Category Archives: North Sea

Second Sol Closing Party is Sunday

All good things must come to an end sometime… 🙂

Second Sol Closing Party poster

Image courtesy of Dil Spitzharpoon

Three Second Sol “Rules” for Virtual Sailing.

S4L Sec Sol Sailing the Catboat

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.

heel waggle effect

Flat gives the best Boatspeed

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.

Rapid Reefing

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.

Crew Alts

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. 🙂

Patch2 engine trouble

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. 🙂
takabou
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. 
SteveLL
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.
Brett
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

HANDICAP HOTLAPS 2013


HH2013

Handicap Hotlaps Kickoff

Handicap Hotlaps lets sailors practice their skill on a short, standard course and then post the results online. The previous article includes a long list of links to a variety of old discussions about Hotlaps and the related boat handicap scores, but reading all that stuff  can get very boring, very fast.

But hey, do you have a few minutes? Forget about reading that stuff… Let’s go sail some Hotlaps instead! 🙂

hotlapsposters

Handicap Hotlaps 2013

All you need to do is go to a raceline that’s set up with a Hotlaps course and rez your boat. The first three Hotlaps racelines are located in Plum Gut, Knaptackicon, and soon Breadnut (as soon as Hawk puts up the posters).  Over the next few days I’ll add several more.

Here’s how it works.

When you go to a Hotlaps line you’ll see two posters. Click on the top one that says “Hotlaps 2013.” It gives you a notecard with all the details for that line.

Plum Gut Handicap Hotlaps 1005

That note will include the current Hotlaps chart for the line, and it will also tell you how to set the wind. (Here’s a tip: the Handicap wind is always 15 knots with no variance, but the wind angle depends on the orientation of each raceline and course. In Plum Gut the angle is 0.0°, in Knaptrackicon it’s 180°, and in Breadnut it’s 225°. Check the notecard to be sure which wind is correct at a particular race line.)

North Sea Hotlaps 2013 v105

Breadnut Hotlaps Course

Once you have the chart and the wind, you can sail a solo lap whenever its convenient for you by following the race course instructions. Once you complete the course, you’ll end up with a lap time (lap time is Finish Time minus Start Time). If you think that result is an ‘average, good‘ time for you in that boat class, then please take an extra moment to post your score online.

You can do that very easily by clicking the poster above the green buoy, the one that says “Enter your lap time here“. That will give you a web link to a data entry form.

DYC Handicap Hotlaps 2013 v106

Knaptrackicon DYC Hotlaps Course

Just add your skipper name, your boat class and your net lap time, and you’re done. Then you can go back and run the course again, or switch to a different boat!
Actually, you can run as many Hotlaps in as many different boats as you want; the more the better. Every time you submit a data lap time it helps define the relative performance of that boat class.

Please remember one thing: don’t just submit your best score on a race course; Hotlaps wants all your average, good scores. We are trying to determine the “average, good” lap time of an “average, good” skipper sailing many different boats!

Mo’ Hotlaps

Kudos to Hawk and Kentrock for all the help planning and setting up the first three Hotlaps courses. Hay Ah’s also promised to look at ways to improve the Hotlaps interface, so online scores will be better integrated with the raceline. 🙂

I’ll add Hotlaps to two more racelines this week, and Liv Leigh will soon add a Hotlaps course at Tradewinds. If you have a raceline, you can add your own Hotlaps course too. Just let me know so I can give you the info and add that site to the list!

Well, that’s enough reading; let’s sail!

FIYC

Solstice Challenge Begins

Click to enlarge

Today the S4L Solstice Challenge officially opened, with a Regatta Party hosted by Elbag Gable in Eden Celebration sim. The event was rather wondrous, and well-deserved Kudos go to Elbag and all the great people in Eden, North Sea, and Fruit Islands!

And what a party it was! The first hour was a rather incredible lightshow by Tyrehl. It was so popular that at one point a full 67 people were crowded into the sim! (I didn’t think that was possible!)

courtesy of Dil Spitz

The second hour was a performance by Lightning’s ABBA tribute in SL, held at the Eden concert stage. It was a pretty fantastic kick-off to the weekend of sailboat racing coming up!

Chaos slept through it 🙂

As most readers know, Solstice Challenge is a weekend race regatta to raise contributions for Relay For Life, one of the major SL fundraisers. There are sixteen great teams sailing in SOLSTICE, and each paid a donation “entry fee” to join the race. Many others in the sailing community then generously chipped in too, matching the racer’s contributions or paying to sponsor boats, greatly increasing the fundraising total.

The response has been pretty great so far, but hey, you can still donate any time you want over the weekend to support your favorite team or the whole fleet. There will be Sail4Life kiosks at all the spectator platforms for each race!

