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.

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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

Interview with Silber Sands

through the looking glass-silber sands

by Liv Leigh
______

Don’t forget that behind each avatar
there is a real person with real feelings…

Silber Sands’ profile does not come with light and easy words. As new as she may be for some people in the community, she shows her character and personality, from her love for dogs and Leetle Cats to the way she mastered sailing a Fizz in the Cup. Liv Leigh interviewed her: a story about new beginnings, unknown courses, a fascination by the sea and her ideas to pick up sailing in real life.

I don’t want to race like a robot… so, unknown courses would be fun.

Silber reading in front of her tent at Martinique

 You: I was reading your profile a bit. I was attracted to the poem in it, by Hermann Hesse.
Silber Sands: Yes.. I adore him since my teenage and this special poem means a lot to me.
You: I see.. may I ask a bit more on it, or is it too private?
Silber Sands: Well.. no, it’s not 😉 every time when something ended in life.. I read it.. and it helps me to overcome things and start new.
You: I was wondering if it has a special meaning to you in SL as well..

ss_042

Silber Sands: hmm.. yes, it has..
Silber Sands: I started in SL in February 2007.. and one year later, I had my first and only relationship here, it ended in December2008 after 10 months.
You: That is a long time in SL.
Silber Sands: It was a weird time.. but it brought me something new: sailing in SL 🙂

You: Did it also bring you together with the ‘Schiffsratten’?
Silber Sands: Yes, in some way.. there was no relation, but I was searching for something new. I know that if I would be still in this relationship, I would have never found the SRYC. Let’s say: I was free for what I really love: sun, sea, community 🙂 Before, all was dark, it was a dark relationship..
You: So sailing.. gives a sense of freedom to you?
Silber Sands: Yes, I like it a lot, and I am thinking about making a sailing-licence in RL as well. There are special offers for students where I live.
You: You are no RL sailor yet then I suppose.
Silber Sands: I am no RL-sailor, and I had to learn a lot about the rules, I am always afraid that someone shouts “protest” to me. That actually happens a lot in the trainings. 😉
You: Quite fanatic trainings then. Maybe other clubs could learn from it. Would you have anything special in mind, if you start to sail in RL? A boat, a place..
Silber Sands: Hmm.. I’d love to sail in the meditteranean sea. But I think, I’ll have to start on the “Alster” in Hamburg 😉
You: A city with a seafaring history.
Silber Sands: yes, that is true, our harbour just had its 820th birthday.

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Live Fast, Die Young: Two minutes from Fizz Round Five

FIZZ 5  Live Fast Die Young copy

Woot!

If you watched any of the fourth or fifth round qualifying races for the Fizz 2009 World Cup, you know exactly what I’m excited about. The Cup’s organization and the management by both NYC and SRYC were absolutely flawless, but it was the racing that was truly incredible. I ended up with thousands of pictures documenting hundreds of tactical duels, technical twists, strategic juggernauts… and just plain glorious, gutsy sailing.

SpoonDrift - SRYC02Bea Woodget’s also doing a pretty great job keeping everybody up-to-date on the regatta standings and the individual race results; I therefore thought it would make more sense for me to continue focusing on specific races and competitions, to highlight the skill of the individual sailors and the excitement and drama of the competition.

Today I’m going to kick that off by telling you about just two minutes from a race that didn’t even count… but the action was so tightly-paced that when I reviewed the pictures the next day I found myself jumping up and down and shouting at the monitor!

The Round Five races were hosted by Schiffsratten Yacht Club on the Spoondrift Raceline. The SRYC courses were longer than prior weeks, and featured an interesting mixture of  island obstacles and racing marks. Round Five was a pretty good test of both the skippers’ sailing ability and their technical know-how.

The first set of races tested the skills of five sailors well-known to the SL competition circuit: Kentrock Messmer, Tim Warrhol, Cacio Tomsen, Kei Cioc, and Toraba Magic. Tim Warrhol may be newer to SL Sailing than some others in the fleet, but his RL knowledge of sailing quickly earned him the respect of fellow sailors. Most consider him a seasoned skipper and serious competition for the Fizz Cup. In fact when Tim teleported to the Spoondrift line, I half expected him to shout “ROOM!” so he could rez his boat.

