Corry Kamachi will soon launch her WildWind Open 60. The new boat is mesh construction and a total re-design of her 2009 JMO-60 ocean racer. Personally, I think the new Open 60 is rather awesome. 🙂
Although the boat is still technically in beta, many sailors already have ‘final beta‘ copies, and there’s a lot of buzz among racers about this latest Wildwind, so I thought I’d give you a few details about what you can expect. I know I’m “jumping the gun” here by talking about a boat that doesn’t yet exist, but please chalk that up to my youthful exuberance and enthusiasm about the boat. 🙂
When the Wildwind Open 60 finally launches, I’ll be truly delighted to write another post to emphasize the final changes in this already great sailboat.
So having said all that, here goes…
What’s an “Open 60?”
The International Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA) sets the box rule that defines the Open 60 Class (LWL 60 ft or 18.3 meters) and manages the Open 60 race fleet. IMOCA takes that job seriously, describing the Open 60 as “The most successful ocean racing class” in modern sailing.
Actually, they’re right, and the Open 60’s are designed to withstand the most grueling and audacious yacht races ever held. The Vendee Globe is probably the best known of these events; its a nonstop, 24,000 mile, around-the-world, pull-out-all-the-stops race, and each boat has just a solo sailor at the helm. This is the stuff superheroes are made of. 🙂
The boats are built for speed, but ocean racing demands they also emphasize endurance and safety. The real-life Open 60 raceboats are rather incredible examples of cutting-edge, high-tech engineering.
It’s no easy task to re-create the presence, performance, and penache of such a boat for the virtual sailing community, and Corry Kamachi is one of a very few builders in SL who have both the chops and sheer street cred to bring a credible Open 60 emulation to the SL raceline.
In that context, let me remind readers that I’ve also recently reviewed two boats by Kain Xenobuilder that fit in the same ocean racing class: the Mesh Shop Volvo Open 70 and One Design 65. If you’re in the market for an ocean race boat please keep reading below, but be sure to read about the other two boats as well. I like both the Mesh Shop and the WildWind versions; however they are quite different, and it’s up to individual sailors to determine which boat will suit their needs.
With that caveat, let me introduce the Wildwind Open 60. Better grab your seat though; this could be a fast ride! 🙂
Open 60: Built by Wildwind
The boat’s water-line length is roughly 18m, and the bowsprit extends that to nearly 20m at deck level. The beam is roughly six meters and the bulb keel is six meters as well.
The mast towers 25m above deck level and it supports both a mainsail and the skipper’s choice of a standard jib or gennaker. The sails are deployed and trimmed together by chat commands or through the HUD.
Before we talk about sail control however, let me mention a few more authentic details you’ll find on the WildWind Open 60 build.
The boat has paired rudders, daggerboards, and deck spreaders that are all automatically deployed while the boat is underway. (Note: Deck spreaders are poles that look like outriggers. They provide increased stability for the mast.)
The figure inserted to the right shows the nice level of accuracy and detail for the dual retractable rudders.
The upper image is the WildWind boat in the moored position, with both rudders up. The lower image is a similar view of the Safran RL Open 60 racer. 🙂 It’s a pretty close match; the Wildwind‘s degree of detail for the rudder linkage, housing and struts is impressive.
Speaking of the those rudders,
in SL when the Open 60 heels, the leeward rudder will deploy and the windward rudder flips up. When the boat is flat in the water, both rudders automatically go down.
The picture to the right shows a ‘mesh bag’ tagged to the cockpit bulkhead beneath the port winch. It’s a humorous – but authentic – detail. The bag’s there to keep the line stowed and untangled. It prevents a sailor from accidentally stepping on the line while releasing the sail sheet. (That mistake can have rather disastrous consequences if you’re a solo skipper sailing the Roaring 40’s.) 🙂
No one would fault Corry for leaving the bag out… but there it is. 🙂 It’s a nice detail.
Inside the cockpit the boat has two helm stations, and the skipper automatically flips to the windward station while under sail. (The crew flip as well!)
Since real life Open 60‘s are usually raced single-handed, all the sailing functions on a Wildwind Open 60 are controlled by the solo skipper. Despite that, the cockpit has room for one crew member, and two more can fit in the cabin. The boat comes with a crew HUD so your passengers can see what’s happening as you sail.
