Category Archives: Fizz

Hotlaps Update, September 2013

Hotlaps Handicaps September 17 2013

Hotlaps 2013 is a sailing format that helps skippers practice skills while doing fun, solo laps that are posted online. The Hotlaps database allows skippers to compare their lap time results with others; they can also contrast the relative performance of different boats that sail under the same ‘trial lap’ conditions.

There are six different Hotlaps raceline locations, and each has its own Hotlaps course: PLUMGUTBREADNUTKNAPTRACKICONLINKOUSSULU, and HEPURN. Sailing a Hotlap takes only ten minutes, and you can do it any time you want, in any boat.

hotlapsposters Just go to one of the racelines and click on the ‘Hotlaps 2013′ poster above the green buoy; it will give you all the info you need.

When you finish sailing the lap you can post it online by clicking a poster that’s labeled “Enter your lap time here.” It’s just as easy as that. 🙂

Sailors have been doing Hotlaps and posting their results since early in 2007, but this year we started a new 2013 cycle in deference to the large number of great, boats that have recently hit the water in SL. Since we began it in January, Hotlaps sailors have logged 442 lap scores sailing 45 different boat classes! Let me give a shout-out to that great group of 68 skippers who did all those laps:

2525, ak Topsail, Andi Merryman, Armano Xaris, B112, B117, B12, BM12, Brett Kjeller, Bunnie, Chaos Mandelbrot, CharliePakk, charliepakk, Dekka, Destiny Wescott, don Berthios, Emelia Azemus, Fearless Freenote, Glorfindel Arrow, gnupf gufler, Hannelore Ballinger, HansMarx, Hay Ah, IDBSDF61, JFos, Joy Acker, Justin Blade, Kain Xenobuilder, Kentrock Mesmer, Kris Hollysharp, Lance Corrimal, laured Cabassoun, Lesbo Charisma, Little Vixen, LucyInTheSky Afarensis, Maiko Taurog, michiya Yoshikawa, Nikif, notohama, nozomimi karu, Ome Audeburgh, pascal kira, Patrice Cournoyer, Pazzo Pestana, Peacy Cortes, Pensive Mission, poko Zepp, Popow Horbaczewski, Porter Tracy, Qyv Inshan, Rebbie Resident, Rim Telling, Ronin Zane, S11D, sailman, Samlara Vintner, SkyBlue Earthboy, Slanty, SteveLL resident, Takabou Destiny, Trapez Breen, VictorCR, Wolfhard Resident, Wrye Diabolito, Xi Larnia, xpaulx pain, yala74, Yuukie Onmura. ~~ WOOTS! ~~

2013 Hotlaps

All that hotlaps data goes into a public spreadsheet that contains multiple, linked pages that sort the results by race line and boat class, color-coded by skipper. Here’s an example, showing the submitted lap data for Plum Gut from January through September 16:

Sept 18 2013 Plum Gut Laps

click to enlarge

You can click the above image to get a larger view, but you can also just go to the live spreadsheet page any time to see the list of entered lap times.

2013 Handicaps

The pool of standardized lap data makes it possible to compare performance of different sailboats and calculate a “Handicap Factor” for each popular boat class.  Hotlaps 2013 uses the Melges-24 as it’s arbitrary reference standard. The M-24 is the Hotlaps index boat, and by definition it has a Handicap of 1.00. (You can see that shown in red in the first data row below).  All other boats have handicap values expressed relative to that standard.  

Here’s the current summary list of Handicaps for all the tested boats at each of the race courses:

summary HH

Each row in the above matrix represents a different boat class and the columns contain the handicap values for those boats for the six race lines.  Slower boats (i.e., those with longer lap times than M-24) have Handicap Factors that are less than 1.00,  and faster boats have handicap factors greater than 1.00. 

handicapsFor example, several sailors tested the Mesh Shop Laser One on each of the six Hotlaps courses. The average handicap values were 0.75, 0.73, 0.74, 0.62, 0.69, and 0.79. That’s a pretty tight clustering of results, considering the varied sailors involved and the differences of each course.

The average handicap for all courses was 0.72, suggesting that the Mesh Shop Laser One is 28% slower than  the Melges-24 on any typical racecourse (The M-24’s handicap= 1.00).

 The figure to the right shows a current list of handicaps for tested boats, averaged over all six lines. The slowest boats in the bunch include the Shelly, the Fizz,  and the Galiko NY32 (which has a Fizz engine). All these boats produced handicaps of 0.50-0.60, evidence they are roughly half as fast as the Melges-24.

Of course, a slow boat is not a bad thing; it just reflects the builder’s design and vision. Several other boats had handicaps as slow as the ones named above in the 0.50-0.60 range, including the Leetle Cat II, the Patchogue II, the RM Pilot, and the ACA Tiny.

Cruiser handicaps.

tri

powered by Rotaru

However, that’s the slow end of the spectum; most cruise boats are faster than that. The cruisers in SL tended to generate handicaps that range from 0.60- 0.90. That means they are 10-40% slower than the Melges-24, at least when sailed with a 15 knot wind. Nearly all Trudeau boats fit in this 0.60-0.90 “cruiser”-group. It’s a realistic speed-spot for them, since most Trudeaus are classic designs of earlier, multipurpose vessels; they are not hotrods.

Many other popular boats also fit in that Cruiser 0.60-0.90 speed-niche. For example, Craig Kbata’s Teleri 20 scores 0.70, Manul Rotaru‘s Beach Trimaran rates a 0.82, and Rene Marine‘s RM-12 comes in at 0.69. Quest Marine has two boats in this speed range as well; the 2M (0.74) and the Scow  (0.85).

bandit 50Analyse Dean’s recent Bandit 50 is one of the quickest of this whole cruising group. It scored a 0.89, placing it just 10% behind the Melges 24 racer. Kain Xenobuilder also has a new cruiser, the Cafe del Mar 75, that uses the same BWind 2.5 engine as the Bandit 50. You might think Cafe’s sailing performance would be similar to Bandit’s, but you’d be wrong. 🙂 CDM75The Hotlaps data shows that the Café 75 is a much faster boat, earning a handicap of 1.12; that beats Bandit 50 by over 20% !!