 As I mentioned, today I’m only going to tell you about a snippet of the regatta, beginning as this small group of superstars raised sail for the third race…

   fizz5 TS1-1-3x_114 copy

The illustration above shows three pictures of the start line during the final seconds of the countdown. The first leg is upwind beat to the blue/white mark. Many sailors will argue that a starboard tack is the best and safest start, since the race line can be a crowded place and starboard has right of way. Starting at the starboard side of the line near the red buoy also has advantages, since it gives the longest leg before tacking and can put a skipper windward of the pack, riding clean air and offering an unencumbered path to the mark.

In Spoondrift, the average wind angle was 10°, not zero, adding to the starboard start advantage.

The Fizz fleet knew this, and all boats began on starboard in each race. In the illustration above, two sailors (TM and CT) chose to safely cross in the middle of the line, avoiding any time-wasting confrontations that might arise from the cluster of argumentative skippers that gathered at the red buoy end.

At -00:03, the middle image shows TW, KC, and KM all overlapped and flying in to cross the line near the starboard end. They’re all sailing nearly parallel to the race line, trying to optimize the lift force of the apparent wind and also allowing more flexibility if they fall on the line early. It’s a nice lesson on how to set up for  a good race start.

If you look more carefully, however, TW ended up in a dangerous position. Approaching the starboard end of the line he is the most windward boat of the three, and he’s left minimal room to maneuver without hitting the Red line buoy. In fact, this is a classic racing tactic.KC is leeward, parallel and overlapped with TW.KC has right of way, and could have very easily called UP! UP! UP! as the boats approached the line, forcing TW to turn windward, and pushing him completely off the race course. Kei decided against it apparently; I assume he thought the race might be boring without Tim along.

fizz5 TS1-1-3x_120 copy

Now take a look at the illustration above a few seconds later. All five boats are continuing along close-hauled to starboard moving to the first tack point.TM is out front, but remember he started further down the line and his leeward position will cost him ground when the boats tack to port.

You can see something else interesting in that top picture: TW es windward of KC at the line, but now TW’s in the leeward slot.KC chose to pinch windward. TW’s moving faster but KC is in a nice tactical position, closer to the mark and potentially blocking TW’s tacking options.

You can see what I’m talking about in the middle frame. TW decides he’s high enough to reach the mark, so he flips to a port tack and makes a dash at the blue buoy. This is a potentially highly risky maneuver; as the middle picture shows, TW cuts straight across KC’s bow. KC could loudly protest here on at least two points:

Rule 16.1 “CHANGING COURSE: When a right-of-way boat changes course, she shall give the other boat room to keep clear”
and
Rule 10: “ON OPPOSITE TACKS: When boats are on opposite tacks, a port-tack boat shall keep clear of a starboard-tack boat.”

Please! I’m not being critical of Tim here. There was no protest at the time, and I am looking at pictures from a single perspective.  If a protest were raised,  it’s quite possible the pooled information from the judges and Race officials would show Tim had sufficient room to pass.  The point I’m making is that it’s a gutsy maneuver, and I assume Tim was holding his breath; God knows, I certainly was. (But hey… no guts, no glory.  It’s a boat race, remember?)

If you look at the third image above, you’ll see that KC took this in stride, and did not protest. After all, he needed to tack anyway, and it was still pretty early in the race; no need to cause a commotion. KC therefore fell parallel and overlapped in the lee position with TW.

fizz5 TS1-1-3x_123 copy

 The images above show the situation a few seconds later.   As the boats reached the “zone” at the first mark they were still overlapped and that gave KC the inside slot under Rule 18. TW courteously stepped aside, allowing KC room to pass and gain slight headway. KM and TM were immediately behind the lead boats, And also parallel and overlapped with each other. They also cleared the mark together with no incident and all 4 boats gaised gennikers moving South on a broad reach to the next Mark. As they approached the East end of the start line (third image above), TW was lying windward and slightly astern of Kei; it was the perfect position to steal KC’s air and hold him captive all the way to the next Mark.

fizz5 TS1-1-3x_127

No surprise, KC knew this too. his only chance was to break away, but falling further leeward would sacrifice the lead to TW. KC therefore played his best remaining card. As the lee boat he had ROW and therefore cut into the path of TW, forcing TW to a slower downwind course. It was effective, but as you can see in the middle picture above, this damaging duel between Tim and Kei sapped their momentum and opened the door for the pair of boats trailing them, skippered by KM and TM. In a remarkable move, KM and TM surged forward alongside the battling boats, and took the windward positions.  A scant moment later,  for the first time KM and TM were actually able to move out front and decisively capture the lead.

