Category Archives: S–Vuitton Trophy

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! 🙂


DominaAkhAsshA Bravin’s Videos

I wanted to give a shout-out to DominaAkhAsshA Bravin for all her great sailing videos on Youtube! Here is her view of the ‘Final Tiebreaker‘ match between Armano Xaris and Takabou Destiny that decided the winner of August 28’s SL-Vuitton Trophy Regatta:

Vodpod videos no longer available.
DominaAkhAsshA Bravin – Final SLVT Race
, posted with vodpod

You can find many more of DominaAkhAsshA’s videos from the SL-VT series posted there, including a great version of the first match between Armano and Hawk that I talked about so much on Metaverse here and here. 🙂

Also, please don’t forget to visit elMegro Magic’s blog; he hosts and highlights DominaAkhAsshA’s videos, and has a lot of great content and commentary as well!

Armano Xaris Wins SL-Vuitton Final Top-Spot

Breaking News

After two and a half months and nearly two hundred match races sponsored by many yacht clubs and  marine-themed estates across the grid, today it came down to four championship contenders and a final five-hour match sequence.

Armano, Hawk, Lynn, and Takabou were all well-known household names to the large spectator crowd attending today’s event. The superstar sailors who met on the Fedallah raceline for the final shoot-out had repeatedly flashed incredible sailing skills and demonstrated their undeniable dedication in prior qualifying rounds… and in so many other sailing competitions.

These four are all Kazenojin, in my book.

Thankfully, today’s weather was reasonably cooperative, and all the contenders knew the courses, the potential “tough spots,” and any unique rules issue very well. It turned out to be as good a day of racing as anyone could reasonably hope for on the sometimes-treacherous waters of SL.

When the rounds of semifinals matches completed, only two of the four skippers remained standing: Armano Xaris and Takabou Destiny.

Don Berthios, the GGYC Commodore and SLVT Regatta Chair, recently made a decision to change the format for the final match event to a “Best Three of Five” race series. Many experienced Regatta planners (including myself) groaned at this decision, since it made what we knew would be a long event… even longer.

However, I now agree Don was right! the final competition between Armano and Takabou ended up tied at 2 wins each; their sailing skills were so evenly matched it should never have been decided by just three final races, since lag and grid issues may have invalidated that short result-set.

As it turned out, the five race format provided a fair test of the skills and ability of two truly incredible racers. In the end it came down to just one final race, and just eighteen seconds…

Armano took the top spot, but wow! Everyone in SLSailing came  away a winner.

I’ll have a lot more to tell you later!

SL-Vuitton Champions:

  • 1. Armano Xaris
  • 2. Takabou Destiny
  • 3. LDeWell Hawker
  • 4. Lynn Parkin

ACA 3.0 Launch Party on August 21

The long-awaited ACA33 v3.0 will hit the water this Saturday!! Don’t miss the launch celebration and party!

Saturday August 21 2010
12:00 noon SLT

Hollywood Bowl

Lynn and Hawk join SLVT Final Four

In an epic event that often seemed a test of sheer survival skills, the second round of SLVT Quarterfinal Match races successfully ended yesterday.

Five fantastic sailors met their match (literally) on the raceline in Fedallah; each earned their spot in the finals by winning one of the grueling SLVT qualifying competitions held at different sailing clubs over recent weeks. SLVT attracted so much attention and enthusiasm, the Q-Finals required two weekends of races  to narrow down the large list of winners to a spare four skippers who would do battle on August 28 for the ultimate prize.

Last week saw the first set of quarterfinalist matches; Armano Xaris and Takabou Destiny emerged from that foray with decisive victories.

Saturday morning the second group of finalists hit the water: KazumaHs Destiny, Lynn Parkin, LDeWell Hawker, Amythest Wingtips, and Carmen Foden. Sadly, although she sailed wonderously in the quals, Carmen had RL responsibilities and was unable to engage in the day’s races. That reduced the competition fleet to a Fedallah foursome . 🙂

The races were well organized and staffed by a great panel of judges and RD’s, but ‘bad weather’ on the grid proved a major factor that complicated nearly every race. Boats crashed, sim crossings were traumatic, and on multiple occasions every boat and person in particular sims froze in place for as long as two minutes before SL ‘physics’ kicked-in again.

One can’t complain too much, I guess. Unannounced grid-wide malfunction is a common experience and, well… unexpected fluctuating weather conditions impact real-life racing too.

Everyone took it in good humor, however, and when the final gun sounded, Lynn Parkin grabbed the top spot with a perfect set of three match-wins; LDeWell Hawker was right behind her with two wins. Hawk’s winning times of 10:28 and 10:30 were also – by far – the fastest Finish times of the regatta.

Race Five: Amy and Kaz

In the midst of all these rough sea conditions, I thought the best race of the day went hands-down to Amy and Kaz. In case you missed it, Amythest Wingtips came in third place in SLVT Round One at TYC. She was right behind Hawk and Trapez, TYC’s Champion twosome.

Well, that backseat spot didn’t last too long. Fueled with a sense of victory denied, Amy roared back the following week at Mango Yacht Club’s SLVT Round Two. Amy grabbed First at MYC against a very strong fleet, garnering a spot in today’s quarterfinals!

