Category Archives: VO-70

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.


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. 🙂


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

Mesh Shop VO-70 Gets Fifth Upgrade

“Dutch” Xenobuilder launched the Mesh Shop VO-70 several weeks ago. The boat’s modeled after the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Racer, and it offers a host of innovative features that include a new, proprietary version of the BWind 2.5 sail engine.

After the VO-70 launch, many skippers gave feedback to Dutch to enhance the boat’s features and performance. Dutch appreciated the input, and he is incorporating several of those ideas into a series of updates for the boat. The articles I wrote about VO-70 were posted just after Update 2. Well, this week Dutch released his VO-70, Update 5. Let me tell you what’s changed over this handful of tweaks!

Immanuel Kant

Here’s the short list of update features since the launch:

1. The sail engine (the boat’s polar) got a steroid injection. Compared to the original release, the new boat is much faster; it more closely matches the performance of the real Volvo Ocean Racer and Corry Kamachi’s earlier VOJ-70.

2. The iPad windsetter was enhanced. A skipper can now adjust the intensity of gusts and shifts, and there’s a control for ‘drift’ as well, although that feature’s not operational yet.
There’s also a new chat command, “give ipad” that makes the controller even easier to use.
Free copies of the iPad are available at The Mesh Shop for RD’s who want to coordinate races but don’t own the boat yet. 🙂

3. Manual CantThe VO-70 has a canting keel that helps counterbalance the boat under strong wind conditions. The update adds a Manual Cant option that lets sailors take charge of the keel angle in eleven steps from port or starboard. There’s a modest gain in boat speed when the cant is optimized.
The daggerboards on either side modulate keel lift and their action is linked to balance the cant angle. In VO-70 the daggerboards are automatically deployed.

4. The HUD display had an upgrade. The HUD now includes Apparent Wind Info, Sheet Angle, Keel Position, and Heel.

5. The Crew HUD has more options. The new extra HUD lets crew members switch between gennaker and jib, adjust the sheeting, and also set the manual cant position. Sailing the boat becomes a real team effort.

6. Another authentic texture set was added to the user kit. In the launch package, Dutch already included textures for each of the 2012 Volvo race teams. As part of the upgrade series, he’s added the designs for the ABN*AMRO team; they have more wins than I have space to list here.

These are all great new updates that all enhance the VO-70’s potential as a fleet racer in SL. Let’s hope there are more to come!

VO-70 Design Contest

Speaking of design textures, The Mesh Shop, Triumphal Yacht Club, and Marbella Nautical Shop have just announced a fun competition for VO-70 sail designs.

Pimp your VO-70 ride for the judges, and you may win:
—a new race boat,
—a $1500L shopping credit, and
—professional texture packs for your boat!

You can get all the contest details here. The final judging and announcements will kick off on Saturday, October 13 at 1:00pm, hosted by Triumphal Yacht Club!

This Week’s Pic

Click me.

Making a splash the hard way;
beating windward in Bingo Strait. 🙂

Ready, Set, Splash:

Click to enlarge.

The Mesh Shop VO-70, part II: Racing

Mesh Shop VO-70

I recently posted about the Mesh Shop VO-70. Inspired by the Volvo Ocean Racer, the VO-70 is a beautifully designed and carefully constructed craft that earns high marks for it’s style, the accuracy of it’s mesh build, and it’s durable BWind 2.5 sail engine. It’s a great boat to cruise across the grid at high speed.

I suspect many sailors who get this boat will want to race it, so I wanted to add a few additional comments about VO-70’s racing features.

A Fresh Breeze

The VO-70 does not use the standard raceline WWC windsetter; instead it introduces a new race wind system, based on Becca Moulliez‘s BWind 2.5. The boat comes with a separate “iPad Contoller” that a skipper or race director can wear to set race wind.

click to enlarge

The iPad has six options for wind speed and eight wind directions to choose from. When a skipper or race director hit’s ‘enter,’ the wind settings are broadcast to all nearby boats that are listening and in-range. The broadcast continues for a few minutes, then automatically turns off.

Other skippers who want to join the race type “racing” in open chat to let their boats listen for the wind. Once a boat gets the racewind message, it locks the new parameters and won’t allow any changes until the skipper says ‘cruising‘ and leaves race mode.

The iPad interface is a great idea and it works well; it’s both easy and intuitive to use. My only suggestion would be to make the iPad transferable, so any RD could use it to start VO-70 races. I’d suspect sharing it will become more important as new boats get added to the list using the new system. It’s a small step toward establishing a legitimate, alternate race wind interface.

