Category Archives: Quest Marine

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

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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

Hotlaps tops 300

hepurn thurs

Woots! Kudos to LucyInThe Sky Afarensis; yesterday she posted lap #300 to the Hotlaps spreadsheet! She hit that tercentennial ceiling in real style too, by adding a new boat class to the list: The ACA Racer Tiny. 🙂

On the six Hotlaps courses to date, a total of 54 skippers have sailed 305 laps in 33 different boats. Wowzers! Here’s the current list of skippers who did all that sailing, colored-coded for the spreadsheets:

skippers 54

And next, here’s a copy of the current, active spreadsheet for the Plum Gut course. Individual lap scores are arranged in columns based on boat class, and the colors for each entry identify the skipper. As highlited below, there’s a set of tabs at the very bottom of the sheet that allow a user to switch to different pages in order to view individual race line results, raw entry data, or summary sheets.

Sailors can even edit the various spreadsheet pages. If you make a mistake filling out the entry form, you can go to the Lap data page, find the error there and correct it. If any Hotlaps user wants to rearrange or sort the data for a particular page, please feel free to open a new tab on the spreadsheet to do that. You can then copy the data you’re interested in to your new page for editing, and leave the original intact.

plum gut feb24

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Of course Plum Gut is just one of the six Hotlaps venues. There are five more.

This collected lap data has many potential uses. Individual sailors can follow their own laptimes to see if different sailing strategies make a measurable difference in their scores, or they can compare how their times match up against other sailors in the fleet.

The hotlaps data also makes it possible to “performance handicap” the many, popular boats in SLSailing. As I’ve discussed before, that’s done by comparing the average lap time for a given boat on a particular racecourse against the same information for a standard, “index” boat: The Melges-24. After nearly two months of data collection, the Melges is looking like a great index, for a dozen reasons I wont bore you about here. If you own a Quest Melges-24, you likely know the reasons already. 🙂

Anyway, here’s the handicap table as of yesterday. Below, the table to the left shows the handicap factors for boats on each of the six hotlaps courses (where the data is available). The table on the right shows the average handicap score for each of those boats, with the associated standard deviation for the small sample of values in each case.

summary tables feb25


So, how useful and reliable are the handicap factors?

Well, that’s what were still trying to figure out, but let me briefly talk about three points that came up in last Thursday’s Midnight Madness races.

hepurn feb21

Midnight Madness is a fun, multiclass race every Thursday at 9:00 pm, cosponsored by Danshire and Eden Bay Yacht Clubs. At the moment I’m using  Madness results to calculate potential handicap ‘adjustments’ and comparing them to the uncorrected, “normal” finish times.

As usual, a small but really great group of skippers showed up this past Thursday to race the Hepurn Hotlaps course. Here’s the result for race one.

