Monthly Archives: December 2012

Linkous and Bertrada Racelines

Linkous and Bertrada

Kudos to the Linden Department of Public Works! This past week they opened two new Linden raceline parcels that should greatly expand sailing opportunities in SL!

Zindra Zailing

The first is an 80m raceline in Linkous sim. Linkous is located in Zindra‘s Ursula Bay, a broad expanse of open water that’s interconnected with the other  water regions on the Adult Continent.

This is great news. Although Zindra opened quite some time ago, it’s never had a raceline. That fact made it hard to build a community of committed sailors on the continent. Nonetheless, sailors were always interested in sailing Zindra, and several “roadtrips” were organized to cruise the Linden waters. Xi Landia was a prime mover to get an SL Coast Guard station in Ursula Bay some time ago, and Leeward Cruisers made a point to hold grand excursions on Zindra’s seas on more than one occasion. When I ran around the coastline last week, I was happy to see an LCC flag flying from a nearly dock!

But let me give the biggest shoutout to Kip Zabaleta (Óláfr). He’s a Leeward Cruiser, but he is also associated with Hillcrest College in Zindra’s Hessen and Vanauken sims. Kip’s trying to teach sailing from Hillcrest’s docks, and he clearly saw the need for a community-based Linden raceline someplace in the area. I think that made sense for everyone, and Linkous seemed a good, central location.

Zindra raceline

If you look at the map, the new Linkous raceline has a N-S orientation, with a default wind from the West at 15 knots. (you can add your own notecards for any other conditions). There are also new windward/ leeward buoys in Truland and Gurbsyk, and new reach buoys in Mullinax and Trinoo (see the chart above for colors and coordinates).

For sailors’ convenience there’s a Linden Rez Zone in the NW corner of Linkous, but it’s not yet open to rez boats (I’m guessing that problem will be remedied soon). It’s no big bother though; if you want to sail Linkous, you can easily find a rez point on the East shore of Ursula Bay or rez down at Hillcrest’s docks as indicated on the map above.

Bay City Marine

Bay City now has a major raceline in Bertrada too!

Bay City Alliance

Bay City is one of the oldest, smartest, and most creative communities in Second Life. It’s located on the far West end of Sansara continent and it has it’s own Linden harbor, the Gulf of Lauren. It even has it’s own yacht club, New Port. Until recently however, Bay City was disconnected from most sailing events because it was geographically isolated and it was truly impossible to sail from Gulf of Lauren to any of the other great sailing regions on the continent.

Well, thanks to Linden DPW that has all changed. Beginning two years ago, LL expanded Bay City. They then added several dozen new coastal water sims that form both a Southern and a Northern waterway passage, linking Bay City to major seaways East in Sansara.

This was a fantastic boon to sailors, as it added many more options for long-distance cruises and personal sailing fun. However, even though the waters were now open, Bay City’s sailors were still limited; there was no local raceline. The closest one was 25 sims away from New Port Yacht Club.

The best spot for a new raceline close to Bay City wasn’t obvious. If you look at Gulf of Lauren, it’s a great ‘harbor,’ with considerable space to cautiously navigate between local traffic boats and other obstructions. However, there’s no area you could dedicate to a full size race line, with adequate water for a competition fleet to maneuver before and after the race gun goes off.

Bertrada Raceline

It made more sense to put the line in Bertrada, a sim on the Northern Coastal Waterway. As you can see from the diagram above, Bertrada lies in a row of 10 contiguous water sims, and it’s nicely suited for windward/ leeward racing. The new line is therefore oriented North/South and it has a default East wind of 15 knots (but sailors can add their own notecards). The red arrows above also identify two new race buoys, a yellow nun in Grifo and a blue nun in Luitgard.

The raceline in Bertrada is also well situated for longer distance races. As shown below (pink arrows), a fleet traveling East can turn North in Cyclops sim and sail through the ANWR connector to Heterocera. They also have an option to go South through the islands and into L-Shaped Lake.

The line’s also positioned to accommodate distance races starting West (green arrows). The fleet can turn at the mark in Grifo and then proceed into the Gulf of Lauren, go through Shermerville Strait, and continue as far as Bay of Space Pigs or beyond.

sansara Dec 2012 annotated 1351

The new addition will strongly enhance the sailing options in West Sansara, and it’s a pretty great Christmas present from Linden Department of Public Works to SL Sailors everywhere.

So when you have a moment, go try out the lines in both Linkous and Bertrada. And if you happen to sail over any Rodents on a sea floor artistically arranging the plants, placing an ancient shipwreck, or programming exotic sea creatures… please stop for a sec and say THANKS to the Moles. That’s DPW working for you. They are building content, and they are trying to guess what will make you smile. They do a darn good job at it. 🙂




Handicap Hotlaps Kickoff

Handicap Hotlaps lets sailors practice their skill on a short, standard course and then post the results online. The previous article includes a long list of links to a variety of old discussions about Hotlaps and the related boat handicap scores, but reading all that stuff  can get very boring, very fast.

But hey, do you have a few minutes? Forget about reading that stuff… Let’s go sail some Hotlaps instead! 🙂


Handicap Hotlaps 2013

All you need to do is go to a raceline that’s set up with a Hotlaps course and rez your boat. The first three Hotlaps racelines are located in Plum Gut, Knaptackicon, and soon Breadnut (as soon as Hawk puts up the posters).  Over the next few days I’ll add several more.

Here’s how it works.

