Monthly Archives: February 2013

Caf Binder Wins Sail4Life Logo Contest


Sail4Life 2013 Logo

SL’s annual Relay For Life fundraiser kicks off in a few weeks, and the Sail4Life team is hard at work planning events for the SLSailing community. Each year, S4L begins the process with a Logo Competition. That Logo stands for the spirit and commitment of sailors as all join in support for cancer research.

Nber annouces the winner

Nber announces the winner

Thank you to all who submitted logos or helped organize the contest over the past two weeks. When it came down to a final vote to choose among the designs, one anonymous graphic stood out from the rest, and the committee’s vote was unanimous!

Nber Medici was in charge of this year’s contest, and right after the votes were in, she opened the magic envelope with the artist’s name. This year’s winning design is by Caf Binder!!

Frankly, I admit nobody was surprised at that. 🙂

Caf Binder is very well known across the SL grid; He is easily one of the most talented designers and original boatwrights in the SLSailing community.

Go Caf Binder!

 I don’t say that lightly, either. If you were around back then, you may recall that Caf Binder’s first boat, the Jangers, had one of the most advanced script engines of any sailboat when it was released. Caf is perhaps best known however for his phenomenal upgrade of the ACA33. After 2 1/2 years, it’s still one of the most popular boats in SLSailing. 

S4L is proud to have Caf Binders’ design as it’s masthead and theme as the Relay campaign begins. Wonderful job, Caf!

Speaking of which…

SLSailing is full of smart, creative people like Caf Binder; S4L needs their help too. Actually, in case you haven’t figured it out, that means you.

Chaos Mandelbrot is this year’s S4L team captain, and he wants your input; he has a goal to expand involvement and participation to all sailors, grid-wide.

So please think about it:  Do you have an event you would like to sponsor with S4L? Maybe you have skills to help with scripting or event coordination? Or maybe you have strong opinions about the process, and want your voice heard?

Well, GREAT. Let me repeat that Sail4Life is the major SL charity fundraiser of the year, and community support and involvement is vitally important for its success. Sail4Life will only work if it has your support.

I appreciate most sailors are too busy to organize an event, but that’s okay too! Flaunt your support by showing up at any of the S4L sponsored events over the next few months. There’s going to be something for everyone; lots of sailboat races and cruises, over-the-edge parties with loud music, and even a couple events that could get Kentrock and Allie arrested by the SL Vice Squad. 🙂

Oh, and if you have trouble getting into any overcrowded sims to attend those events… Just tell the Linden Bouncer at the rope line:

“Caf Binder sent me.”

Caf demo’ing the ACA33 3.0

Hotlaps tops 300

hepurn thurs

Woots! Kudos to LucyInThe Sky Afarensis; yesterday she posted lap #300 to the Hotlaps spreadsheet! She hit that tercentennial ceiling in real style too, by adding a new boat class to the list: The ACA Racer Tiny. 🙂

On the six Hotlaps courses to date, a total of 54 skippers have sailed 305 laps in 33 different boats. Wowzers! Here’s the current list of skippers who did all that sailing, colored-coded for the spreadsheets:

skippers 54

And next, here’s a copy of the current, active spreadsheet for the Plum Gut course. Individual lap scores are arranged in columns based on boat class, and the colors for each entry identify the skipper. As highlited below, there’s a set of tabs at the very bottom of the sheet that allow a user to switch to different pages in order to view individual race line results, raw entry data, or summary sheets.

Sailors can even edit the various spreadsheet pages. If you make a mistake filling out the entry form, you can go to the Lap data page, find the error there and correct it. If any Hotlaps user wants to rearrange or sort the data for a particular page, please feel free to open a new tab on the spreadsheet to do that. You can then copy the data you’re interested in to your new page for editing, and leave the original intact.

plum gut feb24

click to enlarge

Of course Plum Gut is just one of the six Hotlaps venues. There are five more.

This collected lap data has many potential uses. Individual sailors can follow their own laptimes to see if different sailing strategies make a measurable difference in their scores, or they can compare how their times match up against other sailors in the fleet.