Here’s a list of the teams that will be racing on Saturday in four timeslots. Each qualifying event is hosted by a different SL Yacht Club, and the timeslot fleet will sail that club’s home water. The four timeslot winners will then meet on Sunday morning in Sailors Cove for a FINALS shootout to pick the regatta winner!

click to enlarge

Kudos to October 25 Cruisers

Thanks to Fruit Islands, Eden Resort, and the new North Sea Region for hosting last tuesday’s Leeward Cruising Club cruise!

LCC is a rather huge group of bodacious boaters, and it keeps getting bigger and better. The excursions are coordinated by Kittensusie Lander, Cate Foulsbane, and Chaos Mandelbrot, a truly terrific troika of seasoned skippers.

The LCC Tues-Cruise is usually orchestrated by Chaos. In fact he’s done a nonstop great job at it each and every week, pretty much forever… or at least since that asteroid ruined Caribbean cruising back during the Cretaceous period.

(Editor comment: Please note, the Cretaceous Epoch should not be confused with SL’s legendary Cetaceous Racecrew.)

Anyway, on October 25 Chaos was detained by RL stuff and he asked for some stand-in assistance until he could arrive on-deck. Well, in short order a bunch of great Fruit Islands sailors with curiously familiar names all chimed in to help.

So please give mega-kudos to Equinox, Hawk, Elbag, Samlara, Xi, Benny, and Lizzo for their combo-super-assist backing up Chaos, LCC’s Penguinus in Absentia.

LDewell Hawker designed the course for October 25, making it a Grand Tour of Elbag Gable’s new North Sea sailing water:

Hawk's Oct25 LCC Cruise Route

The Cruising Crowd on Tuesday is often pretty big and takes some planning. Elbag, Hawk, and Lizzo knew this, and decided LCC needed a full sim for both the cruise Launch and Finish. Luckily, Mango Yacht Club was available… 🙂

MYC has a beautiful marina and a great, multipurpose club designed by Equinox Pinion and Dennis Lagan, the co-owners of Fruit Islands Estate. RJ Kikuchiyo had a big input there too!

Tuesday’s launch from MYC was a good chance to remind sailors that Mango sim has recently changed it’s Fruit location. When the North Sea project rolled out, Mango moved to the far West edge of Fruit Islands, as shown on Hawk’s map above. It’s protected harbor now opens on North Sea, and woots, that’s a pretty nice spot!

I guess the LCC fleet got a chance to decide that for themselves on Tuesday. By cruise time, Hawk announced that over twenty sailors were already heading out from the Mango dock into the surrounding sims. Actually, the fleet quickly grew to nearly twice that size; and I have personal evidence! 🙂

Once the flotilla took off and stragglers on the dock were cared for, I launched a boat to sail ‘clean-up’ behind the fleet. Well, within a minute from the time I hit the water, I was joined by two new sailors who were a bit late but wanted to come cruise. Right behind them came LCC’s Antarctic Admiral, Chaos Mandelbrot. Without warning he fell from the sky, his tiller in hand.  I stepped aside so he landed on the helm!

Four on the Floor (click to enlarge)

So in less than sixty seconds, my solo fleet addition turned into a commuter bus carrying a full crew. 🙂 We actually rezzed a new Trudeau Twelve to make room for everybody, and I’m guessing a lot of similar stuff was going on in the cockpits of other skippers, as the number of cruisers ramped up across North Sea. 🙂

I also think this is one of the hidden strengths of Leeward Cruising. People can just show up as their schedule permits; it’s all about fun, and there’s no stress.

Hey, you don’t have a boat?
Well, a LCC skipper has space for you.

Are you working late and can’t make the cruise?
Well, come in the middle, or just join the party after!
🙂

It’s hard not to love LCC’s attitude. The fleet keeps growing, the courses get more diverse, and the LCC organizers take it all in stride. Thank you to Tory and Manul for getting the cruising ball rolling in SL, and for setting the strong foundation that started it all. As I mentioned above, please also give a loud woot to Kitten, Cate, and Chaos. They continued the LCC legacy, and grew it into a legend. 🙂

Thanks to North Sea and Fruit too! The North Sea sims had good grid weather for the Tuesday cruise, and there were fairly stable sim crossings. In no small measure that resulted from Hawk and Fruit Island’s vigilance restarting recalcitrant regions prior to the LCC take-off.

There were four of us sailing a small boat Tuesday in the cruise.  Given the recent SL troubles, fraught with server issues and failed server hand-offs, I thought our vessel was doomed. However, Trudeau Twelve is a pretty rugged build, and North Sea kept a watchful eye. We actually made it the whole way with only a single mishap. 🙂 Cough… Our Admiral-Penguin-Skipper fell overboard briefly… Apparently, the sailing conditions were good enough that he decided to upgrade his graphics drivers while we were crossing dozens of ocean sims… 🙂

Anyway, after Chaos fell overboard, the rest of us drifted… telling jokes, eating crudite, and discussing Lindsay Lohan’s career. Chaos was back after a quick reboot however, and we forged ahead.