When you go to a Hotlaps line you’ll see two posters. Click on the top one that says “Hotlaps 2013.” It gives you a notecard with all the details for that line.

Plum Gut Handicap Hotlaps 1005

That note will include the current Hotlaps chart for the line, and it will also tell you how to set the wind. (Here’s a tip: the Handicap wind is always 15 knots with no variance, but the wind angle depends on the orientation of each raceline and course. In Plum Gut the angle is 0.0°, in Knaptrackicon it’s 180°, and in Breadnut it’s 225°. Check the notecard to be sure which wind is correct at a particular race line.)

North Sea Hotlaps 2013 v105

Breadnut Hotlaps Course

Once you have the chart and the wind, you can sail a solo lap whenever its convenient for you by following the race course instructions. Once you complete the course, you’ll end up with a lap time (lap time is Finish Time minus Start Time). If you think that result is an ‘average, good‘ time for you in that boat class, then please take an extra moment to post your score online.

You can do that very easily by clicking the poster above the green buoy, the one that says “Enter your lap time here“. That will give you a web link to a data entry form.

DYC Handicap Hotlaps 2013 v106

Knaptrackicon DYC Hotlaps Course

Just add your skipper name, your boat class and your net lap time, and you’re done. Then you can go back and run the course again, or switch to a different boat!
Actually, you can run as many Hotlaps in as many different boats as you want; the more the better. Every time you submit a data lap time it helps define the relative performance of that boat class.

Please remember one thing: don’t just submit your best score on a race course; Hotlaps wants all your average, good scores. We are trying to determine the “average, good” lap time of an “average, good” skipper sailing many different boats!

Mo’ Hotlaps

Kudos to Hawk and Kentrock for all the help planning and setting up the first three Hotlaps courses. Hay Ah’s also promised to look at ways to improve the Hotlaps interface, so online scores will be better integrated with the raceline. 🙂

I’ll add Hotlaps to two more racelines this week, and Liv Leigh will soon add a Hotlaps course at Tradewinds. If you have a raceline, you can add your own Hotlaps course too. Just let me know so I can give you the info and add that site to the list!

Well, that’s enough reading; let’s sail!


Hotlaps Redux

Handicap header 2013

A Yardstick for Boats

Which is a faster raceboat, the Melges 24 or a Quest IACC? What about the Mesh Shop VO-70 Volvo racer; is it faster than the WildWind VOJ-70 version of the same boat?  Can either boat beat the new Wildcat45? 🙂

For that matter, which boat wins when a gaggle of Trudeau Classics descend on a raceline? Is it the T- One, the New York 30, Epicurus, or the just-released Francois J?  Where does the intrepid Flying Tako 3.3 or the Flying Fizz 3.x fit in?

These existential questions try a sailor’s soul; they lead to many sleepless nights and quarrelsome days.

It’s not easy comparing boat performance. There are dozens of factors that contribute to practical boat performance, and sailors in RL and SL spend long evenings debating the relative merits of different features. A boat that is very fast on a beam reach could easily be a wet dog when pointing to wind, and a boat with a spinnaker might well beat a similar boat that’s less equipped to handle a downwind leg. But  even the speediest sled won’t win a race if it can’t carve a decent turn.

In real sailing there are several different schemes for rating performance and handicapping a race fleet. A common one in the United States is called PHRF (Performance Handicap Race Fleet).

SL PHRF Hotlaps

Given the need and the tradition to handicap different race boats, back in 2007 a bunch of SL sailors got together to generate a practical, fun, and valid performance rating system.

We called it “PHRF Hotlaps” back then, and the concept was simple. Any sailor could try their luck sailing an easy, 8-12 minute solo test course that included windward, leeward and reach legs plus at least one sharp turn.  All the skippers used the same wind parameters to sail hotlaps, and they kept track of their “average, good” lap times scores on each course.

Sailors then posted their lap times online, and those results were transferred to a database. The distribution of individual lap times was evaluated to make sure the samples were representative, and then all the scores from each boat class on a particular course were averaged together. That made it possible to generate simple, statistically valid comparisons of boat performance across the whole fleet.

Here are the first six Handicap Hotlaps courses we used to test boats back in 2007-2008.

hotlaps-phrf_courses 2007-2008

In 2009-2010, we continued getting Hotlaps data from many sailors in Blake Sea using the Madaket raceline (see the lower right image). Cynthia Centaur even automated the whole system (woots!). 🙂

Madaket PHRF 2010 512

The lap data turned out  valid and reliable. If ten sailors each sailed  a Hotlaps course and  the average of all their lap times showed that Boat A was 20% faster than Boat B, you could be confident that a different ten sailors on a different Hotlaps course would find the same thing. Boat A would be faster than Boat B on that new course, and in fact Boat A would be 20% faster. In other words, the Hotlaps results had strong predictive value regarding boat performance independent of the sailor or the course.

phrf jan 2010

By the time we finished the Hotlaps project in the summer of 2010, the database contained several thousand lap times submitted by over ten dozen skippers, sailing more than forty different boat types.

The Figure to the right shows the list of boats tested up to January 2010; the list below it adds a few more boats tested between January and April of that year. For each boat, the “Lap” column shows the average of all the posted lap times for the Madaket Hotlaps Course.

To make comparisons easy we then chose one boat, the Trudeau J-Class, as an “Index” and used it to calculate a Handicap Factor [the ratio of (Index Boat Lap Time) / (Test Boat Lap Time) ]. The last column in Red shows that Handicap Factor for each boat in the list.

