Category Archives: Cruising

2015 Cruiser Kudos

LCC Oct06 021

OKOKOK, this is just a mini-plug for the great Leeward Cruise Group in Second Life. They’re wrapping up another year of twice-weekly cruises, full of sim-busting adventures that are the highlight of SL Sailing.

Yup, it’s true: for many years now, a large, highly dedicated, and very funny fleet have hit the water in SL each and every Sunday and Tuesday, under the wise guidance of Chaos Mandelbrot and Kittensusie Landar. It’s the most popular and longest-running sail event in all SL! Chaos even made it to a Hollywood cameo:

So…. if you know SL already but you want to learn sailing…. one of the best ways to accomplish that is to crew on a boat with the Leeward Fleet. There’s always room with great sailors, and the fleet motto is “No one left behind.”

cruisers at Half Hitch


And if you’re a real-life sailor in Northern climes and you’re looking for a great digital emulation during the snowy season, well Second Life‘s a great place for you too! Come join us for Real Life cruising and racing online! 🙂

Come Sail Second Life with us!


Ragnarok Redux

LCC Ragnarok

Thank you to Admiral Chaos and all the sailors in the Leeward Cruise Group for the great ride on February 25! The cruise celebrated Ragnarok, the Viking apocalypse (aka the Gotterdammerung). A grand fleet rezzed in Seychelles Isles, and proceeded across  a 45-minute course to land at Second Norway in United Sailing Sims. Kudos go to IrishGent Resident and Mialinn Telling for their help orchestrating the event!

ZZ Bottom posted a number of great pictures of the fleet, and I’ll include several of her images below. 🙂

Feb 25 LCC launch

Seychelles launch (Courtesy of ZZ Bottom)

To sail Ragnarok, the LCC Sailors chose a wide variety of boats made by different builders, and that diversity was (and is) a strong testament to the strength of the Second Life Sailing community. Sailors across the grid now have a remarkably broad choice of wind engines, hull and rig designs, as well as optional gear enhancements to chose from!

To illustrate this point, in ZZ’s image above, Diamond took off in a speedy Mesh Shop Nacra catamaran while other sailors skippered cruise boats built by René MarineWildwindKtaba and Trudeau yacht yards (see below).

Feb25 launch

Fleet sets sail! (Courtesy of ZZ Bottom)

Here’s Don sailing at top speed in his OP-60 during the last leg of the sail,

last leg

and here’s Om and Jilly taking their time on a Classic Ktaba J-class.

OandJ 2

The Tuesday sailing conditions were impressive and it’s notable that most of the boats in the flotilla reached the cruise destination without undo duress.

However, no surprise, things weren’t perfect: there was a long lag in the LCC chat thread, and even the Admiral crashed once while sailing a trusty Trudeau Fran Jacques! 🙂

FJ1 Feb 25

Having said all that, let me add that the post-cruise landfall party was rather fantastic (thank you Mialinn!), and many of the sailors arrived in Viking cruisewear. Here’s a picture of Charlz Price that I shot from over Fiona’s right helmet-horn. 🙂

Charlz Price seen from Fiona

However, the prize for Contemporary Viking Cruise Attire undoubtedly must go to Om and Jilly. Their Ragnarok cruisewear incorporated Viking, Dali, Ansell Adams and Joro Bee-Team tones. 🙂 Wooots!

O and J Landfall

And now let me also add that special cruise-creds must go out to Benny and Runa too!


Benny spun a rather amazing two hour playlist full of of “End-of-the-World” themed tunes that set a perfect mood for the Ragnarock-minded cruise-crowd. 🙂

As usual, Benny’s apocalyptic ear was pitch-perfect; he even included Mose Allison’s take on the topic-du-jour: 🙂

After logging out Tuesday night, I kept smiling and thinking about the cruise, and I couldn’t help digging up mor’ Mose to play that fit in Benny’s stream-style :

What a nice event, Leeward Cruisers! Woots!


Leeward Cruise Goes Raganok on February 25

Leeward Feb 18

February 18

Woots! The Tuesday Leeward Cruise on  February 18 was pretty fantastic!; Kudos go to Diamond Merchant who hosted the fun event. Diamond subbed forAdmiral Chaos Mandelbrot (who came a bit late), and as usual Bennythe Boozehound provided a stellar LCC soundtrack.

The weather was great, and nearly all in the flotilla made it to landfall on Diamond’s docks.

LCC Feb 18 at Diamonds

February 25

Well, Admiral  Chaos is doing it again on February 25. This week the cruise is from Seychelles Isles to Second Norway, and it’s a celebration of Ragnarok, the Viking Apocalypse. Big thanks to IrishGent Resident and Mialinn Telling for their help setting up this week’s LCC event!