Race One Lap Times: 
 Chaos Mandelbrot   M24 crewed — Start: 00:05  —  Last lap: 00:10:32
 Kris Hollysharp   M24 — Start: 00:01  —  Last lap: 00:11:18
 SteveLL Resident   Q2M — Start: 00:11  —  Last lap: 00:15:01
 qwerty Qork   IDQQ99 — Start: 00:02  —  Last lap: not finished
 Glorfindel Arrow   IDA81  — Start: 00:06  —  Last lap: not finished
Race One Results:
 1: Chaos Mandelbrot  (M24 crewed, 1.10) — 10:37 — corrected 11:40
 2: Kris Hollysharp   (M24, 1.00) — 11:19 — corrected 11:19
 3: SteveLL Resident   (2M, 0.76) — 15:12 — corrected 11:36
 4: qwerty Qork   IDQQ99 — not Finished
 5: Glorfindel Arrow   (M24, 1.0)  — not Finished
Unfortunately, qwerty and Glorf both crashed. Chaos and Kris both sailed Melges-24, and SteveLL sailed a Q2M.
R1 start
Kris was aggressive, extremely adept, and crossed the start line 4 seconds ahead of Chaos and Jane. However, a crewed Melges-24 can sail faster than one with a solo skipper, so Chaos was able to pull even with Kris and eventually pass her about midway through the course. Chaos went on to finish first, with an 18 sec. lead over Kris.
Looking at the prior handicaps however, a crew member gives an M-24 a roughly 10% performance advantage. Chaos’ corrected lap time would then be 11:40, a full minute behind Kris!
A similar issue came up with SteveLL. He was sailing a Quest 2-M, which is a much slower boat than the Melges-24. Steve cross the finish line a full 4 min. behind the lead boats, and there’s really no chance he could win a race without handicap adjustments.
However, factoring in the current handicap for the Q2-M (0.76) Steve’s corrected finish time becomes 11:36, a score that’s directly competitive with the two Melges in the race. In fact, with corrected scores Steve nosed out Chaos for Second Place!
second race finish
For the Second Race, a wondrous thing happened. There was a bright light from above, the heavens opened up, and Pensive Mission appeared at the race line, holding on to his Tako. pm and cmAlthough Pensive only makes rare appearances in regattas these days, he was one of Mowry Bay’s original Mow-Mows, and his skill with a Tako is part of SL’s nautical lore.
Well, in the Second Race we got a chance to see that legendary Boatman of the Mowry Apocalypse ride his Tako around Hepurn’s waters once more.
The Tako is quite a speedy boat and it’s powered by a real wind engine that makes beating to windward less of a hassle than most new boats. Thanks to Slanty Uriza, we also have a handicap from the Sulu Hotlaps Course. It’s 1.03, a close match for the Melges-24, so it made sense that Pensive was able to keep in close lockstep with both Chaos and Kris as the boats zoomed around the course.
A pleasant surprise occurred at the end of the race however, as I tallied up the scores. Since the Tako uses a very different wind engine, I wasn’t sure how “portable” the handicap factors might be within a mixed fleet or across different race courses. Well, to get a partial answer to that question I used Pensive’s single lap score to calculate a new Tako handicap for the Hepurn line.
Pensive’s Hepurn handicap worked out to 1.03, an exact match for Slanty’s Tako handicap using the Sulu line!! 🙂
 It looks like the handicap factors are proving to be both valid and consistent. That’s a nice thing. 🙂
Race Two Lap Times:
 Chaos Mandelbrot   IDCM91 — Start: 0:03  —  Last lap: 10:05
 Kris Hollysharp   IDKH47 — Start: 0:03  —  Last lap: 10:36
 Pensive Mission   ID25  — Start: 0:02  —  Last lap: 10:47
 Glorfindel Arrow   IDA81  — Start: 0:02  —  Last lap: 13:22
 SteveLL Resident   IDJB25 — Start: 0:05  —  Last lap: 14:40

Race Two Results:
1: Chaos Mandelbrot  M24 crew, 1.10 — 10:08 — Corrected 11:09
2: Kris Hollysharp   M24, 1.0 — 10:39 — Corrected 10:39
3: Pensive Mission   Tako 3.3 (1.03)  — 10:49 — Corrected 11:08
4: Glorfindel Arrow   M24, 1.0  — 13:24 — Corrected 13:24
5: SteveLL Resident   IDJB25 — 00:14:45 — Corrected 11:14

Hotlaps Turns Sixteen (Days)

Hotlaps Turns 16

Hotlaps 2013 is a sail racing format that lets sailors practice their skills by doing solo laps on a standard ‘test track.’ Skippers can then upload their ‘average, good‘ lap times to a spreadsheet that compares their results against other sailors and across different boat classes.

This round of Hotlaps is just getting going, but so far the response has been great and there’s lots more planned. 🙂

sailors jan16

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In just the first two weeks, 28 skippers entered 140 lap times for 24 different boats. The current list of Hotlaps sailors is shown on the right, and the ‘Color Code’ is a key to the lap times listed on the spreadsheet below (as well as on the pages of the active spreadsheet here).

There are five Hotlaps locations so far: Plum Gut, BreadnutLinkous, Knaptrackicon, and Sulu. There is a notecard over the raceline at each spot that will give a Hotlaps chart, database links, and any specific instructions. 🙂

So far, Plum Gut turns out to be the most popular Hotlaps location, with 88 lap entries. I’ve included a snapshot of the Plum Gut summary spreadsheet below. Click on it to get a bigger table that’s readable. 🙂

So far at Plum Gut seven sailors have contributed 15 laps sailing the Melges-24 “index boat.” The results are pretty consistent, with an average lap time of 8:59, and a standard deviation of 0:24. Fearless Freenote at the moment holds the speed record in that class; he logged a rather amazing 8:18 two days ago, edging out Armano Xaris’ prior time of 8:32.