The Cafe Del Mar is designed to emulate a beamy mid-size cruising boat, but it sails more like an ocean racer. It’s even  12% faster than the lean-and-mean, carbon and glass Melges 24! Wowzers!

I’ll tell you much more about Bandit 50, Cafe 75, and the RM 12 in a separate post soon. 🙂

Racer Handicaps

The third large group of handicaps primarily includes the large, ocean race boats in SL. They all tended to score in the 0.90-1.20 range. 

Q M-24 launchSince Hotlaps 2013 uses the Melges 24 as it’s benchmark standard to set the other handicaps, it’s no surprise that boats that score around 1.00 are also racers. For example, Kanker Greenacre’s Tako 3.3 scored a handicap of 1.03 in this series, almost identical to the M-24. 🙂 

The Quest IACC scored a 0.94, a bit behind the ACA33 Racer with 1.03. The Mesh Shop’s two ocean racers are right in that mix as well; The OD65 ranked 1.10, and the VO70 earned a 1.03.OD-65

It’s interesting to comment that the Mesh Shop VO70 has a handicap that’s identical to  the old  Wildwind VO70 (1.03). That makes a lot of sense since both builders were modeling the same boat, but it’s great to see the consistency. 🙂

Speaking of Wildwind boats, the present lap results clearly show that WildWind is continuing its reputation for building the fastest ocean racers in SL sailing. The Wildcat-45 catamaran scored a 1.12, the WW Open-60 rated 1.07, and the (still beta) WW AC-72 came in with a rather incredible 1.54. If WildWind decides to release it, the AC-72 could be the fastest sailboat ever launched in Second Life. More important, it would be a truly remarkable emulation of this year’s RL Americas Cup racer. 🙂

ac72 crew

Handicaps for History

There are still many boats to test and extra data laps to run to get accurate numbers across the whole fleet. By December 2013, we should easily exceed 500 new database laps, and that data will be added to a pool of many thousand laps on numerous courses dating back a full seven years.

That’s prolly a good time to sit back with a stiff drink and try to make some conclusions about what Hotlaps can tell us about the diversity of boats we all share and sail in Second Life. 🙂

harpoon

Reprise: 2009 World Fizz Round Six

The qualifying rounds for the 2012 World Fizz Cup will hit the water this coming weekend on November 17-18, and the Finals are planned for December 1-2. You can get Liv Leigh’s official schedule, up-to-the moment announcements, and racer commentary on the FizzCup2012 Tumblr page!

As part of the build-up for what should be a great event full of sailing skill and Fizz fireworks, I thought to repost a few Fizz Cup articles from past years. The 2012 World Cup has a long history in SLSailing, and kudos to Liv Leigh and her team for keeping that great tradition alive this year!

Speaking of which, I’ll be away sailing for ten days during the Fizz Cup, so I’ll miss most of the action. However, if anyone would like to take pictures and write up a rough play-by-play of one or more of the races, I’d be happy to help rewrite it with them, and then paste it up here on MetaverseSailing.com. That part I can do even on a sailboat. 🙂 If you’re interested, send me a message in Second Life.

Anyway, here’s what happened three and a half years ago during Qualifying Round Six of Fizz 2009:

*******

World Fizz Round Six: Reia Rules!

Originally posted to SLSailing.com on June 15, 2009 by Jane Fossett

header round 6

A month and a half ago, World Fizz Cup 2009 kicked off with an initial series of qualifying races hosted by the major yacht clubs in Second Life. Since then, each week the sailors reconvene, the bar rises, skill level goes up… and the tension builds. June 13 and 14 was the sixth time the competition fleet met to lock horns, testing their endurance and their mettle to earn a spot in the World Fizz Cup 2009 Finals.

FYC09This week was the last match in the regular series, hosted by Max Starostin and Far East Yacht Club.

The race course was an interesting mix of classic and novel features that promised a good test of the qualifying skippers’ experience and skill. As you can see in the figure to the right, the race course begins with an upwind beat to the first mark. The tack points are restricted by the dock on the starboard side and an island to port. The fleet makes an acute turn around the top mark (#1) and then sets a genniker course for the #2 reach buoy.  The route is confined by two islands that make this leg potentially tactically interesting.

The #2 mark also requires an acute change in direction, this time reaching to a small island (#3) before setting sights on the final, bottom mark (#4). From there it’s a short, but difficult upwind beat to the Finish. The course presented several challenges that were similar to the Schiffsratten races the week before.

FYC 2_003

The race  I am going to tell you about today took place at 7:30am Sunday morning. The 6:00am race was cancelled at the last moment due to under-enrollment and so several sailors moved up to the next slot, making the 7:30am race “a full dance card” with six boats competing. The skippers that showed up at 7:30 because of that turn of events might easily foreshadow the final race lineup.

Seraina Benelli, reia Setsuko, macro Nacht,  joro Aya, Odysseus Yiyuan, andREVO Blitz rezzed boats on the far side of the line, turning Sunday morning into a multifaceted showdown that included the third, fourth, fifth, eighth, and 12th ranked contenders in the series so far. That meant FYC, perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, ended up hosting an early morning race that pitted sailors with the greatest concentration of talent from any qualifying round against each other. And the stakes were high indeed: A shot at the Cup. It was immediately apparent to both the Fizz Cup Staff and the skippers that Sunday’s race could prove to be the greatest challenge of the entire competition.

Of course we won’t know that “until the fat lady sings,” but I can certainly confirm the Sunday morning fleet made a breathtaking performance and pushed the limits far beyond the prior qualifying round standards. Liv Leigh commented that the first heat was probably the best Fizz Cup race she had ever seen.  She may well be right; from what I saw, although the sizable fleet was plagued by lag at many points, their performance was truly extraordinary.

Let me tell you what happened.

Joro Aya cut the line first at 00:09; she then immediately pivoted and took off on a port tack.   As shown above, Ody, Macro, Seraina and REVO started close behind Joro, but all opted for a more traditional starboard tack first leg. Reia Setsuko started the race in the dead last position, a full 30 seconds behind the leader. In that desperate situation she chose a port tack start. It actually made perfect sense; in last place no one was going to call ‘right of way’ against her.