Races like the Vendee Globe can last for three months under very harsh conditions, so a cabin is pretty essential.
By contrast, as shown in the pics to the right, the Open 60 cabin is positively luxurious! 🙂 It accommodates a pair of sailors with ease, and still has lots of space left over! RL sailors never get such good treatment… 🙂
Phantom Keel Cant
A hydraulically-tilted bulb keel is an impressive, high-tech feature of the IMOCA Open 60 design.
A skipper has the option to set it by hand or let the boat make the adjustments automatically.
Although the bulb keel is quite long, don’t worry about running aground in this boat. The keel, dagger board and rudder are all phantom while sailing; the boat draws less than 1.0 m.
In fact, only the hull and bowsprit are physical. The mast, boom, deck spreader, rigging and sails are all phantom, allowing the boat to sail under very low obstructions. So if you plan to race this boat, be sure to keep your eye on the bowsprit. That frontal protuberance is the one thing that could get you into trouble, either by a collision or by triggering the race line early.
Corry’s come up with a new system to change all the textures in this boat. The owner just preloads a script template with the uuid’s of a new texture design, and drops that on the boat.
Bingo! One click later all the textures change to harmoniously match your request. Corry has a number of wonderful, preloaded texture packages, but the system is wide open and you can easily make your own designs.
In fact, a sailor could easily collect a whole library of templates with various texture settings. It would then take just a few seconds to load a new script and change the boat’s appearance to fit your whim.
The figure to the right shows my current favorite texture set (at least it’s my favorite this week 🙂 ).
The top image is Samantha Davies aboard her Saveol Open 60 before it dismasted, causing Sam to crash out of the Vendee Globe. The second image shows her textures applied to the Wildwind build, courtesy of Corry. Not a bad match! Here’s a short vid of Sam Davie’s pimped-out Saveol:
[Please also note: If you break your Wildwind boat, I’m pretty sure the repair will be a lot cheaper than a new mast was for Sam’s Saveol after the Vendee Globe!]
Build Bottom Line
The WildWind Open 60 build closely follows the RL Open 60 Rule. On close inspection, the boat shows a masterful balance of features. There are many realistic (and unexpected) touches, including deck spreaders and a surprisingly spacious cabin. All the components work together in a consistent, artistic harmony.
If you’re hard-nosed racer, perhaps the textures and winch details aren’t so important. In that case, let me give you the numerical bottom line: all that gorgeous, accurate mesh build I just mentioned weighs in at a miraculously small 26 prim with an LOD=28.
The Open 60 uses a variation of the new Wildwind sail engine that was first introduced with the Wildcat45 AC catamaran.
There is a two column button HUD that fits along the left side of your viewing screen; it includes the major control functions laid out in a logical pattern for easy access.
The buttons make it very simple to switch between boat wind and race wind, to adjust the sails, and to change the keel cant. I particularly like the “view” button that lets you step through four different camera locations behind and above the boat. I also really like the small display screen on the button HUD that constantly announces the channel you’re using, your race ID number, your wind source, and the size of your sheet adjustment steps. Some of us need that kind of reassurance while sailing!
Speaking of sailing data, the boat comes with a separate Info-HUD that graphically displays just about anything you’d ever like to know to race this boat at top speed. It’s all very nicely laid out, and any SL sailor will learn all its features in less than a minute or two.
The third HUD is a full-featured head’s up numerical display that contains a compact list of the boat’s performance numbers.
Skippers have the choice to use all the HUDs, some combination, or to just go commando (no HUDs at all 🙂 ). You’ll probably want a HUD however, because the boat doesn’t give any auditory or visual feedback when the sails go out of tune. You won’t really miss the luffing noises, since so much information is readily available on the HUD display.
Like most boats, the Open 60 defaults to SL wind. To pick your own wind, all you have to do is press the “wind lock” button. That opens a menu box that allows you to set the exact wind speed and direction. Once you’ve done it correctly, the button HUD mini-display tells you that you’re locked, and the info HUD shows the settings.
If you want to race, click the ‘Racing‘ button instead. The boat will then lock the WWC cruise wind broadcast from a raceline. The boat even has an option to use the old SLSF wind format, if that suits your needs.