Speaking of speediness, Fearless also showed that the lap time for the WildWind VO-70 is substantially faster than the new Mesh Shop VO-70. Many sailors guessed that was prolly the case, but it’s nice to see that Fearless nailed it. You can see the actual numbers in the table below. 🙂

HH Jan17 2013

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summary tables jan16

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Hotlaps isn’t just about speed though. The lap scores also help generate relative performance factors (a.k.a. “Handicaps“) that compare boats to an arbitrary standard (the Melges-24 is that index boat).

The table to the right lists the current set of handicap factors determined by lap scores at each of the five racelines. In general, all the racelines produce the same handicap rank for a given boat, but there’s still variability in the the actual handicap numbers. That should settle down as skippers sail more laps on all the lines and add their results to the mix. 🙂

Nonetheless, the present handicaps have a number of interesting results. For example, Slanty Uriza nicely showed on the Sulu line that the vernerable Tako 3.3 is a close lap-match for the new and shiny Melges-24, and both boats are roughly equal in speed to the ACA33 3.0.

We’ll see how well those numbers stand up in the coming weeks. 🙂
Oh, and don’t forget:

You got ten minutes?
You could sail a Hotlap! :-)

2005 hotlaps RFL

Hotlaps 2013 Progress

HH jan 2013 header

The Hotlaps 2013 lap entries are growing; in the first nine days, seventeen skippers logged a total of eighty-six laps that are split across the four courses.

jan 8 sailors HH The skipper’s names are listed in the box to the right, and the colors match the time-trial entries that are included on the summary spreadsheets for each Hotlaps course.

Plum Gut has the largest number of laps so far, with fifty-three lap times logged for fifteen different boats (see below).

The Melges-24 is the tentative “Index Boat” for handicap comparisons, so it deserves special comment here. The average Plum Gut lap time is 8:46, based on seven runs by Armano, Yala74, and Kris. Although the number of entries is still small, the scores are consistent and tightly grouped with a standard deviation of only 10 sec. We’ll see if this changes as more laps get added, but so far the M-24 Index looks valid and reliable. Let’s see if that holds up as sailors add more data points.

Jan8 hh

Please click to enlarge

Below is a quick ‘Summary Table’ of Handicaps for the fifteen boat classes entered so far.

HH Summary Jan8 2012Knaptrackicon still needs Index laps, so it’s handicap factors are blank at the moment. However, where the data is available, the scores of the other three lines are pretty consistent. The WildWind boats are by far the speediest, with Wildcat45, RCJ-44, and TR30 all earning handicaps of 1.10-1.15 (meaning they are 10-15% faster than M-24). In contrast, the newly reworked JG-44 looks like it’s coming in with lap times that are roughly 15% slower than M-24 on all three courses. The Mesh Shop boats and the ACA33v3 look like they fall in the middle, while the Trudeau fleet, Caf Binder’s Jangars, Manul Rotaru’s BeachTri, and Balduin Aabye’s Bolero all come in at the back of the pack with scores 30 – 40% slower than the Melges.

Of course, a slow boat is not a “bad” boat. Several builders argue that slower boats are more realistic in SL waters, but that’s a discussion for another time. 🙂 The point here is that the handicaps are generating meaningful data, and we’re on track to fill in many of the blank spaces on the above form. 🙂

Yesterday I sent out posters to advertise Hotlaps. They are full mod/copy, so please stick one up in an appropriate place (like your local gas station bathroom). The notecard embedded in the poster gives details about Hotlaps 2013, including landmarks, charts, and links. The notecard is networked, so the Info will automatically update as we add more Hotlaps locations, and as Hay Ah adds new lap features to her racelines.