KazumaHs Destiny had that same, indomitable spirit. In GGYC’s qualifying event, Kaz scored a decisive victory, sailing on a tough course against unrelenting competition.

Saturday’s matchup of Amy and Kaz promised to be real fun… if only the weather cooperated!!

As soon as the countdown began, Amy chose a unconventional over-the-line-strategy to break clear and find her way to a good start position. Kaz wasn’t phased, however; he tracked her nicely up to the final few seconds before the gun. At that point Amy swung into a starboard, lee position just ahead of Kaz as they both sprinted toward the windward end of the line.

As you can see above, Amy made it across the line first, but only six seconds ahead of her match partner.

Amy initially had the momentum, and widened her lead over the first upwind leg as shown in the next image.

This follow-the-leader game continued as both boats beat across the next half-dozen sims to the the top mark in Stubb.

As shown above, Amy had quite a lead when she reached that Green top mark.

At that point, the Q-Finals race course included a short  reach leg from Stubb to Bildad and back. My guess was that Kaz’s knowledge and experience would pay off on those sharp turns, and he might make up for lost time.

Wow, did he ever!

If you look at the image on the right, by the time the two boats made the loop and got back to that green Stubb mark, Kaz was steadily gaining ground on Amy.

Although still behind, Kaz now was actually in good position to play his cards. In Stubb the boats turned downwind for the long ride home to Feddalah…  and Kaz was in shadow range.

In the best two-minute sailing lesson anyone could want, KazumaHs Destiny glued himself to Amy’s stern, starving her of wind. He then smoothly slid to her windward side, keeping his dominate control position while maintaining course to the final turn in Rachel.

As the two boats approached the final turn, Kaz pulled ahead and windward of Amy,  but still overlapped. Cool and crisp, he actually gave Amy plenty of room to avoid any chance she might protest; after all… Kaz had the wind, and he had the momentum.


Swinging wide as he passed Amy put Kaz perilously close to a well-marked, sunken shipwreck that lies Southeast of the Rachel race buoy (yellow arrow below). Kaz hit the wreck with his keel and came to an instant, dead stop!

Although it may look like Kaz gave the obstruction respectful room, the images below tell the true story. There’s an old Linden navigation can (blue arrow) that marks the visible part of the wreck; however, there’s actually a much larger sunken hull that’s hidden just below the surface (yellow arrow).  Kaz’s keel came in intimate contact with the hidden wreck… and it literally took him two minutes for him to get free again.

By then, Amy was safely across the Finish and calling SL Coast Guard to give Kaz a tow!

Pretty nice race!

Here’s how the numbers fell in all six Matches:

Race 1
1: Lynn Parkin ID35LP — 00:13:31
2: KazumaHs Destiny IDKH32 — 00:15:31
Lynn Parkin ID35LP — Start: 00:00:02 — Last lap: 00:13:29
KazumaHs Destiny IDKH32 — Start: 00:00:30 — Last lap: 00:15:01

Race 2
1: LDeWell Hawker ID12 — 00:10:28
2: KazumaHs Destiny IDKH32 — not Finished
LDeWell Hawker ID12 — Start: 00:00:02 — Last lap: 00:10:26
KazumaHs Destiny IDKH32 — Start: 00:00:14 — Last lap: not finished

Race 3
1: LDeWell Hawker ID12 — 00:10:30
2: Amythest Wingtips ID69AW — 00:11:16
LDeWell Hawker ID12 — Start: 00:00:10 — Last lap: 00:10:20
Amythest Wingtips ID69AW — Start: 00:00:24 — Last lap: 00:10:52

Race 4
1: Lynn Parkin ID35LP — 00:10:44
2: Amythest Wingtips ID69AW — 00:11:23
Lynn Parkin ID35LP — Start: 00:00:05 — Last lap: 00:10:39
Amythest Wingtips ID69AW — Start:00:00:15 — Last lap: 00:11:38

Race 5
1: Amythest Wingtips ID69AW — 00:11:57
2: KazumaHs Destiny IDKH32 — 00:14:03
Amythest Wingtips ID69AW — Start: 00:00:05 — Last lap: 00:11:52
KazumaHs Destiny IDKH32 — Start: 00:00:11 — Last lap: 00:13:52

Race 6
1: Lynn Parkin ID35LP — 00:11:59
2: LDeWell Hawker ID12 — not Finished
Lynn Parkin ID35LP — Start: 00:00:12 — Last lap: 00:11:47
LDeWell Hawker ID12 — Start: 00:00:02 — DNF

SLVT QFinals Complete on August 14

The second half of the SLVT quarterfinal round robin elimination will be held in Dire Strait on Saturday August 14, hosted by Golden Gate Yacht Club -SL.

The five skippers who will vie for a ticket to the Finals tomorrow are KazumaHs Destiny, Lynn Parkin, LDeWell Hawker, Amythest Wingtips, and Carmen Foden.

Don Berthios provided a nice graphic of the Match race sequence above, and the results are spreadsheeted here. The top two winners tomorrow will face Takabou Destiny and Armano Xaris for the final shootout on August 28!

