Category Archives: ACA

Launch Delay for ACA33 Cup

Laycee Deed and Gaga Birdsong

While a host of skippers continue to train on the Breadnut windward/ Leeward speed circuit, today the Race Committee for ACA33 Cup announced a short delay for the official start of the Qualifying Round.

As most sailors are aware, the first phase of the Regatta consists of solo time trials, and the fastest sixteen ACA33 skippers will advance to the next round in two separate groups. The fastest eight ACA Light contestants will also advance, and form a separate, third race group.

Today LDeWell Hawker, the Regatta Race Director, announced there would be a short delay before the opening of the official qualifying time trials. This will allow competitors more practice time and an additional opportunity to get up to speed with the whole regatta format; it will also give uncommitted sailors an extra window to consider signing up to race!

The new start date and ‘qualifying window timeframe’ will be announced by Race Committee Chair Quirky Torok over on the ACA Racer webpage.

In a related announcement, Elbag Gable reminded sailors that the qualifying time trials require truly fair sailing conditions. He therefore asked spectators to stay clear of the first round events; that will ensure good sim conditions for the competition fleet. Don’t feel disappointed, however; Elbag’s set up extended viewing areas for spectators in Fruit Islands that will start with the Second Round. That will ensure everyone gets a great view, and around the entire race course!

So if you are hot to race the ACA 2011 Cup, please join the in-world group and check with the ACA Racer site for the new launch date; my guess is it will get off the ground this week before the re-scheduled RL Space Shuttle does!

Oh, and don’t forget, if you are not yet racing, this brief delay gives you additional time to run and sign up to join the challenge!

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!

Risks, Rules, and Rachel

Many of the Dire Strait SL-VT Matches highlighted issues with the race mark in Rachel sim. Rachel is blessed with some interesting Rule and strategy issues. 🙂

I wrote about this on Monday; several sailors replied with good comments and questions. It seemed a fun idea to continue the discussion here today. We might end up with a general consensus about how the SL Rules apply when obstructions are close to race markers. On the other hand, we might conclude the setup in Rachel is just awful, and agree to request a change from LL DPW! 🙂

As you can see in the above map, there are Dire Strait race lines in both Fedallah and Queequeg. The Fedallah line recently got an industrial-strength workout during the final phases of the SL-VT regatta. Although GGYC used several different charts, they all followed a pretty typical Match Race, Upwind-Downwind course format as hinted above.

Racers started in Fedallah, then beat windward to clear a top mark just south of Leviathan Island  in Ahab’s Haunt. The skippers then turned their gaze for home, doing a multi-sim downwind ride back towards GGYC that usually included a pit-stop in Rachel at the orange-white race mark.

The map above shows that general layout… focusing on that last turn in Rachel and emphasizing the location of the two buoys in the sim.

The Northern Rachel buoy is a tetrahedron ‘race mark;’ it’s orange with a white stripe. Most Fedallah courses are designed so racing boats pass that mark counterclockwise, before heading to the Fedallah Finish a short distance away.

The Rachel Race Mark is interesting, since there’s another buoy, an old, rusted, Linden ‘nav can,’ sitting a short 44 m SSW of the Mark. That navigation buoy is really a warning marker, indicating the site of a sunken shipwreck.

A skipper that attempts to swing wide at that Nav Buoy could be in for a surprise. The submerged wreck is actually quite large, and rather easy to hit unless a sailor exhibits considerable caution.  But… how can you show caution if you don’t know exactly what’s going on beneath your boat? I wanted to know the details on this too… so I made some graphics that only show the objects in Rachel that extend above Z=16 m.

Why z=16? Well… the surface of nearly all Linden water is set to z=20, so z=16 defines a 4 m water depth. The Trudeau J-Class, Columbia, and prolly many additional vessels have keel depth over 3 m.  Other keelboats draw slightly less, between 1.5-3.0 m. (I have a fantastic picture someplace of Taku Raymaker’s ACA32 keel slamming full speed into a rock off Svar Beckersted’s  island in 2008…) 🙂

Z=16 seems a reasonable, minimum depth for safe sailing. Anything above that may qualify as a hazard or obstruction, although it certainly depends on the boat class.