PHRF April 18

For example, the Tako 3.3 had a Handicap Factor of 1.32, meaning it was 32% faster than the J-Class on the various test courses. In contrast, the Shelly Fizz had a Handicap of 0.52, meaning it was only 52% as fast as the J-Class standard.

Using the Handicap Factors, it was easy to compare any two boats based on their lap performance. Perhaps more important, Handicaps made it easy for a sailor to compare his/her own lap scores over time, and to see how their own results ranked up alongside other skippers in the fleet.

Topsail Talks

I started thinking about Hotlaps again when aakagon Resident (aka “Topsail”) contacted me recently. Topsail is a serious sailor in real life, and he thought it was important for SL to have a way to compare the performance of different boats in order to handicap mixed fleet races. He discussed this with MarkTwain White, and then sent me a note arguing in favor of a time-based ranking system that sounded a lot like Handicap Hotlaps. 🙂

fleetTopsail was right. The last Handicap summary I posted was in April 2010, and very few of the 40+ boats on that list are still sailing in Second Life now. It made sense to start Hotlaps rolling again. It would at least be a good excuse to have some fun sailing solo laps on different courses, while we all compared results and pooled the data.

In the past two weeks I’ve discussed Hotlaps with Kentrock, Hawk, Elbag and others to get their sage advice, and they’re on-board to help re-launch the project. However, Hotlaps is open to everyone of course, and the results only get better when more sailors and racelines are involved; so please drop me a note if you want to set up your own Hotlaps course, or you want help doing it.  Either way, we’ll plug you in to the new spreadsheet. 🙂

Speaking of those details, Hay Ah’s offered to help refine the interface to work better with her raceline. That should be very interesting to see. 🙂

bb 117

Over the next day I’ll post specifics about the initial Handicap Hotlaps 2013 race courses and the line locations, as well as the details a skipper needs to run a Hotlap. I’m guessing this could be a lot of fun, and something easily accessible to sailors of all skill levels and time zones. (You got ten minutes? You could be sailing a Hotlap!)

Handicap Hotlaps Link History

Here are past links to articles, discussions, and data threads about SL PHRF Handicap Hotlaps. Since the topic stretches back nearly six years, many of the early links are broken; I’m still trying to recover them. I know there are also many more posts on the topic than what I’ve listed, so please let me know if I missed a thread that you think should be included.

Feb 11 2007 Handicapping
A post that discusses handicap issues for the then-new “Big-Boat Races.”

Apr 5 2007: Handicapping sailors
A discussion of ‘handicapping sailors’ versus handicapping their boats.

Nov 20 2007 Should big-boat races be split up?
Big boat racers decided the newly-released Larinda was significantly faster than the equally-matched Yawl and Defender II. How much faster? J Trudeau, helpful as ever, said she didn’t know and suggested sailors figure it out. I think this thread is the first place the basic ‘rules’ for PHRF Handicap Hotlaps were listed.

Nov 25 2007: Deviant Hotlaps
A discussion of wind variation and its implications for valid, reliable lap time scores. It degenerates into a discussion of whether the sailors are the ‘deviant’ ones…

Nov 26 2007: Trudeau Handicap Hotlaps
Nine pages of laps, data, discussion about performance handicapping.

JANUARY 3 2008: PHRF Hotlaps summary

Feb 3 2008: Adding It All Up
February 2008 update of lap data and handicap scores.

Feb 6 2008 (and many updates): Handicap Hotlaps Results
This is a sticky thread with spreadsheets and summary tables for the different test courses and boats in 2008. (The spreadsheet shapshots are currently offline)

FEBRUARY 11 2008: PHRF Summary

Jun-Oct 2008 PHRF Handicap Hotlaps
12 pages of discussion and data from 2008

AUG 7 2008: A New Handicap Hotlaps Course?
A short thread discussing issues with the past phrf test courses, and new ones are proposed and tried at NYC and FIYC.

AUG 10 2008: FIYC Hotlaps
PHRF discussion and data on Epicurus Emmons’ FIYC course.
The results paralleled all the others.

Mar 2009: PHRF Hotlaps 2009
Following the move to Blake Sea, Cynthia Centaur, Francois Jacques, and Jane Fossett set up the Madaket Hotlaps Course with a user-friendly web database system.

Apr 2009: Madaket wind setter out of date – why?
“Unhelpful whining.”

Apr 14 2009: PHRF 2009 Madaket Hotlaps Discussion Thread
Discussion of the new Madaket web-based hotlaps system.

June 2009: June PHRF Update
Summary of the Madaket data compared to 2008.

July 19 2009: PHRF Update, WildWind
More Madaket data, discussion of WildWind boats, concern different wind engines could yield less reliable comparisons.

May-July 2009: RCJ-44 and JMO-60
Specific discussions of performance data for these boats:

August 11, 2009: Discussion of Wildwind apparent wind factors and impact on testing.

November 20, 2009: Summary results for different boats.

April 12 2010: Summary results for 2009

April 20 2010: J-Classic used as new index boat. The fleet results were still consistent, and many more boats and data points were added.

Mixed Fleet 4 Jan 2010a

Nacra 17 Regatta December 21

I know the boat’s in that picture someplace…



LCatDR 2012 poster

There are many end-of-the-year traditions: Santa Claus coming down the chimney, Lindsay Lohan failing a drug screen, or The Grid crashing because everyone is at the Linden Christmas Party.

Well you can forget all of those, because:
SLSailing has a truly great tradition you don’t want to miss!