Wind Variance

OK, let’s talk about Race Wind Variance. VO-70 handles it differently, and I promise this will only take a minute, and there will be no math! 🙂

The wind that drives a sailboat is often fickle, and adapting to wind changes is an important part of race strategy in both RL and SL. The standard WWC race wind script includes settings for wind variation. A race director can adjust the magnitude and nature of both wind gusts and directional shifts.

In early 2008, Vin Mariani wrote two fantastic articles detailing how wind variance works in SL races (Blow and Second Wind). He focused on Kanker Greenacre’s original “Tako wind,” but the same basic principles apply to Mothgirl Dibou’s WWC setter too. As shown in the figure above-right, the racewind from these setters gradually shifts wind direction in incremental steps to one side then the other, over a few minute interval. A good skipper can watch the wind shift and adjust the sails in response; a great skipper can even try to anticipate when shifts will occur.

I’m bringing this up here because the VO-70 uses a different system.  VO-70’s  iPad controller allows a race director to adjust the amplitude of wind gusts and directional shifts using an integer scale from 0 to 9. However, the frequency of the wind change is much faster than what you get with a WWC, and the two systems are not equivalent.

Here’s an example of what I mean. The blue line on the chart to the right plots the real wind angle for a VO-70 each second for a total of eighty seconds, with the wind variance set to “5” on the iPad. As you can see, the curve is an irregular sawtooth pattern, with wind direction swinging back and forth around the mean every other second. To emphasize the difference, I’ve superimposed the directional shift from a WWC (green curve) and Kanker’s windsetter (red curve) over the same timeframe. The WWC causes a gradual shift in wind direction, while the BWind 2.5 windsetter generates a sequence of quick wind shifts that leaves the underlying, average wind angle unchanged.

Kain Xenobuilder and Becca Moulliez are aware of this difference, but they point out that the wind pressing against a sail (or any object) is constantly changing at a rapid rate. The VO-70 wind variation models this second-to-second wind jitter, not the gradual shifts a WWC produces.

Becky mentioned that longer-term WWC-type variances may be included in future updates to the new wind system. Dutch suggested that racers should focus on the HUD readout for apparent wind, and sheet accordingly. That makes sense to me too, since the HUD’s AWA index reacts more slowly, and represents the wind angle and speed that actually drives the boat.

If this sounds confusing, here’s the bottom line: VO-70 has a new race wind system, it’s different than what most sailors are used to, and it’s worth trying it out. SL Sailing can’t advance unless we all encourage new systems made by thoughtful, dedicated people. 🙂


Although the VO-70 does not use the WWC setter, it is fully compatible with the common race lines in SL. In fact, once a skipper enters race mode the boat automatically gives itself a random race number. 🙂 That should prevent the problem racers forgetting to correctly ID their boats!

The VO-70 has an additional nice feature in that regard: If a boat crashes during a long race, when it gets returned to inventory it reliably remembers the race wind and race ID number. A skipper can therefore just re-rez that boat at a convenient spot, and get back in the race again! 🙂

Phantom Factors

The VO-70’s dimensions and sailing performance nicely match the the RL Volvo Ocean Racer. However, unlike the RL boat, many components of VO-70 are phantom, including  the spars, rigging, sails, bowsprint and keel. That can be an advantage for both the skippers and race directors, reducing the risk for collisions at the raceline or along the course. At the same time, it complicates race planning since an RD needs to set special regatta rules that cover phantom  collisions. This is usually no big deal, and can be as simple as: “If it’s phantom, it can’t hit you.” 🙂

Wish List

The large size, solid build, and low-overhead scripting of VO-70 make it a particularly good candidate for long-distance races, so the issue of phantom race course collisions should not amount to very much.

In my hands the boat is pretty rugged, and it can usually make it across 100+ sim borders at high speed without much trouble, even on those ‘bad grid‘ days. 🙂

Good boat, Mesh Shop!

I have to admit I’m greedy though, and since Christmas is not that far away, there are two things I’d love to have on a future VO-70 racing update. They are:

1. WWC compatibility. Since VO-70 uses it’s own wind system, right now it can’t join mixed-class races in SL without first making special arrangements with the Race Director. Having an option to switch between BWind 2.5 and the generic WWC wind would greatly increase the number of racing opportunities for this boat, and give owners a chance to ‘show it off’ to their friends.

2. Windshadow. Windshadow is a powerful tactical weapon in sail racing. With experienced skippers at the helm, windshadow turns a fleet race into an intricate chess match. Windshadow is currently built into the WWC system, so adding it to VO-70 would not be difficult. Both the Ktaba Teleri and Melges-24 are dual wind-system boats that use that solution for their shadow. 🙂

These are small points for a Big Boat however, and as I said I’m just greedy. I want to sail this boat everyplace!