Anyway, here’s the result.  The blue rectangle in the picture above shows all of Rachel sim. It’s nearly all deep water, except for a few objects in the northeast quadrant. The “mark” on that graphic indicates the location of the orange/white race mark;  Forty-four meters SSW from that point lies the Linden buoy, the one that indicates the wreck. Just north of the Linden buoy there’s a bright red object that shows where the shipwreck’s bow breaks the water surface. The rest of the wreck is submerged, but it continues south just below the water surface for a full 24 m SSE (irregular black lines in the graphic).

Be careful as you pass the wreck! You may think you won’t hit it…but…
Well, Kaz hit it… and Tak hit it…
You think you sail better than they do? 🙂

OK; with that basic info, let’s get practical… and talk about racing Rachel’s ‘obstructions.’ 🙂

If you look at the RACHEL BUOYS map illustration I posted above you’ll  appreciate that match race boats often end up close together in the latter half of the race doing a downwind run to the Rachel Orange Mark.

Amy and Kaz

With two good skippers, that downwind long segment gives the trailing boat a chance to shadow the leader and catch up. The two boats are frequently in tandem when they reach Rachel, since shadow lets a skipper catch-up, but doesn’t help them pass the lead boat.

That sets up the two boats for a ‘confrontation with obstruction‘ when they reach the Rachel shipwreck. 🙂

The insert shown to the right- above has Amy and Kaz nicely parallel and heading toward the Rachel Mark. You can see the shipwreck obstruction with the Orange Mark just a bit further distant. The skippers need to clear the obstruction and then pass the race mark CCW.

However, the actual distance from the visible tip of the wreck to the race marker is 44 m, and race boats usually approach that gap at an acute angle, with sails winged. Under those conditions there is not enough room for both boats to  do this in tandem. So who has ROW?

Let’s take the case of Amy and Kaz, shown in the right side picture above. As they approach the obstruction, the two boats are parallel and overlapped; Amy is leeward and she has has ROW under Rule 11.

However, the shipwreck is a obstruction, and Rule 19.2(b) applies as they approach it:

19.2. Giving Room at an Obstruction
(b) When boats are overlapped, the outside boat shall give the inside boat room between her and the obstruction, unless she has been unable to do so from the time the overlap began.

Amy is the “outside boat” in this case, and she is obliged to give Takabou room. Depending on the circumstance, that could even mean Amy needs to turn so far away she could miss the race mark.

But wait... this issue gets complicated. Both boats are also fetching the race mark a short distance ahead. Match Races usually use a ‘two boat length zone‘ around race marks, and within that zone, Rule 18 turns on.


18.2 Giving Mark-Room
(a) When boats are overlapped the outside boat shall give the
inside boat mark-room, unless rule 18.2(b) applies.
(b) If boats are overlapped when the first of them reaches the zone,
the outside boat at that moment shall thereafter give the inside
boat mark-room. If a boat is clear ahead when she reaches the
zone, the boat clear astern at that moment shall thereafter give
her mark-room.
(c) When a boat is required to give mark-room by rule 18.2(b), she
shall continue to do so even if later an overlap is broken or a
new overlap begins. …

When the boats enter the ‘zone,’ Rule 18 applies and Amy is the inside boat. She has right-of-way to clear the Mark, and Takabou is supposed to keep clear. However, if you look below the two boat length zone in this case is 46 m; it actually includes the northern end of the wreck/ obstruction!

Oops… Who has right-of-way now? Kaz has Rule 19 protection, but Amy is the Rule 18 Zone Diva.

I’m sure there are other opinions on this, but I thought it was pretty clear. In a match race with two boats approaching the mark, an obstruction requires the skippers to heed Rule 19 to avoid ‘collision carnage.’ This is an important issue, and Amy must yield to Kaz so he gets past that shipwreck.

However, as soon as Kaz clears the wreck, Rule 19 switches off and has no standing since there is no more obstruction. At that point, Rule 18 takes priority, and Amy has ROW for ‘mark room.‘ Kaz needs to return Amy’s favor and now give her space so she can do her thing.