OK, I know Ragnarok symbolizes the end of the world, and its perhaps not intended to be a happy event. Nonetheless, many online pundits predicted (with considerable dubiosity) that this final Norse conflict was set to go off on Saturday, February 22. 🙂

I’m happy to announce we all made it through that date. Given the legendary sailing skills of  the Norse over two millennia, the passing of Ragnarok last weekend seems a damn good excuse for a Leeward Cruise!! 🙂

Adm. Chaos think so too! Here’s his Cruise Manifest:

February 25, 2014
Leeward Cruising Club 5pm

It’s the end of the world (again) and we sail to the fabulous Second Norway to celebrate.

Good news, though: after the world is annihilated by a bunch of ornery ancient gods, it’s supposed to be restored as an idyllic paradise. So we got that going for us. So don’t expect any more crashing!

Tunes courtesy of the Bennythe Boozehound !!

Here’s the Chart:
LCC Feb 25 chart

Here’s the landmark for the start:

The destination landfall:

SW at 15 knots
on a Trudeau this is /x set wind 225 7.5
On a bwind this is SW then 15
On a Quest this is wind dir 270 and wind speed 15

No one left on the dock!

— Chaos Mandelbrot

Ut mare quod ut ventus.

No one left at the dock


Old Salts


Jane shows off RJ Kikuchiyo’s Eagle at DYC

I saw Thorvald Larsen online today; he has not been in SL recently, and so it was a real treat to chat with him and update for a few minutes.

Thorvald Larsen

courtesy of Dil Spitz

I met Thorvald in January 2007, I’m not sure where. It was either on the docks of the old SL Nantucket sim, or in an online Wooden Boat discussion thread. I don’t remember which, but it hardly makes a difference. 🙂

Thorvald is a life-long sailor. The Tahiti Ketch he owns was built by his father, and the boat became a major inspiration for Jacqueline Trudeau’s virtual Tahiti Ketch I & II designs.

TL and JFos

If I’m not mistaken, Thorvald also lobbied for “reefing”  as a sail trim feature in SL boats. That idea first came to life in the (rather legendary) Trudeau Twenty, but it quickly became a standard cruising and racing feature in sailboats from many builders. The recent Patchogue II has two reef points!

Thorvald is a stickler for realistic features in classic SL boats, so I had fun today showing off RJ Kikuchiyo’s recreation of the USCGC Eagle that’s docked at DYC on the west side of Knaptrackicon Channel. It’s rather amazing. 🙂


Thorvald is a great example of the way SL provides a platform where real sailors can work with talented digital designers and scripters. When that happens, sometimes wondrous creations emerge, and everyone smiles.

Let me close this little note with a recent clip of Thorvald’s Tahiti Ketch on a day cruise, sailing the waters of Long Island Sound:


Modern Cruisers, Part 1: The Bandit 50

Cruising Troika

The cruising crowd continues to grow in Second Life. Luckily, the options available to SL skippers also continue to expand, and in the past few months several new mid-sized cruising craft hit the water.

Loonetta Quartet - LCC June 11 13

Loonetta Quartet at LCC

I admit it; for over a year now, Motor Loon’s  Loonetta 31 has been my personal ‘benchmark choice’ for a contemporary cruiser. Loonetta is a remarkably well-detailed and full-featured mesh build, and all the features somehow fit very nicely into a very tiny footprint (Prim 31, LOD 32).

However, time passes, and a sailor’s eyes start to wander… my Loonetta launched 14 months ago, and maybe now is a good time now to check out the marinas for a new cruising companion. 🙂

With that modus operandi, I’d like to highlight three cruisers with contemporary designs; it might assist some sailors seeking a new maritime relationship. The three vessels I’ll discuss are the Bandit 50, the Café Del Mar 75 and the RM 12. They are all well-crafted and nicely detailed; you can see their relative sizes in the header image above. Each boat has its own merits and it’s worth checking them all out to see which might meet your personal and particular sailing interest.

bandit 50

Bandit 50

The first boat I want to chime in on is the Bandit 50. It’s a 50 ft, mid-size sloop designed by Analyse Dean and available at the Mesh Shop. It’s a remarkably detailed and gracefully constructed mesh build. The beamy hull has plenty of room for crew topside, and there’s extensive forward cabin space as well.

The Bandit 50 build

Let’s click through some of the details. 🙂 The boat has so many features, it actually comes with two versions in the box. The full-featured cruiser is the Bandit 50B, while the Bandit 50R is a lightweight, stripped-down version more suitable for racing. Since the full-featured boat has a super-low LOD of 32, I nearly always sail that 50B version of the boat; I’ve had very little difficulty getting across sim borders or having parts fail to rez or fragment. I have not tried to race it, but I’ve sailed it on the Leeward Cruise, which can be a pretty big stress test.