The hotlaps data also makes it possible to “performance handicap” the many, popular boats in SLSailing. As I’ve discussed before, that’s done by comparing the average lap time for a given boat on a particular racecourse against the same information for a standard, “index” boat: The Melges-24. After nearly two months of data collection, the Melges is looking like a great index, for a dozen reasons I wont bore you about here. If you own a Quest Melges-24, you likely know the reasons already. 🙂

Anyway, here’s the handicap table as of yesterday. Below, the table to the left shows the handicap factors for boats on each of the six hotlaps courses (where the data is available). The table on the right shows the average handicap score for each of those boats, with the associated standard deviation for the small sample of values in each case.

summary tables feb25

So, how useful and reliable are the handicap factors?

Well, that’s what were still trying to figure out, but let me briefly talk about three points that came up in last Thursday’s Midnight Madness races.

hepurn feb21

Midnight Madness is a fun, multiclass race every Thursday at 9:00 pm, cosponsored by Danshire and Eden Bay Yacht Clubs. At the moment I’m using  Madness results to calculate potential handicap ‘adjustments’ and comparing them to the uncorrected, “normal” finish times.

As usual, a small but really great group of skippers showed up this past Thursday to race the Hepurn Hotlaps course. Here’s the result for race one.

Race One Lap Times: 
 Chaos Mandelbrot   M24 crewed — Start: 00:05  —  Last lap: 00:10:32
 Kris Hollysharp   M24 — Start: 00:01  —  Last lap: 00:11:18
 SteveLL Resident   Q2M — Start: 00:11  —  Last lap: 00:15:01
 qwerty Qork   IDQQ99 — Start: 00:02  —  Last lap: not finished
 Glorfindel Arrow   IDA81  — Start: 00:06  —  Last lap: not finished
Race One Results:
 1: Chaos Mandelbrot  (M24 crewed, 1.10) — 10:37 — corrected 11:40
 2: Kris Hollysharp   (M24, 1.00) — 11:19 — corrected 11:19
 3: SteveLL Resident   (2M, 0.76) — 15:12 — corrected 11:36
 4: qwerty Qork   IDQQ99 — not Finished
 5: Glorfindel Arrow   (M24, 1.0)  — not Finished
Unfortunately, qwerty and Glorf both crashed. Chaos and Kris both sailed Melges-24, and SteveLL sailed a Q2M.
R1 start
Kris was aggressive, extremely adept, and crossed the start line 4 seconds ahead of Chaos and Jane. However, a crewed Melges-24 can sail faster than one with a solo skipper, so Chaos was able to pull even with Kris and eventually pass her about midway through the course. Chaos went on to finish first, with an 18 sec. lead over Kris.
Looking at the prior handicaps however, a crew member gives an M-24 a roughly 10% performance advantage. Chaos’ corrected lap time would then be 11:40, a full minute behind Kris!
A similar issue came up with SteveLL. He was sailing a Quest 2-M, which is a much slower boat than the Melges-24. Steve cross the finish line a full 4 min. behind the lead boats, and there’s really no chance he could win a race without handicap adjustments.
However, factoring in the current handicap for the Q2-M (0.76) Steve’s corrected finish time becomes 11:36, a score that’s directly competitive with the two Melges in the race. In fact, with corrected scores Steve nosed out Chaos for Second Place!
second race finish
For the Second Race, a wondrous thing happened. There was a bright light from above, the heavens opened up, and Pensive Mission appeared at the race line, holding on to his Tako. pm and cmAlthough Pensive only makes rare appearances in regattas these days, he was one of Mowry Bay’s original Mow-Mows, and his skill with a Tako is part of SL’s nautical lore.
Well, in the Second Race we got a chance to see that legendary Boatman of the Mowry Apocalypse ride his Tako around Hepurn’s waters once more.
The Tako is quite a speedy boat and it’s powered by a real wind engine that makes beating to windward less of a hassle than most new boats. Thanks to Slanty Uriza, we also have a handicap from the Sulu Hotlaps Course. It’s 1.03, a close match for the Melges-24, so it made sense that Pensive was able to keep in close lockstep with both Chaos and Kris as the boats zoomed around the course.
A pleasant surprise occurred at the end of the race however, as I tallied up the scores. Since the Tako uses a very different wind engine, I wasn’t sure how “portable” the handicap factors might be within a mixed fleet or across different race courses. Well, to get a partial answer to that question I used Pensive’s single lap score to calculate a new Tako handicap for the Hepurn line.
Pensive’s Hepurn handicap worked out to 1.03, an exact match for Slanty’s Tako handicap using the Sulu line!! 🙂
 It looks like the handicap factors are proving to be both valid and consistent. That’s a nice thing. 🙂
Race Two Lap Times:
 Chaos Mandelbrot   IDCM91 — Start: 0:03  —  Last lap: 10:05
 Kris Hollysharp   IDKH47 — Start: 0:03  —  Last lap: 10:36
 Pensive Mission   ID25  — Start: 0:02  —  Last lap: 10:47
 Glorfindel Arrow   IDA81  — Start: 0:02  —  Last lap: 13:22
 SteveLL Resident   IDJB25 — Start: 0:05  —  Last lap: 14:40