FYC 2_007

The image above shows the fleet a short while later. Ody still leads the four boats, and they are nearing the first tack point. Off in the distance you can see Joro’s pink sails; she’s already come about, and is now on starboard tack as she zig-zags to the first mark.
FYC 2_010

The four boats then all flip to port tack, and fall on a course that will intersect with Joro, with Reia still far in the distance.

FYC 2_013

Joro brilliantly played the upwind beat to this point. She chose to cut to port  at the beginning to get clean air without obstructions, and when she changed course to overlap with the fleet she ended up on a starboard tack that landed her squarely in front of Ody and Macro.  Joro had Right of Way, so both Ody and Macro needed to turn aside, losing position and momentum. Very nicely done, Joro!

FYC 2_014

But don’t count out Reia! As you can see above, she is following in the footsteps of Joro and gaining ground, threatening to block Seriana and REVO!

FYC 2_017

Joro now tacks again, and runs parallel to the other four boats. In the upper left can see the double-circle that marks the ‘zone’ at the first mark. All the boats will need to tack at least one more time to reach it. Although it looks like Ody and Macro are ahead in the image above, Joro is actually in a very good strategic position,  since she is much further windword and can gain speed by falling off more than the other boats. By planning her position and timing her tack correctly, she can maintain a windward advantage after the next turn. That will give her the necessary speed to make it to the zone first, while fending off the other contenders with her shadow.
FYC 2_022a

It doesn’t quite work out that way, however. Ody, Macro, and Seraina prove extremely fast, and it’s Ody rather than Joro that times the tack correctly. In the first frame above, you can see that Ody’s already flipped over and picking up steam on starboard tack while Joro is still in mid-turn. Ody’s got the momentum, and slides around Joro’s aft quarter into the windward slot, erasing all Joro’s earlier advantage.

FYC 2_026

Remember though, these skippers are ‘the best of the best,’ and Joro’s not giving up that easily. She’s able to hold her own in the leeward position while remaining parallel and overlapped up to the mark. They entered the two boat length zone together, giving Joro Right of Way to round the mark inside Ody’s turn. As you can see above, this once again gives Joro a slight lead over Ody as she takes the turn past the buoy onto the reach leg, with Macro less than a boat length behind the two frontrunners.
FYC 2_029

A few seconds later the other three boats reach the mark, and REVO has the inside track. But look where Reia is! You recall she started in last place, a full 30 seconds behind Joro. Here, at the first mark, she’s not only caught up, she’s passed REVO and Seraina!  I don’t know what vitamins she’s taking but that’s some incredible sailing!
FYC 2_031

The next section of the course is a broad reach that brings the boats through a channel between two islands on the way to the second mark. As you can see above, Joro and Ody continue their duel the entire way. Ody’s got control, however. He’s in the Windward position and slightly ahead. He can’t shadow Joro at this wind angle and Joro’s present position, but Joro can’t pass, either. As soon as she tries, she’ll fall under Ody’s windward boat blanket and lose momentum.

Ody knows he has her trapped, too: The channel is looming ahead, and the reach mark is on the starboard side past the islands. Joro therefore has no option to fall futher leeward to find clean air. Joro’s only option here is to ‘feint’ by first dropping back momentarily, then swinging across Ody’s stern to power into the windward position.

Joro’s got the skill to do it; she’ racked up more consecutive wins than any skipper in the history of Fizz Cup. But in this race she’s up against Ody, who’s ranked third overall in the Fizz 2009 fleet, with 16 clean wins under his belt. Joro’s chance to pull a feint and snatch windward from Ody  in this situation is, well…  zero.
FYC 2_034

The duel cost both skippers time and energy, however, and the remaining four sailors took the advantage. Flashing the skill they had all amply demonstrated in the prior heats of this series, Macro, Seraina, Reia and REVO all surged ahead to challenge the leaders. Although two minutes earlier the boats had been on opposite tacks and spread out over the width of the race course, now they were once again closely packed together as they flew through the channel, with Macro, Ody, Reia and Joro all vying for the lead.

FYC 2_037

Macro and Reia edged ahead and caught the reach mark first, free of any overlap with Ody or Joro (see above). Reia had the inside, and played it for all it was worth, chiseling the turn and breaking out front.

FYC 2_039

Macro then pulled a smart move. Although he was outside of Reia taking the turn, as shown above Macro swung hard around the mark to move to Reia’s opposite side, placing his boat windward of Reia’s aft quarter. On some other day, against some other skipper, Macro might use that advantage to steal the lead; but not this day, not this race. Reia had too much headway and Macro lost momentum in trade for the windward position.

FYC 2_041

Reia wrestled free from Macro and broke into clean air. For the first time in the race, there was no one ahead and nothing holding her back. With barely a nod to her fans on the beach, she suddenly exploded into overdrive, stretching her lead so fast the rest of the pack appeared as though standing still.  Come to think of it, considering the lag, they may have been.

FYC 2_043

This fight was still far from over, however. Ody and Jaro held the lead too long to let it go quite this easily. Macro held then off at the small island that served as the third mark, using it as an obstruction to keep Joro astern. Once in open water again, however, Joro made her move, attempting to pass windward of Macro.

FYC 2_045

On a different point of sail, this might be an effective strategy. The leg from the island (#3) to the bottom mark (#4) is a beam reach, however. With that heading Joro could not shadow from behind, and Macro had multiple options to change course in order to keep Joro at bay.  Joro had the heart, and never gave up the fight, but this time her efforts proved futile. Macro progressively widened his lead.

bottom mark

The image above shows how truly close the race still was at the bottom mark with just a short way to go to the finish. Reia maintained her lead, although Macro continued to close the gap all the way to the very end.  As I mentioned above, Macro successfully pulled away from the rest of the fleet, guaranteeing his second-place finish. Joro, Ody, and Seraina however were still so tightly packed that all three boats were completely in the zone for the final marker at the same time. And don’t forget REVO! He was in the rear, but was the same distance behind the ‘gang of three’ in the middle as Reia was ahead. In other words, this was a tight, excellent fleet they were all in the game together throughout.

FYC 2_054

Liv Leigh commented that many sailors think the FYC09 racecourse was ‘all about the start.’ In other words, if you win the start, you win the race.  For short dinghy races that emphasize technical expertise, that’s often true.