This will be the Fourth Annual

Leetle Cat Distance Race

December 23 6:00 AM at Blake Sea-Arabian

hosted by
Taku Raymaker and Waypoint Yacht Club 


Competitors will sail solo in the latest Trudeau Class release of the Leetle Cat II (v1.17).

Registration is limited to twelve contestants, so be sure to contact Taku Raymaker NOW if you want to sail.

The course chart is shown on the right, and the WWC wind parameters will be:

Wind dir= 315 deg, Wind speed 19 kn, and Wind shifts 15.

Trophies go to the top three sailors!

LCDR 2010

FIYC Poinsettia Ball December 16

Fanci Beebe announces:

Get those ball gowns and tuxes out of storage!
Time to get all decked out in your best and dance the time away

This year’s FIYC Ball will be a

So get gorgeous and come help us make some smiles this holiday season!!
Invite your friends!!
Everyone is welcome!!
Prize for best in formal wear!

FIYC Christmas 5

Fishers Island Yacht Club
5th Annual


Sunday December 16th
1pm ~ 3pm slt

Come and join us for Magical Event for a very worthy cause

First Look: Mesh Shop Nacra 17 Catamaran

Nacra 17 by Mesh Shop

Kain Xenobuilder is back on the water this week with his latest addition to The Mesh Shop fleet. This time it’s a 2-person racing catamaran based on the Nacra 17 Olympic race boat.

I’ve only had my hands on Nacra for a few days, so I admit I’m still figuring this boat out; there’s a lot I haven’t tested yet. However, the boat hits the water on Friday and there’s a sailing event scheduled for December 21, so let me jump the gun a bit and give you my Quick-Look impression based on a first date. 🙂

New Nacra for the Net

The RL Nacra 17 is a boat born with a mission. The design came straight from the Olympic competition specs for Rio 2016, and the first versions hit the water months ago. This boat has racing in its heart, brain, and yes, it’s brawn too. Take a look:

Dutch (Kain) is no stranger to contemporary race boat emulations; his VO-70 and OD-65 Volvos are accurate and delightfully detailed mesh craftwork. His remarkable level of skill and care are evidenced in the Mesh Shop Nacra 17 as well. Here are just a few close-ups to prove my point:

details Nacra

The first pic above shows the stow-sock for the Genniker. The pink arrow indicates the detail knot in the line-tie, and several green arrows point out similar subtleties of the rig joints.

The second image above is a close-up view of the footing for the two-piece carbon mast. It shows a remarkably well-done minor detail; it’s a true-to-life jam cleat. If Dutch left it out, no one would have missed it.
Well… he didn’t leave it out. 🙂

The third image shows a closeup of the mainsheet tackle. The Nacra actually has a working mainsheet, something I still marvel at in SL. Although every RL sailboat has main lines, it was not included on SL boats until this past summer, when Motor Loon, Dutch Xenobuilder,  Qyv Inshan, and Craig Ktaba decided it was time ‘to get more real.’ (Did I miss anybody’s name?) 🙂

I know this is just a small point, and I fully credit Noodle for picking it up first in the blogs, but I believe those main-sheets set a minor-milestone for realism in SL boats.

Of course it doesn’t stop there. In addition to a working mainsheet, the Nacra’s build includes self-deploying rudders and curved dagger-boards that should match the real life boat spec.

Well, enough with the fine details; you can take off your reading glasses now, then please move a few boatlengths back to get an overview. As the picture below demonstrates, the Nacra-17 is size-wise midway between two other popular SL catamarans: the Trudeau HepCat and the WildWind Wildcat45.

three boats six hulls

Like those other boats, the Nacra 17 is designed to accommodate two sailors. Each can hike through eight positions (four port and four starboard) to help balance the boat for a high-speed, thrill ride.

Nacra 17 crewed

Although it’s obvious I like this build a lot, let me give virtual sailors a fair heads-up warning here before I continue. The Nacra 17 uses the BWind wind system and it is not WWC compliant. It also uses the BWind 2.5 variance scheme, and there’s no wind shadow component.

Those precepts may be hard for some sailors to swallow; for others, it may indicate progress to a different, new standard. I frankly don’t know yet, but I do know that Dutch is trying to sort this out for his boats in a way that guarantees a realistic sailing and racing paradigm in the future.


With that preface, let’s talk about how Nacra sails.

The Nacra 17 uses a BWind 2.5 sail engine with features similar to the two Volvo boats that I’ve discussed earlier.

There’s a “cruising” mode that acts like a standard BWind boat, and there’s a “racing” mode that’s adjustable through a tablet interface. (You can get a free tablet here, and don’t forget to pick up a copy of the manual. It discusses how the wind variance works.)

Bwind 2

The tablet is very easy to use and it gives a skipper or RD a handful of fixed BWind options for wind direction and intensity. Once those are set, any boats in the vicinity can lock the same wind definition to race.


A skipper controls the Nacra 17 using a mixture of chat commands, key clicks, and HUD buttons.

Nacra17 control

Click to enlarge

The boat’s com channel is not adjustable, but that’s probably okay since there are only a few, critical chat commands. Sheeting the sails, turning the tiller, and hiking the skipper are all done with arrow key combinations.

That’s a potential problem since sailing with overlapping key clicks can get pretty messy, particularly when you’re trying to take a sharp turn around a race mark and you urgently need to do many things at once.