Hotlaps 2013 info

You got ten minutes?
You could sail a Hotlap! 🙂

Triumphal Race Roadtrip

m-24_084Orca brought her  Traveling Triumphal Race Roadshow over to Jeogeot on Saturday for a change in venue and some fun exploring. Hannelore Ballenger had the same idea an hour earlier with her fleet of Wildcat45‘s, so it looks like 2013 could be a good year for sailing on Jeogeot’s waters. 🙂

A skilled group of Melges racers showed up for the Orca’s wind-driven merriment, but few were familiar with the waterways there and only two hardy skippers, Armano and Sammy, completed the race. According to Orca’s post there was a right-of-way disagreement at some point during the first upwind leg of the race, so I thought I’d post a few images I snapped of the boats involved during those initial moments.

Orca’s course du jour was basically a long windward/ leeward haul, with a few interesting nuances thrown in. The figure below shows the first three boats as they cross the line on Srarboard tack. As you can see in the upper image, Armano (AX) has the lead, but he shows up a bit early; he luffs and loses momentum waiting for the line to open. Sammy (SV) is clear astern and doesn’t have that problem, so she roars in on close haul and quickly moves to establish leeward overlap with Armano as the race begins (lower image). Both boats played the start with obvious dexterity, and Armano had only a scant two-second advantage over Sam as they began the upwind beat.

m-24 01

The third boat to cross the line  above has Orca’s colors and I mistakenly labeled it OF. However, I’m pretty sure that’s actually BBS’s boat, and it crosses the line hugging the windward buoy, 14 seconds after Sammy.

This was a pretty typical start for the lead boats, with all three on a starboard close haul. Sammy chose to start leeward of Armano, and that’s often a wise opening move, since the lee boat has right-of-way under Rule 11. If her boat was on a more acute upwind tack and the two boats were closer to the edge of the line, Sammy could even force Armano off the Start.  However, in this race Sam can’t gain much from being leeward; Armano’s far from the windward buoy, and both boats are sailing parallel, tightly close-hauled tacks.

In this situation, Sammy can’t luff-up Armano either. Sammy had the momentum as the race began; she used it to overtake Armano from clear astern and establish leeward overlap. Rule 17 applies:

If a boat clear astern becomes overlapped within two of her hull
lengths to leeward of a boat on the same tack, she shall not sail
above her proper course while they remain on the same tack and
overlapped within that distance, unless in doing so she promptly sails
astern of the other boat. …

Armano’s one of the best and fastest sail racers in Second Life. For that matter, so is Sammy, but in this situation Sammy knows she can’t outrun Armano from a leeward position. Armano has her in check with his shadow blanket, and there’s precious little chance he’ll make a mistake that lets Sam slip away.

Sammy does a split-second analysis of the situation and tries a daring move. As Mao ZeDong and Vince Lombardi put it, sometimes “The best defense is a good offense.”  As shown below, Sammy falls back just enough to break overlap and get clean air, then she points up and drives forward in a juggernaut to get to Armano’s windward side. If she can enough overlap to shadow Armano, she can steal the lead.

As the first picture below shows, Sammy was in fact able to overlap her bow with Armano’s windward stern, but in the process she needed to pinch upwind to get in position. That drained lift force from her boat, and she essentially ‘ran out of gas’ before reaching shadow position. (It might be worth noting here that the shadow blanket extends downwind from a boat’s root prim as a widening cone. These two boats are so close that Sammy would need to be mast-abeam or even slightly ahead to garner any benefit from shadow effect.)

Anyway, Sammy played a great tactical move, but she fell just a couple meters short.

m-24 012

When Sammy falls back, Armano goes in high gear and builds a several boat-length lead. At that point Sammy’s only chance is to catch him when he flips to a port tack to continue the upwind beat.

The first pic below shows the lineup just before Armano runs out of water and needs to tack. Pics 2, 3, and 4 below show Armano taking the turn, then using his lead to cut across Sammy’s bow without interference. If you look closely, you can see another view of this in a picture Orca posted.

Bottom line: Once again Armano proved too speedy.

m-24 015

Sammy never gave up, though. Perhaps her last chance to gain ground on Armano was to extend her first tack longer than prudent, and then turn to port at the very last moment. That might get some extra height and a faster next leg. Always game-to-go, Sammy took that chance.