Grin. Racing Rules are part of sailing fun, and RL sailors spend long summer nights arguing these points on Club decks after matches… I’m telling you my thoughts, but not insisting it’s right for SL; I’d love to know other views on this, so we have a consistent understanding for the next regatta!

SL-VT Final Moments

The SL-Vuitton Regatta came to a close this past Saturday, with a five-hour string of fun, final matches unmarred by controversy or excess grid turbulence.

The excitement and fun of the competition was (rather brilliantly) captured by Surfwidow Beaumont’s camera!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Although Surf said it all above much better than I ever could, that’s never stopped me from writing before, so let me tell you about a couple racing highlights!

Armano vs Hawk

Match racing is all about tactics.
There are only two boats involved, and the course is nearly always a simple Windward/Leeward affair that offers few strategic options.

LDeWell Hawker is a maestro at this; Hawk holds regular teaching sessions at Fruit Islands’ Strawberry Sailing Center to discuss and practice Match Racing skills. Stop by and go over his slideshow there, and try the race course!

Hawk’s own technical finesse was well-demonstrated in Tradewind Yacht Club’s first SLVT Qualifying Round, where he picked up First Place and earned a slot in the Finals line-up. It seemed pretty obvious that any sailor who wanted to win the SL- Vuitton Trophy would need to ‘get past Hawk‘ first.

Armano knows this too; when he and Hawk went head-to-head in their first matchup Saturday, the gloves came off and the fur went flying (Sorry for mixing metaphors 🙂 ). During the three minute prestart, the Terrific Twosome made a series of hair-raising close passes as they jockeyed for position and tried to force each other into a fault.

Click to enlarge.

With forty-five seconds to go, Armano decided he had enough. He turned and broke for the line. From a greater distance, Hawk set a course to intersect Armano at the Start.

The second frame above shows this approach setup with a half-minute still on the clock.  One might argue that in this raceat this point – Armano looked like he had outfoxed Hawk, the Prestart Professor. Armano held Leeward Right-of-Way, and had set course to slice the far starboard side of the line next to the buoy and committee boat. PERFECT.

Hawk had a vested interest in crossing that startline too, of course 🙂 … but Armano held the cards and could stave Hawk off… perhaps even forcing Hawk to miss the line entirely.

If you look at the sequence above however, it’s pretty clear that Armano broke for the line too early; that’s how he caught Hawk with his pants down (Hawk’s pants… not Armano’s 🙂 ). Actually that’s not an Armano error; in fact it’s a pretty interesting tactical nuance, but it meant Armano needed to adjust his plans to avoid crossing over early.

Armano elected to keep on his winning ROW course, but slowed his approach by luffing sails (third frame above). It was a conservative, prudent tactic, but it didn’t take into consideration Hawk’s skill and determination.

When Armano let loose his sheets and slowed his boat, he opened a narrow door  between his bow and the line; Hawk immediately saw it and locked on. Instead of following Armano’s lead and slowing down…  Hawk lit afterburners and strained canvas to speed up, playing a hugely risky juggernaut to clear Armano’s bow before the ‘door’ closed.

Click to enlarge.

Hawk successfully pulled off this gutsy maneuver, cleanly passing Armano with leass than one or two seconds to spare.

With the wisdom of Monday-morning quarterbacking, let me suggest that Armano may have had a second tactical choice here… Instead of luffing, losing momentum, and opening a door… Armano could have gone full steam up to the line, then made a hockey-stop turn to Port to avoid going ‘over early.’ That would have ‘closed the door‘ to Hawk, flashed Armano’s butt in Hawk’s face, and allowed Armano to run the length of the line full speed, waiting for the START signal to cross.

I’ve had 24hrs to look at the pictures though; Armano had under ten seconds 🙂 . Armano won this whole darn regatta, so I’m not criticizing; I’m mentioning alternatives here to help sailors figure out Armano’s weaknesses!

Based on his prestart tactics above, I’m thinking Armano may have a serious character flaw… one sometimes found in otherwise excellent Dutch Sail Racers…
Armano is very Polite and Careful.

Anywayz, after Hawk’s rather brilliant move, the two boats crossed the line in near-tandem, as shown in A above.