However, Reia on Sunday showed us something else. She came from dead last place, she chose an alternate port-tack strategy, and she relentlessly inched her way forward. Her progress in the race wasn’t luck. It didn’t depend on the errors of others.

Reia won this race in the best possibly way. In this first heat Sunday morning, Reia just outsailed everybody.

What a great race! Woot!

FYC 2_055

2 RESPONSES TO WORLD FIZZ ROUND SIX: REIA RULES!

  1. Kei Cioc | June 15, 2009 at 5:41 pm | ReplyEdit

    It was wonderful race !!
    The excitement on that day revives.

    This report is likely to get exited as much as movies for the slow, long Fizz3 racing.

    Of course I know that it is a favor of Jane’s superior composition power.

    thx :)

  2. janefossett | July 7, 2009 at 12:33 pm | ReplyEdit

    Tim Warrhol held a wonderful ‘Rules’ discussion this past weekend. What else can I say but: “WOOT!!”
    During that discussion, a number of questions came up; some were clarified, some undoubtedly need more discussion.

    I brought up the FYC09 racecourse. There is a small island with a house identified as the #3 Race Mark. My understanding is that boats must pass that island “CCW.”

    In my commentary above, I considered that island an ‘obstruction,’ not a race mark per se, but of course there is a big difference.

    I went back and looked at all of my own pictures and comments… in the race discussed above it made no difference.

    I’m just raising it here to remind myself and everybody else that a small island like that… if clearly identified as a race marker… and without any features that might make it an arguable “obstruction…” could be accepted as a regular “Race Mark” by a race committee.
    In that case the island/mark would be subject to all of the ROW rules that apply to the average, run-of-the-mill race buoy.

    I haven’t heard any complaints, but now in retrospect I think I made a mistake above. Instead of saying
    “Macro held them off at the small island that served as the third mark, using it as an obstruction to keep Joro astern…”
    I now think I should have said something like:
    “The third mark was a tiny circular island. Macro approached it ahead of the fleet with no overlap; Joro was at his heels but clearly astern. Macro made the tiny course adjustment that signified he had cleared #3 and was setting a new course to #4.”
    This time it mad no difference; next time it might.

    Grin. Yup. I learned something.
    Thx Tim!

“Lee Helm” follow-up

I wanted to post a brief update on the Lee Helm issue in SL boats;  I wrote about it last year, but Orca Flotta’s recently posted about it, and one of the boats I first discussed just got a major upgrade (the Nemo II).

This seems a good time to chime-in once more on the issue.

Deviant Helms

Many sailboats in Real Life have unbalanced rigs that make it difficult to sail on a fixed, upwind heading. Some boats will pull into the wind (called a weather helm), and others are rigged to fall away (called a lee helm). These effects are common and not necessarily bad; often a weather helm can be an advantage.

Anyway, eighteen months ago I wrote a short note about this, arguing that certain SL boats behaved as though they had a ‘lee helm’ bias. Go read that post to get the details. 🙂

Mothgirl Dibou kindly commented on the issue. She suggested the SL lee helm effect was a function of the sailing engine’s heel algorithm. As the boat tilted, the bow swung away downwind. I may not have explained that correctly, so go read her comment yourself! 🙂

I’m bringing the issue up here because I initially only found a lee helm in two boats, the TAKO and NEMO. Since then I looked at many more scenarios and it turns out a large percentage of popular SL boats have a lee helm, including Fizz-engine boats, Tako clones, and several Trudeau releases.

Here’s an example sailing Trudeau Twelve. If you set a fixed, upwind course and let go of the helm, over a couple minutes the boat gradually swings leeward. The graphic below shows apparent wind angles, but the real wind angle changes are even greater; the boat physically rotates leeward by several degrees each minute.

This is a small issue, since few skippers will walk away from the helm for several minutes, hoping the boat will sail itself. 🙂

Having said that, let me also comment that several boats in SL don’t show a helm bias. Those “helm neutral” boats include the Wildwind fleet, the boats based on the BBK engine, the Quest fleet line-up, and the recent Trudeau HepCat catamaran.

Although Nemo I had a strong lee helm, the new Nemo II is now on the hem-neutral short-list. 🙂 In my hands, Nemo II sails pretty straight against the wind, and the graphic below makes that point.

If you sail Nemo II close hauled starting from the Hepurn raceline and aim at the NE corner of Mare Sailing Center, you can let go of the tiller. 🙂 The boat will hold a straight line course the whole way. (Note that the boat speed and wind angle are unchanged in the two views below, even though the boat sailed two minutes uncontrolled, and passed over a sim border en route.)

Click (or double click) to enlarge

Anyway, I’ve probably said enough about Lee Helm. It’s a small point for most SL sailors, and I’m pretty sure there is no good-bad to this issue. It’s just a feature of boat design, and as I said earlier, many RL boats also have a helm bias.

There are now many yacht yards and boat builders in SL, and each new vessel that comes down the launch ramp has its own style, character, and ‘goal.’ It’s great that sailors now have so many options to choose from. In that context, lee helm is just a trait that’s built into many boats, and I think it’s far from the most important challenge sailors face on SL’s high seas. 🙂

Fizz Cup: Round Three, Group 1 Recap

Fizz Cup’s in full swing, and the Round Three Regatta went off well this past weekend, hosted by EmmanuelMara Resident and the Marina Sport Racer Sailing Club. As one of the judges for the 6:00am race set, I was in a good position to snap pics of the race boats at some key points.

The competition fleet that morning had seven experienced sailors, and they were all strong contenders to win the ultimate Fizz crown. In alphabetical order, the intrepid group included: EmmanuelMara Resident (the Round 3 host 🙂 ), Liv Leigh (who sailed under the pseudonym “LivvLeigh Resident”), Miwha Masala  (who sailed under the pseudonym “Miwha Masala”), Ox Seetan, Porter Tracy, Sandra Absent, and ziz Kidd.

Armano Xaris stepped in as Celebrity Race Director for the occasion, and Lothor Vlodovic bellied up for the awesome responsibility of Chief Justice for the event. Lothor did a great job, and he was backed up by an able judging crew that consisted of Gemma, Jane, and Kentrock.