The second picture above shows this remarkable situation, with all four boats closely packed and gennikers overlapping. That certainly can’t be a healthy situation and gives all involved a heavy dose of ‘bad air.’ That’s nicely demonstrated If you look at CT’s progress from the second to the third frame. All along he has been bringing up the rear, but now suddenly he’s almost on top of the other four boats!

race 3 stops short

For a brief instant all five boats were more tightly clustered together on the racecourse then they had been while moored before the race began. And all five boats were straining sail on a reach, trying to grab an extra ounce of momentum and break from the pack.

Cacio Tomsen

Cacio Tomsen: "It wasn't all that bad."

Well, it wasn’t going to happen.

Unbeknownst to any of us, Tiga sim suddenly went off-line and all five boats  crumpled in unison into the unyieding sim edge. I admit it was probably the most cataclysmic crash of canvas and fiberglass I’ve ever seen on the waters of SL.  Cacio Tomsen concurred with that apocalyptic assessment, offerring the constructive suggestion that the World Was About to End. Kentrock Messmer took a more practical approach: “In that case, can I have a beer?”

Once the sims were back up and all the broken toys were hauled away, the five intrepid sailors bellied up to the raceline in new boats that still had that fresh-rezzed smell, and they did Race #3 all over again.

Wait till I tell you about what happened in the REAL Race #3!

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Fizz Cup 2009 Begins

FIZZ2009 MAY8 6AM-FIZZ ROUND ONE

 

A Plum Race

This past Friday the curtain went up on Act I of Fizz World Cup 2009.

Bea Woodget’s touch was evident everywhere, and the organization and execution of the first round of races in Plum Gut was flawless in its detail.  Even the sims behaved; the races I attended were low lag, with mercifully quiet border cossings and few crashes within the competition fleet.

This is the second year for the Fizz Cup, and Bea’s goal this year is to develop a World Cup regatta infrastructure that could expand into other one design classes and serve as a template for future, major sailing competitions. It’s a great idea, and you can see the elements of this longer strategy throughout the Cup’s Notice of Race and in Bea’s thread on SLSailing.org.

The excitement over this year’s Fizz Cup has been pretty electric in recent weeks, and the registration for the competition broke all past records for a sailing event; over the next several weeks 60 sailors will compete  with each other in the  initial series of qualifying races hosted by many of the Second Life yacht clubs. Those skippers that emerge victorious from that grueling ordeal will then face each other in “Silver” or “Gold” final rounds  that will determine which sailors take home the cup for 2009.

The qualifying series will follow a format similar to Fizz Cup 2008. However,  if you think this year’s regatta will be anything like last year, you may want to think again! Friday’s remarkable sailing performance by the fleet in Plum Gut was nothing like last year’s racing for one, huge huge reason: this year’s cup skippers are sailing Mothgirl Dibou’s newly-released Fizz 3

Fizz Ontology

The Flying Fizz first hit the water in second life in January, 2008. Even before its launch, however, Moth’s little racing dinghy  had captured everyone’s attention.  It was a major advance over the venerable Tako, and one of the first sailboats designed completely independent of Kanker Greenacre’s sailing scripts. The Flying Fizz wasn’t just a “Tako makeover;” it was a qualitative leap forward that gave the sailing community  a glimpse of the future.

That early version of the Fizz changed over time. As with any radical innovation, following it’s initial release the boat went through a blizzard of quick bug fixes and upgrades, and in some ways the boat was still a work-in-progress during the World Cup 2008 race series that took place that Spring. I am not complaining about the Fizz 2.x, however;  that earlier boat captured the heart and imagination of the sailing community, and the 2008 Cup drew us together.