These are two outstanding sailors, and its certainly no surprise that they stayed fairly closely glued to each other on the multi-sim downwind beat. For most of that way, Armano held a breathtakingly slim lead.

As the boats came around Ahab’s Haunt and set sail for the downwind ride to Rachel and then Home, here’s the conversation from the Judge’s chat:

[10:18:11]  Silber Sands: Jane You see them?
[10:18:16]  Jane Fossett: yes
[10:18:22]  Silber Sands: ok:)
[10:18:23]  Jane Fossett: any protest
[10:18:30]  Silber Sands: no
[10:18:37]  Jane Fossett: they are very close;  Armano by one boatlength.
[10:20:17]  Jane Fossett: Here is where Hawk will make the move.
[10:20:33]  Elizabet Foxtrot: nods; There he goes!

As shown above, Hawk swung leeward of Armano and began to pass… Hawk then did another rather surprising move. The ACAv2.53 boats have fairly powerful downwind shadow, so a trailing boat has a fair chance to come even with a leading opponent. However, it’s much tougher to then pass and capture the lead, since the passing boat loses shadow advantage in doing so. There are many, many examples of ‘failed passing attempts’ in the SLVT races.
But look at what Hawk does.

As soon as he came up abeam and overlapped, Hawk fell away, increasing the distance between the two boats and securing ‘clean air’ outside the most intense shadow range. NICE MOVE.

Click to enlarge.

If you look at the sequence above, you can see how the boats next handled the final turn in Rachel sim before they set their eyes on the Finish line. Hawk played his cards adroitly, squeaking ahead of Armano as they approached the turn. Armano was further starboard, and he decided to swing wide of the submerged shipwreck obstruction there.

Room at Obstruction

This is probably a good place for me to bring up a somewhat separate issue, “Room at an Obstruction,” since it came up several times in SLVT, and both Lynn and Takabou commented on it in Rachel.

There is a submerged shipwreck in Rachel, rather inconveniently positioned near the race marker in that sim; the hazard is marked by an old, Linden ‘Nav Can’ buoy. Kaz Destiny hit the wreck in one of the semifinals races two weeks ago, and yesterday Takabou Destiny did the same thing.

Takabou went on to win that race series against Lynn, so the single event made no difference in the outcome. Nonetheless, it looked like the racing fleet was uncertain how to deal with such an obstruction. Here is the public transcript immediately following the race (with spelling corrected and extraneous comments redacted):

[9:25:08]  takabou Destiny: Excuse me. I didn’t call, but can I call ‘ROOM‘ at last mark?
[9:26:08]  Jane Fossett: YES; that is an OBSTRUCTION.
[9:26:21]  Lynn Parkin: Inside boat gets room when overlapped at mark, no?
[9:26:26]  takabou Destiny: Under water object
[9:26:37]  Jane Fossett: The Wreck is an OBSTRUCTION,
[9:26:43]  don Berithos: She really had no room to give.
[9:26:46]  Jane Fossett: but you need to call it.
[9:26:47]  Lynn Parkin: How can I give room…when there is room for only one boat?
[9:26:51]  takabou Destiny: ok
[9:27:10]  Jane Fossett: judges will decide if the call is correct.
[9:27:15]  takabou Destiny: you win Lynn : )
[9:27:22]  don Berithos: I saw it there was no room.

The race was Saturday, and Tak won the three-race series despite hitting the wreck. However, the issue he raised is important, and this is my understanding:

Rule 19 – Room to Pass an Obstruction

19.1. When Rule 19 Applies.
Rule 19 applies between boats at an obstruction except when it is also a mark the boats are required to leave on the same side. However, at a continuing obstruction, rule 19 always applies and rule 18 does not.

19.2. Giving Room at an Obstruction
(a) A right-of-way boat may choose to pass an obstruction on either side.

(b) When boats are overlapped, the outside boat shall give the inside boat room between her and the obstruction, unless she has been unable to do so from the time the overlap began.
(c) While boats are passing a continuing obstruction, if a boat that was clear astern and required to keep clear becomes overlapped between the other boat and the obstruction and, at the moment the overlap begins, there is not room for her to pass between them, she is not entitled to room under rule 19.2(b). While the boats remain overlapped, she shall keep clear and rules 10 and 11 do not apply.