However as I commented above, these were untested waters for the fleet. Sammy’s heading brought her into a tiny scooped-out bay that prevented her from efficiently changing tack. She lost several more seconds getting back to open water, guaranteeing Armano a comfortable lead for the rest of the race.

m-24 023

Since Orca mentioned there was a possible protest, I focused on Armano and Sammy in my comments above. As shown in the images, I thought they sailed a great race that demonstrated their expert knowledge of both tactics and technique. (I wish I could sail that well! 🙂 ). If there were any errors, I missed them.

As a final comment though, let me give a shout-out to BBS Resident, who I hardly mentioned at all above. BBS was third across the Start line and a full boat length behind the lead, but where you cut the line can make a big difference in a race. BBS crossed next to the windward buoy, a setup that guaranteed extra height on the first tack. In fact, if you look at the images where Sammy and Armano were dickering over who could close haul harder, BBS is located several boat lengths windward. BBS could have fallen a bit off the wind, benefited from the extra power charge, and blown past both AX and SV.

As partial proof of my point, look where BBS ended up sitting when Sammy makes her turn. With a well-timed tack and a little luck, BBS might have landed nearly on top of Armano there. And that, as they say, could have made it a whole new ballgame, kids. 🙂

BBS and Arman

OK!
Next Race!

m-24 092 roadtrip

Quest Melges-24 Hits the Water

Qyv Inshan’s latest creation — The Quest Melges 24 — came down the metaphorical ramp last Friday over at OrCafe. It was a great launch, hosted by Orca Flotta and Emceed by Quirky Torok, and the debut was attended by a throng of enthusiastic sailors excited about the new boat.

Qyv Inshan took it all in stride; her reputation as a boatwright is already well-known in the SL sailing community. She’s created some of the most popular race boats in Second Life, from the diminutive Q M-2 to the rather majestic Q IACC. Over the past two years she’s also strongly collaborated with Elbag Gable and LDeWell Hawker, building great match boats that raised the skill level of all sailors in SL.

Two Q

However, on Friday she launched her best boat ever; it’s a wondrous emulation of the real-life Melges-24 racer. The boat is only 8 m in length (see above)but it’s full of scrappy attitude that comes directly from the RL Melges competition tour. This boat’s a thrill to sail, on any race course, and under nearly any regatta format.

 Many skippers in SL evidently agree. On Saturday September 8 Orca Flotta orchestrated the first club race for M-24’s. Although the regatta was scheduled barely 24 hours after the boat officially launched, a full fleet of eleven M-24’s converged on Bingo Straight Saturday to compete, and each one still had that fresh-paint smell. 🙂

Oh; speaking of fresh paint, as Orca’s already announcedDiamond Merchant‘s the person to talk to about personalizing your Melges-24 hull textures. 🙂

Even if you decide to Awlgrip the boat yourself, make sure you stop by Diamond’s to get a free texture map! It’ll make pimping your ride a whole lot easier! 🙂 And OK I admit it. Once the Quest Melges crowd is gone, I need some serious Diamond-grade psychotherapy and practical help with my next ride too… 🙂

Quest Precocious upgrade and Spin Fix

Anyway, in the three days that followed the Melges-24 launch, sailors gave Qyv a number of helpful suggestions about the boat. One issue turned out to be a real glitch: there was a potential script exploit in the spinnaker polar when sailing at close-haul angles (I know, I know… you’re thinking “No sailor uses a spinnaker close hauled,” and I guess that’s the point).

I’ll take the hit on this error; If you look at the performance curve I posted, you’ll see I never officially beta tested the M-24 spinnaker at narrow upwind angles. I was just  happy to see the spin collapse at the upwind end of a beam reach, and to confirm it invoked the appropriate speed penalty. It turns out there was an upwind anomaly I missed. 🙂

This was a minor issue, but Qyv promptly fixed it and issued an update release: the Quest Melges-24 v1.2.

The Boat Speed chart above is largely identical to the one I posted a few days ago; it shows baseline curves for  boat performance for version 1.0. I’ve superimposed the numbers for the new v1.2 spinnaker for comparison (in purple). As you can see, the results are identical to the earlier boat and the ‘upwind penalty’ is now flat from 30-60 degrees RWA.