If you race BWind boats, you also know that the keyboard arrow keys are woefully inadequate to adjust the sheets on close haul. A click of the up or down key will give you a sail adjustment that’s totally random and far greater than you intended. You often have to toggle the keys back and forth to get the setting you actually want.

Dutch is aware of these issues, and he’s added a simple button-control HUD for the skipper (shown above right). The HUD lets you flip the headsail from genniker to jib, trim the sheets, or hike the sit position.

Nacra HUD

Click to enlarge

The HUD also allows precise sail adjustments in 1° and 3° steps.

There’s a crew HUD as well with the same set of functions, so it’s easy to split up the work while racing.

As shown in the image to the right, the Nacra 17 also has a numerical display HUD that provides basic information about boat speed, compass heading, as well as Apparent Wind and sail angles. The HUD also shows the numerical heel angle to help skipper and crew adjust the hike positions.

Speaking of heel angle, the boat will capsize if you tilt more than 40°. That agrees nicely with the heel effect in the Wildcat45, where the maximum acceleration occurs at 35° and the boat flips at 45°. The Nacra 17 doesn’t pitch pole like the Wildcat though, so that’s one less thing you need to worry about. 🙂

Nacra Capsize


The boat is tuned nicely to sail like a catamaran. It noticeably starts to pick up speed as the leeward hull comes out of the water, and it sails fastest when on heel. The chart below plots Nacra‘s Boat Speed vs Real Wind Angle for a solo skipper using a constant, “default” Real Wind Speed of 15 kn. The solid blue line shows the data for a boat sailing with Main+Jib, and the solid red line gives the same information for the Main+Genniker.

As you can see, the Nacra 17 has a wide range of effective headings that should make it relatively easy to cruise or race. Even with a RWA of 24°, the boat can do 60% of Real Wind Speed. Peak performance is on a beam or broad reach, where the boat hits 120% RWS with the Genniker up.

According to the manual, a good skipper can even get the boat to plane at high speed  on a downwind run, if the boat is riding nearly flat. I haven’t intentionally tried to plane the boat yet, but in lots of sailing with a 15 kn breeze I never saw that effect. It probably takes a stiffer breeze or maybe a better skipper. 🙂

Nacra 17 polar Dec13

In any event, the chart above superimposes data from two other catamarans, the the Trudeau HepCat and the WildWind Wildcat45. The Wildcat turns out to be the fastest of the three (GREEN dashed line above). It has the best upwind performance and a broad range of angles where the boat reaches or exceeds 120% of RWS. That’s no surprise at all, since the Wildcat45 is modeled after the America’s Cup 45 racer, a much larger and intentionally overpowered boat. 🙂 The Nacra 17 is also pretty high-tech, but as the Olympic boat it needs to appeal to a much broader sailing base at a far cheaper total package price. It shouldn’t match the AC45’s speediness in in either RL or in SL.

The Trudeau HepCat’s performance is shown by the PURPLE dashed line on the above chart. It’s the slowest of the three boats, but it should really wear that distinction like a badge of honor. The HepCat’s modeled after the Hobie 16, a boat that is huge fun to sail but without the pretensions of the other two racers. (I guarantee that SL is the only place anyone would ever put up a chart comparing the performance of an AC45 and a Hobie Cat. 🙂 )

It’s interesting to note that all three boats have curves that peak-out at around 120% RWS, so they are a very speedy group. The difference between them has more to do with upwind performance, and how quickly boat speed drops off on far downwind headings.

Nacra17 test drive

Test Tracking Nacra 17

To see how the numbers on the above chart actually affected sail performance, I did a series of repetitive “hot laps” in the Nacra 17, WildCat45, and HepCat and then compared time scores. In that simple test, the Nacra 17 was easily 30% faster than the HepCat overall. The Nacra in turn was 7% slower than Wildcat45, which is still a very good showing in a truly fast crowd of boats.

Those hotlap results are consistent with the speed plots discussed above, and the boat builders’ intentions for each of these vessels.

Doing a large number of repetitive hot laps also makes it easier to get a feel for the boat handling and to see if there are consistent problems that crop up as you sail over the same route many times. In that context I thought the Narca 17 stood up well. The boat is relatively easy to sail, it survives problematic sim crossings, there are very few obvious ‘glitches,’ the polar looks good, and the boat can carve a realistic, sharp turn.

On the downside, in my hands the Narca 17 has a mild lee helm that tends to slowly turn its nose away from the wind unless a skipper redirects it. Most SL boats have a helm bias, so this is no big issue.

I also think the Nacra 17 has poor tiller response. In my hands, most of the time a single tap (or even two or three quick taps) on a L-R arrow key has no tiller effect at all on boat heading. It often takes multiple taps to get the helm’s attention, and that commonly produces an over-correction when the boat finally listens. It takes practice to get it right.

This is an issue, but again it’s not a huge one. The Loonetta 31 has a much worse version of this tiller problem, but I hear few complaints about it from owners. I’ll be interested to see what racers think.

Nacra test drive

Bottom Line

The Mesh Shop Narca 17 is the latest release in Kain Xenobuilder’s fleet of detailed, contemporary sail racers.It’s the SL version of the high-tech catamaran that’s scheduled to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics. With this boat Second Life sailors get a chance to grab the tiller and go for a joy ride way ahead of any Olympic sobriety tests.