Armano Xaris, Lynn Parkin, and Garrick Deisel win Round 6

SLVT QFinals begin

Following several weeks of SL-VT qualifying matches, last week’s six-hour Regatta at Free Adriatic marked the end of the open phase of competition.
A spare, final fleet of 10 finalists remained.
Courtesy of Naeve Rossini, here’s the SLVT ACA33 Dream-Team, and their club affiliations:

In the next few weeks this decade of determined competitors will go head-to-head to earn the ultimate ACA Match Race prize… the SLVT Trophy.

The quarterfinal competition will consist of two Round-Robins held on Aug 7 and Aug 14.
The two dates will hopefully provide wide, convenient options to the contestants (since they have real lives, too).

Two skippers will advance from each Quarterfinal Round-Robin;
In fact, Armano Xaris and Takabou Destiny already won First and Second Placein the initial Aug 7 Semifinal Round.
The other half of the dance card will play out next Saturday on Aug 14.
After the Aug 14 regatta, the final Fantastic Four Cast will reconvene on August 28th for a nine-race shoot-out that will determine the 2010 SL-VT Trophy winner.

Here’s the tentative layout for Aug 28:

Match Races 1-3: The First Place Skipper from Aug 7 (namely, Armano Xaris) will race against the Second Place Skipper from Aug 14 (TBD). The first skipper who wins two races will advance.
Match Races 4-6: The First Place Skipper from Aug 14 (TBD) will race against the Second Place Skipper from Aug 7 (namely, Takabou Destiny). The first skipper who wins two races will advance.

Match Races 7-9: The winning two skippers from the above rounds will compete against each other in three final races. The first skipper who wins two races will be named Regatta Champion, and win the SLVT Trophy.

Don will fill in the important details for the Final event over the next few days..

Finals Round Robin Aug 7

Here’s the layout for August 7’s semi-final Match Series. With five sailors matched against each other in a round robin, 10 races were scheduled.

Perhaps appropriately, the location for this and subsequent final events returned to Dire Strait and the Fedallah startline, the home waters of GGYC.

In some championship regattas, competing skippers might rightfully complain that the final race course gives advantage to the home team, or at least the fleet of skippers that commonly race there. Fedallah/ Dire Strait is fairly new, and could easily be vulnerable to that criticism.

Luckily however, Don is not a very quiet Commodore; in the past few months he’s held multiple ACA races and SLVT practice rounds in Dire, and SLVT Round 3 was hosted by GGYC as well. Any ACA skipper unfamiliar with Fedallah and Dire Strait… should first check to see if they have a pulse…

Having said that, the August 7 semifinal regatta racecourse was a bit more complicated than the typical, plain-vanilla, Windward/Leeward qualifying courses. This one included a fairly long upwind beat to the mark in Yojo, followed by a brief reach to Bildad.  The race boats then made a hairpin turn back to Stubb, potentially overlapping the course of any opponent following a short distance astern. The raceboats then took a clockwise turn at the mark in Stubb, and the boats subsequently fell on a multi-sim downwind run to the turn in Rachel. Once that was cleared, it was a fast broad reach home.

When I first looked at this course, I thought it was too big, too long, and maybe inappropriate for a match race. Grin…

Each time I look at it now, I see I was wrong. I now think it’s a remarkable economy of form. Yes, it takes most skippers over 10 minutes to complete, but take a look. That 10 minute course tests…  just about every skill any SL sailor has. Nice design work there, Commodore Don. If you win on that course, in 10 minutes you just showed the online world that you deserved to win.

August 7 Race Two: Astro and Takabou

OK, You know me, I talk too much. I would love to tell you about all the races, but maybe I should just tell you about one race I thought was pretty interesting. If I have time I promise to come back and tell you more!!

I know, I know, Armano Xaris came out #1 in this regatta… I’ll have plenty of time to tell you about Armano :-). Today, however I want to write about something else, the second race in the series. I thought it was the most exciting race of the day, and it pitted Takabou Destiny against Astro Marksman.

I’ve written about both of these skippers in previous articles. I know I’m grossly oversimplifying things, but after watching more than a year of race events, I think Takabou has extremely strong fundamental skills. He’s hard to beat unless you sail a perfect race or have a trick up your sleeve.

Speaking of tricks, Astro Marksman knows some good ones.  In Round Five I flipped through a few thousand individual frames from Astro’s races, watching him go toe-to-toe with Carmen and Gemma (the latter duo is often referred to as “the devil’s spawn” (but in a nice way, of course 🙂 ). Astro showed his stuff in that competition; he was as good on the water as it ever gets, and the high level of competition brought it out. If you doubt that, go back and look. Astro was incredible.

The Aug 7 Semifinals between Astro and Takabou proved an equally amazing matchup!!

The countdown in the Aug 7 Round-Robin was only two minutes long; very few finalists took advantage of that small window to pull out their heavy tactical weaponry. Astro, however, came at it loaded for bear. He looked as though he had waited two weeks in an over-caffeinated rush awaiting this confrontation, and he raised sail with guns blazing.