The new release adds a few more bells and whistles too, so go take a look!

Go M-24!

Quest M-24

Summary

Qyv Inshan’s new M-24 is inspired by the popular Melges-24 racing sloop, and it’s a wonderful addition to the Quest Marine fleet. The M-24 successfully imports both the design and the excitement of the real-life racer, from the details of the build to it’s scripts, handling, and crew placement. The boat is fully WWC and BWIND compatible, and it features active crew hiking and pitch control that realistically match the racing tactics of the RL Melges. This is a boat any sailor is going to love to race.

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Born with an Americas Cup legacy and attitude, the Melges 24 exploded onto the sailing scene in 1993. The boat quickly won the respect and admiration of racers around the globe, and it soon earned its own ISAF class designation. Today there are nearly 1,000 hulls on the water, and the class has an avid schedule of races hosted by clubs worldwide.

It’s easy to see why the Melges 24 grew so popular. The boat is a high-tech, 24 foot ‘pocket rocket’ that’s both affordable and easily transported. The hull is sleek, spare, and sexy, and it’s shaped to plane with a crew of four or five aboard. The spars, keel and rudder are all carbon fiber, adding strength without extra weight.

Well, kudos go to  Quest Marine‘s Qyv Inshan; Qyv recognized this agile speedster was just begging to race online. She’s crafted a digital emulation of the Melges called the Quest M-24 that wonderfully translates the form and spirit of the real-life boat to the Second Life platform.

The Boat Build

The Quest M-24 is a Mesh construction. That’s a pretty good thing, assuming you have a recent, mesh compatible viewer. (If you don’t have one, stop right now and go download it!) The build is detailed and sleek, and “mesh” means it lacks many of the problems commonly seen with sculpted boats.

The M-24 measures only 8 meters at the water line, so it’s SL size nicely matches the real boat. The pictures to the right show my usual test-drill to check the collision boundary on boats, applied to the M-24 hull. This time I did it by dropping a physical platform against the side of the boat (I explained this previously). As you can see in image A, the platform hits the hull exactly at the edge of the visible boat. Image B shows a slight mismatch between the visible convexity of the hull and it’s apparent collision cage; the physical platform appears to stop in midair. This mismatch is similar to what happens in Loonetta, another mesh build. It’s interesting, but I can’t imagine it has any impact whatsoever on sailing or racing M-24. This looks like a well-crafted racing hull!

The final image C shows the platform resting on top of the bulb keel. That prim keel draws 3 meters and it’s not phantom, so watch out for shallow spots!

Sails

The boat comes with a mainsail and jib that are jointly controlled by chat commands, gestures, or arrow keys. When the sails fall out of tune, they visibly flap and generate a luffing sound to help you maintain trim. The sails themselves are actually phantom, and so is the boom. The forestay is prim however, so the leading edge of the jib will bang into things. 🙂

Speaking of things that go bang, the M-24 comes with a retractable bowsprint and asymmetrical spinnaker that give a speed boost sailing downwind. Although the spinnaker itself is phantom, the bowsprint is not. As you can see in the image below, the sprint adds considerable length to the effective bow and needs to be factored in when negotiating tight, downwind turns during a race.

I do not yet know whether the bowsprit will trigger a raceline, but I doubt it. Spinnaker starts are pretty uncommon anyway, so I would not worry about it. 🙂

As I mentioned earlier, the M-24 design and detailing is clean, stylish and faithful to the RL boat. In addition to the retractable bowsprit, the M-24 has hiking belts (padded lifeline straps) on both sides that let crew go as far windward balancing the boat as the Melges 24 Class Rules will allow.

The Quest M-24 even faithfully reproduces the boat’s vang (shown above) and the backstay flicker (shown below)! Nice job, Quest (and Qyv!)!

Performance

True to the real-life Melges-24, the Quest emulation is full of caffeine and attitude. It can accelerate briskly, and it turns on a dime.  Don’t worry about taking it along to compete with those big ACA’s in a mixed fleet race either; just remember Good boats come in small packages. 🙂 If you have a tactical brain and a sharp crew, I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to out-race any boat that floats in the M-24.