As you can see in the above image, the cockpit is generously proportioned, with a single center wheel and binnacle with a working compass. There’s the requisite number of winches and a full set of lines to help you trim the sails, and there are a number of extras too. The most obvious one is a large, removable Bimini top that provides shade and modest weather protection to the aft cockpit and stern. To my knowledge, this is the only sailboat in Second Life that has a Bimini, and it’s a nice touch.

In her review of the boat, Orca takes a rather dim view of this extra piece of canvas, calling the Bandit 50B:

“…a “silly” version with those fuglycake booths that cover the cockpit and give your boat the appearance of a maritime home for the elderly. …
“Well, if you’re forced to skipper a boat from underneath a canopy at least you can pretend to like it. …”

To the contrary, I think a Bimini can be pretty useful if you’re sailing in the Caribbean or another subtropical latitude. The sun can be scorchingly intense, and a piece of canvas over your head comes in pretty handy when the wind dies or the boat sits moored. Anyway, whatever you may think, the Bimini is totally removable. 🙂

wavingThe boat will accommodate several friends both above and below decks. and there are a rather huge number of poses and animations built-in to accommodate them. The poses are hierarchically organized within a series of pop-up menu pages. That’s nice and orderly, and it takes only a couple seconds to find what you want and take a seat aboard. 🙂

The skipper can actually control the boat from any of these sit positions, but you will probably want to be at the helm for the best visibility while underway. Speaking of which, the boat has a simple ‘Crew Hud‘ system that lets others aboard share sailing responsibilities by adjusting the sheets and controlling the halyards. A skipper can even hand over helm control to one other designated person aboard. That useful option is similar to the helm-switching available on the Loonetta.

keel BanditOne more important point: unlike several other recent mesh boats, the Bandit 50 has a physical keel. That feature adds to the realism, but it means you’ll have to be careful when cruising the shallows.

Cabin Comforts

Bandit 50 has a central gangway that leads below decks from the cockpit.

The main cabin has plenty of space, and a surprising amount of headroom. The layout is traditional, and it follows the design of  most cruisers I’m familiar with in real life (see below). The L-shaped galley is on the port side as you enter, with the sink extending to the middle for easy access. The starboard side has space for a nav station, and forward there are curved benches on either side. As with most cruisers this size, the tables in front of the benches are collapsible, to maximize use of the space.
There is a separate, main sleeping compartment in the bow that is large enough for two very friendly people, and there are two more sleep cubbies on either side of the engine compartment below the cockpit.

Cruising Cabin

Bandit 50 instruments and gangway

Sailing the Bandit 50

BWind 2.5. The Bandit 50 Uses a BWind 2.5 sail engine by Becca Moulliez. To set the wind, the skipper uses an iPad tablet that displays familiar BWind options. The current iPad2 can also be operated by an independent race director who can broadcast the wind parameters for a fleet of racers or cruisers that are nearby and listening.  (A small glitch with the iPad2: the time display is off by one hour. 🙂 )

Ipad controlI’ve discussed the BWind 2.5 engine before. It’s fine for cruising, but it may have significant limitations for some race applications; I’ll talk more on that in the next article in this series. Let me just emphasize here that Bandit 50 does not work with the standard raceline WWC in use across the grid, and the system for adding wind variance is quite different. Sailors will need to judge for themselves whether this represents a major handicap, depending on how you sail.

HUDs and such. The bandit 50 is controlled by a simple set of chat commands and keyboard combinations that will be very familiar to any user that owns a Mesh Shop boat. In particular, there are chat commands that turn the text HUD on or off, that engage the engine (yes, it has an engine!), and that change the communication channel.

Jane and Amy on BanditSpeaking of the HUD, the Bandit 50B has a full-featured BWind text-HUD that changes color when the sails are out of tune. It even includes text messages warning the skipper to pull in or let out the sail.
If that wasn’t enough, the sails visibly and audibly flap when they are out of tune, and a set of telltales go limp as well. It’s nice to have all that feedback while cruising. 🙂
If you not a big fan of HUDs, you can turn it off and sail by the boat’s instruments; there’s a complete display panel above the gangway full of analog dials that tell you about the wind and boat speed.
(Note: the Bandit 50R does not have a BWind text HUD; you have to race that boat by the seat of your pants. 🙂 )

Bandit 50 Polar

Speaking of racing, let’s talk about Bandit 50’s performance; it’s pretty speedy.
As I discussed a few days ago, on the Hotlaps test courses this boat earned a Handicap of 0.89. That’s pretty impressive for a beamy, full-service cruiser; it was one of the fastest boats in its class.

Here is the  polar for the Bandit 50B.

Bandit 50b BSvRWAThe chart to the right shows boat speed for Real Wind Angles (RWA) in response to a 15 kn constant wind speed. As you can see, the performance curve using the Main+Jib looks pretty typical for a sloop, with maximum boat speed on a beam reach with RWA in the 85°–125° range. On that point of sail Bandit 50 will do approximately 80% of RWS.