When the clock began it’s countdown, Astro tacked and turned brilliantly; it’s actually hard to imagine anyone but the Destiny Duo of Takabou and/or KazumaHs who could hold up against Astro’s intense onslaught. The boats jabbed and weaved, trading punches throughout the prestart. My static pictures can’t give you the whole story, so here’s the last 90 seconds of video, courtesy of elMegro Magic:

Let me also show you a few pictures from my own perspective. 🙂 Take a look below.

Both TD and AM were jockeying for starboard tack as they crossed near the green buoy (windward) end of the line near the end of the countdown. This could be called the “money start.” If you can pull this start off so you cross first on Starb at the windward buoy… you should earn a win. Both sailors knew this…

Look what happened next, however!!

Takabou ducked below the line, hoping to come in on a reach powered by full momentum; you can actually see him using this exact tactic in SLVT Round Two.

Armano’s also been working his pre-start tricks, however. This time he swings wide and stays lee of Takabou. Just as important, he uses the stationary Race Committee dinghy as an obstruction to box Takabou in. TD’s an excellent sailor, but TD slams into Astro’s Starboard Forequarter above. He actually has no choice; Astro set him up. As soon as the collision occurs, Astro smiles and calls PROTEST! Pretty great sailing, Astro!

Actually, sigh, for a moment it’s even worse than you think for poor Takabou… look below!!!

In order to avoid such an intimate collision contact with Astro that a transmissible disease might result, Takabou is forced to turn windward sooner than he wants, and actually crosses the line a fraction of a second ahead of the clock. He’s called ‘Over Early.” Takabou Destiny needs to go around again and re-cross the  start line… losing a full 30 seconds!

OK OK OK… any reasonable sailor at this point would be saying to themselves “Time to go home and practice for the next race.” This race was over and done, right?


My entire point writing about this race is to emphasize two things. the first is how remarkable and audacious Astro’s prestart maneuvering was; I was in the judges’ conference, and it was full of gasps, woots! and loud applause over Astro’s command of pre-start strategy.
What you did was simply brilliant 🙂 .

The trouble is, Astro was up against a salt-seasoned, expert, determined skipper. There was no chance Takabou Destiny would give up, no matter how far back or how disadvantaged. Takabou got a valid start, made a legal penalty turn, and roared off upwind following Astro, who by then was a few sims ahead.

Grin. There is an English phrase that applies here. I apologize to my friends in other countries, since the phrase may not make sense. Actually, after researching the origins, it apparently makes no sense in English either :-). Anyway:

” The opera’s not over till the fat lady sings.”

The picture above shows Astro, stalwart and in solo lead, rounding the yellow buoy in Bildad.

Yikes! He then lost direction and overturned, traveling south as he took a new sextant reading. We all know that lag in headings and boat control are often frustrating… and sometimes incapacitating. That apparently occurred in this case; Astro made a bad slip. (Sometime you just need to close your eyes and ‘Sail with the Force,’ ignoring your instruments)

Surprised Astro made a slip? Grin… Remember Takabou also made a bad slip ten sims earlier too. These are great skippers, but the pressue of a tough course, an expert opponent, and high wind speeds can often induce fatal errors.

Here’s a key point though… Takabou was still in the race and relentlessly trying to make up the lost distance. After the start line foul-up, that may have seemed folly to any observer; there was no chance Tak could beat Astro… unless Astro also made a mega mistake. Well, that happened in Bildad, and Takabou was in striking distance. He roared in, rounding the buoy flawlessly as shown above, ending up a full half sim ahead of Astro!!!

WOOT! What an incredible, sudden turn of events!

Did I say  incredible? Grin… maybe that’s an understatement. Neither skipper made any other error on the way home; these sailors are pros, the Best of the Best.

In 10 minutes, they proved what sailor racing and SL friendship are all about. A matched pair that showed sailing substance and true grit. Each sailed their own style, and each demonstrated “how it’s done.”

I think we all learned important lessons from Tak and Astro in Dire on Saturday  :-)!!!

Over-The-Line, Thirty, and Confused

This week I’ve been writing a lot about the July 12 SLVT Qualifying Matches. The races were remarkable, and the skippers displayed a high level of skill that truly pushed some limits of SL Sailing. One example was the skippers’ use of the start line as a tactical aid to outmaneuver opponents during the three minute prestart. Carmen Foden won Race Three essentially before it began when she skillfully pushed Glorfindel Arrow over the line during the final seconds of the countdown. A somewhat similar issue also occurred in Race Four between Gemma Vuckovic and Astro Marksman.

However, in both of those matches the post-race Penalty Committee disqualified skippers for start line errors, citing the SLVT Regatta Rules, the RRS-SL, and RRS Rule 30.1. (The Rules for Sunday’s Round Five Regatta were also posted here on Metaverse).

The trouble is that neither the SLVT Regatta Rules or the RRS-SL actually discuss Start Rule details or how they should be applied. That’s not really an error, however, since over-early rules rarely come up in ACA racing, and the prior three SLVT events were pretty tame and orderly. Last Sunday, however, that all changed! 🙂 As LDeWell Hawker put it,

“We actually saw sailors go ‘hunting’ for their opponent hoping to draw a infraction giving the opponent the dilemma of a penalty to be completed after the start.”