A large fleet of skippers participated in the 2008 qualifying rounds , and they sailed  Fizz 2.x’s with a skill that approached joyous audacity.  The term “Fizz Fanatic” became part of the SL lexicon and was hardly an exaggeration.  Last year’s Cup was was was a roaring success, and the largest and most diverse sailboat competition in Second Life history up to that point. The Fizz 2 was a big part of that achievement.  

fizz2008 prestart stallHaving said that,  as I watched the Cup 2008 races and tried to reconstruct the tactics employed by the many skippers, I was impressed that Fizz2 still had a ways to go before it accurately modelled small boat racing. Many of the strategies skippers used in the competition were not RL race strategies. Sailors often chose tactics that played off the unique features of the new boat, or exploited “bugs”  to enhance their performance rather than  focus on sailing skills.  The most obvious demonstration of this point  occurred early in the series, when it became clear that a number of sailors were legally using a design glitch (pumping the tiller) to go faster. Moth fixed the problem and upgraded all the skippers in the middle of the race series. 

I think the newness of the boat and it’s many features had a somewhat paradoxical impact.  On one hand there was no question that the Flying Fizz was a major advance over the Tako, with user features and performance designed intended to make the racing experience much more like real life. However,  if you go back and watch the Tako Cup 2007 videos, one can make an argument that the Tako races actually came closer to real-life competition, emphasizing sailing knowledge and strategy.

Boat Handling vs Sailing

In real life sailboat races, the skippers jockey their boats for position with each other, using and often pushing the Rules to gain advantage. It’s not about the boat per se; it’s about sailing.  In that spirit, Tako Cup races involved frequent protest calls, and many of those issues and discussions where pretty identical to what any sailor hears at a  RL regatta. The emphasis on strategy and tactics was clearly present during the Tako Cup pre-starts too, where skippers jockeyed for an advantageous start position so intensely that the Cup committee approved optional real-life start procedures to ensure a fair race.

In contrast, the Fizz Cup 2008  competition often seem to focus more on a skippers ability to handle the complex boat and maximize its performance; it was more about the boat than about sailing. I know many people might disagree with that assessment, but I think that interpretation partially explains why Fizz skippers made far fewer penalty calls in their Cup races last year compared to their Tako counterparts. It may also explain why many Fizz sailors essentially abandoned the usual dueling that typically characterizes the pre-start of a race. During those two minutes, the Fizz skippers frequently sailed a short distace back, neatly lined up their boats and read the newspaper, waiting for the precise moment to turn on the gas and make an all-out run for the startline. I’ve never seen that strategy in RL.

Please, I’m not complaining. The races were exciting, and the competition showcased the zeal, intelligence and ability of a race fleet drawn from all corners of the SL grid, manned by sailors from RL locations that spanned the Globe. The Fizz 2 platform demonstrated its value, and gained wide popularity and acceptance as SL’ s most advanced one-design standard for small boat racing.   However, although Fizz 2.x was a pretty marvelous technical achievement, it still fell short of the goal to construct a progressively more accurate emulation of real-life sailboat racing.  I’m sure that Mothgirl Dibou would phrase it differently, but it’s my understanding she saw this problem too. She took all the feedback and observations fromseveral months of Fizz2 racing… and went back to the drawing board.  Eight months later, Fizz3 was born. 

Fizz2009 Plum Gut Racecourse

Fizz2009 Plum Gut Racecourse

Now We are Three

Fizz3 is far, far more than a technical upgrade to last year’s boat.  In many ways, it’s another quantal leap ahead. Moth didn’t just make another technical tour de force; she went beyond that, designing a dinghy that responds to the concerns I listed above and incorporates the perception, handling, and the “feel” of a real-life raceboat.  Those issues go way beyond “scripting.”   I don’t know quite how she did it, but I suspect it has something to do with sweat, toil, frustration – and Moth’s love  for the project. The new Fizz3 is another big step in sailboat development, and the boat is so alive and real that many sailors  have flip-flop intense reactions to it, sometimes wanting to hug and kiss the boat…   while at other times in frustration wanting to drive a wooden stake through the boat’s heart. (Grin… just like real life sailing!)