The spinnaker will only go up when the boat is sailing downwind with an RWA > 135°, and it automatically douses as the boat turns windward. When it’s up, the spinnaker will allow a skipper to sail 80% of RWS to a downwind angle of 150°.
You can see on the chart that there is an interesting, small “divit” in the performance curve around 132°. That happens when the Genoa is losing power, but before the spinnaker will stay up. It’s a pretty realistic feature, but it’s probably best to avoid that heading if you want to get the best out of the boat. 🙂

One more thing; if you look closely, the boat speed actually picks up after the boat’s heading goes over 180°. This is the same “by the Lee” effect incorporated into the Mesh Shop Laser One. It’s nice to see it here too. 🙂

Turn Style

Bandit50Cruisers are often beamy boats with lots of mass. It can be a real chore to turn them around, and it often takes considerable space. The wheel response can also seem sluggish and sloppy in RL and SL.

Well, that’s not true for Bandit 50. I did a series of 180° Half Circle tests on the boat to see if it could cut a sharp turn, and it came through like a champ.

turn radius -Bandit 50

The top image to the right shows the X-Y position of the boat measured each second during a hard turn into the wind from AWA -90° to AWA +90°. The boat has a turning radius of around 15 m, which in Second Life is actually pretty good.
To demonstrate that, in the second figure I superimposed Bandit 50’s turn onto the turn plots of a large number of other boats shown in gray. This boat handles pretty well!


The Bandit 50 is a pretty great build that meets all the criteria a cruising skipper could hope for. The construction is wonderfully detailed and accurate, there’s enough room and sit positions for a crowd of friends, and the performance is realistic for a midsize sloop.

However, the best accolades come from Admiral Chaos Mandelbrot.
He runs the Tuesday evening LCC events, so he’s a veteran cruiser if there ever was one. 🙂 Chaos tells me the Bandit 50 has now replaced Loonetta 31 as his Tuesday cruiser of choice. 🙂

Go give the boat a test drive yourself at the Mesh Shop and see what you think.

Don’t decide too fast, though. I have two more cruise boats to tell you about in upcoming days. 🙂

Bandit at LCC July 23


Fossett 2500

Fossett 2500

Although my regards are a few weeks’ tardy, I’d like to give a big THANKS to Chaos, Benny and Rona for their efforts organizing the August  20 Leeward Cruise. The theme was:  Jane Fossett’s 2,500th day in Second Life. 🙂 It was loads of fun, and gave me this opportunity to chime-in with praise for SL cruisers once again.

Chaos, Tory, Manul

The Cruising Club has been around for over five years, and it’s easily the largest and longest-running sailing event in all SL. 

Manul Rotaru and Tory Micheline initiated the concept. With strong support from Saxxon Domela and Elisha Paklena, Manul and Tory began Mowry Bay Cruising Club. It was an instant, huge success, and the MBCC fleet quickly grew in both membership and cruising options. After many months of regular events, MBCC was recognized by pretty much everyone  as a staple of sailing in Second Life. 🙂

At that point, Tory and Manul did an truly unexpected and somewhat amazing thing: They resigned. They had proven their point about the importance of cruising. They were not interested in SL politics, and they certainly did not want to form some sort of “Cruising Monopoly.” (Note: This is just my understanding of conversations from years ago. Please chat with Tory and Manul to get the real info.)

At their request, the cruising group reorganized and became the Leeward Cruising ClubSaxxon again hosted several meetings, and both Blackbird Latte and Cait played important roles, keeping the cruising group alive during a serious transitional phase.

Leeward Cruising

Chaos at helm; Jane, Fran and somebody crewing.

The mantle was then formally passed to Chaos Mandelbrot and Kittensusie Lander. That dynamic duo instantly went into high gear, establishing a regular schedule of challenging cruises and apres sail parties that won the admiration and participation of sailors, grid-wide.

In this context, don’t let me forget BennyThe Boozehound; he’s coordinated the music for over half the cruises since Chaos and Kitten took charge. Benny’s playlists have always been cruise-appropriate, and frequently sailor-specific; he’s set the theme for a litany of sailing adventures in SL. It’s no easy matter to set up the media at a new dock each week, and Benny deserves heartfelt thanks for his dedication to all the SL sailors over so many years. 🙂

The cruises have been successful for so long that Hannelore Ballenger recently posted (with some frustration) that the SL Sailing Association should be

LCC June 21


renamed the SL Cruisers, since cruising was ostensibly more popular than racing! However, of course the issue is not so black-and-white; the truth lies somewhere in-between.

In Real Life, yacht clubs are made up of both cruisers and racers. The cruisers usually strongly outnumber the racers although there is often considerable overlap, and even occasional friction. It’s no surprise that similar community patterns develop in Second Life’s sailing clubs too. Sailing is a highly diverse endeavor.