This certainly wasn’t a bad thing; actually it was a very exciting development and made the races pretty fantastic to watch. Carmen Foden herself confirmed Hawk’s impression:

I was out for prestart blood in the races… I’ve lost all the large events I’ve entered due to poor starts so I figured I’d mix it up to gain an advantage on the line without going over early. … Sunday was me showing off 3 months of practice…
I had so much fun hunting Astro; I was out to draw prestart fouls.
I think Astro was too.”

Carmen’s right; I spoke with Astro, and he strongly agreed the prestart sparring match added an important dimension to the races. In fact, you can see a video of Astro practicing his prestart match tactics here.

My point (as if I ever had any point) is just that emerging prestart tactics make it important for race organizers to clarify the “Start Rules.”

In case you doubt that, since Sunday I’ve asked more than a dozen avid ACA33 racers a pretty simple question: If you cross the Start line early, do you have to go around an end buoy before recrossing the line?” I received at least six different answers. That might sound surprising, considering it’s a ‘yes/no‘ question, but remember: We’re talking Sailboat Racing. 🙂


The basic ISAF Start Rule is Rule 30:


30.1 I Flag Rule
If flag I has been displayed, and any part of a boat’s hull, crew or equipment is on the course side of the starting line or one of its extensions during the last minute before her starting signal, she shall thereafter sail from the course side across an extension to the prestart side before starting.

30.2 Z Flag Rule
If flag Z has been displayed, no part of a boat’s hull, crew or equipment shall be in the triangle formed by the ends of the starting line and the first mark during the last minute before her starting signal. If a boat breaks this rule and is identified, she shall receive, without a hearing, a 20% Scoring Penalty calculated as stated in rule 44.3(c). She shall be penalized even if the race is restarted or resailed, but not if it is postponed or abandoned before the starting signal. If she is similarly identified during a subsequent attempt to start the same race, she shall receive an additional 20% Scoring Penalty.

30.3 Black Flag Rule
If a black flag has been displayed, no part of a boat’s hull, crew or equipment shall be in the triangle formed by the ends of the starting line and the first mark during the last minute before her starting signal.If a boat breaks this rule and is identified, she shall be disqualified without a hearing, even if the race is restarted or resailed, but not if it is postponed or abandoned before the starting signal. If a general recall is signalled or the race is abandoned after the starting signal,the race committee shall display her sail number before the next warning signal for that race, and if the race is restarted or resailed she shall not sail in it. If she does so, her disqualification shall not be excluded in calculating her series score.

There’s a wide range of interpretation of the above rules in both Real Life and in racing emulations. For example, the Percy Priest Yacht Club in USA (A club I picked totally at random) covers Rule 30 by saying simply that any over-early boat needs to go back and re-cross the line. There’s no discussion of  ‘end buoys.’

In SL Sailing that simplified interpretation doesn’t work very well, however. It’s fairly easy for an unrestricted SL skipper to game the system by sailing directly down the middle of the Start line during the last several seconds… then pop over when the clock hits 00:00. Having said that, it’s also true that starting boats are usually clustered around the race line in SL when the  Countdown begins. For safety reasons or by accident the often incidentally cross the start line after they raise sail. It makes little sense to penalize them for doing so.

The American Model Yacht Association has a good, short discussion of how the Start Rules can apply to a sailing emulation; they endorse  a variation of Rule 30.1. I’d suggest for the remainder of SLVT we consider using their system.

A Note on Flags

The use and importance of flags in sailing has a long history and tradition. It’s built into the Rules of Racing as well. I would never argue against signal flags in any context, but lets agree the flags are “legacy” forms of communication, and just ornamental. They have nothing to do with the actual race. The RL yacht club example I cited above and the AMYA pay homage to the ‘flag system,’ but they don’t use it. I think they correctly see that the issue is to announce the Rules for any given race beforehand and update the fleet at racetime. In SL, text communication and notecards are fairly efficient. In a busy race where skippers have reduced draw distance and selective graphics, putting out a ‘flag’ is arguably a wasted effort if its the primary form of communication. (And did I mention it intimidates the hell out of new sailors?)


1. I think it makes sense for race directors and regatta organizers to announce the ‘Starting Rules’ they wish to use. Of course, its entirely their choice to decide what fits a particular event  (including ‘no rules‘ or a decision ‘not to even think about it‘ 🙂 ); there is no right or wrong here.

2. Specifically for the SL-VT Regatta, as I mentioned above I’d suggest any further races use Rule 30.1 as adapted by the AMYA. In other words:

If any part of a boat’s hull, crew or equipment is on the course side of the starting line or one of its extensions during the last minute before her starting signal, she shall thereafter sail from the course side around one of the end markers to the prestart side before starting.

Does that make sense to everyone?

It may seem like a small issue, but the winners of Round Five were decided based on ‘Over-Early‘ rules issues, and the problem is now guaranteed to come up repeatedly as we move on to the SLVT Finals. To quote Carmen Foden:

I just hope the race committee has their rule books handy in August!”


SL-VT Round Five Part Two: Glorfindel and Carmen!

On July 10-11 NYC hosted Round Five of the SL-VT Qualifying series to chose two more skippers for the upcoming SL-VT grid-wide finals in August.