The Rules of Racing are primarily about safety; the goal is to keep all the sailors alive to race another day. If you are traveling at breakneck speed and overlapped with another boat, when an opposing skipper calls ROOM! to avoid a collision with an obstruction, her need should supersede most other agendas on your dance card.

In this case Takabou did not protest; he decided to go around the obstruction, and Lynn had no fault. However, with the boats solidly overlapped, Tak was potentially in his rights to call ROOM! under Rule 19.2(b) to avoid hitting the wreck. In that case, Lynn had free water and could easily turn to port… even if that meant she missed the mark.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Dave Perry – Rule 19 – RRS 2009-2012, posted with vodpod

Fracas Foments as Hawk and Armano Finish

The picture of Hawk and Armano passing the final mark in Rachel show that Hawk ended wide and leeward of Armano as they began the final sprint to the Finish line.

Both boats were on a near dead run, but Hawk realized Armano was better positioned to win that final short sprint to the line. Hawk’s only chance was to use his leeward ROW in a blocking maneuver to trip-up Armano. You can see a wonderful replay of what happened in Surfwidow’s video above, beginning around 06:30.

As shown in the still images below, Hawk turned to windward and shouted “UP!!” to get Armano to change course. Armano begins the turn, but Hawk needs to push him wide of the course. He aggressively turns into Armano… and hits him! Surf’s video shows what happened next; it confirms the umpire’s report and what the sailors themselves reported. After the boats recovered from the hit, Armano tried to turn back towards the line, but Hawk called “UP!” again… and hit him again! 🙂 How’s that for Relentlessness!

Click to enlarge.

As shown in the sequence below, Armano made it to the far end of the raceline with the help of Hawk’s push 🙂 ; he then broke clear, gybed to Starboard, and limped toward the Finish. Hawk was still on the hunt however, and tried to shove Armano out-of-bounds. Armano at that point was on Starboard tack, however; it was his turn to shout “room” and protest.

Click to enlarge.

The judges considered the statements of the sailors, as well as their own observations; they key points were nicely illustrated and confirmed by Surf’s video. The judges agreed Hawk had ROW and could call “UP” to turn Armano off course. However, the judges all agreed that Armano’s counter-protest was correct; Armano required time to turn, and was in process of turning when Hawk hit him.

Rules calls are often pretty subjective, and facts can get blurred in the heat of the moment; luckily, in this case Hawk came back and did an instant replay, calling UP! and slamming into Armano a second time 🙂

The judges’ decision was unanimous. The sailing was so great, so exciting and audacious, it seemed very wrong to call either sailor DSQ for their efforts. No one wanted to squelch the obvious skill, intelligence, and guts shown by such incredible skippers.  Instead, without specifically ruling on each of the six potential protests, the Judges ruled the Race Results were valid as they stood.

Armano beat Hawk…

Race Results:
1: Armano Xaris   IDax56 — 00:11:10
2: LDeWell Hawker   ID12 — 00:11:11
Lap Times:
Armano Xaris   IDax56 — Start: 00:00:03  —  Last lap: 00:11:07
LDeWell Hawker   ID12 — Start: 00:00:02  —  Last lap: 00:11:09

Click to enlarge.

Rule 19 – Room to Pass an Obstruction

19.1. When Rule 19 Applies

Rule 19 applies between boats at an obstruction except when it is also a mark the boats are required to leave on the same side. However, at a continuing obstruction, rule 19 always applies and rule 18 does not.

19.2. Giving Room at an Obstruction

(a) A right-of-way boat may choose to pass an obstruction on either side.

(b) When boats are overlapped, the outside boat shall give the inside boat room between her and the obstruction, unless she has been unable to do so from the time the overlap began.

(c) While boats are passing a continuing obstruction, if a boat that was clear astern and required to keep clear becomes overlapped between the other boat and the obstruction and, at the moment the overlap begins, there is not room for her to pass between them, she is not entitled to room under rule 19.2(b). While the boats remain overlapped, she shall keep clear and rules 10 and 11 do not apply.

