluttered than the larger VO-70; the boat has just the essential winches and there’s only one central crank station. Nonetheless, the detailing of the build is pretty remarkable. If you click on the image to the right, you’ll see what I mean. The deck hardware, helm stations and rigging are all finely finished and functionally realistic. You can even read the name of the tackle supplier on the main sheet block shown in the insert!

The spars, rigging, and keel are all phantom while sailing, similar to the VO-70, so there’s little fear of hitting overhanging bridges or running aground in shallow waters; the boat only draws 1.5m.

You won’t run out of prim, either. The OD-65 weighs in with a resource-scrimping LOD=96; that’s less than half the size of the VO-70 (LOD=212)!


VO-70 has the advantage in the texture department. It comes bundled with more than a half-dozen themed texture sets that are based on  the 2012 Volvo Ocean Race team graphics. The designs are very nicely done, and easy to apply.

In contrast, the OD-65 only comes in one style; it’s an understated charcoal hue, and it reinforces the impression that OD-65 is a lean, mean, serious racer.

The OD-65’s theme comes from the RL Volvo One Design announcement. There aren’t any VOR One Designs on the water yet, so there are no RL team colors to copy. 🙂

Hey, no worries, though! As I mentioned above, Dutch has made it very easy to modify and install texture templates for this boat. Sailors should have no trouble painting their personality on OD-65 in broad strokes and bright colors. 🙂


Speaking of pimping your ride, let’s talk OD-65 performance. No surprise the boat shares much in common with the VO-70, so most of my comments about that boat also apply. In fact, you can get a start-up version of the OD-65 manual here that should answer most of your questions.

Once you take the helm, you’ll notice right off that OD-65 inherited a souped-up version of  VO-70’s salt spray off the bow. It’s a real adrenalin rush, so talk to your cardiologist before you sail this boat! 🙂

Under the hood, OD-65 uses the BWind 2.5 sail engine developed by Becca Moulliez. Over the past two years BWind’s established itself as an extremely popular, low-lag, easy-to-use, and highly flexible design platform. If you’ve ever sailed a BWind boat, you’ll have no trouble getting under sail with the OD-65.

The boat uses a limited set of intuitive chat commands and keyboard arrows to adjust the helm and control the sails. There’s also a color-coded numerical display that gives feedback about essential race parameters.

OD-65’s add-on hi-tech gear includes a skipper-adjustable canting keel that counterbalances the huge sail rig. There’s no VO-70 style ‘automatic’ keel option, but that’s ok; you really don’t need that auto feature on a dedicated racer. 🙂


As I discussed a few weeks ago, Mesh Shop boats have their own wind setter system that is truly innovative and quite distinct from the setters SL skippers routinely use.

For everyday sailing, OD-65 is like any other BWind boat. A skipper just has to say “cruising” in chat, followed by the standard BWind speed and direction commands. However, if a competition is planned, a skipper just says “racing.” That makes the boat listen for a set of wind parameters broadcast to the fleet by the Mesh Shop’s unique iPad wind interface.

I’ve talked about the VO-70 iPad controller before, but the interface is even better with the introduction of the OD-65. A skipper or race director can use the touch-tablet to key-in wind direction and intensity for all nearby racers; it can do a lot more too. It can set the amplitude for short-term gusts and shifts, as well as intermediate and long-term changes in wind direction.

I’ve already described how the ultra-short term “wind jitter” works for Mesh Shop boats. The new controller adds options for longer term ‘wind drift’ as well, and the modulation curve for that feature is shown in the chart to the right.

Here’s how the drift works: Once a race starts, the average wind direction gradually changes over time in a linear progression. There’s also a several-minute sinusoidal ‘wobble’ superimposed on the directional shift that’s intended to keep racers on their toes. 🙂 The iPad setters are now free  for any sailor or RD who wants to give them a try.

If any of this wind stuff sounds boring or confusing, don’t fret too much! Dutch just posted a very nice explanation of both the new wind and the iPad wind setter functions in a pdf format manual! Go get a copy here!

Polar Perfect

The performance curve for Dutch’s original VO-70 went through a number of updates as new features were added. Each performance change brought the boat closer to the real Volvo Racer.

Well, that process continued through the OD-65’s beta development as well, with some pretty remarkable results. The chart to the right has a blue curve that plots boat speed as a function of real wind angle for the launched OD-65. The chart has a nearly identical red curve superimposed on the blue one. That red line reflects the performance of the RL Volvo Open 70 race boat. Woots! The boats are nearly identical.

The data comparison set comes from Dutch’s testing, but my numbers look the same.

I’ve done polar plots for six years on nearly every sailboat I could get my hands on in Second Life. With that experience, I have to admit it: under  “default wind” conditions, OD-65 is the closest match to the real thing I’ve ever seen in an online boat, at least where speed plots are concerned. 🙂 Pretty nice work, Dutch! 🙂

As usual, I still have a lot more to say about this boat, and a handful of small gripes too. I mean it sideslips, it doesn’t have windshadow, the keel is phantom… 

But WOW, today I’m looking at the details of this boat and that speed plot above, and I’m thinking that Dutch Xenobuilder just launched a virtual boat that embodies the physical dimensions, detailing, and polar performance of the next real life VOR contender. OD-65 isn’t an online cartoon boat; it’s a first-stage, realistic emulation of the actual Volvo Racer. That idea is worth thinking about.

Let me add that Dutch isn’t alone. This past summer a small handful of builders launched new vessels that also reveal a striking attention to detail and handling. With the commitment and dedication of such great builders, maybe SLSailing is turning a corner this year, and setting a new, higher bar for realism in virtual sailing.

When the RL Volvo One Design finally hits the water in late 2013, i’m willing to bet a sailing reporter will describe it as “A pretty accurate analog version of the Mesh Shop OD-65 boat.” 🙂

Stop by The Mesh Shop in Tschotcke and you can test drive the OD-65 yourself, or go pick one up from the Second Life Marketplace. 🙂