Race Two Results:
1: Chaos Mandelbrot  M24 crew, 1.10 — 10:08 — Corrected 11:09
2: Kris Hollysharp   M24, 1.0 — 10:39 — Corrected 10:39
3: Pensive Mission   Tako 3.3 (1.03)  — 10:49 — Corrected 11:08
4: Glorfindel Arrow   M24, 1.0  — 13:24 — Corrected 13:24
5: SteveLL Resident   IDJB25 — 00:14:45 — Corrected 11:14

Midnight Madness February 21

Thursday madness 2013

On Thursday February 21 we’ll hold the second installment of  the Midnight Madness multiclass races. You can read about it here and see last week’s results here!

This week’s race will take off from the Hepurn raceline in Mowry Bay at 9:00pm; here’s the chart:

Mowry Bay Boat Club Hotlaps 2013

The wind is 15kt, 225deg (SW), with no variance.

Come join us, and sail any boat you want!!
We’ll use Handicaps again to figure out if anybody won. 🙂
You just bring the boat…

See you in Hepurn at 9:00pm Thursday!

Spoondrift Midnight Madness

[This event is cosponsored by Eden Bay and Danshire Yacht Clubs, as well as the Mare Sail Center and Mowry Bay Boat Club.]

Don and Roan Update

don and Roan One World

Yesterday Roan Blackburn posted an in-world announcement updating sailors about Don Berthios’ recent activities. I’m happy to repost her note here.  Roan said:


Don is covering the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Selection Series in San Francisco this week, where teams of young sailors from around the world are competing in AC45’s for a chance to race in the RBYAC’s regatta that will follow the Louis Vuitton Cup and precede the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco this summer.

As you may know, Oracle Racing Team’s AC72 capsized in October and was severely damaged. Parts of the wing have been used in various ways, such as the Flugtag event in November where teams see how far they can launch eclectic flying devices into the water from a 30 ft. platform. And Jimmy Spithill, Oracle Racing Team Skipper, held a contest and gave away a piece of the wing to the person who best answered his question on how fans could help Oracle Racing Team proceed following destruction of their boat. Out of thousands of suggestions submitted, Jimmy selected Don’s and Don won the piece of the wing!

Don donated the piece to Golden Gate Yacht Club’s Youth Sailing program. Last night at the Club’s Youth Sailing Fundraiser, the piece was auctioned off for $1,400 with all proceeds going to the Club’s youth program. Don was given a standing ovation for his contribution and it was the highlight of his evening.

And FYI, yesterday was also the 3rd Anniversary of GGYC and Oracle Racing Team skippered by Jimmy Spithill winning the 33rd America’s Cup off Valencia, Spain.


Nice work, Don and Roan!

Now I hope we get an update from Island Yacht Club‘s Dale Irata too!

Heres a poster to remind SL sailors of the ambitious, two-month long  “SL Vuitton” trophy regatta that Don successfully staged back in 201o. If you search back to that year, you’ll find has write-ups that detail many of the SLVT competition rounds; the match racing was rather great! 🙂


Adjustment Bureau

Mixed numbers

On February 14 a handful of hardy sailors converged on North Sea’s Breadnut raceline for a fun, mixed fleet race. We did two heats on the North Sea Hotlaps course, and everyone sailed a different boat class. Since the sim conditions were pretty good,  I thought it might be interesting to look at the results using the Handicap factors. Handicapping might “level the playing field,” and allow different boats to fairly compete with each other.