At least once you’ll need to tell the boat your race ID, so the line can recognize your boat. After that the boat will remember, and your ID will display directly on the hull whenever you’re racing.
Click on the figure to the right to see a polar plot of the Wildwind Open 60’s boat speed at different wind angles. The red line shows the numbers for Real Wind Angles (RWA) using the Main+Jib, and the blue dashed line shows similar data for Apparent Wind Angles (AWA). The curves show that the boat suddenly springs to life with a heading just over AWA 30. It hits a max boat speed that’s roughly 13% faster than Real Wind Speed, and the response curve is fairly flat from AWA 30-60 (RWA 70-120). Over RWA 120, the jib becomes much less efficient and performance quickly deteriorates.
The green line above shows boat speed for RWA using the Gennaker instead of the Jib. The Gennaker kicks in around RWA 90, and it’s clearly superior to the Jib by RWA 110. However performance again drops off with downwind angles over RWA 150.
Now take a look at the figure to the right. The red curve shows boat speed vs RWA for the Wildwind Open 60 using optimal sails.
On the graph in dark green I’ve also plotted results for the Mesh Shop One Design 65; it’s a very close match. These boats should be compatible with each other in mixed fleet, “big boat” races in SL.
The black dotted line on the chart shows the same numbers for the RL Open 60 Neutrogena. The SL boats are both a bit faster, but overall it’s a remarkably nice fit.
The chart to the right plots the heel angle for a boat with an RWA 90° heading at six different wind speeds. The x-axis shows the effect of changing the keel cant from “-3” (leeward cant) to “+3” (windward cant).
The data shows that keel position can have a big impact on boat heel.
With faster wind speeds, canting the keel to the windward side can speed up the boat by keeping it in the 30° heel sweet-spot.
At much lower wind speeds you can get a modest boost by canting the keel leeward to increase heel to 30°.
A week ago I wrote about the importance of turn radius to a sailboat’s performance. That’s particularly true for a high-speed racer like the Wildwind Open 60.
The three boats end up with very similar turning properties; the Open 60 has a turning curve that nearly exactly overlaps the VO-70. As I commented earlier, although these boats are extremely different from each other I think the performance similarities indicates the builders were each trying to model the real life performance of an ocean racer, and it looks like they both hit the mark.
Summary: The Wildwind Open 60
Corry is one of the most popular and proficient master builders of contemporary, high-performance virtual racing yachts in Second Life, and the new Wildwind Open 60 demonstrates her consumate skill. The boat build is accurate in detail and dimensions, and it showcases many hallmark features of this ocean racing class, including dual dagger boards, deck spreaders, rudders, a surprisingly sumptuous cabin, and a skipper-controlled canting keel. All of this is amazing in a boat that weighs a mere 26 prim with LOD=28.
The boat is powered by the recently-upgraded WildWind sail engine. That means it’s compatible with several other recent boat designs that use real world apparent wind calculations and that report headings using a geographic map compass. It’s also compatible with Hay Ah’s SL raceline system and with WWC cruise wind settings.
A single skipper controls all the sailing functions with help from three different HUDs, but there’s also room for three passengers. The boat controls are low-lag and have many adjustable features.
Under sail the boat performs like a true champ. 🙂 It is quite fast, with a wind polar curve that’s a close match for the RL Open 60. In SL, the boat’s numbers are also comparable to the Mesh Shop One Design 65.
The WildWild Open 60 has a few downsides that are part of the design. These are not real problems, but are worth mentioning:
- The Wildwind Open 60 does not have visible or audible sail-luffing effects;
- Under sail, the WildWind Open 60 is nearly all phantom except for it’s hull and bowsprit.
- The boat does not presently have windshadow.
- The boat can only be operated by the owner; there is no system to let crew take over the helm during a long sail or a multi-heat race.
The above points are common issues for many other vessels in SLSailing. In the case of Open 60, most of the points reflect the builder’s effort to optimize performance while reducing lag. It’s hard to fault that explanation, given all else the boat contains. 🙂
Bottom line, if you like contemporary ocean race boats in SL, I’m certain you’re going to love the WildWind Open 60.
Go try a demo; you’ll see. 🙂