All kidding aside, the boat is beautifully constructed, and it’s fueled by Becca Moulliez’ latest BWind iteration. Although I’ve only sailed it for a week, I’m happy to report the boat is fast, reliable, and true to its real life origins. This is a boat you can bring home to meet Mom and Dad for the holidays. (Get them to crew 🙂 )

The boat’s biggest strengths are it’s great mesh build and it’s BWind 2.5 sail engine; it’s well-balanced and huge fun to sail for two people. However, the Nacra 17 is not WWC compliant, and it lacks Wind Shadow. If those issues are not a factor for you, this boat could be a great choice as your next two-person catamaran.

Go take a look, give it a spin, and see what you think.

Nacra 17 catamaran

Mesh Shop Nacra 17 Regatta

To share his excitement over the launch of the new Nacra 17 in Second Life, (Dutch) Kain Xenobuilder  is planning a Regatta Party next Friday, December 21 at 2:00pm over at The Mesh Shop in Tschotcke. Dutch will provide the details as the event approaches, but I understand Bennythe Boozehound will be there spinning tunes, and sailing is involved. 🙂

Here’s Dutch’s poster for the event. I don’t know who Sepph is, but that’s the boat behind her right hip, in case you missed it.




Ad Gloriam Francois

Two weeks ago Jacqueline Trudeau launched the Francois Jacques, her latest addition to the Trudeau Classic Yacht fleet. The new release was the centerpiece for an American Red Cross fundraiser that collected L$300,000 to support the victims of Hurricane Sandy. The event was also a fitting memorial to François Jacques, the new vessel’s namesake.

I was away sailing and sadly missed the launch. However, I know full-well that Francois would be thrilled to know her memory is kept alive and embodied in an icon she held most dear in Second Life: a Trudeau Classic Sailboat.


The new Trudeau Francois Jacques is modeled after GlorianaNathaniel Herreshoff‘s legendary 1891 racer. Herreshoff not only designed and built Gloriana; he personally skippered her to eight consecutive victories on the water during the 1891 race season. The boat proved faster than anything else afloat in the 46ft-class.

What made Gloriana so special? That’s a complex question that deserves a multifaceted answer, but let me list at least a few Gloriana features that are also prominent in the Trudeau version of this classic.

  1.  Gloriana had a tapered- wedge bow that made it efficient – and speedy -as it cut through the water.
  2. It also had a supersized bowsprit and a boom that far overhung the stern. That design took advantage of the “length-and-sail-area” rule  that favored boats with a small water line and a large sail plan.
  3. The Gloriana had a full, deep keel with a modern front cutaway that counterbalanced the huge sail plan without sacrificing speed.

Each of these features were incorporated into the designs of many yachts in the decades that followed.



Gloriana‘s innovative design and solid build brought instant attention and acclaim to Herreshoff Yachts,  and it set the stage for Herreshoff’s emergence as the most heralded boatbuilder of the past century.

To quote Richard Simpson:

“The victories of the Gloriana immediately elevated Capt. Nat to the forefront of American designers, and led to his six successful defenses of the America’s Cup.”

The Girl in the Boat

The new Trudeau boat is named in memory of Francois Jacques.

I first met Fran soon after I joined Second Life in 2006. RJ Kikuchiyo told me I should talk to her; he said Fran could best teach me to sail in SL. As usual, he was right.

Over the six years that followed I held a front-row seat watching François quietly evolve into a keystone of the virtual sailing community. She was the heart, head, and lifeblood of so much we now take for granted in SLSailing.

FJ had uncritical affection and respect for every wind-powered vessel in Second Life and I’m pretty certain she owned them all, but  she had true passion and a special love for the Classic Yachts in the Trudeau fleet.  Jacqueline Trudeau has already told this tale, and although I have much more to add I’ll defer that to another day. Today I want to focus on the boat. Actually so did Francois…

Two days before she left SL for the final time,  FJ contacted me to chat. As usual she had a long to-do list of projects to discuss, but Gloriana was at the top of her agenda. She had just seen the new hull Jacqueline Trudeau was working on, and she knew Gloriana’s history. FJ was bubbling over with excitement to start planning a new regatta around the boat. She wasn’t the only one; a few weeks earlier at the SFL charity auction Blackbird Latte contributed a whopping L$25,200 to get a future Trudeau Gloriana.  I thought this was pretty amazing, since when BB placed that winning bid the Trudeau Gloriana was total vaporware. It was just an idea and a couple sketches by JT. (Well, sometimes a few notes scratched on a cocktail napkin are enough to get things rolling… 🙂 )

In any event, on the night FJ and I talked about Gloriana we agreed to put off discussion about a regatta. We shared the excitement, but after all, the boat wasn’t even in beta, and I argued we had all the time in the world to plan.

Well, I was wrong. Two days later FJ was suddenly gone.

It’s impossible to make sense of such a loss. Perhaps all we can do is pledge to keep their spirit alive through our thoughts and deeds, while we hold each other close. In that spirit Jacqueline Trudeau rechristened her Gloriana project, naming it Francois Jacques.

The Francois Jacques by Trudeau

The new Francois Jacques is quintessentially Trudeau, with a traditional hull design and sail plan that are flawlessly executed.

The dimensions of the François are slightly downsized from the real-life Gloriana; in SL Francois measures 19.9m LOA, 10.6m LWL and 3.34m beam, with a 2.66m draft. That’s even smaller than the Trudeau New York 30 (see below), a fact that makes the boat more easily maneuverable in a tight channel or on a busy race line.

Be careful though; unlike the NY30, the François has a large, physical bowsprit that can get you in trouble if you don’t watch out. 🙂

bowsprintIn the  figure to the right, the tip of the bowsprit neatly bangs into a race line buoy. However, in common with several other Trudeau boats, the boom, stays and sails are all phantom while the mast is physical.