Well, having said all that, let me add that the August 20 Fossett Anniversary Cruise at DYC/ Knaptrackicon turned out pretty great, with the usual flash mob of sailors and boats in attendance. It also gave me a chance to show off the wonderful, (in fact, rather incredible) recent rebuild of DYC by Elbag Gable and RJ Kikuchiyo.


DYC’s Northwest corner has a permanent deck designed to host LCC visitors and events. 🙂 Benny put it to good use on August 20!

Leeward Cruisers at DYC

Leeward Cruise September 17

Well anyway, that was a few weeks ago. As you read this, you’re prolly muttering to yourself: “So what? What has Leeward Cruising Club done for me lately?

I’m glad you asked! 🙂

LCC 17 Sep 2013

Leeward Cruise September 17

The September 17 05:00pm SLT cruise will revisit Sansara. The fleet will take off from the rez point dock in Valda sim, and move West through the Northern Coastal corridor until it merges with the waters of Bay City. The fleet will then move South to the opposite side of the continent to pick up the Southern Coastal passage heading East.

At the old site of Abbott’s Aerodrome, the hardy group of sailors will turn Northeast again, cutting into the legendary Bay of Space Pigs. An octave of sims later, the group will make landfall at the Sailing Center in Fudo, where Benny will be spinning tunes, and Rona will be waiting with hot chocolate and cookies for everybody. 🙂

See you at 5:00 in Valda!

testing new course

Test driving the route on Monday nite


Danshire Yacht Club Gets a Makeover

DYC April 16_024a

I wanted to take a moment to give a huge shout-out to Elbag Gable and RJ Kikuchiyo for their wonderful help expanding and remodeling Danshire Yacht Club in Knaptrackicon.

knaptrack channelKnaptrackicon

Knaptrakicon sits in the middle of Nautilus between Bingo Strait and Dire Strait, and it includes the major channel that connects the North and South waterways for the linked continents of Nautilus, Gaeta, Satori, and Corsica. That makes Knaptrackicon a rather critical gateway for many who sail there. Click on the map above, and you’ll see what I mean.


Click to enlarge: Knaptrackicon in 2009

may 10 2010  knaptrackicon

Knaptrackicon in 2010


In an effort to keep at least a narrow channel open, in early 2010 Tig Spijkers and I moved Danshire Yacht Club down to Knaptrackicon. When several more parcels went on sale there soon after, Elbag Gable joined in and picked them up, widening the waterway for all sailors to use.

The image to the right shows the channel and builds as of May 2010. The waterway is open and easily navigable, but there are still small builds on either side of the canal that make it difficult for more than one boat to pass at a time.

Well, that’s changing pretty quickly now! A few months ago, Elbag made another wonderful gesture, buying up several of the remaining parcels in the sim and deeding them through DYC to improve sailing. It was now possible to widen the channel, re-terraform the western half of the sim, and give the DYC builds a “fashion makeover.” 🙂 

That’s where RJ Kikuchiyo stepped in and took over, completely redesigning the space to give it a consistent, classic Northern European theme. RJ is a truly legendary maestro of maritime architecture in Second Life. Although the work is not yet complete, the new additions are strikingly beautiful, detailed and true, reflecting both RJ’s artistic vision and his knowledge of maritime history. Please stop by and take a look, and ask RJ about it!

DYC April 16 2013

Mandelbrot exp(7)

Quite a few sailors did stop by DYC this past Tuesday; the Leeward Cruisers celebrated  Chaos Mandelbrot’s Seventh Rez Day!

LCC April 16 map

click to enlarge

The cruise route for the day left DYC  and swung up through Dire Strait to Fedallah, before turning Southeast to cut back into Bingo Strait.

If you click on the map to the right, the green dots will give you a sense of  the size of the fleet. Early in the sail, boats were strung out all the way from DYC to the ends of Dire Strait! 🙂

Leeward April 16

As usual, the cruise was full of fun sailing and flat jokes, and Bennythe Boozehound’s music selection kept everyone pretty excited all evening. It was a great way to break in the new dockside dancefloor at DYC!

Chaos RezDay 7 Party at DYC

DYC Hosts LCC For Chaos Rez Party April 16

LCC chart Apr 16 2013d

Kudos to Kittensusie Lander for organizing the great LCC cruise on April 14. The start sim was flooded with boats of all sorts, the fleet had great fun navigating the long voyage, and the apres-cruise party was so crowded it overloaded the sim!

That’s pretty much business-as-usual for Leeward Cruising. For a long time, the team of Kittensusie Lander and Chaos Mandelbrot have lead fun sailing events that go off like clockwork each Sunday and Tuesday. Everyone’s invited: sailors and non-sailors, racers and cruisers, newbies and old-salts, from mainland and off-islands… they all converge on some designated dock. They hope for a great time with good friends, and they are never disappointed.