I’ve already reported on the first two races. Let’s catch up with Race Three!

Race Three: Glorfindel Arrow and Carmen Foden

The moment the Clock began it’s countdown, Carmen pulled out her boxing gloves and began sparring with Glorfindel; believe me,  Glorf gave as good as he got.

Maybe boxing isn’t the best analogy here, though; the skill, timing, and humor of the Match Race three-minute, pre-start two-step is more like a Tango. While watching Carmen and Glorf weave back and forth, Amythest Wingtips called it “the dance of love,” and wow, I think Amy got it right. 🙂

Anywayz, Glorfindel and Carmen traded some pretty fancy kisses behind the raceline for two and a half minutes, as the duo moved inexorably closer to the Start.

Here’s what the spectators heard in those final seconds:

[2010/07/11 9:09] ::: SLSA Raceline: 30 SECONDS to the start
[2010/07/11 9:09] ::: Carmen Foden: lee
[2010/07/11 9:09] ::: SLSA Raceline: 20 SECONDS to the start
[2010/07/11 9:09] Elizabet Foxtrot: she’s puching
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 15 SECONDS to the start
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: Glorfindel Arrow is over early! Go around the buoy and recross !
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 10
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 9
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 8
[2010/07/11 9:10] Elizabet Foxtrot: got him
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 7
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: Carmen Foden: protest
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 6
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 5
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 4
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 3
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 2
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: 1
[2010/07/11 9:10] ::: SLSA Raceline: RACE STARTED

[2010/07/11 9:12]  Angus Firethorn: Dont you guys think thats a little dirty forcing him over the line like that??
[2010/07/11 9:12]  Gemma Vuckovic: nope …
[2010/07/11 9:12]  diamond Marchant: all is fair in love and sailing…
[2010/07/11 9:13]  don Berithos: this is the Vuitton. All gloves are off!

I was high overhead, watching the action from the next sim. That’s a great place to get the overview, but I missed the the details… and I admit the details in this race were critical. Luckily there was a full house watching the race, and I had a chance to chat with Amythest Wingtips, who won Round Two of SL-VT. She was watching from the spectator box over the Startline, and presumably checking out her future competition. Here’s our conversation:


[9:18:13] Jane Fossett: In the third race Glorf was over early… and Angus (Firethorn) commented that Carmen forced him over.
[9:19:08] Amythest Wingtips: She did
[9:19:23] Jane Fossett: How’d she do that?… Sumo Wrestling?
[9:19:55] Amythest Wingtips: He was next to her on the port side, she moved to port [towards the line],  forcing him to cross.
He had 3 choices:

1. Cross the line early,

2. Hit her, or

3. Stop and let her go first.
[9:20:31] Jane Fossett: Beautiful! Elizabet’s comment now makes sense; Elizabet said Carmen ‘
I actually didnt think Carmen ‘
puked;’ so you agree she ‘
pushed’ Glorf.
[9:22:09] Amythest Wingtips: Lol; [Carmen] moved over, closer to the line, but since [Glorfindel] was already there,
he had to move across the line to not hit her.
So in a sense it was pushing, although they never really touched.
[9:22:57] Jane Fossett: that’s the whole idea; I love it.


After he was ‘pushed over,’ Glorfindel quickly turned and recrossed the line, still ahead of Carmen. Unfortunately in the heat of the moment, he forgot to go around one of the Startline buoys. Following the race,  the judges determined Glorf was DSQ.

When I interviewed Glorfindel afterward, he most graciously admitted committing a silly error in not rounding a Start buoy, and acknowledged Carmen had adroitly pushed him over the line, using the rules to force him into the situation. (What a gentleman!)

However,  rather remarkably, Glorf attributed his Start line duel defeat to a poor tactical decision he made a few chess moves earlier that laid the scenario, allowing Carmen to put him in ‘Check.’

Wow. Think about that. I talk to many sailors about race outcomes… they usually say ” NN cheated, or in a gangster-tone they comment “I Wuz Robbed.” 🙂
That wasn’t Glorf and Carmen… they were playing chess… they were thinking ahead… and omgThey were Match Racing. WOOTS!

Yesterday I commented that Sunday’s races brought this competition to an entirely new level. Carmen and Glorfindel proved that in spades in Race Three. Even before the Start gun sounded, they had moved far beyond a simple boat race; they were playing chess… dueling, having fun, and planning several moves ahead.

I was originally going to bypass discussing this race at all, since it ended with a start line rules decision; the race was over before it began. But… OMG, look what actually happened.:-)

Carmen played pre-start tactics as well as I’ve EVER seen them done in real life, let alone SL. And Glorfindel? He saw it coming and danced with her toe-to-toe.

It’s a level of match sailing I haven’t seen for three years, since Armchair, M1sha, and Hans faced-off in Tako Cup 2007.

Thank you, THANK-YOU, Glorfindel and Carmen!


Phew! Tomorrow I’ll add the final three races!


SL-VT Round Five: Part I


 On the July 10-11 NYC hosted Round Five of the SL-VT Qualifying series for the upcoming SL-VT grid-wide finals in August.