HUD

Quest boats are already very popular on the SL sail-racing circuit, and the M-24 control interface draws heavily on Qyv’s prior experience. If you’ve sailed any boat with a “Q” in it’s name recently, you’ll feel comfortable with the M-24 pretty quickly.

The boat uses a numerical ‘Info HUD’ and in detailed mode it gives the skipper and crew a good deal of information. The display shows the Compass Heading, Speed over Ground, Base Wind Intensity, and both Real and Apparent Wind Angles. It includes three  additional items: 1: It shows whether you’re using BWind or a WWC setter; 2: It shows whether you’re on a Port or Starboard tack; and 3: It shows the real-time mainsheet angle.

Actually, the HUD goes another step; It displays the sheeting “efficiency” (the ratio of apparent wind angle /2x sail sheet angle). If that number is close to 1.00, the HUD display turns green and the M-24 rockets ahead. If you fall out of that sweet-spot zone, the HUD changes color and the boat vigorously complains with flapping sails and luffing noises.

Sail control

Like many other boats in SL, the M-24 uses the UP/DOWN Arrow Keys to adjust the Main and Jib. That system is easy and reliable, but it’s also pretty imprecise and inadequate for racing. Qyv has therefore added chat-level numerical sheet control, and in the boat package she’s even provided basic M-24 gestures to get both you and your crew going. One small caveat, however: although the skipper can change the communication channel for chat commands, the boat doesn’t remember that setting between races. Skippers may want to make a gesture to conveniently reset the com channel each time they sail. 🙂

Wind engine

The M-24 lets you chose your wind source. It has a built-in Quest version of BWind, but it’s also fully compliant with standard raceline WWC setters.

Few racers use BWind; there are only a few available options for wind direction and speed, and its too easy to accidentally change the settings while underway. In Quest boats, however, there are specific chat commands that let a skipper enter any wind angle or speed; that’s a small feature that makes BWind a lot more useful. 🙂

Boat speed

Before I discuss M-24’s performance details, I need to talk a bit about  ‘boat speed oscillation.’ The M-24 has it, and I think it may be present in a number of recent boats as well, so this isn’t a criticism. Here’s what I’m talking about:

If you sail a straight compass course in M-4 with a constant wind setting, the HUD shows a continuous variation in boat speed that looks something like the figure shown on the right. In this case I was sailing a RWA=69 with 4.86 kt wind, and current and waves were turned off. The “efficiency” of the sheeting was always 98-99%.

Nonetheless, the boat speed is pretty variable; over a few seconds the boat speed changes by as much as 7% in either direction. These rapid shifts are unrelated to boat heel, heading, or wind speed, and occur with either BWind or WWC.

I’m not sure why the boat speed oscillates so much, but frankly it’s not clear this is a “problem.” In real life all the parameters of wind, wave, and current are uncertain and add to the racing challenge. However, it does mean a race team will have difficulty fine-tuning the sails if they are watching the boat speed indicator. In this boat they would probably do better trimming the sails to keep the “Efficiency” readout at 98-99.

Polar Quest

Within the constraints of the performance fluctuation discussed above, here’s a chart showing Boat Speed at different Wind Angles. The Orange line below shows speed as a function of Real Wind Angle (RWA) using a very slow wind speed (5 kt).

The boat gives a maximal response sailing a beam reach. Although boat speed tops out at 90% of Real Wind, the chart likely overestimates M-24’s performance since the test wind was so low, and a top speed of 60-70% RWS seems more attainable in routine sailing. Nonetheless, the shape of the curve seems about right for a high-tech, planing sailboat.

M-24’s boat speed declines considerably on downwind headings, as the driving force on the sails shifts from lift to drag effects. To compensate, the M-24 comes equipped with an asymmetrical spinnaker. The spin offers a big push when the boat’s traveling away from the wind, but be careful. If you don’t watch it closely, the sail will luff due to Apparent Wind effects and the boat speed will drop precipitously (see the green curve in the chart above).  Many boats in SL have spinnakers that douse automatically, which is convenient but rather unrealistic. In contrast, M-24 lets you decide which headsail to use, and when to take it down. 🙂

Hiking

The RL Melges 24 get’s it speed from high-tech construction, a caffeinated sail plan, and a hull that’s designed to plane
These same features characterize the new Quest M-24. If you want to break speed records in SL with this baby, go grab a hiking crew,  and work to keep the boat dead flat under all points of sail. The builder’s notecard suggests the boat is relatively forgiving with heel angles under ten degrees, but if you tilt further you’ll pay a big penalty in performance!