Feb14 mixed fleet

Here are the lap times for the five boats in the first race:
Race One Lap Times: 
Chaos Mandelbrot   IDCM91 — Start: 00:00:16  —  Last lap: 00:11:54
Melges-24 Handicap= 1.00
 takabou Destiny   ID0021 — Start: 00:01:48  —  Last lap: 00:12:15
Q IACC Handicap=0.92 
 Brett Kjeller   ID157 — Start: 00:00:27  —  Last lap: 00:15:19 –
RM12 new Handicap 0.75
 SteveLL Resident   IDJB25 — Start: 00:01:09  —  Last lap: 00:15:15
Q 2M handicap 0.77
 lesbo Charisma   ID159 — Start: 00:01:45  —  Last lap: 00:16:18
FranJac handicap 0.75
feb 16 handicaps
For each boat above I’ve also listed the handicap correction factor in red, based on the Hotlaps data for the Breadnut raceline, where available. Click on the figure to the right to get the current Handicap Summary Table, based on 269 laps sailed by 50 skippers in 32 different boat classes.
For each of the five boats in the race, I then corrected the Finish time by multiplying the boat’s lap time by the Handicap factor, then adding that result to the Start time. (I didn’t think it made sense to handicap the Start times). Anyway, here’s the actual Finish rank, with the corrected times shown in red.
Race Results:
 1: Chaos Mandelbrot   Melges-24 — 00:12:10 corrected: 00:12:10
 2: takabou Destiny   Q IACC — 00:14:03 corrected: 13:06
 3: Brett Kjeller   RM 12 — 00:15:46 corrected: 11:56
 4: SteveLL Resident   Q 2M — 00:16:24 corrected 13:20
 5: lesbo Charisma   FranJac — 00:18:03 corrected: 13:58
Chaos Mandelbrot crossed the Finish line first, sailing a Melges-24. The M-24 is the “Handicap Index” boat, so it needs no correction. Takabou Destiny crossed second in a Q IACC, which is 0.92 as fast as the M-24; adjusting for that handicap took 57 sec off Tak’s Finish time. Chaos still beat takabou, but only because Chaos crossed the Start line first; Tak actually sailed the faster time-corrected lap. 🙂
Lesbo Charisma sailed a Francois Jacques and crossed the Finish in the #5 slot. Lesbo in FranJacThe FranJac is a great boat, but it’s considerably slower than the Melges-24.
Lesbo’s uncorrected time was six minutes behind Chaos. However if you adjust for the handicap (.75) her time is 13:58. Like takabou, Lesbo was late getting started; her corrected lap time was 12:13, a number that is suddenly competitive with Chaos’ 11:38 and tak’s 11:18 handicapped lap times. 🙂
SteveLL Resident sailed a Quest 2M and ranked #4 crossing the Finish. There was no handicap available for the Q2M on the Breadnut line, so I used the Plum Gut Q2M handicap of 0.77
From past Hotlaps series, I’m pretty convinced the results from one standard course can be applied to most other courses.
You want proof of that (grin)? SteveLL sailed both race heats on July 14. Since we were racing the North Sea Hotlaps Course and using the Hotlaps wind, I took Steve’s race laps and used them to calculate a new Q2M handicap for the Breadnut line. It came in at 0.77, exactly matching the Plum Gut result! 🙂 SteveLL’s corrected Finish time was therefore  13:20, entrenching him in the #4 slot for the first heat. 🙂
Brett Kjeller raced a shiny, new RM12 and Finished #3. There are no data for that boat on any of the Hotlap racelines. Brett’s laps can be used to set a new Handicap for the RM 12, but those numbers really can’t be used to adjust his own time in the same race.  🙂
However, it’s worth commenting that Brett’s lap scores from this race would yield a first-guess handicap of 0.75; if that number’s confirmed by more hotlaps, it would compare favorably with the FranJac (0.75) and Q2M (o.77) that were also part of this small, mixed fleet.
Here are the the results for the second race, again with handicap corrections added in red. I think the idea to handicap mixed fleet races is interesting, and there are probably several ways to do it. Using the hotlaps numbers is one method that might turn out valid and reliable over time.
Another method might be to simply group together boats that have a similar Handicap score; races often treat the VO-70 and OD-65 as though they were equivalent; the same is true for the ACA33 3.x and the Quest IACC,  as well as the Trudeau One, FranJac, and New York 30. Whether these boats can fairly compete with each other in a race is a question that might be answered, at least in part, by the Hotlaps project.
For the moment, it’s just fun to play with the numbers, and recall such great racing with friends. 🙂
Race Two Lap Times:
 Chaos Mandelbrot   IDCM91 — Start: 00:00:11  —  Last lap: 00:11:40
 takabou Destiny   ID0021 — Start: 00:00:50  —  Last lap: 00:13:15
 SteveLL Resident   IDJB25 — Start: 00:00:26  —  Last lap: 00:14:59
 Brett Kjeller   ID157 — Start: 00:00:26  —  Last lap: 00:15:32
 lesbo Charisma   ID2159 — Start: 00:00:38  —  Last lap: not finished
Race Two Results:
 1: Chaos Mandelbrot   Melges-24 — 00:11:51 corrected:00:11:51
 2: takabou Destiny   Q IACC — 00:14:05 corrected 13:03
 3: SteveLL Resident   Q 2M — 00:15:25 corrected 12:24
 4: Brett Kjeller   RM12 — 00:15:58 corrected 12:05
 5: lesbo Charisma   FranJac — not Finished
mixed nuts