Mesh Shop VO-70, Part 1: Cruising

Volvo Ocean Race

When new acquaintances find out I’m interested in sailing, they often say something helpful and supportive, like:

“Sailing? You’re kidding. That’s like watching the grass grow!”

In a conciliatory tone, I usually reply: “You are thinking of Golf.
I then send them video clips of the Volvo Ocean Race. 🙂

In case you’ve been out golfing a lot this past decade, let me give you the memo on this event:

The VOR is a grueling, 39,000 mile sail race that circumnavigates Earth, the planet most of us currently live on. The VOR is literally the race Columbus and Magellan dreamed of, and would die for.

That’s only a three-minute teaser. Remember, there’s 38,999 miles to go, so here’s the link to the full-length video that will give you the play-by-play for the 2011 – 2012 Volvo event. Got that? Now let’s talk boats!

Volvo Open 70

The competing VOR teams sail boats that all comply with design specs under Volvo Open 70 Rule V3-V4 (the “VO-7o Class”). These boats are carbon-fiber light but they’re also tough-as-nails, and amazingly fast. They have an innovative canting keel, a flat, beamy hull-and-backside for planing, daggerboards for stability, and dual rudders.

This is super-stuff skippers drool over.

I know you’re wondering to yourself: “Jane, how fast are these puppies? How do VO-70’s stand up to the Rigors of extreme Racing?”  Well kids, the numbers don’t lie; VO-70’s are the alpha dogs of any multiclass race pack. In 2006 a VO-70 set the World 24-hour speed record, and last year the Abu Dhabi VO-70 team won the Fastnet Race with the Best Monohull Time in History (on this planet, anyway). 🙂 Is that good enough for you?

Well, all good things come to an end unfortunately; the VO-70 Rule will retire in 2012. However, sailors know that in the few short years VO-70 ruled the Volvo, those VO-70 boats and their sail teams burned a new white-hot page into the history of sailing. For many who watched with eyes wide and mouth open, “VO-70” earned a spot as a true contemporary legend. The Open 70 had the right stuff to inspire a generation of new sailors worldwide.

SLSailors also recognized this, and in February 2009 Wildwind Sailboats launched the VOJ-70;  Corry Kamichi’s interpretation of the VO-70. The boat was a big hit within the SL virtual sail-racing community, and it helped establish Wildwind’s reputation as a premier builder of large, hi-tech contemporary race boats.

Unfortunately, six months ago Wildwinds closed it’s docks and Corry took a temporary sabbatical from boat-building. That left no one to celebrate the wonderful VO-70 design…

Mesh Shop Volvo

Well, big applause goes to The Mesh Shop and “Dutch” Kain Xenobuilder. Dutch is an accomplished Mesh artisan, and he accepted the challenge to build a new emulation of the VO-70.

Dutch’s boat finally launched several weeks ago. Most sailors will probably recall that Dutch’s beautiful design was a big hit at the Sail4Life auction, where Charlz Price got the bragging rights to VO-70 Hull #1 for a winning bid of a whopping L$58,205! 🙂

Well since then, VO-70’s hit the water, and a few days ago it got it’s second post-launch update. In that context, it seemed like a good time to tell you about the boat!

Mesh Build

The Mesh Shop VO-70 is (no surprise) a fully mesh build, and Dutch Xenobuilder is a mesh-meister. I sailed with Rim Telling last week and discussed the VO-70. Rim has lots of experience building virtual boats, and he gushed high praise for the quality of the Vo-70, calling it “beautiful,” and “expertly built.

It’s hard to disagree. The hull has the graceful curves of a modern race boat, and the dimensions faithfully match the RL Volvo design spec (The SL VO-70 hull is 22.5m LWL). The towering carbon fiber mast, boom, spreader and stays all reveal a careful attention to detail. Without raising a sail, this boat announces  it’s ready to race, and it means serious business. 🙂

To prove that point, the boat comes with a fistful of texture packs based on the sail designs of the 2011-2012 VOR competition boats. 🙂

No-Bump Volvo

The boat weighs in at a mere 26 prim, but that translates to a “Land Impact” of 212. Here are the numbers for three other recent mesh boats for comparison:

  • Mesh Shop VO-7    Prim: 26   LI: 212
  • Ktaba Teleri             Prim: 22  LI: 51
  • Quest Melges 24     Prim: 38  LI: 91
  • Loon Loonetta 31   Prim: 32  LI: 31

The cockpit, foredeck and rigging are nicely detailed with plenty of winches and a working mainsheet. 🙂 There are enough sit positions to accomodate a large crew, and there’s even a separate HUD that allows crew to help trim the sails.