On April 16, Danshire Yacht Club will host the regular Tuesday 5:00pm LCC sail. This one’s a bit special though, since it’s in honor of Chaos Mandelbrot’s Seventh Rez Day. Woots!

That’s a lot of water under the keel, as it were. In those seven years, Chaos has done much to build SLSailing, from his early days hosting Trivial Obsession for LL and racing Takos at SYC, to winning the J-Classic Regatta (with Nomad Zamani) in 2009, to his current co-leadership role in the Cruiser fleet. As if that were not enough, Chaos is this year’s Team Leader for all of Sail4Life.

So if you have the time, come sail on Tuesday to help celebrate Chaos Mandelbrots’ Seventh Rez Day.

I admit there are several other great people who have done as much to build SLSailing, and they too deserve all our praise. But… how many of them are penguins? 🙂

LCC 2012

Mesh Shop VO-70, Part 1: Cruising

Volvo Ocean Race

When new acquaintances find out I’m interested in sailing, they often say something helpful and supportive, like:

“Sailing? You’re kidding. That’s like watching the grass grow!”

In a conciliatory tone, I usually reply: “You are thinking of Golf.
I then send them video clips of the Volvo Ocean Race. 🙂

In case you’ve been out golfing a lot this past decade, let me give you the memo on this event:

The VOR is a grueling, 39,000 mile sail race that circumnavigates Earth, the planet most of us currently live on. The VOR is literally the race Columbus and Magellan dreamed of, and would die for.

That’s only a three-minute teaser. Remember, there’s 38,999 miles to go, so here’s the link to the full-length video that will give you the play-by-play for the 2011 – 2012 Volvo event. Got that? Now let’s talk boats!

Volvo Open 70

The competing VOR teams sail boats that all comply with design specs under Volvo Open 70 Rule V3-V4 (the “VO-7o Class”). These boats are carbon-fiber light but they’re also tough-as-nails, and amazingly fast. They have an innovative canting keel, a flat, beamy hull-and-backside for planing, daggerboards for stability, and dual rudders.

This is super-stuff skippers drool over.

I know you’re wondering to yourself: “Jane, how fast are these puppies? How do VO-70’s stand up to the Rigors of extreme Racing?”  Well kids, the numbers don’t lie; VO-70’s are the alpha dogs of any multiclass race pack. In 2006 a VO-70 set the World 24-hour speed record, and last year the Abu Dhabi VO-70 team won the Fastnet Race with the Best Monohull Time in History (on this planet, anyway). 🙂 Is that good enough for you?

Well, all good things come to an end unfortunately; the VO-70 Rule will retire in 2012. However, sailors know that in the few short years VO-70 ruled the Volvo, those VO-70 boats and their sail teams burned a new white-hot page into the history of sailing. For many who watched with eyes wide and mouth open, “VO-70” earned a spot as a true contemporary legend. The Open 70 had the right stuff to inspire a generation of new sailors worldwide.

SLSailors also recognized this, and in February 2009 Wildwind Sailboats launched the VOJ-70;  Corry Kamichi’s interpretation of the VO-70. The boat was a big hit within the SL virtual sail-racing community, and it helped establish Wildwind’s reputation as a premier builder of large, hi-tech contemporary race boats.

Unfortunately, six months ago Wildwinds closed it’s docks and Corry took a temporary sabbatical from boat-building. That left no one to celebrate the wonderful VO-70 design…

Mesh Shop Volvo

Well, big applause goes to The Mesh Shop and “Dutch” Kain Xenobuilder. Dutch is an accomplished Mesh artisan, and he accepted the challenge to build a new emulation of the VO-70.

Dutch’s boat finally launched several weeks ago. Most sailors will probably recall that Dutch’s beautiful design was a big hit at the Sail4Life auction, where Charlz Price got the bragging rights to VO-70 Hull #1 for a winning bid of a whopping L$58,205! 🙂

Well since then, VO-70’s hit the water, and a few days ago it got it’s second post-launch update. In that context, it seemed like a good time to tell you about the boat!

Mesh Build

The Mesh Shop VO-70 is (no surprise) a fully mesh build, and Dutch Xenobuilder is a mesh-meister. I sailed with Rim Telling last week and discussed the VO-70. Rim has lots of experience building virtual boats, and he gushed high praise for the quality of the Vo-70, calling it “beautiful,” and “expertly built.