A fantastic fleet of racers converged in Blake Sea – Atlantic for two days of match competition, and the contest proved to be the most exciting display of ACA racing skill so far revealed in the qualifying series. The Round Five skippers truly set a new, high bar of racing finesse.  In fact, the sailing was so much fun and so full of tight finishes and close Rules calls that I wasn’t able to fit it all in one article here; today I’ll just tell you just about the first two races!

Round 5 Match Finals:

NYC chose to hold elimination races in various timeslots on Saturday, and then advanced the top four sailors into a round-robin shoot-out on Sunday. Here’s how that six-race lineup looked as the haze cleared over the Atlantic race line Sunday morning: 

1 Astro Marksman — Carmen Foden
2 Gemma Vuckovic — Glorfindel Arrow
3 Carmen Foden — Glorfindel Arrow
4 Gemma Vuckovic — Astro Marksman
5 Glorfindel Arrow — Astro Marksman
6 Carmen Foden — Gemma Vuckovic

 The race course is shown above on the right. With a wind from due South, it favored a Starboard start from the West (Windward) side of the line. Under ideal conditions, a skipper could clear the startline and then choose a first-leg turn point that could get them all the way to the second mark in only two tacks. ( that sounds good, but when was the last time race conditions were ideal? 🙂 )

 In any event, the course was short, simple, and undoubtedly familiar to most in the SL-VT competition fleet.  On Sunday morning, the four qualifying finalists were Ready to Roar.

Race One: Astro Marksman — Carmen Foden

 It’s hard to imagine two sailors who have more enthusiasm or raw “ACA racing street-credibility” than Carmen and Astro. Even though this was the first match of the day, it promised to be pretty exciting.

Wow, it was way more than that. The show Carmen and Astro put on strongly raised the standard of competition to a new level, and clearly demonstrated what it’s going to take to win this regatta in August.

Match racing is, of course, not about being the fastest boat. Sure, speed helps, but a match race is really a competition between two skippers, and the strategy they use at each step to gain advantage as they try to knock out their opponent. It’s a boxing match between friends wearing sailing gloves.

Winning the Start is a big deal in any race, and it’s particularly true sailing the ACA33. A good deal of match race skill therefore focuses on ‘prestart’ strategy and tactics. In the first race, Carmen and Astro gave a free demonstration of how that’s done. From the moment the clock began the three minute countdown, the two skippers went at each other in a fast-paced duel where they dodged and parried for position, each trying to block the other and gain a start advantage that would throw their opponent off balance.

There were woots, gasps and and loud cheers from the spectators watching these prestart pyrotechnics, and I admit this turned out to be one of the most exciting, and most realistic ACA match races I’ve seen in SL.

Most skippers will opt for a Starboard start in fleet races, but in a 2-boat match race there’s less of a starboard advantage. Carmen apparently decided on a ‘port strategy’ for the Round Five match series, and as the final clock seconds ticked away, she broke away from Astro. As shown above, Carmen flipped to a port tack and headed to the opposite end of the line. 

That put Astro six seconds ahead, but Carmen clearly knew what she was doing.

After she crossed the far side of the line she quickly flipped back to a Starboard tack; the maneuver put her on a fast, windward beat with the first mark in her gunsites.

Astro of course had a similar plan, but he opted to cross the line on Staboard; when he turned to fetch the mark, that put him on Port tack.

You can see the result above; Carmen and Astro arrived together at the first mark, but Carmen had Starboard ROW.

She used it to full advantage, zipping inside past Astro and taking the lead as both boats circled Fastnet.

Although Astro stayed glued to Carmen’s stern during the long downwind run back to Atlantic, Carmen was able to successfully blocked  each of his  passing attempts. The image sequence below shows what then happened as the two boats rounded the Blue/White ‘bottom mark” at the end of the Run.

The first picture shows that Carmen was clearly in the lead going into the turn, and both boats were on Starboard tack.  As shown in the middle image below, Carmen gybed immediately after passing the bouy; she presumably planned to cross the race line ‘gate’ using her Port tack strategy again.  Astro was right on her heels however and took the turn a moment later, but he elected to remain on Starboard to cross the line.  That meant Carmen effectively gybed right across Astro’s bow! The boats were so close that neither boat had any time to avoid a collision; as the crowd of watchful sailors gasped in unison, Astro tumbled highspeed and headlong into Carmen’s aft quarter! 

 Keeping her head, Carmen immediately gybed back to Starboard, disengaging the two boats. Both sailors then crossed the ‘Atlantic gate’ on close haul, as shown below.

Carmen accepted Astro’s protest over the above event, and did a 360° penalty turn as soon as she crossed the line and was in free water (Woots Carmen!! What a ‘pro’ you are).  That of course gave Astro the opening he needed, and he was able to sprint ahead into clean air, unobstructed. Carmen remained game to the end and fought back hard, but Race One went to Astro; he deserved it.

In fact they both deserved a standing ovation. Race One was easily the most exciting, intelligent, and “technically proficient” ACA match race I’ve ever seen in SL.  Judging from the comments of the spectators and Race Staff, I’m pretty sure everyone else agreed with that assessment.   Nice job, Astro and Carmen!!