I admit North Sea is pretty interesting. I had my draw distance set to around 480m and we were cruising with a sizable flotilla. Despite that, for much of the time I could only see open water, with a sprinkling of distant sails on the horizon. It was a lot like RL offshore cruising!

North Sea, Eden, and Fruit Islands together present new options for sailing events, providing a combination of open water and narrow channel passages that will meet the needs of many skippers and event planners.

Although lots of good water is critical, let me also add that cruising is mostly about Friends. You may cover a long distance confined to your boat and close crew-mates, but the whole inspiration comes as a joint venture coupled with many other audacious captains. Your boat is just one part of a whole fleet, and you’re all heading to a far-off destination.

On Tuesday, that destination landfall was back at Mango, where Bennythe Boozehound was spinning his playlist. It was a great prize to strive for. 🙂

Yikes, it was a pretty great cruise overall, and I hope there are many more to come! GO LCC!!

Go Benny!

Northern Light

A Beacon for North Sea

Two days ago I wrote about the new North Sea region in Fruit Islands. The expansion adds twenty new open-water sims to Fruit’s extensive waterways, and it promises a wealth of future sailing opportunities for racers and cruisers alike.

Today I’d like to follow up on one, small feature of the project, the lighthouse that forms North Sea’s centerpiece.

If you click on the map below, you’ll get a 2144 x 1588 pixel view of the Northwest corner of Fruit Islands; it shows the names and locations the individual North Sea sims. Right in the center of that map you’ll find a new lighthouse, located on a small island in Ziziphus.

The North Sea Light will stand as a signature landmark for sailing in Fruit Islands, and its lit beacon will serve as an enduring reference point for vessels crossing North Sea’s open ocean.

Like most sailors in SL and RL, I think lighthouses are pretty important. For thousands of years, the light from these fixed navigational beacons guided sailors to distant shores; they fueled the history and legend of human progress.

Maybe that sounds excessive and overstated… but I don’t think so.

Even in 2011 on a dark night surrounded by choppy sea, the flash of a familiar lighthouse signals safety to any sailor, and that simple message means everything.

The lighthouse beacon points the way to a friendly harbor, and the beacon’s identity and cadence often means ‘home’ to a weary crew as they end a long passage.

Elbag Gable understood this as he planned North Sea. He asked RJ Kikuchiyo to design and build an iconic beacon that sailors would recognize and use.

If you’re reading this article, you already know RJ; he is a remarkable builder, teacher, and mentor in SL, and his knowledge and taste for nautical builds is legendary. He has a particular affection for lighthouses, and his reproductions can be found on all the major waterways in Second Life. A close look will reveal each build is wondrously detailed and historically accurate;  collectively they form an integral part of the spirit and substance of SL Sailing.

In fact, it’s notable that nearly all of the major sailing communities have their own signature Kiku-Craft beacon. Look around, and you’ll see what I mean.

In Blake Sea, it’s Fastnet Light,
in Sailor’s Cove, it’s Race Rock,
at NYC, it’s Sankaty Head,
at Tradewinds, it’s Drum Point,
in Triumphal, it’s El Morro

I could go on-and-on with this list, it’s pretty long, but you get the idea. 🙂

Sanibel Light

Anyway, let me get off my soapbox here and tell you about the new lighthouse that just came on-line in North Sea. 🙂 RJ modeled it after the Point Ybel Light on Florida’s Sanibel Island. Here’s a pic of the RL structure:

Sanibel lighthouse dates to the late 19th century, and it was the first lighthouse on the Florida Gulf Coast north of Key West. It’s positioned on the East end of Sanibel Island, and for over a century it’s served as a coastal Aid To Navigation, guiding ships into nearby San Carlos Bay. The Coast Guard maintains the beacon on its ‘active’ list still, but the town of Sanibel now controls of the property.

The lighthouse sits on a foundation of iron pilings, and the 30 meter vertical structure consists of an iron skeleton framework that supports the central, cylindrical tower. The beacon on top alerts approaching sailors with a white, double-flash that repeats every ten seconds.

Actually, in that context I’ve often wondered about the difficulty light keepers must have endured, as they try to sleep while an intense light flash went off  repeatedly through the night. Well, while looking through the Sanibel archives online this week, I got a hint about a possible coping strategy some light keepers may have used.

It turns out one of the historic Sanibel light keepers had thirteen children while he was maintaining the light. 🙂 He might have had difficulty getting to sleep, but at least he used the time productively!

OKOK, unrelated to that comment, let me add that Sanibel’s lighthouse is a well-recognized and important part of the Gulf Coast/ Caribbean region history, and several decades ago it was recognized as a national historic site in The USA.

Sanibel Light is a great tribute to sailing, and RJ has re-created it as an icon to sailors in North Sea. From it’s prominence in Ziziphus sim, it will stand as a constant monument in easy view of all those enjoying the new ocean sims.

So… next time you sail past it, look up and think of all the generations of sailors world-wide who went before you, and then go hug Elbag and RJ for keeping the spirit and tradition alive in SL!