Barney Dies, Pope Resigns, Midnight Madness Returns

Spoondrift Midnight Madness

Last week George W. Bush’s office announced that Barney, the USA ex-President’s Scottish Terrier, had passed away.
Barney_LogoBefore the full impact of this sad news could sink in, Pope Benedict XVI abruptly announced his own resignation.

OK, I know many of you thought these events were somehow linked, and their temporal correlation could not  be attributed to mere happenstance.

North Sea Hotlaps 2013 v103Be that as it may, I think we owe a tribute to both Barney and Benedict, and so I’m dedicating tonight’s Midnight Madness sail to this B&B Dynamic Duo.

We’ll meet at 9:00PM at the Breadnut Line in North Sea, and do a couple rounds of the Hotlaps Course. The wind is 15kt and 225deg, with no variance.

As you sail the route, don’t forget when you tack on a dog-leg of the course, be sure to give a Woot for Barney!

See you on the water for Thursday Midnight Madness, courtesy of Danshire Yacht Club and Eden Yacht and Boat Club. 🙂

Thursday madness 2013

Sail4Life Logo Contest Ends Friday

ACS 003The Sail4Life Logo Contest ends this week! If you have an idea or concept for the logo, pull out your digital pen, paint it out in broad strokes and bright colors, and send it over to Nber Medici.

We all know the SL Sailing community is chock-full of amazing, talented, and generous people; each year S4L gets to showcase the logo design of one special artist from our group. That logo will be proudly displayed on sails, teeshirts, caps, flags, and banners. 

Yes, I know what you are thinking, and you’re right! In a thoughtless moment, someone will undoubtedly also tattoo that logo on their ass. It will show how much they love SL Sailing, and how much they believe in our common cause to cure cancer. When that happens, help them make the moment memorable. Make it your graphic! 🙂

So OK, you get the drift. Go read my earlier post to get the details, and find out how you can submit your entry for this year’s S4L Logo Graphic Contest!

sail for life mainsail


Schiffsratten 5.0

schiffsratten 5

This weekend the Schiffsratten celebrate five years of sailing in Second Life. Drop by the SrYC clubhouse on Friday, February 15 and join in the party!

Here’s a copy of the schedule, but check the Schiffsratten Blog for all the details!


Go Rats!


Laser One

Laser One header

Noodles and Dutch getting wet

This week “Dutch” Kain Xenobuilder launched the Laser One, his latest addition to The Mesh Shop fleet. Laser One is a two-person racing dinghy that emulates the popular Laser, and it incorporates many of the innovative features found in Dutch’s earlier boats.

Laser Class

laserThe ‘real’ Laser was first introduced over forty years ago at the 1971 New York Boat Show. The cat-rigged dinghy was inexpensive, easily transported on a car roof, and very fast. It quickly caught the attention of the RL sailing community, and within three years the first World Championship was held. In 1996 the Laser was added to the Olympic sailing competition roster too.

The boat remains extremely popular now. An estimated 200,000 Lasers have been built so far.

The One Design specs are set by the  International Laser Class Association, and three versions of the boat are commonly recognized for racing. Although the Laser can hold two sailors, the great majority of competition is single-handed.

olympic lasers

Here’s a vid to get you going:

If you have the time, now check out the London 2012 Olympic Laser medal race!