I’m telling you this story because Fizz Cup 2009 is sailing the new Fizz 3. The races promise to be radically different then we witnessed last year, and the comparison will be fascinating. Last Friday in Plum Gut we got a look at the opening act, the Fizz 3’s debut in Cup competition.

That list of whiny compaints I made about the 2.x above? Well, forget ’em. The races on Friday were way beyond a technically sophisticated computer game. On Friday those skippers were sailing. It was pretty wonderful. Let me tell you about it.

FIZZ2009 MAY8 6AM-Start copy

shinobi Woodget gives the fleet a free lesson.

I only have time to tell you about the very first race in any detail, but for me that race tells the whole story about how this competition is shaping up, and why it’s different.

Tim Warrhol, macro Nacht, shinobi Woodget, Odissey Rossini and Alain Gloster all matched wits and sailing ability in that race heat, sailing a simple upwind/downwind sausage-shaped course. The first figure above shows the race start, and from the first moment all those watching could tell this regatta would be very different from 2008. As you can see above, during the countdown the competition fleet actively milled behind the line, aggressively vying for position and advantage over each other. Tim Warrhol got so excited he hit the line several seconds early, and capsized while steering strongly away. He made a rapid recovery, however, and never fell any distance behind the pack.

The second frame above shows shinobi Woodget in the lead a few moments later, followed by macro Nacht and Odissey Rossini. They are all lined upon starboard tack, beating to windward. Shinobi is slightly lee of the other boats, a good strategic position crossing the line but riskier on this first leg if another boat gets close enough to shadow. Luckily that wasn’t the case, and the image below shows the fleet following the first tack, now all on Port. Macro’s in the lead below, but that’s deceptive. Shinobi is following a more windward line and ‘has the height’ to give her better control approaching the yellow mark. 

 FIZZ2009 MAY8 6AM-055 copy

As shown in the Top Mark figure below, she plays it beautifully, stealing macro’s wind and falling off just enough to kiss the yellow buoy and leave it to port. Her setup is so good she enters the two-boat ‘zone’  alone, but the rest of the fleet is on her tail. The yellow arrow below is Alain Gloster’s  bowsprint!  All five boats were converging on the mark  in very close order!

Good Old Rule Eighteen

In the lower frame a few moments later you can see that Alain has swung wide to the starboard side of the buoy to give the two lead boats room;  they both have right-of-way.   It’s a little messier with the two boats at the back of the pack, however. Odissey and Tim Are neck and neck going into the zone, with Tim in the lee position.   Under Rule 18, Tim must now give Odi room to pass the mark.

FIZZ2009 MAY8 6AM-064 top mark

Since the zone is about to become a busy place, this is probably a good time to remind everybody of Rule 18’s wording, as accepted by the Fizz Cup committee for this regatta:

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18. When overlapped, inside boats have Right-of-Way at marks, NOT including starting line marks.