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

Three is the Trick: ACA33 3.0 Launches

The Americas Cup competition holds a unique spot in the history of sailing. It embodies a century and a half of tradition, uncompromising excellence, and personal dedication. Although the 20th century was pockmarked by global disater and warfare, I think many would agree the AC challenge stood as a distant beacon, an iconic bright star that held the common hopes of so many sailors trying to express their common beliefs in this fragile, watery world.

I admit it, I inevitably end up thinking of the Coppola movie version of the Cup:


I know, I know the movie got the sailing all wrong and it should make any real sailor cringe, but wow, Coppola got the spirit right.

ACA in Second Life

Not surprisingly, that tradition found its way into Second Life.

Please, give Florencia007 Csak a standing ovation! In Spring 2007, Florencia and helped organize and sponsor the ACA-SL America’s Cup Regatta in Second Life. It was a truly wonderful event that became a defining moment for all SL Sailing, clearly demonstrating the metaverse potential — and opportunity —  for a RL-SL sailing emulation.

Surfwidow Beaumont’s video captured the true essence and the excitement of that rather glorious event:

The ACA32 Racer was the competition boat originally designed for the Americas Cup Anywhere- SL event. It was a combined, creative effort that involved several builders and scripters. Jacqueline Trudeau provided the ACA32’s sail engine, and the boat’s visible hull and hardware were part of a wearable attachment (remember, this was way before sculpties!). The boat was majestic and impressive, and immediately won the hearts of a generation of SL sailors.

However, it’s fair to say that as boat design evolved in Second Life, the ACA Racer failed to keep pace. This was a tad ironic, since in Real Life the AC boats are often considered on the cutting edge of nautical design, continuously pushing the limits of technology and construction.

Two years ago I wrote a short article humorously complaining about this, asking for an ACA fix and whining “ I want a new gun.” Since Christmas was approaching, I included a letter to Santa Claus, asking for a new ACA, something to push the envelope. I got pretty specific, too: I wanted a boat with Apparent Wind, Realistic Shadowing, and omg… a Spinnaker!

Well, it turned out that upgrading the ACA was no easy matter. Over time, several scripters had tinkered with it, and any major upgrade was going to take somebody smart who had a clear vision, a large commitment and a fresh approach.

Caf Binder stepped up to the plate a few months ago and took on that rather daunt-laden challenge. This past Saturday his new ACA33 3.0 officially hit the water, and sailors finally got to see what Caf’s been up to late at night. 🙂

The new 3.0 has all the things I begged Santa for, and much, much more!

ACA33 Quick Look

Quirky Torok has a pretty great introductory video that can give you a rundown of the new features on the boat and also get you going sailing if you’ve never skippered an ACA before:

I’ll try to focus my initial, brief discussion here on some background and issues not covered by Q; I’ll have a lot more to say later!

Sail engine

Most sailing vessels in SL are “derivative.” In other words, they are based on a prior sailing algorithm, such as Kanker Greenacre’s public Tako scripts.

I mentioned above that the original ACA32 sail engine was scripted by Trudeau, and I admit with a degree of chagrin that I’ve always thought of the ACA32 (and early versions of ACA33) as sort of a ‘buggy prototype’ for the Trudeau Larinda that launched several months later.

Well, Caf Binder didn’t go that route; he went back to square one and redid everything in the ACA, incorporating some of the best ideas from Trudeau, Mothgirl’s Fizz engine, and Caf’s own Jangars.

The result is a new sail engine; if you ask Caf what the 3.0 is based on, he grins and quickly answers “The real ACC v 5.0.” Caf’s vision is to build a boat that uncompromisingly reflects the Real Life sailing properties of recent Americas Cup monohulls. Quirky’s video above mentions a few simple examples of this penchant for reality, including such items as when you raise/ lower the spinnaker, there’s a ten second delay, and the jib can’t trim tighter than 10°.

When you sail the 3.0, you’ll find how serious Caf is about this approach. After you click the “Anchor” button on the HUD, for instance, it takes a full 60 seconds for the boat to come to a complete stop. When I asked about Caf about this, he replied “How long does it take the Real boat to stop?”  Actually, it was hard to disagree with that logic! 🙂


I have lots to say about this boat, and a lot I still haven’t yet figured out; today I’d just like to give you some basic performance plots I’m working on, and say some nice things about Neron’s spinnaker!

