The Second Sol Regatta begins June 14. Twenty teams are ready to compete in a total of 84 fleet races.
Before the start gun goes off however, I wanted to bring up three specific racing issues for the Patchogue II fleet.
Skipper/Crew Side-Switching Downwind
This issue primarily affects boats with a solo skipper. When sailing on a far broad reach or a run, the wind forces come from behind a boat and generate very little “heel.” A Patchogue II with a solo skipper will heel to the side where the skipper is seated.
However, Patchogue II likes to sail flat, with no heel. Often the only way a solo skipper can flatten the boat on a run is to first sit on the windward side until the boat heels too far in that direction, then move to the leeward side to bring the boat back past zero heel. The skipper then repeats the process, usually every 10-15 seconds. That maneuver can reliably produce a 5-8% speed boost by keeping the boat ‘balanced.’ However, this gain is so small that a skipper will probably only think to use it during a race.
There are several ISAF rules that prohibit non-wind methods of boat propulsion, including versions of tiller-waggling, sail back-winding, and crew weight-shifting.
However, I think a good argument can be made that skipper side-shifting in the Patch II is intended to enhance wind effects; side-switching downwind is therefore not an abnormal means of boat propulsion. Sailors who use this in Second Sol should not be penalized.
Ronin Zane reports a similar effect with reefing upwind or on a reach. If a solo skipper or small number of crew sail a beam reach in a stiff breeze, they may often find that they have excess heel if they don’t reef. However, they may also find they lose too much speed when they add a reef point.
What’s the fix? Well, they can put all of the crew on windward rail, wait till heel is ‘too much,’ and then reef. That will right the boat back into the ‘go‘ zone. At the point the boat has a good heel angle, the the skipper can then free the reef again. That will cause the boat to accelerate and start to heel once more…
Ronin was concerned that repeated reefing might be illegal in a race, under the RRS Rules and guidelines against non-wind propulsion.
Ronin’s point is well taken. A real-life skipper would never change reef several times each minute. However, within the physical constraints of virtual sailing, in my opinion a sailor who tries to gain a small advantage by rapid-reefing is within his/her rights to do so. Reefing is a wind management tool, hence a racing technique. It’s not an exploit.
Equally important, recent Trudeau boats have a built-in reefing penalty. A boat will lose momentum for a few seconds with each reef change. That means any gain from ‘Rapid-Reefing’ is guaranteed to be small.
Having said that, let me again comment that although any rapid-reef benefit is small, in my opinion it’s legal.
Ok ok, your crew doenn’t show up for the big match; what do you do? Well, it’s simple to rez a few of your favorite Alt-avatars, and use them to crew for you, Right?
Well Wrong. From every vantage I can think of, sailing with an Alt differs extremely from sailing with ‘human’ crew. I could write several pages on this topic, but I think I’d bore everyone to tears and put myself to sleep in the process. This is an obvious issue.
Bottom line, I think sailing with one’s own ALT in a race is illegal. (It’s probably also an abomination against man, god, and nature). Any skipper who deceptively races with their ALT in Second Sol should, by vote of the Judges, be DSQ for that race.
The above comments are just my opinions and apply only to Second Sol. I’m happy to hear other angles on these issues, and I’ll likely change my own view if someone makes a truly cogent argument over any of the ‘rules’ points raised above. 🙂