To help balance the boat, the skipper can shift at the helm from lee to windward positions. With a good breeze on a beam reach, moving to the windward side reduces the heel and can buy you roughly a ten percent speed boost as shown in the above picture.

In a stiff breeze you can gain an additional boost by adding crew in hiking positions. There’s a neutral crew spot up against the cabin bulkhead where crew can rez, but then each sailor has three hike steps to either windward or leeward of that point that will fine tune the boat’s balance.

Qyv’s added a great, realistic animation for the hiking crew. The Melges 24 Class Rules limit how far the crew can hike, so most RL boats use a lifeline strap that windward crew lean against (see the video below). The Quest M-24 reproduces the hiking positions quite nicely, and as shown in the figure to the right, the hiking strap even pops up in service when the crew needs to lean on it!

So how effective is the crew hiking? the chart to the right shows the heel angle of the boat with sails lowered. The skipper is sitting on port, and one crew member changes hiking position from the extreme portside  position (P3) to the extreme starboard side position (S3). When both sailors are far to port the boat heels by 11°. The boat then comes into neutral balance when the crew moves to the first or second hike position on the starboard side. This shows that the skipper and crew are relatively equal in “weight” when hiking.

The next figure shows what this all means while sailing. The chart below shows the average boat speed on a beam reach with a constant 15 kn wind and the skipper sitting on the Windward side. The crew person then switches from the far Windward spot through all the hiking positions over to the leeward rail. No surprise, the heel will worsen as the crew moves leeward, and you can see that’s accompanied by a progressive deterioration in boat speed on the graph. In this case, there is roughly a 10% drop in speed as the sailor shifts from the “good” windward side to the “bad” lee side.

Of course, the size of the hiking effect will depend on many factors, but a 10% boost while reaching in a stiff breeze seems pretty reasonable.

Trudeau Yachts has included a hiking feature on most of their boats for several years, and the amplitude of the hiking effect is similar in the M-24; but “comparison of hiking” is a long discussion and deserves it’s own post some other time. 🙂

Plane perfect

Windward/leeward heel balance is an important factor when sailing upwind, where camber airfoil lift effects drive the boat. However, everything changes when a sailboat turns downwind. On a Run, drag effects are the principal driving force. Since the wind is coming from behind, total sail area is key, not the heel angle. If you raise a spinnaker, that parachute shape will increase the driving force. Unfortunately, a big foresail also tends to pitch the bow down in the water, increasing the hydro resistance.

To make their boat fly on a Run , RL Melges-24 race teams hike to the stern. That brings the nose up and lets the hull surf the bow wave.

Here’s a great video of a Melges-24 race crew showing how it’s done. The first half of the video shows the boat on a reach with the crew pressed against the hiking straps. In the second half however, the boat’s on a run, and the team moves aft to hold the stern down and get the boat to leap over the waves.

Qyv’s adapted the same planing tactic for the M-24: There’s a stern crew position on starboard that works to lift the bow and speed up the boat!  This is a great feature that successfully models the tactics and handling of the RL Melges. Be careful, though; it only works on a dead run, and the skipper may need to switch to the port side to keep the boat flat!

Here’s a picture of Ronin Zane jumping on the butt of my M-24 to speed it up!

Wet results

The true test of any new race boat can’t be found in any technical graph, picture-set, or script discussion. It ultimately all depends on the feel of the boat and how it performs on the water. Ronin Zane and I have been racing the pre-release M-24 in mixed fleet club regattas this past month and the boat’s been great fun to sail, particularly with crew aboard.

I have a lot to say about racing the Quest M-24, but this post has gone on too-long already; let’s save that discussion for another day. Besides, tomorrow Qyv is officially launching the Quest M-24. Stop by at OrCafe at 12:30pm SLT Friday September 7 and you can ask Qyv about the details, and try one of these great boats yourself!