It’s hard to disagree. The hull has the graceful curves of a modern race boat, and the dimensions faithfully match the RL Volvo design spec (The SL VO-70 hull is 22.5m LWL). The towering carbon fiber mast, boom, spreader and stays all reveal a careful attention to detail. Without raising a sail, this boat announces  it’s ready to race, and it means serious business. 🙂

To prove that point, the boat comes with a fistful of texture packs based on the sail designs of the 2011-2012 VOR competition boats. 🙂

No-Bump Volvo

The boat weighs in at a mere 26 prim, but that translates to a “Land Impact” of 212. Here are the numbers for three other recent mesh boats for comparison:

  • Mesh Shop VO-7    Prim: 26   LI: 212
  • Ktaba Teleri             Prim: 22  LI: 51
  • Quest Melges 24     Prim: 38  LI: 91
  • Loon Loonetta 31   Prim: 32  LI: 31

The cockpit, foredeck and rigging are nicely detailed with plenty of winches and a working mainsheet. 🙂 There are enough sit positions to accomodate a large crew, and there’s even a separate HUD that allows crew to help trim the sails.

The build is so nice, it convinced me I can stop doing “bump tests” on mesh sailboat hulls. All the boats I’ve looked at this summer have “collision cages” that match the visible hull. 🙂

Phantom Rig

Although the hull is solid, let me add that the mast, boom, sails, bowsprint and stays are all phantom when underway. That should make it easy passing under bridges on river passages. 🙂

Phantom Canting Keel

The RL Volvo Open 70 has a canting keel. As the boat tilts leeward due to the pressure of wind against sail, a skipper can rotate the bulb keel ballast to counteract the tilt. This feature makes the boat safer, and much faster. The Open 70’s also equipped with dagger boards on each side to enhance lift and improve lateral stability.

Both of these features are included on the Mesh Shop VO-70 as well, and they operate automatically while the boat is underway. Look under the boat next time you sail it, and you’ll see! 🙂

Like the rig however, the keel is phantom; the boat only draws one meter. A skipper won’t ground out in shallow water sailing this boat!


The VO-70 is easy to sail. It uses a new BWind sail engine with a simplified info-HUD display, and there are only a few, intuitve commands that help a skipper control the boat. It’s all fully explained in the notecards that accompany the release version, so an inexperienced sailor can be confidently underway in just a matter of minutes.

Cruising the VO-70

The VO-70 uses a BWind 2.5 sail engine developed by Becca Moulliez. When a skipper says “cruising” in chat, the boat unlocks the wind and accepts the standard BWind chat commands for wind speed and compass direction. There are six wind directions (N, NE, NW, S, SE, SW) and eight wind speeds (8, 11, 15, 18, 21, 25 knots).

The sails go up with the universal chat command “Raise,” and a standard numerical HUD appears. It’s simple and unclutterred, but it has all the basic stuff a skipper needs, including compass heading, boat speed, real wind speed, apparent wind angle, and the sail sheet setting.

The skipper adjusts the mainsail and jib together using the Up and Down arrow keys, and the sheeting movement is accompanied by great winch and ratchet sounds.

Chat gestures come along with the boat; they allow precision adjustment of the sails. The gestures use channel 29000, and here’s the command format so you can edit your own versions: “/29000 sheet-1” (Please note: The com channel is not adjustable.)

When the VO-70 sails fall out of tune, they start to visibly flap and give off loud luffing noises to get your attention. Once the sails are correctly adjusted, everything calms down again and the HUD turns green.

This probably all sounds familiar to most sailors, but let me emphasize the attention to detail on the VO-70 is pretty impressive, from the sounds of the rig to the wave action and salt spray that come over the bow as you beat up wind. If you have questions, talk to Hannelore Ballinger about it; she loves this boat, and she thinks using Mouse-Look at the VO-70 helm is a near-religious experience. :-).

Taking another step, let me add that the VO-70 comes equipped with a genniker that can provide a considerable boost on downwind headings.

The genniker adjusts along with the mainsail, but a skipper can fine tune it using the Page Up/ Page Down keys.

Speaking of which, the crew can also get in on the act. There’s a separate crew HUD (see image to right) that lets others aboard adjust the sheets and switch the headsails. Pretty Nice!


OK, let’s now talk a few numbers. 🙂
Before I get into boat performance though, I need to comment about speed variance in VO-70.

If you click on the chart to the right, you’ll get a graph of boat speed recorded each second over 220 continuous seconds under constant conditions. As you can see from the graph, the boat speed shows a continuous, irregular oscillation that mostly stays within 10% of the mean, although the most extreme swing in boat speed is nearly 40% of the average. This degree of built-in variation is impressive, since all wind parameters were held constant, there were no tiller or sheet changes, and the HUD direction and AWA remained unchanged (AWA fluctuated 161-162).

Of course there are many factors that contribute to boat speed in real sailing; I’m not complaining that this boat’s speed isn’t constant. In fact, what’s going on in VO-70 looks a lot like the the charts I previously published for Melges-24‘s speed oscillation. I don’t know why this speed fluctuation happens… but there are lots of things I don’t know. Sailors should just be aware of it. 🙂

I needed to bring this issue up, because it strongly affects the empirical “polar plots” a sailor can construct for the VO-70. No surprise, it will also affect any skipper’s prediction of boat performance when sailing VO-70 on a given course.