The build is so nice, it convinced me I can stop doing “bump tests” on mesh sailboat hulls. All the boats I’ve looked at this summer have “collision cages” that match the visible hull. 🙂

Phantom Rig

Although the hull is solid, let me add that the mast, boom, sails, bowsprint and stays are all phantom when underway. That should make it easy passing under bridges on river passages. 🙂

Phantom Canting Keel

The RL Volvo Open 70 has a canting keel. As the boat tilts leeward due to the pressure of wind against sail, a skipper can rotate the bulb keel ballast to counteract the tilt. This feature makes the boat safer, and much faster. The Open 70’s also equipped with dagger boards on each side to enhance lift and improve lateral stability.

Both of these features are included on the Mesh Shop VO-70 as well, and they operate automatically while the boat is underway. Look under the boat next time you sail it, and you’ll see! 🙂

Like the rig however, the keel is phantom; the boat only draws one meter. A skipper won’t ground out in shallow water sailing this boat!


The VO-70 is easy to sail. It uses a new BWind sail engine with a simplified info-HUD display, and there are only a few, intuitve commands that help a skipper control the boat. It’s all fully explained in the notecards that accompany the release version, so an inexperienced sailor can be confidently underway in just a matter of minutes.

Cruising the VO-70

The VO-70 uses a BWind 2.5 sail engine developed by Becca Moulliez. When a skipper says “cruising” in chat, the boat unlocks the wind and accepts the standard BWind chat commands for wind speed and compass direction. There are six wind directions (N, NE, NW, S, SE, SW) and eight wind speeds (8, 11, 15, 18, 21, 25 knots).

The sails go up with the universal chat command “Raise,” and a standard numerical HUD appears. It’s simple and unclutterred, but it has all the basic stuff a skipper needs, including compass heading, boat speed, real wind speed, apparent wind angle, and the sail sheet setting.

The skipper adjusts the mainsail and jib together using the Up and Down arrow keys, and the sheeting movement is accompanied by great winch and ratchet sounds.

Chat gestures come along with the boat; they allow precision adjustment of the sails. The gestures use channel 29000, and here’s the command format so you can edit your own versions: “/29000 sheet-1” (Please note: The com channel is not adjustable.)

When the VO-70 sails fall out of tune, they start to visibly flap and give off loud luffing noises to get your attention. Once the sails are correctly adjusted, everything calms down again and the HUD turns green.

This probably all sounds familiar to most sailors, but let me emphasize the attention to detail on the VO-70 is pretty impressive, from the sounds of the rig to the wave action and salt spray that come over the bow as you beat up wind. If you have questions, talk to Hannelore Ballinger about it; she loves this boat, and she thinks using Mouse-Look at the VO-70 helm is a near-religious experience. :-).

Taking another step, let me add that the VO-70 comes equipped with a genniker that can provide a considerable boost on downwind headings.

The genniker adjusts along with the mainsail, but a skipper can fine tune it using the Page Up/ Page Down keys.

Speaking of which, the crew can also get in on the act. There’s a separate crew HUD (see image to right) that lets others aboard adjust the sheets and switch the headsails. Pretty Nice!


OK, let’s now talk a few numbers. 🙂
Before I get into boat performance though, I need to comment about speed variance in VO-70.

If you click on the chart to the right, you’ll get a graph of boat speed recorded each second over 220 continuous seconds under constant conditions. As you can see from the graph, the boat speed shows a continuous, irregular oscillation that mostly stays within 10% of the mean, although the most extreme swing in boat speed is nearly 40% of the average. This degree of built-in variation is impressive, since all wind parameters were held constant, there were no tiller or sheet changes, and the HUD direction and AWA remained unchanged (AWA fluctuated 161-162).

Of course there are many factors that contribute to boat speed in real sailing; I’m not complaining that this boat’s speed isn’t constant. In fact, what’s going on in VO-70 looks a lot like the the charts I previously published for Melges-24‘s speed oscillation. I don’t know why this speed fluctuation happens… but there are lots of things I don’t know. Sailors should just be aware of it. 🙂

I needed to bring this issue up, because it strongly affects the empirical “polar plots” a sailor can construct for the VO-70. No surprise, it will also affect any skipper’s prediction of boat performance when sailing VO-70 on a given course.

