Category Archives: Wildcat45

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

Wondrous Wildwind Wildcat

Corry Kamachi and Wildwind Boats are back on the water big-time with a new, rather fantastic catamaran: the Wildcat45. The boat’s inspired by that ultimate in speed sailing, the America’s Cup 45.

America’s Cup Roots.

As most sailors know, the 34th America’s Cup is on track to take off next year in San Francisco, where race teams will compete  aboard huge, high-tech AC-72  catamarans.

Before that final shootout  takes place however, a two-year regatta series is underway using reduced-size AC-45 boats.

OK, I use the term “boat” here somewhat advisedly; I’m not talking about the dinghy your mom sails to church on Sunday. The AC-45 is different; it’s a super-speed-extreme, water-based, wind-powered platform. It’s more like something CERN would sail to near lightspeed in the Large Hadron Collider, and then smash to study the quarks emitted.

Take a look:

Ok, I admit that video uses edited clips to make a point. I also  agree there is  huge excitement, history, and spectacle associated with the Americas Cup series. This is the absolute ultimate contest of no-holds-barred sail power.

Here’s a full clip from San Francisco’s recent AC45 World Series; it’s a bit more nuanced, but just as much fun:

The global significance of the AC regatta and the mythic stature of the AC yacht designs raise a high challenge to virtual boat builders. Not many have the skill, street-cred, and frank audacity to bring this kind of boat to Second Life. Luckily, Corry Kamachi and Wildwind are at the top of the list that do!

 Wildwind wonder

Corry’s built boats in SL for several years under the Wildwind label. She’s primarily focused on contemporary, hi-tech race boats and she’s had her eye on the AC 45 for a long time.

In February 2011 Corry released an early prototype, called the ACJ-35 Wildcat. The boat was fun to sail and a good club racer, but it handled more like a Wildwind monohull and lacked the pizzazz a sailor would want from a Cup contender. Corry was aware of this, and described the ACJ-35 as a “simple, small” boat that was “race convenient.” Meanwhile, she worked on the more ambitious “45.

Well sportsfans, that new Wildcat45 just hit the water, and its pretty fantastic.  It’s the big catamaran many SL racers were wishing for this past year, and frankly it’s a good deal more. Let me fill you in on just a few of the details.

Mixed Breeding

The physical design and dimensions of the Wildcat45 very closely match the real-life AC 45 Rule. Go look at the America’s Cup blueprints, then grab a tape measure and walk around the Wildcat45 in Second Life; it’s impressive. The craft work and care that went into this realistic build is evident, from the towering sail rig down to the tiny details.

What you get

When you open the Wildcat 45 v1.0 box, you’ll actually find two versions of the boat included. They superficially look the same, but one is mesh and the other is sculpted. Although there are major advantages to mesh construction in SL, most sailors know that Second Life is having difficulty updating the grid servers to support mesh vehicles. Wildcat45 acknowledges this problem, and gives you the best of both worlds.

The box also includes detailed notecards about the boat’s operation as well as instructions about adjusting settings and textures to fit a sailor’s personal preferences. The options are full-featured; you can set the com channel, the operation mode, the sheet-step size, and adjust the sit and cam positions.

If you want to change the boat’s textures, there are several subfolders that include templates for the hull, sails, and rigging. There are also specific UV maps and sculpti textures that should give experienced sailors everything they need to pimp their ride.

Physical and Phantom

Most of my comments apply to the mesh construction version; I’m guessing in a month or so that will be the version sailors prefer. A few days ago I commented about a new realism that’s emerging in SL sailcraft, partly due to mesh construction. SL vessels are evolving an ever-closer match to their real-life counterparts, and the Wildcat45 is a great example of this trend, in both appearance and performance.

The boat has two symmetrical hulls , with all the hardware and rigging you would expect from the real boat. Collision tests with Wildwind45 show that “the boat you see is the boat that bangs into things” (that’s good). However, the mast and sails are phantom while underway, as are both rudders.

This is a catamaran, so there’s no keel, but the boat has daggerboards in each hull that automatically deploy to offset heel effects. The boards are not phantom and will stop the boat if they hit something. However, since the board only deploys on an actively moving boat, when the underwater section of a daggerboard hits an object it will automatically raise. That feature lets a skipper make a quick recovery. 🙂

Sails

Wildcat45 does not have a mainsail; it has a hard wing instead that functions like an airplane wing. On the leach end of the wing (the trailing edge) there’s also a large adjustable panel that works to adjust lift (more on that below).

In addition, the boat comes with two headsails: a normal, working jib and a much larger gennaker that provides an extra boost sailing downwind.

HUDs

Wildcat45 also comes with a redesigned Wildwind Control HUD with a dual column of buttons that control many standard sailing functions. However, a skipper can optionally do away with the HUD and sail the boat just with chat commands.

The boat comes with two additional “Info HUDs” that provide very detailed feedback about boat speed, sail status, and wind parameters. One of the Info HUDs is for a crew member, since the Wildcat45 crew can actively switch sides on this boat to adjust heel angle and maximize speed.