The boat is built from of sculpties, but it’s carefully constructed so the collision boundaries of the hull closely correspond to the visible boat. And despite the typical high level of Trudeau detail, the vessel weighs in with a mere LOD of 53. That size should fit within the budget of even the most prim-conscious skippers.

Speaking of details, the rig is rather beautifully adorned with five sails crafted by Bunnie Mills. The main and jib/staysail can be adjusted independently using the HUD or chat commands, and the two topsails (shown in red above) can be stowed to avoid excessive heel in high winds.

Of course, all the sails have visible and audible luffing, thanks to Trudeau’s groundbreaking TruSail system that was was first introduced with Trudeau ONE.

The boat has a nice, traditional cabin forward of the cockpit with ample space to sleep two. If you’re old enough to remember the Trudeau Knockabout (the most popular TCY boat ever launched), the Francois’ cabin is a major size-upgrade to that classic format. At least now I won’t hit my head on the roof the way I did in my old Knock!


You’ll find the usual extra goodies packed in the Francois‘ sailing kit. The boat comes with three huds, a deployable mooring buoy and line, and a wooden cradle to use when the boat’s in dry dock.

There’s a  lot new under the hood as well. Just to mention a few high points:
The keyboard sail controls are more secure and reliable,
Downwind sail-winging is more realistic,
A Reefing option is back,
The tiller-waggle issue is fixed,
Right-clicking on the hull no longer stops the boat,
The scripts for the diesel are newly reworked, and
The boat’s poses are the best of any Trudeau in the past two years.

Trudeau Trademark

Many of the best features on this boat are not new; they’ve actually become standard trademark features of each new Trudeau release. They include:

– A fully modifiable boat build
– Downloadable original textures for the boat and sails, with easy texture install procedures for both users and third party developers.
– Shared sailing options for two extra crew using chat commands or a multifeature crew HUD;
– Options to set many user features by editing notecards in the boat and HUD;
– The choice of full feature Boat Wind or standard WCC cruising wind;
-Wind shadow that works with all other Trudeau vessels in race mode; and
– An easy card system that allows owners to share the boat with their 2,000 closest friends.  Friends can ‘borrow’ your boat, even when you are offline visiting your parole officer.

The full-featured Two-Sail HUD

Few yacht builders have the confidence to give their owners the host of standard control options available in a Trudeau.


The Francois Jacques is the latest release in the generation of Trudeau boats that share mitochondrial DNA with Trudeau One. If you’ve sailed a recent Trudeau, you will be quite comfortable at the helm of this new cutter. It’s powered to race or cruise alongside similar boats in the Trudeau fleet, including the New York 30, Epicurus, Twelve, and One.

A skipper can handle the boat solo, or share active sailing tasks with up to two additional crew.

The chart shown below-right is a basic plot of Boat Speed as a function of Real Wind Angle for a solo skipper sitting windward with RWS= 10 m/s. The red curve below shows that the boat quickly accelerates as it falls off the wind, reaching a maximum boat speed that’s approximately 80% RWS on a beam reach. That result is comparable to the NY 30 and Trudeau One, but in several ways, that’s where the similarity ends.

Francois Jacques beta polar

Like the original Gloriana, the Francois has an expansive sailplan that overhangs the bow and stern.

With that large rig, the boat heels rather easily and it will generate maximum acceleration with a tilt angle of 10° – 15°. So, unlike the NY30 (or for that matter the Melges 24) that like to sail flat in the water, the François loves to lean. Racing this boat is all about hitting that 10° – 15° heel-angle-sweet-spot and holding it. If you slip out of that rather narrow window, you’ll see your performance quickly go down the drain.


Francois is a traditional 19th century cutter designso sorry kids, there’s no spinnaker, but don’t give up hope sailing downwind! Like the NY30, Francois will let you wing the jib (flip it to the windward side) to get an added power boost. In the NY30, winging the jib increases boat speed on a run by a whopping 25-50%. That size adrenalin rush is pretty unrealistic however, so the Francois brings winging back to planet Earth and sailing reality with a more modest 15-20% boost, depending on conditions.

But please look at the curves above marked ‘wing’ again. The orange curve plots boat speed with the skipper sitting windward, while the blue curve shows it with the skipper sitting leeward. Remember this boat loves to heel, so even with a strong breeze you may well need to hike Leeward to get enough tilt to speed up on a downwind Run.

A Good Heel

As I just mentioned, the big story with this boat is the heel effect. Adjusting the sails and shifting crew position to stay at the optimal angle of 10-15 will strongly enhance boat performance.

Bunnie’s HUD

If you want to race this boat, I’d make two suggestions to make your life easier adjusting the boat heel. The first is to set the camera angle to a point directly behind the boat. That lets you see the heel angle on both port and starboard tacks without perspective distortion. Alternatively, if you own a Trudeau One you can use that boat’s extra camera HUD with the Francois to get the right view.

The second racing suggestion I’d make is to go ask Bunnie Mills for a copy of her Goniometer HUD. While we were beta testing this boat, Bunnie came up with a simple overlay display that shows numerical heel values. It’s a great tool for practice. Pretty quickly the correct heel angle becomes second nature though, so you won’t need the goniometer crutch for long. 🙂

Crew Effect

Gloriana beta balanced

The easiest and best way to adjust the heel angle is to shift crew weight from side to side. Similar to other Trudeau boats, the Francois‘ skipper can sit either Windward or Leeward at the helm, and each crew member has the option to move to one of three hike positions on either side.