With those caveats, here’s a graph showing practical boat speed as a function of wind angle. It’s not too pretty, with a lot of sharp angles that are probably due to the oscillations I discussed above.  If anybody gets a better polar for this boat, I’ll post it! 🙂

The blue line shows boat speed plotted against the Real Wind Angle, and the green line shows it for the Apparent Wind Angle. The result shows that the VO-70 (update 2) has a broad performance range. The sails fill and the boat begins to make headway with RWA in the low 20’s, and by RWA 40 the boat is already doing 75% of RWS. With just the mainsail and jib, the VO-70 hits a maximum speed of 110% RWS on a beam reach. If you raise the genniker, you can do even better, topping out at 120% of RWS on a broad reach.

The chart to the right shows how this stacks up compared to a couple other boats. The red curve shows Boat Speed vs. RWA for the Mesh Shop VO-70. The dotted blue curve shows the same thing for the real Volvo Open 70 v4. There’s pretty good agreement. 🙂

I never did a polar for Corry Kamichi’s Wildwind VOJ-70, but I’m pretty sure it’s similar to the JMO-60, RCJ-44, and ACJ-35. I’ve therefore also added the Wildwind RCJ-44 curve to the above chart. All three boats are remarkably fast, with peak speeds that well exceed the Real Wind Speed. 🙂

At this point, let me quickly summarize everything I said about sailing and cruising VO-70. I have much more to add about racing this boat, but this article is way, way too long already. 🙂 I’ve therefore broken my discussion of VO-70 in half, and I promise to post the “Racing VO-70” details very soon! 🙂 Here’s the skinny for this part:


The Mesh Shop VO-70 is a great boat for virtual sailors who want a fast, realistic emulation of a contemporary ocean racer. VO-70’s mesh build is meticulously detailed, and the dimensions match the RL Volvo Open 70. The boat is drop-dead gorgeous on it’s own, but you’ll probably want to pimp it out, so Dutch has loaded the VO-70 up with two handfuls of sail/hull textures that match the colors of the teams that raced the Volvo Ocean 2012.
At VO-70’s heart you’ll find a state-of-the-art BWind 2.5, and that engine’s typically low lag and no nonsense.
This boat will take you and your crew across the grid and back at high speed, flaunting sim line-crossings along the way. It’s a truly great addition to the SL Sailing fleet.

Unless you are morbidly depressed, you’ll want to try one of these super sailboats out for yourself. 🙂 Dutch (Kain Xenobuilder) has just opened up a new Mesh Shop location in SL, conveniently located in Tschotcke, on the shores of Bingo Strait North.

I’ll see you there; I’ll be the one trying to clear the salt water from my ears after trying to sail this rocket sled VO-70. 🙂

 Click here for:

The Mesh Shop VO-70, part II: Racing

Drama Photo of the Week

click to enlarge

I have not sailed the new VO-70 enough to appreciate it’s handling and sailing features, but wow, does it make a great crash! 🙂

The above scene took place during Hannelore Ballinger’s Aug 23 Thursday VO-70 race as the fleet came around Fastnet Light. (I tell you I shouted ROOM! as we approached the turn… or at least that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it!)

Everybody had a good laugh, then we picked up all the broken toys and continued the race. 🙂

Maybe this is an appropriate moment to repost good-old Rules 19-20:

19.1 When Rule 19 Applies
Rule 19 applies between boats at an obstruction except when it is
also a mark the boats are required to leave on the same side. However,
at a continuing obstruction, rule 19 always applies and rule 18
does not.
19.2 Giving Room at an Obstruction
(a) A right-of-way boat may choose to pass an obstruction on
either side.
(b) When boats are overlapped, the outside boat shall give the
inside boat room between her and the obstruction, unless she
has been unable to do so from the time the overlap began.

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

20.1 Hailing and Responding
When approaching an obstruction, a boat sailing close-hauled or
above may hail for room to tack and avoid another boat on the same
tack. After a boat hails,
(a) she shall give the hailed boat time to respond;
(b) the hailed boat shall respond either by tacking as soon as possible,
or by immediately replying ‘You tack’ and then giving
the hailing boat room to tack and avoid her; and
(c) when the hailed boat responds, the hailing boat shall tack as
soon as possible.
20.2 Exoneration
When a boat is taking room to which she is entitled under rule
20.1(b), she shall be exonerated if she breaks a rule of Section A or
rule 15 or 16.
20.3 When Not to Hail
A boat shall not hail unless safety requires her to make a substantial
course change to avoid the obstruction. Also, she shall not hail if the
obstruction is a mark that the hailed boat is fetching.

Come to think of it, since Fastnet Rock was a mark on the race course, Rule 18 probably applied as well. 🙂

No protests were made though, no one drown, and everyone crossed the Finish Line happy. That’s the important thing for a pick-up race on a Thursday in August!