Mesh Shop Laser

Dutch Xenobuilder is well-known for the detail and accuracy he puts into his Mesh boats, and the new Laser One continues that tradition.

two lasers

The boat faithfully recreates the physical dimensions of the Laser design spec, and it goes a good deal further. The image above compares the new, 100% Mesh build with Kephra Nurmi’s prim version of the Laser from 2009. Kephra’s a great boatbuilder who strove to make his Laser as realistic as possible. However,  three years ago the tools were simply not available to provide the wealth of detail that abounds in the new Xenobuilder boat.

details laser rig

click to enlarge

Let me show you what I’m talking about. If you check out Kephra’s green and white 2009 Laser above, you quickly notice that the sheets, rigging, and hardware needed to manage the sails are all missing. They simply wouldn’t fit within the SL prim limit.

Now look at the new Mesh Shop build. All that important stuff is now present, and the detailing is remarkably true to the real Laser. To illustrate my point, in the figure to the right I’ve included three close-up views of the hardware and lines for the mainsheet, the vang, the Cunningham,  and the outhaul.

The images show a lot of fancy details, but how accurate are they? Well, judge for yourself. Here is a diagram of the Laser sail shape adjustment system from one of the online Laser parts suppliers.

laser boom rig

click me

Compare my pictures above to the rigging details for the real boat. I’m impressed the SL Laser One is a very close match to what you could buy in RL. In fact, the match and the detail are so close, I’m willing to bet that’s a Harken vang system on Dutch’s boat. 🙂

Actually, that’s probably a safe bet for me to make, since if you get really close to the blocks, you’ll be able to read the Harken name-logo that’s printed on them. 🙂

Here’s the take-home message: Dutch’s build for this virtual boat is a very close match for the Standard Laser in RL.

Working Centerboard

This is the first Mesh Shop boat that comes with a centerboard, and I’m happy to report that feature is quite nicely implemented, using the PageUp/PageDwn keys. The CB is also physical and adds over a meter to the boat’s draw when fully deployed, so watch those rocks!

However, in contrast to the centerboard the Laser One‘s mast, boom, sails and rigging are all phantom. Although this detracts in some ways from the boat’s realism, Dutch points out that a sailor wouldn’t be able to stand on the boat otherwise. This was a trade-off decision by the builder.

Personal Textures

Dutch has a new, very easy system that allows texture modification for the sails, hull and rigging. A sailor just needs to take one of the included templates, modify it to their liking, then upload it and copy the texture’s UUID code. To install it, the sailor just needs to say “texture [boat part] [UUID code]” and voilà, the boat has a new paint job. You don’t need to edit or unlink anything, or drop files anywhere in the boat!

Laser One performance.

If you’ve sailed other Mesh Shop boats, you’ll be quite comfortable taking the helm of this boat. The new Laser is powered by a BWind 2.5 sail engine, and it shares a number of control features with the VO-70, OD-65, and the Nacra.

ipad2There’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 iPad tablet here, and you can also get a copy of the wind setter manual here. If you want a copy of the Laser One manual, click here).

Laser One uses an iPad2 wind setter tablet. As far as I know the only difference between iPad2 and the original iPad used by the other Mesh Shop boats is the avatar position. If you forget and use the old tablet in this boat it will still work fine, but it might be hard to find a viewing angle where you can tap on the screen.  🙂

I’ve already discussed features of the BWind 2.5 engine in Mesh Shop boats here, here, here and here. I won’t go into details in this post except to comment once again that this is a unique system and the boats are not compatible with the WWC setters found at racelines. The boats also lack wind shadow and the “usual” wind variances common to other SL boats. Dutch believes the new system has advantages, and that it will grow.

Hud and control features

xenograft hudsLaser One uses a simple, numerical info HUD that’s similar to the Nacra. It displays data about boat heading, the wind speed and apparent angle, and the degree of heel.

The tiller is controlled by the left and right arrow keys, and the sail angle is adjusted with the up and down keys.

Unfortunately, the basic BWind system of sail sheeting is notoriously inaccurate, and (in my opinion) fairly useless for racing. If you want more precision adjusting your sails, here are two undocumented override options for the Laser:

1) If you own a Nacra, you can use that boat’s control HUD with the Laser. It will give you 1° sheet adjustment accuracy.
2) if you don’t have a Nacra and are unwilling to buy that boat just to get the HUD,  you can try making chat gestures similar to the ones that come with the Volvo Open 70. Here’s a command gesture example that should let you edit your own: “/29000 sheet-1” .
(If for some reason you’re anxious about making homemade gestures, some time ago I boxed-up Fearless Freenote’s gesture set. If you want a copy, drop a note to Fearless, Hannelore Ballinger, or me in Second Life.)