The race took place in MSRSC’s home waters, and I thought it turned out rather great. Kudos to EmmanuelMara Resident and Fizz Cup staff for all the preparation! I know there was a lot of behind the scenes trouble-shooting, but at 6:00am everything gelled, and in my humble opinion the conditions for Group 1’s races turned out better than anticipated. From a judging perspective, it was possible to relax and actually have some fun. (How often does that happen in a major regatta series?! 🙂 )

Anyway, the racecourse chart is depicted in the graphic at the top of this post. It was a simple “Olympic style” triangle with equal legs. It began from the San Lucas raceline with an upwind beat to the Top Mark in Larate. That was followed by a reach leg to a race buoy in McGoubrey. The fleet then came back to a buoy in San Lucas to close the triangle, but before finishing, the fleet took an extra windward/leeward lap out to the Larate Top Mark again.

The course was pretty classic, and a good test of a sailor’s technical skill. It reminded me a lot of the old Mowry Bay Olympic “TPS” course (TPS stood for the shape of the course, which was a “Triangle Plus Sausage” 🙂 ).

So here’s how it played out Saturday morning:

Race 1:

The first race is often  a ‘shake out,’ where everyone gets their sea legs. The race skippers experience the grid quirks for that day in that location, and they make adjustments. There is a saying in poker: “You play the hand you’re dealt.

That was in evidence during the first race; It was a bit more sloppy than the ones that followed.

When the race started, everyone took off on a starboard tack and Miwha won the pole position. She cut the line next to the committee boat a scant one second ahead of ziz Kidd, who opted for a safer start in open water further leeward.

Liv was right on Miwha’s heels, but the Award for Effort in thAt race has got to go to Ox Seetan. Ox started eleven seconds behind Miwha and and from a worse angle. However, at the end of a tough upwind beat against a savvy crowd of expert racers, Ox caught up to Miwha. As they took the turn around the Top Mark Orange Can, Ox was tightly overlapped, parallel, and had the inside advantage. Miwha correctly gave room, allowing Ox to capture the lead as they finished the turn.

Sadly, at that point Miwha crashed, so we wont know how that duel might have ended if Ox and Miwha went toe-to-toe for the full fifteen rounds. However, a win is a win, and Ox looked great all the way through Race #1, taking first place in that heat, followed by Liv (#2) and ziz (#3).

Here are the finish times:

1: Ox Seetan   ID900OS — 00:16:35
2: LivvLeigh Resident   ID077LR — 00:17:16
3: ziz Kidd   ID311ZK — 00:17:53
4: Sandra Absent   ID033SA — 00:19:33
5: EmmanuelMara Resident   ID017ER — 00:21:52
6: Miwha Masala   ID710MM — DNF
7: Porter Tracy   ID451PT — DNF

————-

Race 2:

Once again, in Race 2 all the skippers chose a starboard start. This time ziz Kidd lead the pack, again choosing to cut the line far lee of the other boats.

Liv crossed two seconds behind ziz, followed by Miwha.

In this second race, the skippers showed they had found a groove; the fleet beat to the top mark in expert precision. However, the whole idea of starting a race with an upwind beat is to ‘break up’ the competion fleet through a series of tacks. That didn’t happen in race two; the competition skippers chose to stay glued together as they tacked back and forth. It’s a testament to their wonderful skill that nearly the whole fleet converged on the top mark at the same time. (Yikes!) 🙂

You can see a bit of what happened above (and please click on the images to get a full sized view). As you can see in the first frame, MM and ZK were in front, and MM tacked to the mark first. ZK followed suit, but was clearly astern to MM in the middle frame. (as you can see, LR and the rest of the fleet were converging on the Mark as well!).  Anyway, in the third frame you can see ZK slam into MM’s stern, and Miwha called a protest, and ZK counter-protested. At the race’s end, the judges unanimously agreed the penalty should go to ZK in this case, not MM or LR. Since ZK failed to do a penalty turn, he was scored DSQ for race #2. Since Lothor was Head Judge, I’ll defer the details to him. 🙂

Well, that traffic pileup and collision at the top mark now opened up the field for Liv. She took full advantage and adroitly skirted around the rest of the fleet trying to tack. Liv then set her sites on Miwha as the two lead boats raced towards the Reach Mark. Liv sailed that leg superbly, catching up with Miwha just as they came to the race buoy, but as shown below, under the intense pressure of the moment Liv suddenly pitch-poled right in front of the Mark!

That gave Miwha a free ride, and she ran the rest of the bases with skill and finesse, ending a full 40 seconds ahead of Ox Seetan, who took the second-place slot.

Here are the finish times:

1: Miwha Masala   ID710MM — 00:16:08
2: Ox Seetan   ID900OS — 00:16:48
3: LivvLeigh Resident   ID077LR — 00:17:20
5: ziz Kidd   ID311ZK — 00:17:57 – DSQ
6: EmmanuelMara Resident   ID017ER — 00:21:15
7: Sandra Absent – DNF

—–

Race 3:

With one more race to go, the top spots were still up for grabs. Luckily, the weather held clear and sailors had a good chance to show their stuff.

Well, Miwha Masala certainly took advantage of the sailing conditions. She pulled out all the stops in Race #3, crossing the line a full eight seconds ahead of Ox Seetan. With clean air and open water in front of her, Miwha never looked back, doing a victory lap around the course ahead of her competitors.

Ox Seetan and Liv Leigh sailed closely behind Miwha, but they lost precious seconds dueling for the 2-3 spots, and they were never a real threat to the lead boat.

Although there was no protest called, an interesting pileup occurred at the reach mark in Race 3, as shown below. 🙂 As PT, SA, and ZK all came around the buoy, from my far vantage point it looked like first SA, then ZK landed ‘inside punches’ on poor PT. 🙂

Well, nobody protested, and if there’s no protest, it didn’t happen. I think that’s the Sailing Rule of Omerta.