A solo skipper will tilt the boat by roughly 5° toward the sit-side, so moving from leeward to windward will reduce heel by a net 10°. A single crew member will have the same effect when sitting all the way out on the rail ( the third hike position). To give you a better sense of this effect, the figure below shows pictures of the different heel angles for a skipper and one crew in all the different combinations.

FJ crew hiking

With real wind speeds up to 9-10 m/s, a solo skipper can do a pretty good job of balancing the boat for optimal performance. To get more insight, look at the first chart below. It plots the maximum boat speed for a single point of sail using different wind intensities. The red bars show the result when the skipper is sitting leeward, and the blue bars show it for the skipper sitting windward.

At low to moderate wind speeds, a boat may not heel sufficiently to get in the 10-15° optimal zone. A skipper sitting on the leeward side can add to the heel in that case, increasing the boat speed as shown by the red bars on the left side of the chart below. However, with stronger wind speeds (>10 m/s) the heel angle quickly exceeds the optimal range causing the performance to plummet, essentially “swamping” the boat. A skipper moving from leeward to windward will reduce that heel by 10°, and potentially get the boat ‘back in the zone.’

Francois Gloriana beta -- skip hike-reef-swamp

Wind speeds over 13 m/s (25.2 kn) are likely too much to handle for a sailor alone in either sit position. In that situation, a skipper needs to (1) stay home, (2) get more crew to sit on the rail, or (3) shorten sail.

Sailing Short

Given the huge expanse of canvas carried by this boat in relation to its size, Trudeau’s prudently included a reefing command that douses the topsails to lessen heel and prevent the boat from swamping.

This effect is very similar to shortening the mainsail in Trudeau Twelve.  Reducing sail will slow the boat under normal wind conditions, but it will prevent a knockdown with gale winds or a strong gust. The second bar graph in the figure above shows this effect. It plots Boat Speed as a function of Real Wind Speed under full sail (BLUE) or with topsails doused (GREEN). From RWS 2-11, there’s a near linear increase in boat speed, but boat speed tops out at RWS 11-13. In that range the boat is heeling excessively and more wind just makes the problem worse. Under the test conditions the boat then totally fails at RWS 14, as it heels way over and  speed drops to < 1.0 m/s. It’s ‘swamped.’

However, if you look at the reefed GREEN bars you see that a short-sailed boat keeps going, even with RWS 14. So if you’re sailing in a major blow or in a race with strong gusts, reefing can keep you in the game. 🙂

Be careful if you decide to use this option though. It’s a hassle in RL to take down extra sails or set a main reef point under stormy conditions and Trudeau’s factored that into Francois‘ scripts. You will pay a brief speed penalty each time you make a sail change by reefing this boat.

OK, some of this can be tricky, so let me give you one more example to illustrate the importance of heel. In the figure below, the left image shows a boat under full sail with a heading of AWA 60°. Even though the Real Wind is blowing at 12 m/s, the boat is stalled with a speed over ground of only 1.4 m/s. That’s because the heel angle is 24°, far over the optimal range.

heel and jib

In the picture to the right, only one thing changed: the jib was dropped, so the boat’s only powered by the main. That reduction in sail brings the boat back to a heel angle of 15 and the boat quickly jumps to over three times the former boat speed. Of course without a jib the boat peaks out at only 4.3 m/s, so this is no race winning strategy. 🙂 It simply emphasizes the relative importance of heel angle in this boat.

Waggle Gone

Speaking of heeling adjustments, with the Francois it looks like Jacqueline Trudeau’s fixed a long-standing “script exploit” found in Trudeau boats and several others (at least back to Fizz 2.0). I’m talking about the tiller waggle effect. If a boat starts to excessively heel, the skipper can often override it by rapidly moving the tiller back-and-forth. The figure below shows what I’m talking about in an early beta boat, but the same thing happens in T-One.

On the left side of the figure the boat is swamped with skipper and crew both sitting leeward producing a severe heel angle of 57°. However, after waggling the tiller for a few seconds the boat bounces back upright and it starts to make headway again. This is a script exploint that can provide an unfair advantage in a race.

no waggle effect

Well, it looks like the fix is in with Francois!

In the new Francois Jacques v1.1, waggling the tiller can still reduce boat heel, but that results in minimal acceleration, as shown in the figure to the right. This is a nice improvement for an old problem that affects many boats!


The Francois Jacques is the newest release by Trudeau Yachts, and it shares many features with its sister boats in the current Trudeau fleet. The sculpti build is flawless, and the boat’s size and cuddy cabin make it perfect for a multipurpose daysailor, coastal cruiser, or club racer. 🙂

The boat is far more than a T-One knockoff, however. The Francois Jacques offers unique performance and handling features that are a tribute to it’s Herreshoff Gloriana origins. It’s a fun challenge to sail, and it truly flies with a stiff breeze and two able crew sitting on the rail.

So let me offer Mega Kudos to Jacqueline Trudeau for a great boat that brings to life the grace, beauty, and performance of a legendary sailboat. It’s a truly wonderful and lasting tribute to the memory of our friend Francois Jacques, who will always remain in the hopes and hearts of sailors everywhere.

When I think of the loss of such a close friend, I admit that words often fail me here. When that happens, I’ll now hold tight to this boat, raise sail, and for a moment be with Francois again. Thank you, JT.