Since Caf’s design target was to realistically model an IACC Class boat, let’s begin by talking about those real performance characteristics. The plot below shows data for upwind Boat Speed (BS) as a function of True Wind Speed (RWS).  The numbers are for the Swedish Victory Challenge Team’s IACC racer “Orn”  and adapted from figures published in Joel Nielsen’s Master’s Thesis.

If you look closely at the above best-fit curve, you can see that under low wind conditions, Orn’s boat speed can exceed RWS; with a 6 kt breeze, the boat will do 9 kts!

Wetted contact area produces friction and turbulence

However, as wind intensity picks up, multiple factors resisting the boat’s forward motion become more prominent, and the boat is less responsive. In a 20kn breeze, Orn does around 10.4kn. My whole point here is just  to say that a RL sailing vessel has a nonlinear response to increasing wind speed.

Caf Binder’s  evidently modeled that into the new ACA33 3.0. I don’t know where Caf’s getting his numbers, but I’m impressed the boat I’m sailing comes close to the actual RL performance values for IACC.

Take a look at the chart above. At low wind speeds the 3.0 matches or exceeds RWS. However, around RWS =10kn the boat becomes less responsive and at RWS= 20kn the boat speed is approximately half RWS. A pretty close match to the RL numbers!

Here’s my initial ‘polar’ for the ACA33 3.0 with RWS= 9.7kn, flying just the Main and Jib (no Spin). The 3.0 uses a “full-dose” Apparent Wind calculation, so there’s a big shift in Apparent Wind heading towards the bow as the boat accelerates. In a 9.7kn breeze, an Apparent Wind Angle of 60° actually corresponds to a Real Angle of nearly 120° !

The HUD in 3.0 has a nice feature that alternates the AWA and RWA displays, so it’s actually pretty easy to keep track of this stuff.

I mentioned the above numbers correspond fairly closely to the RL IACC racer. However, it’s also fun to note that 3.0’s performance matches the the published polars for the Virtual Skipper VSK5 ACC boat.

If you click on the image to the right, you’ll get an enlarged view that shows a response curve for RWS=10kn that’s pretty similar to the above results for 3.0.

I’s nice to see how closely all the versions match up!


A boat without a spinnaker is like a day without sunshine. 🙂

ACA33 3.0 has a megaprim sculptie Spinnaker and hull that are both crafted by Neron Blanco.  Since there can be “mismatches” between the visible sculptie and the underlying collision mesh that actually bumps into obstructions, one of the first things I usually do with a new boat is to go around hitting stuff in order to check out the sculptie. 🙂

Neron’s spinnaker and hull pass that silly test very nicely! As you can see below, the front and sides of the ‘chute’ bump into a test object with nearly perfect contact. There’s a small  ‘gap’ near the top of the spinnaker when it is the first touch point, but that’s really irrelevant for sailing or racing, even under truly extreme circumstances.

Since we’re talking about bumps and spinnakers, let me also comment that the spinnaker pole is low enough to hit buoys… or boats… or sailors, so be careful! 🙂

It’s actually not a trivial issue, since the spinnaker on 3.0 automatically rotates in response to the wind heading. (I’ll tell you more about that next time).

Today I just want to add the plots for the spinnaker and jib to emphasize the differences, and to give you some data so you can decide when you want to switch head sails.

The curves below show Boat Speed v Wind Angle for Spinnaker and Jib used alone, with the Main down. The spinnaker provides a big boost for AWA headings over 60°; it’s easily twice as effective as the Jib from AWA= 70° – 160°.

Having said that, please be very careful using the spinnaker below 70° Apparent. When the parachute collapses, there’s a sudden loss of power and the boat careens as the bow drags leeward.  Be afraid!! 🙂

I have a lot more to tell you about this boat… and I’m still figuring a lot of it out. I’ll fill you in next time!

But for today, let me just say

Thank you Santa.
And Thank you 9TH, Caf, Quirky, Neron and Flor.

I Got a New GUN !!

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  :-)!!!