Click (or double click) to enlarge

Anyway, here are the Race 3 finish times:

1: Miwha Masala   ID710MM — 00:15:55
2: Ox Seetan   ID900OS — 00:16:13
3: LivvLeigh Resident   ID077LR — 00:16:15
4: ziz Kidd   ID311ZK — 00:17:51
5: Sandra Absent   ID033SA — 00:17:52
6: Porter Tracy   ID451PT — 00:18:19
7: EmmanuelMara Resident   ID017ER — 00:21:06

And the Overall Group 1 Ranking for the three-race set:

1: Miwha Masala
2: Ox Seetan
3: Liv Leigh
4: ziz Kidd
5: Sandra Absent
6: Porter Tracy
7: EmmanuelMara Resident
_____

Nice sailing, Fizzies!!

Sailing Straight: Two Boats With a Lee Helm

Not too long ago I wrote excitedly about two new, free Tako-based boats: the BBK 137 and Nemo Nantucket. The boats differ in both their concept and construction, and I thought it was pretty fantastic that Kanker’s original ideas might live on in the creativity and enthusiasm of a new generation of boatbuilders.

While testing out those boats, I noticed that Nemo had a “Lee Helm.” It’s a small point, but this issue comes up in real life too and it may partly explain some of Nemo’s behavior, so I thought I’d mention it here.

First, to introduce the topic, let’s talk about helm ‘balance!

A Balanced Helm

JG-44 30R holds a course

When they try out a new boat in real life, many sailors will check how “balanced” the boast’s helm feels on different points of sail. After all, as Ben Franklin said, “A helm unbalanced is not worth sailing.” (or maybe that was Socrates… 🙂 )

Anywayz, a well-designed and well-rigged boat should feel at home on all major points of sail; if you set a heading of 40°, the boat should ‘dig-in’ and hold that course without much complaining.

Quite often however, boats end up unbalanced and consistently drift off course. The most common example of this is called a weather helm, where a boat sailing upwind continually wants to head higher into the wind; it tries to “sail to weather”.  A  skipper needs to constantly apply leeward pressure to the wheel or tiller to hold a ‘weather helm’ boat on a constant compass course. This is only a small irritation on leisurely weekend cruises, of course, but it can become a real pain in races when strong foul weather gusts dramatically amplify the forces on the boat. I’ve sailed races where I had to give up the helm because I didn’t weigh enough to control the boat; the weather forces transmitted to the helm kept lifting me in the air while I tried to hold the boat on course.

Luckily, most boats in SL are nicely balanced. You can set a compass heading, raise sail and let go of the wheel; the boat will faithfully hold it’s course. That’s good news, since most skippers end up busy enough sheeting to the apparent wind changes, switching the sails, reefing, and much, much more.

Click to enlarge

To illustrate this, I’ve added some images above from an Oceanis 160 on a beam reach; the Oceanis 160 is a good example of a BWIND boat with nice balance.  It’s also an easy boat to test, since it has multiple, detailed displays.

Using wind from the North at 15 kn, the first image in the figure above shows the boat heading directly East at a bare 1.63 kn.

JG-44 on beam reach; Wind dial shows AWA adjustment

That results in a real wind angle (RWA)= 90° and an apparent wind angle (AWA)= 84°, as shown. If you then trim the sails without touching the helm or changing course, the boat picks up speed and the  apparent wind direction appropriately shifts toward the bow (AWA= 55° in the middle frame above). After many minutes of sailing without changing the original heading, you can then drop sail and confidently find yourself on the exact compass course you originally set. Oceanis 160 uses BWIND brains for helm balance,  and the boat holds its own, sailing straight as an arrow… quite nicely, in fact.

Good balance is, of course, not a trait exclusive to BWIND or Oceanis.

I’m gradually going through the whole list of popular sailing vessels in  SL, and every boat so far in the Trudeau Fleet  and Juli Designs’ lineup shows a “straight-down-the-line balance.” If you set a course and take your hands off the wheel in these boats, they remain compass-true.

By the way, you can also add the Wildwind Fleet to the ‘balanced boat bunch’ too; I ran my JMO-60 through it’s paces, and got no more than a 2° fluctuation in heading while sailing a fixed course for three minutes. 

Two For the Lee Road

Ok, so my point above is that the large majority of sailboats in Second Life have what might be called ‘a balanced helm.‘ You can set a compass course and take your hands off the wheel;  your boat will sail true.

 This may seem like a small point, and you might even think it’s a pretty obvious one.  However, I’m bringing it up  here because there are two popular boats, the Tako 3.3 and the Nemo-N/R, that appear off-balance and seem to have a ‘Lee helm;’ If you set a course heading, these boats won’t sail a straight line; they sail an arc that gradually turns the boat away from the source of the wind. A skipper needs to invest extra time and tiller touch-ups to stay on tack.

Let me show you what I mean :

In the figure below I set my Tako on a beam reach (RWA=  89°) with a compass heading of  270°.  After sailing for nearly 4 minutes without touching the tiller or changing the heading, the boat had spontaneously turned 11° away from the wind.

Click to enlarge

Is an 11° deviance in four minutes a lot?  That’s for you to judge and it certainly depends on the context, but let me make these comments in that regard:

  • Columbus, Magellan and Cook would still be sailing slow circles in European harbors if they were even 1/1,000 so inaccurate 🙂 ;
  • Any Tako racer knows that even a 2° difference on close haul, say from 34°-36°, can have an enormous impact on boat performance;
  • None of the other boats mentioned above showed any helm preference, so it’s not an ‘artifact’ of the sims or system; and
  • Although a beam reach is a “special” point-of-sail for the Tako (the spinnaker inflates on that heading), the downwind drift appears to happen at all points of sail; its intrinsic to the boat and its power algorithm, not to any specific heading.

Behavioral Genetics

The recently-released Nemo-N/R has a similar Lee Helm propensity.

The figure below shows a series of six sequential Nemo images, while sailing a fixed course with the default 15 kn wind.

If you look at the circular guage, you can see the blue indicator shows the boat starting on a beam reach, with an approximate wind heading of 90°.

 As the boat picks up speed, look carefully at the next four frames. Even with a boat speed of 7.0 kn ( half the true wind), the blue indicator for wind angle stays locked at just about 90°.

