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. 🙂

T-1

HANDICAP HOTLAPS 2013


HH2013

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! 🙂

hotlapsposters

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!

FIYC

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.”
http://slsailing.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=2224#2224

Apr 5 2007: Handicapping sailors
A discussion of ‘handicapping sailors’ versus handicapping their boats.
http://slsailing.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=722

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.
http://slsailing.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1524

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…
http://slsailing.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1550

Nov 26 2007: Trudeau Handicap Hotlaps
Nine pages of laps, data, discussion about performance handicapping.
http://slsailing.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1555&highlight=phrf++handicap%2A

JANUARY 3 2008: PHRF Hotlaps summary
http://slsailing.com/archives/180

Feb 3 2008: Adding It All Up
February 2008 update of lap data and handicap scores.
https://metaversesailing.wordpress.com/phrf/adding-it-all-up-february-3rd-2008/

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)
http://www.slsailing.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1837

FEBRUARY 11 2008: PHRF Summary
http://slsailing.com/archives/232

Jun-Oct 2008 PHRF Handicap Hotlaps
12 pages of discussion and data from 2008
http://slsailing.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2246

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.
http://slsailing.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2426

AUG 10 2008: FIYC Hotlaps
PHRF discussion and data on Epicurus Emmons’ FIYC course.
The results paralleled all the others.
http://slsailing.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2434

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.
https://metaversesailing.wordpress.com/phrf/phrf-hotlaps-2009/

Apr 2009: Madaket wind setter out of date – why?
“Unhelpful whining.”
http://www.slsailing.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3148

Apr 14 2009: PHRF 2009 Madaket Hotlaps Discussion Thread
Discussion of the new Madaket web-based hotlaps system.
http://slsailing.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3159

June 2009: June PHRF Update
Summary of the Madaket data compared to 2008.
https://metaversesailing.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/june-phrf-update/

July 19 2009: PHRF Update, WildWind
More Madaket data, discussion of WildWind boats, concern different wind engines could yield less reliable comparisons.
https://metaversesailing.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/phrf-handicaps-wild-winds/

May-July 2009: RCJ-44 and JMO-60
Specific discussions of performance data for these boats:
https://metaversesailing.wordpress.com/2009/05/26/fast-forty-four/
https://metaversesailing.wordpress.com/2009/07/07/windwind-jmo-60-quick-look/

August 11, 2009: Discussion of Wildwind apparent wind factors and impact on testing.
http://metaversesailing.net/2009/08/11/phrf-handicaps-wild-winds/

November 20, 2009: Summary results for different boats.
http://metaversesailing.net/2009/11/20/november-phrf-update/

April 12 2010: Summary results for 2009 http://metaversesailing.net/2010/04/12/phrf-update-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.
http://metaversesailing.net/2010/04/20/new-phrf-numbers-a-classy-standard-but-more-wild-boats/

Mixed Fleet 4 Jan 2010a

Nacra 17 Regatta December 21

I know the boat’s in that picture someplace…

WAYPOINT LEETLE CAT DISTANCE RACE 2012

 

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 

LCDR2012a

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
TOYS FOR TOTS EVENT

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

POINSETTIA BALL

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.

Performance

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.

HUDs

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

Numbers

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.

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