With those caveats, here’s a graph showing practical boat speed as a function of wind angle. It’s not too pretty, with a lot of sharp angles that are probably due to the oscillations I discussed above.  If anybody gets a better polar for this boat, I’ll post it! 🙂

The blue line shows boat speed plotted against the Real Wind Angle, and the green line shows it for the Apparent Wind Angle. The result shows that the VO-70 (update 2) has a broad performance range. The sails fill and the boat begins to make headway with RWA in the low 20’s, and by RWA 40 the boat is already doing 75% of RWS. With just the mainsail and jib, the VO-70 hits a maximum speed of 110% RWS on a beam reach. If you raise the genniker, you can do even better, topping out at 120% of RWS on a broad reach.

The chart to the right shows how this stacks up compared to a couple other boats. The red curve shows Boat Speed vs. RWA for the Mesh Shop VO-70. The dotted blue curve shows the same thing for the real Volvo Open 70 v4. There’s pretty good agreement. 🙂

I never did a polar for Corry Kamichi’s Wildwind VOJ-70, but I’m pretty sure it’s similar to the JMO-60, RCJ-44, and ACJ-35. I’ve therefore also added the Wildwind RCJ-44 curve to the above chart. All three boats are remarkably fast, with peak speeds that well exceed the Real Wind Speed. 🙂

At this point, let me quickly summarize everything I said about sailing and cruising VO-70. I have much more to add about racing this boat, but this article is way, way too long already. 🙂 I’ve therefore broken my discussion of VO-70 in half, and I promise to post the “Racing VO-70” details very soon! 🙂 Here’s the skinny for this part:


The Mesh Shop VO-70 is a great boat for virtual sailors who want a fast, realistic emulation of a contemporary ocean racer. VO-70’s mesh build is meticulously detailed, and the dimensions match the RL Volvo Open 70. The boat is drop-dead gorgeous on it’s own, but you’ll probably want to pimp it out, so Dutch has loaded the VO-70 up with two handfuls of sail/hull textures that match the colors of the teams that raced the Volvo Ocean 2012.
At VO-70’s heart you’ll find a state-of-the-art BWind 2.5, and that engine’s typically low lag and no nonsense.
This boat will take you and your crew across the grid and back at high speed, flaunting sim line-crossings along the way. It’s a truly great addition to the SL Sailing fleet.

Unless you are morbidly depressed, you’ll want to try one of these super sailboats out for yourself. 🙂 Dutch (Kain Xenobuilder) has just opened up a new Mesh Shop location in SL, conveniently located in Tschotcke, on the shores of Bingo Strait North.

I’ll see you there; I’ll be the one trying to clear the salt water from my ears after trying to sail this rocket sled VO-70. 🙂

 Click here for:

The Mesh Shop VO-70, part II: Racing

Atanua Marina

Over the past two years, the Linden Department of Public Works has greatly expanded the opportunities for mainland sailors. In Sansara, they upgraded Sea of Fables with new racelines and content, and then added roughly three dozen new coastal waterway sims to provide Bay City with both North and South passages to sailing areas in East Sansara and Heterocera.

The efforts in Nautilus have been equally impressive, with the development of Dire Strait, a new passage to Corsica, and the addition of many coastal waterway sims at strategic points to make extensive cruising possible.

Leeward Cruise July 10 2012

Satori (aka the Southern Continent,  the Japanese Continent, or Mãebaleia) is now getting attention as well. Satori, like Gaeta (and I suppose like Australia too) has few inland waterways, and it’s coastal routes were cluttered with impassable builds. Well, that’s slowly changing as new water sims are added on both the East and West coasts.


Leeward Cruisers applauded this change and made several excursions to Satori in recent months. Well, on Tuesday July 9 LCC’s at it again with a cruise that will start from the Atanua Marina and end at DYC in Knaptrackicon.

Kudos go to Abnor Mole for his very nice Atanua Marina build that will be LCC’s Tuesday launch point. It’s located in the Northwest corner of the sim, and it’s horseshoe-shaped, with a large, protected dock area facing south.

The rez point is thoughtfully done as well. It encloses the entire marina area, but then extends a good distance south over open water. Even a large flotilla should find ample space to stage a start there.

One of the nicest things about the Atanua Marina is the long rez time; autoreturn is set for 30 minutes there, so there’s no need to rush if you need to make last-minute repairs to your boat before you get underway. 🙂

Come cruising with Leeward on Tuesday at 5:00pm SLT, and see if you agree Atanua’s a nice addition for sailors. If you like it, be sure to say thanks to Abnor Mole and Michael Linden next time you see them! 🙂