 That looks like the Real Wind heading, not “Apparent Wind.”  Two weeks ago I concluded that Nemo’s sailing engine must be using a ‘Real Wind’ algorithm. Nomad Zamani (the boat’s  scripter) corrected me, however, revealing that the boat did use apparent wind, albeit an attenuated version of it (Apparent Wind Lite?).  I was sort of ‘flummoxed’ with that info, since I couldn’t show any upwind velocity-based angular wind swing toward the bow in Nemo (the definition of ‘Apparent Wind’).

It turns out Nemo’s Lee Helm may explain why ( at least in part).  

Click to enlarge

Take a look at the orange arrows in each of the frames above.  They indicated a fixed reference, the clock over the raceline in Farragut. When the boat’s at rest in the first image of the sequence, the bow is pointing slightly starboard of the clock. In each of the following frames, however, the boat’s heading falls further leeward and further to the port side of that heading relative to the clock.

That may explain the Apparent Wind confusion in the prior Nemo discussions; I didn’t appreciate Nemo couldn’t hold a heading. One reason Apparent Wind doesnt show the typical shift toward the bow in Nemo seems to be that Nemo wants to turn away from the wind; it’s heading spontaneously rotates downwind. The size of that angular fall-off is roughly equal to the maximum adjusted wind angle change (AWA) in the boat.

If you’re confused by this, so am I :-), I’m still looking at it, and I’m posting here to get more input and ideas. Hey, but don’t worry :-), the ‘Trouble with Nemo’ seems similar to what happens in the Tako, and that can’t be too bad. We all know that little unruly Tako showed it had the right stuff.

It proved to be the inspiration that lit the fuse for everything else in SL Sailing over the past four years.

So, that lee helm thing? It’s not a defect, it’s not a flaw…

It’s just personality!

Kei Cioc takes Fizz Gold

Gold Finals_006

The World Fizz Cup 2009 came to a close this past weekend with Sunday morning’s Gold Cup Regatta.  It was the culmination of eight weeks of hard sailing; over that long haul five sailors rose to the top of the qualifying fleet, distinguishing themselves with a truly remarkable show of tenacity and skill, and earning a spot in the Gold Cup Finals.

The top five sailors were: Miwha Marsala, Kie Cioc, Odysseus Yiyuan, reia Setsuko, and joro Aya. On Saturday Tim Warrhol took the Silver Cup; that gave him the ticket for the sixth spot to round out the Gold cup fleet.

Sunday morning’s final contest in Turnbuckle turned out to be a test of the sailor’s skill and force of will. The six races were all in expert mode, and the course conditions were designed to enhance the difficulty. Although the seasoned sailors were up for the challenge, severe lag plagued the regatta and technical issues kept several contenders from showing their true ability under the pressure of this ultimate competition.

expert mode Race6_077

Having said that, however, it’s also true that every sailor knows that race conditions are like poker. You play the hand you’re dealt, and you can’t complain about the cards you get.

Continue reading

World Fizz Round Six: Reia Rules!

header round 6

A month and a half ago, World Fizz Cup 2009 kicked off with an initial series of qualifying races hosted by the major yacht clubs in Second Life. Since then, each week the sailors reconvene, the bar rises, skill level goes up… and the tension builds. June 13 and 14 was the sixth time the competition fleet met to lock horns, testing their endurance and their mettle to earn a spot in the World Fizz Cup 2009 Finals.

FYC09This week was the last match in the regular series, hosted by Max Starostin and Far East Yacht Club.

The race course was an interesting mix of classic and novel features that promised a good test of the qualifying skippers’ experience and skill. As you can see in the figure to the right, the race course begins with an upwind beat to the first mark. The tack points are restricted by the dock on the starboard side and an island to port. The fleet makes an acute turn around the top mark (#1) and then sets a genniker course for the #2 reach buoy.  The route is confined by two islands that make this leg potentially tactically interesting.

The #2 mark also requires an acute change in direction, this time reaching to a small island (#3) before setting sights on the final, bottom mark (#4). From there it’s a short, but difficult upwind beat to the Finish. The course presented several challenges that were similar to the Schiffsratten races the week before.

FYC 2_003

The race  I am going to tell you about today took place at 7:30am Sunday morning. The 6:00am race was cancelled at the last moment due to under-enrollment and so several sailors moved up to the next slot, making the 7:30am race “a full dance card” with six boats competing. The skippers that showed up at 7:30 because of that turn of events might easily foreshadow the final race lineup.

Seraina Benelli, reia Setsuko, macro Nacht,  joro Aya, Odysseus Yiyuan, and REVO Blitz rezzed boats on the far side of the line, turning Sunday morning into a multifaceted showdown that included the third, fourth, fifth, eighth, and 12th ranked contenders in the series so far. That meant FYC, perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, ended up hosting an early morning race that pitted sailors with the greatest concentration of talent from any qualifying round against each other. And the stakes were high indeed: A shot at the Cup. It was immediately apparent to both the Fizz Cup Staff and the skippers that Sunday’s race could prove to be the greatest challenge of the entire competition.

Of course we won’t know that “until the fat lady sings,” but I can certainly confirm the Sunday morning fleet made a breathtaking performance and pushed the limits far beyond the prior qualifying round standards. Liv Leigh commented that the first heat was probably the best Fizz Cup race she had ever seen.  She may well be right; from what I saw, although the sizable fleet was plagued by lag at many points, their performance was truly extraordinary.

Let me tell you what happened.

Joro Aya cut the line first at 00:09; she then immediately pivoted and took off on a port tack.   As shown above, Ody, Macro, Seraina and REVO started close behind Joro, but all opted for a more traditional starboard tack first leg. Reia Setsuko started the race in the dead last position, a full 30 seconds behind the leader. In that desperate situation she chose a port tack start. It actually made perfect sense; in last place no one was going to call ‘right of way’ against her.

FYC 2_007

The image above shows the fleet a short while later. Ody still leads the four boats, and they are nearing the first tack point. Off in the distance you can see Joro’s pink sails; she’s already come about, and is now on starboard tack as she zig-zags to the first mark.
FYC 2_010

The four boats then all flip to port tack, and fall on a course that will intersect with Joro, with Reia still far in the distance.