Speaking of gestures and such, I was impressed during beta testing that the Laser often responded sluggishly to control commands. That issue cleared up when I changed the chat channel. The command is “channel xx” where xx is any two digits. Once you switch channels, the boat will remember the settings when returned to inventory.

Life in Balance

OK, back to practical sailing.
Real Lasers
are light weight boats with a sizable single sail and a narrow beam. That makes them quick to respond, but also relatively unstable and highly sensitive to weight distribution (hiking). The Standard Laser (aka Laser One) is usually sailed solo, and it’s recommended that a sailor weigh at least 185 pounds to provide effective ballast to counterweight the rig.

That emphasizes the importance of hiking for optimum performance, and the SL Laser One is no different. It has four hike stations for the skipper on each side.

laser hiking positions

click for biggerness

The figure above shows the approximate heel angle for each hiking position. The most extreme hike spot puts the boat on a 39° heel. Within a matter of seconds that invariably ends up hitting the 40° threshold.. and the boat capsizes. 🙂

It takes around ten seconds for the boat to spontaneously right itself. You then get a chance to raise sail and try again. 🙂

laser heelI haven’t yet plotted out the influence of different heel angles on boat speed in any detail, but as the figure to the right shows, hiking to windward on a beam reach can easily buy you a ten percent speed boost while preventing you from flipping over.)

The Laser One can hold one crewperson in addition to the skipper. I haven’t yet looked at crew effects, since most laser racing is done solo. However, I’m guessing the crew effects will be similar to the Nacra.

Polar Performance

Laser polar

The chart to the right shows a plot of boat speed versus wind angle for a Laser One with a solo skipper using a real wind speed of 15 kn with the centerboard down.

The red curve documents boat speed as a function of real wind angle, while the blue curve shows similar data plotted against apparent wind angle.

As you can see from the RWA results, the maximum boat speed is roughly 60-70% RWS and occurs on a beam reach. This is consistent with Handicap data showing the Laser One is approximately 27% slower than the Melges-24 (The Handicap Index boat). That’s realistic and appropriate; the Laser is smaller, has a single sail, and no keel.

The irregular shape of the Laser One performance curve above may be due to the inherent ‘jitter’ in the BWind 2.5  wind engine, with fairly sharp drop-offs as the headings turn windward or leeward. On the other hand, the RL Laser polar is an irregular curve as well. 🙂

LaserPolar via btinternet and Laser One

click to enlarge

Most charts of real sailboat performance are displayed using a radial (polar) format, and the chart to the right shows an example for the Standard Laser. It includes five curves that show boat speed for different RWS intensities that range from 8.5kn to 30kn.

On that same chart I’ve superimposed data for the Mesh Shop Laser One using the BWind default RWS=15kn (the dark blue curve indicated by a green arrow).

The shape of that Laser One performance curve is  similar to the RL boat polar, and the range of Laser One boat speeds for RWS=15kn falls between the RL Laser curves for RWS=13.5kn and RWS=19kn. In other words, the Second Life Laser One’s performance closely matches the “First Life” Standard Laser.

Centerboard Ups and Downs

On sailing dinghies, a retractable centerboard (CB) takes the place of a keel. The CB enhances lift and allows a boat to hold course on an upwind heading without side-slipping due to wind pressure. However, on downwind points of sail, the CB  becomes unnecessary and just slows the boat due to drag.

The Laser One has a CB that nicely demonstrates these effects. In the image below-left, my boat’s on a close reach with the CB down, and it has little trouble holding a constant heading. However, if you raise the CB the boat starts to slip leeward and the nose rotates downwind. As shown below-right, within half a minute my boat fell off the wind by 40 degrees!

laser cb upwind

On far downwind points of sail the CB just slows you down. You may notice on the previous polar chart that the Laser One‘s performance on a broad reach dropped off more quickly than the RL Standard Laser. That’s probably because the measurements on the virtual boat were all made with the centerboard down.