ISAF Rule 18 “ROUNDING AND PASSING MARKS AND OBSTRUCTIONS:
In rule 18, room is room for an inside boat to round or pass between an outside boat and a mark or obstruction, including room to tack or gybe when either is a normal part of the manoeuvre.
18.1 When This Rule Applies
Rule 18 applies when boats are about to round or pass a mark they are required to leave on the same side, or an obstruction on the same side, until they have passed it. However, it does not apply
(a) at a starting mark surrounded by navigable water or at its anchor line from the time the boats are approaching them to start until they have passed them, or
(b) while the boats are on opposite tacks, either on a beat to windward or when the proper course for one of them, but not both, to round or pass the mark or obstruction is to tack.
18.2 Giving Room; Keeping Clear
(a) OVERLAPPED – BASIC RULE: When boats are overlapped the outside boat shall give the inside boat room to round or pass the mark or obstruction, and if the
inside boat has right of way the outside boat shall also keep clear.
Other parts of rule 18 contain exceptions to this rule.
(b) OVERLAPPED AT THE ZONE:
If boats were overlapped before either of them reached the twolength zone and the overlap is broken after one of them has reached it, the boat that was on the outside shall continue to give the other boat room. If the outside boat becomes clear astern or overlapped inside the other boat, she is not entitled to room and shall keep clear.
(c) NOT OVERLAPPED AT THE ZONE: If a boat was clear ahead at the time she reached the two-length zone, the boat clear astern shall thereafter keep clear. If the boat clear astern becomes overlapped outside the other boat, she shall also give the inside boat room. If the boat clear astern becomes overlapped inside the other boat, she is not entitled to room. If the boat that was clear ahead passes head to wind, rule 18.2(c) no
longer applies and remains inapplicable.
(d) CHANGING COURSE TO ROUND OR PASS: When after the starting signal rule 18 applies between two boats and the right-of-way boat is changing course to round or pass a
mark, rule 16 does not apply between her and the other boat.
(e) OVERLAP RIGHTS: If there is reasonable doubt that a boat obtained or broke an overlap in time, it shall be presumed that she did not. If the outside boat is unable to give room when an overlap begins, rules 18.2(a) and 18.2(b) do not apply.
18.3 Tacking at a Mark
If two boats were approaching a mark on opposite tacks and one of them completes a tack in the two-length zone when the other is fetching the mark, rule 18.2 does not apply. The boat that tacked
(a) shall not cause the other boat to sail above close-hauled to avoid her or prevent the other boat from passing the mark, and
(b) shall give room if the other boat becomes overlapped inside her, in which case rule 15 does not apply.
18.4 Gybing
When an inside overlapped right-of-way boat must gybe at a mark or obstruction to sail her proper course, until she gybes she shall sail no farther from the mark or obstruction than needed to sail that course.

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Scratched Gelcoat

Look what happens next, in the figure below. Odi is inside Tim and heads towards the mark; Tim falls off, giving Odi ample room. However, Shinobi is still completing her tack around the mark, and the boats behind her are momentarily delayed, giving her room. Macro follows Shinobi, But that puts him right in the path of Odi, Who is still barreling ahead, close-hauled to port.

The bottom frame tells the tale, as Odi hits macro and leaves a nasty scrape on his hull. Macro protests and the judges immediately concurred. Odi had inside rights over Tim, but not macro. Macro had ROW over Odi.

 FIZZ2009 MAY8 6AM-070 copy

 With that exciting moment passed, the boats have sufficient water to negotiate the hairpin turn and raise genniker for the run to the bottom mark.

FIZZ2009 MAY8 6AM-082a

 The extra headsail provides a powerful boost and the fleet spreads apart as each boat splits up the downwind leg into two broad reach tacks to optimize the velocity made good towards the mark.

It’s worth commenting here that Mothgirl deliberately chose to make Fizz3 a much slower boat than it’s Fizz2 predecessor. The initial PHRF testing shows the difference is substantial, with the Fizz 2 more than 2 1/2 times faster on a standard course. Personally, I think slowing down the boat was a brilliant idea. Instead of “bumper cars,” the slow speed now turns the races into competitions of strategy and situational awareness, and it lets sailors make full use of the many features and options Fizz 3 puts at  their disposal.

FIZZ2009 MAY8 6AM-096 downwind

  The final picture below shows the intrepid fizz fleet beating the short distance back from the bottom mark to the finish line. Shinobi Woodget won this first race and deserved the win. She grabbed the the lead from the very start, and flawlessly maneuvered into dominant positions on each tack. It was no easy task, however, since  macro was on her heels for much of the way, and as I described above, the fleet was so good all five boats converged together on the top mark. 

FIZZ2009 MAY8 6AM-098 FINISH

The best thing about Friday’s races was something pretty simple; it looked real. Each heat I watched looked like typical RL one-design boat race. The Fizz3 platform seems to have the right mix of technology, chemistry and attitude. To a considerable degree the skippers on Friday were sailing their boats;  they were making tactical decisions and responding to conditions the way it happens on a RL racecourse. Shinobi won the kick-off qualifying race for Fizz Cup 2009 because she outsailed the competition, and for me, that’s the difference between Fizz 2008 and 2009. 

I think Mothgirl Dibou’s Fizz 3 has accomplished something subtle and elusive: it’s given us a new platform that’s closer than ever to a true emulation of sailing, not just a complicated computer game. Fizz 3 makes this year’s Cup something pretty great: a competion of sailing skill among sailors.

I can’t wait to see what happens in the next round this Friday!

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