FYC 2_013

Joro brilliantly played the upwind beat to this point. She chose to cut to port  at the beginning to get clean air without obstructions, and when she changed course to overlap with the fleet she ended up on a starboard tack that landed her squarely in front of Ody and Macro.  Joro had Right of Way, so both Ody and Macro needed to turn aside, losing position and momentum. Very nicely done, Joro!

FYC 2_014

But don’t count out Reia! As you can see above, she is following in the footsteps of Joro and gaining ground, threatening to block Seriana and REVO!

FYC 2_017

Joro now tacks again, and runs parallel to the other four boats. In the upper left can see the double-circle that marks the ‘zone’ at the first mark. All the boats will need to tack at least one more time to reach it. Although it looks like Ody and Macro are ahead in the image above, Joro is actually in a very good strategic position,  since she is much further windword and can gain speed by falling off more than the other boats. By planning her position and timing her tack correctly, she can maintain a windward advantage after the next turn. That will give her the necessary speed to make it to the zone first, while fending off the other contenders with her shadow.
FYC 2_022a

It doesn’t quite work out that way, however. Ody, Macro, and Seraina prove extremely fast, and it’s Ody rather than Joro that times the tack correctly. In the first frame above, you can see that Ody’s already flipped over and picking up steam on starboard tack while Joro is still in mid-turn. Ody’s got the momentum, and slides around Joro’s aft quarter into the windward slot, erasing all Joro’s earlier advantage.

FYC 2_026

Remember though, these skippers are ‘the best of the best,’ and Joro’s not giving up that easily. She’s able to hold her own in the leeward position while remaining parallel and overlapped up to the mark. They entered the two boat length zone together, giving Joro Right of Way to round the mark inside Ody’s turn. As you can see above, this once again gives Joro a slight lead over Ody as she takes the turn past the buoy onto the reach leg, with Macro less than a boat length behind the two frontrunners.
FYC 2_029

A few seconds later the other three boats reach the mark, and REVO has the inside track. But look where Reia is! You recall she started in last place, a full 30 seconds behind Joro. Here, at the first mark, she’s not only caught up, she’s passed REVO and Seraina!  I don’t know what vitamins she’s taking but that’s some incredible sailing!
FYC 2_031

The next section of the course is a broad reach that brings the boats through a channel between two islands on the way to the second mark. As you can see above, Joro and Ody continue their duel the entire way. Ody’s got control, however. He’s in the Windward position and slightly ahead. He can’t shadow Joro at this wind angle and Joro’s present position, but Joro can’t pass, either. As soon as she tries, she’ll fall under Ody’s windward boat blanket and lose momentum.

Ody knows he has her trapped, too: The channel is looming ahead, and the reach mark is on the starboard side past the islands. Joro therefore has no option to fall futher leeward to find clean air. Joro’s only option here is to ‘feint’ by first dropping back momentarily, then swinging across Ody’s stern to power into the windward position.

Joro’s got the skill to do it; she’ racked up more consecutive wins than any skipper in the history of Fizz Cup. But in this race she’s up against Ody, who’s ranked third overall in the Fizz 2009 fleet, with 16 clean wins under his belt. Joro’s chance to pull a feint and snatch windward from Ody  in this situation is, well…  zero.
FYC 2_034

The duel cost both skippers time and energy, however, and the remaining four sailors took the advantage. Flashing the skill they had all amply demonstrated in the prior heats of this series, Macro, Seraina, Reia and REVO all surged ahead to challenge the leaders. Although two minutes earlier the boats had been on opposite tacks and spread out over the width of the race course, now they were once again closely packed together as they flew through the channel, with Macro, Ody, Reia and Joro all vying for the lead.

FYC 2_037

Macro and Reia edged ahead and caught the reach mark first, free of any overlap with Ody or Joro (see above). Reia had the inside, and played it for all it was worth, chiseling the turn and breaking out front.

FYC 2_039

Macro then pulled a smart move. Although he was outside of Reia taking the turn, as shown above Macro swung hard around the mark to move to Reia’s opposite side, placing his boat windward of Reia’s aft quarter. On some other day, against some other skipper, Macro might use that advantage to steal the lead; but not this day, not this race. Reia had too much headway and Macro lost momentum in trade for the windward position.

FYC 2_041

Reia wrestled free from Macro and broke into clean air. For the first time in the race, there was no one ahead and nothing holding her back. With barely a nod to her fans on the beach, she suddenly exploded into overdrive, stretching her lead so fast the rest of the pack appeared as though standing still.  Come to think of it, considering the lag, they may have been.

FYC 2_043

This fight was still far from over, however. Ody and Jaro held the lead too long to let it go quite this easily. Macro held then off at the small island that served as the third mark, using it as an obstruction to keep Joro astern. Once in open water again, however, Joro made her move, attempting to pass windward of Macro.

FYC 2_045

On a different point of sail, this might be an effective strategy. The leg from the island (#3) to the bottom mark (#4) is a beam reach, however. With that heading Joro could not shadow from behind, and Macro had multiple options to change course in order to keep Joro at bay.  Joro had the heart, and never gave up the fight, but this time her efforts proved futile. Macro progressively widened his lead.

bottom mark

The image above shows how truly close the race still was at the bottom mark with just a short way to go to the finish. Reia maintained her lead, although Macro continued to close the gap all the way to the very end.  As I mentioned above, Macro successfully pulled away from the rest of the fleet, guaranteeing his second-place finish. Joro, Ody, and Seraina however were still so tightly packed that all three boats were completely in the zone for the final marker at the same time. And don’t forget REVO! He was in the rear, but was the same distance behind the ‘gang of three’ in the middle as Reia was ahead. In other words, this was a tight, excellent fleet they were all in the game together throughout.

FYC 2_054

Liv Leigh commented that many sailors think the FYC09 racecourse was ‘all about the start.’ In other words, if you win the start, you win the race.  For short dinghy races that emphasize technical expertise, that’s often true.

However, Reia on Sunday showed us something else. She came from dead last place, she chose an alternate port-tack strategy, and she relentlessly inched her way forward. Her progress in the race wasn’t luck. It didn’t depend on the errors of others.

Reia won this race in the best possibly way. In this first heat Sunday morning, Reia just outsailed everybody.

What a great race! Woot!

FYC 2_055