If you lift up the CB with the wind to your back, you’ll get a significant kick in performance, as shown in the sequence below.

laser centerboard downwind

Actually, with the CB raised and the boat in level balance on a dead run, you can even get Laser One to plane once the boat speed reaches 8kn or thereabouts. I can’t comment on that point yet though, since nearly all my testing of this boat used the 15kn default wind. You’ll need a much stiffer breeze to hit a boat speed of 8kn when sailing the Laser One. 🙂

By the Lee

Let me comment on just one more novel feature in this boat. When sailing a run, Lasers can get an added boost when sailing By the Lee.” Let me explain that in two minutes: 🙂

The forces driving a sailboat are a combination of dynamic lift and drag effects.

downwind airflowOn most points of sail, the boom is pushed to the lee side of the boat and the laminar flow across the airfoil travels from “luff to leach” (from the mast to the free sail edge) (first pic on the right).

On a dead run (middle pic), drag forces push from directly astern and hold the sail in place. That allows a boat to cross the wind to the opposite tack without actually flipping the sail (termed ‘sailing by the lee‘). This reverses the direction of airflow across the sail (third pic above), and in boats like the Laser a skilled skipper can use that to get a performance boost.

by the lee

The Laser One models this RL effect. The image to the right shows my boat on a Starboard tack with RWA 170 and a boat speed of 5.4kn. The next image show the boat a few seconds later. It’s crossed the wind and is now on a Port tack with RWA 166, but the boom hasn’t flipped sides. The boat’s sailing “by the lee” and it’s moving at 5.9kn, a 10% speed boost. 🙂

This is a nice effect, and the performance gain is large enough that I’ll probably end up plotting out all the angles and combinations at some point, trying to see what works best. 🙂


The Mesh Shop Laser One by Kain Xenobuilder is a cat-rigged dinghy racer inspired by the RL Laser Standard. The build is 100% mesh and the SL dimensions closely conform to the ILCA design specs. The boat’s level of detail and RL accuracy are impressive.

The  boat uses the BWind 2.5 engine, and the control and info display features are similar to (and overlap with) other boats in the Mesh Shop fleet. The boat includes a number of realistic race performance features, including a functioning centerboard and 8 skipper hiking positions to balance the boat (with a capsize animation when hiking fails). The Laser One has a polar performance curve that nicely matches the real Laser Standard, and in the hands of a good skipper the boat will plane and sail by the lee.

Like other Mesh Shop boats, Laser One is not WWCcompatible, it does not have wind shadow, and it uses a unique wind variance system. These are intentional features that distinguish the boats from most others sailing in SL. However, I doubt these issues will discourage any sailors from racing Laser One as soon as they can get it out of the box. 🙂

Bottom-line, I think the combination of a remarkably authentic build plus sailing features that emulate a real racer will make Laser One a hit with SL Sailors grid-wide. But hey, go visit Dutch over in Tschotcke, drive the boat around the block yourself, and see what you think! 🙂

laser breadnut

Hot Times

Hot Times Jan 2013

Thank you to all the skippers who have sailed Hotlaps so far. After five weeks in 2013, that adds up to 41 sailors doing 226 laps in 28 boat classes!

In the tradition of hotlaps from past years, I thought it might be fun to publish an ongoing list of the fastest skippers for the preceding month. To do that, I’m only considering boat classes that have lap times from at least three skippers. The lap times can be from any of the six different hotlaps courses.

I then normalize the scores from the different courses relative to the Melges-24 index. That makes the results comparable, and independent of the specific race line a sailor chooses. Based on that comparison, here’s a list of the speediest hotlap skippers for the month of January!

Hot Times Table Jan 2013

For example, during January sailors posted a total of 49 lap times for the Melges- 24. For each of the courses it’s possible to calculate the average lap time for that boat, and then determine the skipper that beats that average by the widest margin.

In January, Armano Xaris and Fearless Freenote ended up in a tie. They each sailed a Melges-24 lap that was 9.0% faster than the average for the fleet. Nice sailing, guys! 🙂

Kudos also go to  nozumimi karu, xpaul pain, Hannelore Ballinger, Bunnie Mills, Jane Fossett (that’s me!), Lucyinthesky Aferensis, and VictorCr for the fastest laps in their respective boat classes, as listed above. Nice job!

Now let’s see how the scores in February measure up over the next few weeks, but please remember: Hotlaps isn’t just about the fastest scores; be sure to enter your ‘good, average’ laptimes as well!