Lap Times:
Astro Marksman — Start: 00:00:01 — Lap 1: 00:04:51 — Lap 2: 00:03:18
Carmen Foden — Start: 00:00:07 — Lap 1: 00:04:29 — Lap 2: 00:03:49


Race Two: Gemma Vuckovic — Glorfindel Arrow

The second race matched up Gemma Vuckovic and Glorfindel Arrow, two seasoned sailors with an impressive, storybook lineage of  regatta victories in multiple boat classes. They avoided a pre-start duel  for this match, both approaching the Windward end of the startine on starboard closehaul as the clock ticked down.

As shown below, Glorfindel was in the lead coming up to the line. He arrived a few seconds early however, and had to fall off to leeward and run the line, waiting for “00:00.”

 When the gun went off  Glorf crossed the Start first. Although Gemma was a heartbeat behind him, she actually owned the momentum and held the windward position as the two boats headed for the first mark.

 As shown below, Gemma played those factors to advantage; she won the first mark and grabbed a slight lead as the two boats came around Fastnet Rock.

However, Glorf was actually in a good spot as the boats head into the next leg, the downwind run to the bottom mark.

Glorf was able to smother Gemma in his windshadow and repeatedly tried to pass her leeward to grab away the lead. Gemma never gave an inch however, and successfully fended off his attempts.

Frankly, as the two boats began the turn at the bottom mark, they were so close and so tightly overlapped in this squabble, it looked like Glorf and Gemma were exchanging genetic material. (Forget that image 🙂 ; let’s focus on racing!)   

As you can see from the image above, as the two boats took the bottom turn, Glof was outside and leeward. both boats then fell on a Starboard close haul, aiming for the far, leeward corner of the Atlantic raceline ‘gate.’ The competition was dead-even at that point; both sailors had the skill and experience to win this race.  But look what happened next! 

Gemma and Glorfindel both aimed for the leeward edge of the raceline, planning to cross adjacent to the red buoy (please note: all my pictures were taken from high overhead in a different sim, and the green-red raceline buoys never rezzed; they are not shown in the pictures). The above image shows both race boats as they crossed the line at the extreme lee end; Gemma was in front, overlapped,  and windward of Glorf. Gemma cut the buoy pretty close, leaving Glorf no room. To avoid a collision, Glorf slammed into the buoy and came to a near dead stop.

 As shown above, this gave Gemma the clear opening she needed;  She took off and  was unstoppable, finishing the race far ahead of her opponent.

Lap Times:

Gemma Vuckovic — Start: 00:00:03 — Lap 1: 00:04:18 — Lap 2: 00:03:18
Glorfindel Arrow — Start: 00:00:02 — Lap 1: 00:04:21 — Lap 2: 00:03:58


At the conclusion of the race, Glorfindel Arrow requested a Rules Clarification:

[2010/07/11 9:03] Quirky Torok: for those interested in such things….
[2010/07/11 8:58] ::: Glorfindel Arrow: ok, I have a question
[2010/07/11 8:59] ::: Glorfindel Arrow: what the rule about that line, is it a gate? 
[8:59] Gemma Vuckovic: I think Glor is querying my closure at the line
[8:59] Soro Dagostino: Yes
[9:00] Glorfindel Arrow: yeah, dose she have to give lee row at the ‘gate’? I think there is some rule about it
[9:00] Glorfindel Arrow: just asking
[9:00] Soro Dagostino: If it is an obtsruction
[9:00] Soro Dagostino: Mark of the course.
[9:01] Glorfindel Arrow: well i sort of hit the mark if it is considered a mark
[9:01] Soro Dagostino: I saw that.
[9:01] Gemma Vuckovic: I was sailing proper course, my sails close to wind
[9:01] LDeWell Hawker: I don’t belive room…is required at a gate…
[9:01] LDeWell Hawker: and..
[9:02] Soro Dagostino: Agreed

Glorfindel actually never protested during the race and did not request “mark room,” so there was no official complaint for the protest committee to consider. In fact, Glorfindel took pains above to emphasize he was was not actually protesting, just asking for rules clarification. The judge’s public comments above left the answer ambiguous. Since it’s an important point that deserves more discussion, let me offer my RL/ SL understanding here.

A gate is defined by two race marks; a racing boat needs to travel between them and ‘go through the gate.’ Gates are often used at the top or bottom mark where racing boats are expected to gybe and reverse direction. Since the gate has two marks, race boats have the option to go around one or the other mark to make their turn. This configuration reduces traffic congestion and enhances strategy. Don Berithos’ GGYC Round 3 course was a good example of such a “Windward-Leeward Course with a Gate.”

In Round Two and Five, the Start lines were used as gates, although the racing boats passed though them without gybing. Nonetheless, the buoys on either side that define the gates are considered ‘Race Marks’ and fall under Rule 18 (Room at a Mark).

Glorfindel was the leeward boat overlapped with Gemma. He was on a fixed course that would cross the line exactly where Gemma was headed. Glorf had ROW.

As I understand it, he never protested, so there was no judging issue. From his leeward advantage, however, he could have shouted “Up, Up!!”, luffed Gemma windward, and most likely grabbed a controlling lead position as they passed the gate. Anyone disagree?

Woots; thats enough for today; tomorrow I’ll post the other four races!