The boat also has a detailed numerical HUD readout typical of earlier Wildwind boats, so in high lag situations the sailing team can actually do without any of the new HUDs I just mentioned. As I said earlier, this boat has lots of options. 🙂

Performance

If you’re familiar with sailing Wildwind boats, and particularly if you know the ACJ-35 or ACJ-90, you’re in for a big surprise. A lot has changed in the Wildwind design to make the engine and features of the boat more realistic and sheer fun to sail.

Wild Wind

First of all, Wildwind has switched to use map compass headings instead of the old draftboard compass system that was a Tako legacy. That makes life a lot more convenient!

Wildcat45 has built-in boat wind, and a skipper can set the numerical wind direction and speed using chat commands. The boat has a separate racing mode that picks up cruise wind settings from a race line WWC. You can easily tell which boats are sailing in race mode since they automatically display the user-set race numbers at the top of the wing.

The biggest and best change in the Wildwind engine is the use of full-strength apparent wind effects! Nearly all earlier Wildwind boats used a ‘weighted’ headwind adjustment that was about one-third the real life Apparent Wind correction. Although there were good arguments in favor of this adjustment, the use of a proprietary wind algorithm made it difficult to race the boats in a mixed fleet, and it made the boats less realistic.

Well sports fans, that’s all history. 🙂 The Wildwind engine now uses the standard real-life calculations to turn real wind parameters into the apparent wind forces that drive the boat. That’s a very nice thing!

Sailing the Wildwind45

Let’s talk sailing! When a skipper raises sail on a catamaran, one of the first and most important goals is to get the windward hull out of the water. Riding on one hull cuts the drag effects in half, and the boat starts to fly.

Both the Info HUD and the simple numerical HUD report heel angle, and Wildwind45 is designed to generate a maximum boat speed with a heel angle of 35°. Be careful, though; if you’re caught by a gust, the boat capsizes at 45°, and you’ll be left hanging on for dear life (see below). 🙂 

You might think this is only a problem sailing upwind or on a reach, when heel effects are maximum. Well, you’d be wrong. 🙂 Ask Russell Coutts!

Wildcat45 has the same propensity to pitchpole as the AC-45. If you’re flying  with the wind behind you and the Genn up, the pitch effects increase. If your nose catches a wave and you suddenly pitch forward over 15°, there’s no looking back. You’ll go flying over the handlebars! 🙂

Flapping

Since heel is so important to boat speed, the Wildcat45 has a few ways for a sail team to adjust the angle. Both the skipper and crew can hike to either windward or lee positions to get the boat flying at optimal heel, and under high wind conditions it may be necessary to spill wind to keep from flipping over.

Wildcat45 has another tool, however; it’s a wing extension that’s adjustable and acts just like the flap on an airplane wing. Take a look at the images below, and you’ll see what I mean. The picture on the left shows the boat sailing with heel= 29° using a minimal flap effect  (Flap 1 setting). On the right, you can see that the flap has now visibly turned up (Flap 3 setting). That change increases the aerodynamic lift, and the heel angle goes to an optimal 35°, with a corresponding 10% speed boost. 🙂

I’d suggest getting some practice with those flaps before hitting the racecourse, though; they can be pretty treacherous. (Ask Coutts about it. 🙂 )

click to enlarge

The Numbers

The chart to the right should give you a rough idea of what to expect sailing this boat. It shows boat speed plotted against real wind angle with a constant breeze of 9.7 kn. Sailing with the jib at an upwind heading of RWA 50, the boat already exceeds real wind speed. As the boat falls away from the wind, it quickly maxes out at roughly 120-125% RWS, until the boat falls gets to a heading of RWA 110.

 Beyond that point the jib becomes progressively less efficient, so it’s a good time to raise the gennaker. From RWA 120°-140° the gennaker will give an extra speed boost to a maximum of 125-130% RWS. By RWA 150°, the sails are no longer providing significant lift and the boat is primarily driven by drag effects.

This boat wants to fly, not be pushed, so drag effects are pretty inefficient. There is a realistic, rapid decline in performance over RWA 150° to a boat speed that’s roughly 60% RWS.

The second chart above shows the same data, with a new curve added in green to show the boat’s performance with twice the wind strength (RWS 19.4 kn). At these wind intensities, the boat speed seems directly related to RWS; if you double the wind speed, the boat goes twice as fast. 🙂

Woots Wildwind

The combination of beautiful design, accuracy of detail, and blistering speed are all trademarks of Wildwind boats. It’s frankly a thrill to sail a new one again. I can say that with even more excitement, given the wealth of features offered by Wildcat45 and the dedication it took to bring this version of the AC-45 into Second Life. I think this is easily the best sailing vessel ever released by Wildwind, and given the large number of very popular boats skillfully crafted by Corry over the years, that’s saying a lot. 🙂

If you want to check the boat out and pick one up for yourself, stop by Wildwind over in Borden, or get one at Tradewinds in Dex!